Main How To Draw: Sketch and draw anything, anywhere with this inspiring and practical handbook
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[image: illustration] Jake Spicer is an artist and drawing tutor based in Brighton, England. He is head tutor at the independent drawing school, Draw, a co-director of the Drawing Circus and he regularly runs portrait and figure drawing courses for the Camden Arts Centre and National Portrait Gallery. [image: image] [image: image] CONTENTS 1 JUST DRAW Why Draw? How Do I Draw More Often? What Do I Draw With? Paper & Sketchbooks How Do I Use This Book 2 FIRST MARKS Make Marks Draw Yourself A Figure 3 MAKING DRAWINGS Techniques & Attitudes At Home Portraits Drawing Rooms Drawing Light & Shadow Drawing Animals Out & About Sketching on Public Transport Urban Sketching Rural Landscapes Drawing Trees Little Figures At Museums & Galleries Cast Drawing Focussed Transcriptions Steal Like an Artist Sketchbook of Curiosities At Work Sequential Narrative Drawing for Design Maps & Directions The Ultimate Stickman In a Life Class Warm-Ups Gestural Drawings Negative Space Tonal Drawing Constructed Approach At the Drawing Board Paper to Paper Drawing Hands Folds & Fabrics From Screen to Paper 4 DRAWING SKILLS About Drawing Sources of Imagery Core Skills Edges Relationships Shapes Tone Problem Solving Composition Armatures Directing the Eye Perspective Resources Acknowledgments [image: image] How to use this Ebook Select one of the chapters from the main contents list and you will be taken straight to that chapter. Look out for linked text (which is in blue) throughout the ebook that you can select to help you navigate between related sections. You can double tap images and tables to increase their size. To return to the original view, just tap the cross in the top left-hand corner of the screen. 1 JUST DRAW EVERYBODY CAN LEARN TO DRAW. And anyone who can draw can always improve. The world we live in is a highly visual one, and we are increasingly communicating through pictures. But, in contrast to those instant; aneous visual blasts, the process of drawing encourages us to take the time to really look at another person, objects and our surroundings. The response we create with marks on a tactile surface demonstrates the effort to see and understand those things better. Many of us fall out of drawing at a young age, some of us keep drawing sporadically and a few of us make it part of our day-to-day routine. Although most children enjoy drawing and painting, as we grow up we often become self-conscious about it and frustrated when our pictures don’t come out as we intended. Although some people have a natural aptitude for drawing, the ability to draw isn’t a talent that you are born with; it’s a skill, like learning to play an instrument, or another language, that requires patience and practice. Whatever your level of experience, the only way to get better at drawing is to draw more. This book is intended to give you confidence in your own drawing and to make it easy to fit drawing into your life. [image: illustration] WHY DRAW? [image: illustration] PICTURE MAKING A drawing can be a picture; a representation of a thing we have seen or imagined. Drawing as a process is an immediate way of structuring an observation or bringing an idea into being. Painters, printmakers and anybody making pictures and objects in any medium will benefit from developing fundamental drawing skills. Drawing as a sensibility can extend beyond the conventional mediums we associate with it; sketches can be made in paint, film, built in three-dimensions and so on. For the purpose of this book I’ll be writing about drawing in its most conventional form. VISUAL COMMUNICATION Modern image-making techniques tend to be largely mechanical or digital, and so drawing is now commonly seen as an artistic practice. Drawing can be art, for sure, but it needn’t be restricted to artistic uses. Think of drawing as a language. Language can be used in different ways: to write poetry, academic papers, washing machine instructions and road signs. Drawing is a similarly versatile visual language with its own vocabulary of marks that can be used for many applications. Whether you are drawing a map to give somebody directions, sketching a diagram to explain how to place furniture in a room or storyboarding an animation in visual snapshots, some ideas are just more efficiently represented by drawing. DRAWING AS A THINKING TOOL Almost every man-made thing that we see around us started as a drawing: from buildings to furniture, to posters, to stationary. As an aid to thinking, sketching something visual on paper allows us to explore ideas in a holistic way rather than pinning them down to fixed linguistic concepts, and drawings made in versatile mediums like pencil can easily be adapted as the idea evolves. Just like any language, drawing can be used playfully, providing an outlet for creative thought and emotional expression, channelled through the tactile process of mark-making. LEARNING TO SEE Observational drawing is a means of exercising our visual faculty, and it allows us to practise looking. It can also be a powerful tool for focussing our attention: it teaches us to select a subject’s most important qualities and make visual discoveries, encouraging curiosity and improved understanding. We are constantly bombarded with visual imagery; becoming more visually literate allows us to be discerning about how we look and how we are affected by the images we come into contact with. As we get older, we also look less closely at familiar things; drawing can open our eyes to a fresh and childlike wonder in the mundane. [image: illustration] HOW DO I DRAW MORE OFTEN? To draw better, you’ll need to find the time to draw more often. Drawing requires some attention and focus, and this book is intended to help you. Treat it like a kind but firm friend, politely reminding you that to get better you’ll need to put some work in – and this is how to do it. Firstly, you want to remove the barriers that stop you from drawing, making it easy to find time and motivation to draw. [image: illustration] TIME Don’t have time to draw? Make the time. Start with a few manageable goals and use the exercises in this book to structure them. Attempt 3–4 exercises a week, or find a way to work drawing into another regular activity; sketch fellow passengers on the morning commute, for example, or draw in the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil. Use the time in between other activities to provide a foundation of regular practice, then put aside an hour or two on top of that to sit down and draw in earnest at home or at an art class. The example drawing regimes you’ll find at the end of this book will help you to structure your time. CONFIDENCE Worried you’re not very good at drawing? That’s why you’re learning! Remember that everybody needs to start somewhere. Your first drawings might be clumsy and misproportioned, but they are part of an ongoing process and you’ll only improve by engaging with that process. If you’re self-conscious about being seen drawing, start off drawing in private and slowly build up to more public locations, or go out drawing with a friend. When you’re learning, you need to make many, many bad drawings before you make any good ones, so be gentle with yourself and stick with it! SUBJECT Nothing to draw? There are things to draw everywhere; the trick is finding subjects that interest you. Learn to see beauty in the mundane and use the practical advice in Chapter 3 to help you. Work out where your interests lie; do you enjoy drawing natural forms? Figures? Buildings? Start looking for potential subjects everywhere you go, seek out inspiration by engaging with the world around you, and don’t just wait to be struck by it. EQUIPMENT Nothing to draw with? Make sure you’re always prepared to draw, and if you’re not prepared, be creative with what you have to hand. Keep your drawing materials somewhere accessible and make two drawing kits: a full bells-and-whistles kit for using at home or taking to art classes, and a pick-up-and-go kit to take with you everywhere. MAIN DRAWING KIT Make up a main drawing kit with all of your favourite drawing materials; have plenty of your favourite paper in a folder or an art tube, with a drawing board if necessary, and a sketchbook for quick sketches and notes. Include a few items you’ve never used before for variety, along with extras of everything that you use regularly in case anything gets lost or broken. Get a dedicated carrying case for your materials, such as a toolbox or a robust bag. [image: illustration] SMALL DRAWING KIT Get used to always carrying a small, hardback sketchbook and a small pencil case containing a few pens or pencils with accompanying sharpeners and erasers. Keep it accessible so that you can whip it out for a few minutes’ drawing at a moment’s notice, and make sure you take it everywhere: when you go to work, when you go out for a meal, when you take the dog for a walk… [image: illustration] IMPROVISED DRAWING KIT If you don’t have your drawing kit with you, improvise. Make a pencil sketch on the back of a receipt, or a drawing on a napkin with a borrowed pen; draw with a stick in the sand if you have to! All you need is a surface to draw on and something to make a mark with. [image: illustration] WHAT DO I DRAW WITH? The range of available drawing materials is vast and constantly expanding. As a starting point, here are some conventional drawing materials that I’ve used in the book. GRAPHITE Graphite makes a smooth grey mark with a slightly shiny surface; graphite mediums tend to make consistent linear marks. Graphite pencils are very adaptable, can be rubbed out cleanly, and give a controlled line. Pencils have different grades, measured on a scale of 9H–9B. B pencils are softer and make marks with a greater tonal range, whereas H pencils are harder and give more subtlety of tone. Graphite sticks are similar to pencils, but are made of solid graphite and can vary in size; they often suit bolder mark-making and require less sharpening. Powdered graphite can be applied with a finger, a brush or rolled paper to create a mass of tone quickly. [image: illustration] Graphite pencil [image: illustration] Graphite stick [image: illustration] CHARCOAL Charcoal makes a matt black mark. It has a tendency to make expressive lines of varying weight and can be used for quickly blocking in tone. Willow charcoal comes in sticks that resemble twigs; it is brittle and makes a dark, dense mark when first applied, but can be easily rubbed off a surface, leaving a lighter tone behind. Vine charcoal is usually cut into long, thin regular blocks, is often harder than willow and comes in different grades that can be built up to make subtle tonal gradients. Compressed charcoal is ground charcoal bound into a stick or the core of a pencil using a wax or gum binder. Compressed charcoal generally makes a harder, denser mark than regular charcoal and is more difficult to erase. [image: illustration] Willow charcoal [image: illustration] Vine charcoal [image: illustration] Compressed charcoal SHARPENING Different mediums and personal preferences require different approaches to sharpening. Pencils can be sharpened with a pencil sharpener or knife, although charcoal pencil has a tendency to shatter and should be treated carefully. Snapping willow charcoal will give you a sharp edge; sandpaper can be used for sharpening charcoal and graphite. Some charcoal pencils have a paper casing and can be unwrapped rather than sharpened. [image: illustration] Paper casing [image: illustration] Graphite pencil [image: illustration] Knife [image: illustration] Pencil sharpener ERASING Charcoal is best erased with a putty eraser. These come in various kneads: soft, medium and hard. The malleable eraser lifts the charcoal off the page and it often ends up black, but is still useable. Plastic erasers are ideal for erasing graphite and can be used for more precise work; try cutting plastic erasers to size with a craft knife. Think of the eraser as a drawing tool that can draw light back into dark, not just as a means of getting rid of mistakes. [image: illustration] Putty eraser [image: illustration] Plastic eraser SMUDGING At its worst, smudging a mark can be a lazy and imprecise way of creating tone; at its best it can be a way of making new marks and changing the nature of existing marks. Tortillions (tightly rolled paper sticks), cloth, erasers and fingers can all be used to smudge a mark. FIXING Spray-on fixative is useful for fixing your drawings to allow you to add more layers to your drawing or to avoid smudging in transit, particularly in sketchbooks where drawings made with a soft medium can imprint on the opposite page. Graphite doesn’t usually need to be fixed while charcoal almost invariably does. An artist- quality fixative is ideal, although hairspray can be a cheap (and fragrant) alternative. [image: illustration] PENS Pens are inherently linear and usually give a permanent mark that can’t be erased. Biros or ballpoint pens can give a surprising variety of line weight, fibre-tipped drawing pens give a consistent mark and good-quality felt-tipped pens make bold marks and come in different tones and colours. Fountain pens can be drawn with but aren’t always as well suited as their cheaper counterparts. Experiment with pens that are running out of ink; the broken line can make for interesting effects. [image: illustration] Biro/ballpoint [image: illustration] Fibre-tip DIP PENS Dip pens comprised of nib and holder can create energetic and varied lines, and, despite needing to be dipped into ink periodically, they are remarkably consistent. Find a nib best suited to your purpose; calligraphic nibs aren’t suited to most drawing styles, and mapping nibs can be too fine for sketching. Always clean the nib properly after use. Other materials can be cut, dipped into ink, and drawn with: bamboo, straws, sticks, feathers and brushes. Experiment with them all to find new ways of making marks. [image: illustration] Dip/fountain pen [image: illustration] Pens can be a great medium for practising your mark-making. This study, made with a dip pen and ink, uses both a variety of directional marks and areas of solid ink to convey the texture of a bird’s wing. PAPER & SKETCHBOOKS PAPER TYPE Don’t overlook the importance of paper; it can make as much difference to the outcome of your drawing as the material you draw with. A good-quality drawing paper (cartridge paper) of an appropriate medium to heavy weight (65–145 lb., or 100–200 gsm) is suitable for most materials. Regular office paper, notebook paper and found papers can be useful for impromptu sketching, but will generally be too light and may not last. Sugar paper and newsprint are cheap, but become brittle and discolour quickly. Experiment with different paper to find the surface you most like to draw on: draftsmen who prefer to draw on a smooth surface may like Bristol board, while those preferring a heavy texture might prefer textured watercolour paper. If you want your drawings to last, use acid-free paper to avoid the paper discolouring over time. WEIGHT Weight of paper is measured in pounds per ream (poundage or lb.) or in grams per square metre (gsm). Papers between 65–145 lb. (100–200 gsm) are good for drawing on. The weight of the paper will affect the feel of the mark on the page – although weight doesn’t always relate to quality. Different papers will suit different preferences and mediums; before you buy, do a little research into the ideal paper for your preferred drawing material. [image: illustration] COLOUR & TONE Bleached white paper is most common, but you might wish to try an off-white, ivory or buff paper, as these will show off drawn marks more sympathetically and can be highlighted with white. You can use coloured papers, but if you do, first test how the medium looks on the paper. SKETCHBOOKS Sketchbooks are practical and personal; they protect your paper, keep your work in order and small sketchbooks are easy to carry around. Ring-bound books can be folded back, giving a flat plane of paper, but the bindings can break if treated roughly. Hardback sketchbooks are naturally supported; softback books can be cheap, but bend easily. Always think about the type of paper in your sketchbook, and find a size and dimension that suits your purposes. Loose paper can always be bound into a sketchbook later. [image: illustration] Left: Ring-bound; Right: Hardback DRAWING BOARDS You’ll need a flat surface to rest your paper on, ideally something you can hold at an angle and take around with you while sketching. A rigid, lightweight piece of board slightly larger than your paper is ideal; pegs, clips or masking tape will secure your paper in place. [image: illustration] HOW DO I USE THIS BOOK? This book is a companion along the road of learning to draw. Just like any good travelling companion, it is here to lend you support when you’re on an uphill struggle and to spur you on to make drawings when you have a dip in confidence or enthusiasm, giving you straightforward, practical exercises to follow so that the only excuse not to draw every day is that you can’t find your pencils (and if you cant find your pencils, reread pages 12–13!). There are endless variations on drawing exercises and as many subjects to draw as there are objects in the world and ideas in your head. This book is a springboard to catapult you head first into drawing, a doorway into a different way of seeing and a signpost that points you on a clear route so that you feel confident to begin the journey. As you become more confident and more interested in the drawing process, you might want to take a look at Chapter 4, which explores the nature of drawing in a little more depth and can prepare you for taking your drawing practice further. The next pages will help you work out where you are with your drawing and guide you around the book. [image: illustration] IF YOU’RE A COMPLETE BEGINNER, OR YOU JUST WANT TO START AT THE BEGINNING… Whether you’re completely new to drawing or you just want to go over the basics before diving in, start at Chapter 2. Even if you don’t think you can draw at all, Chapter 2 is a warm-up chapter, intended to give you confidence and a few fundamental skills to build on. Once you’ve worked your way through First Marks, move on to Chapter 3, read the introduction to the chapter, find an exercise suitable for your location and interests, and give it a go! [image: illustration] Chapter 2: First Marks IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE DRAWING AND WANT TO GET STARTED… If you feel confident enough to get stuck in right away, start at Chapter 3. Read the introduction and then launch in and make some drawings. This chapter contains lots of practical exercises and is broken down into locations, so all you need to do is find the location that best represents where you are, find an exercise that appeals to you, read through and start drawing. You can adapt the exercises to other situations as you need to. Chapter 4 will provide some interesting elements to think about when you’re ready to go further, but is only really useful once you’ve had plenty of drawing experience. [image: illustration] Chapter 3: Making Drawings IF YOU’RE CONFIDENT IN YOUR DRAWING AND WANT TO GO INTO MORE DEPTH… This is the point to start focussing your study. You might want to read through some of the drawing theory in Chapter 4, or you might wish to launch right into drawing with Chapter 3. Work out what it is that you want to improve on and find and adapt an exercise in Chapter 3 that suits your intentions. See the exercises as a starting point, and find ways to adapt the exercises that are relevant to you in any location. The ‘To Improve...’ sections at the end of each exercise will also point you to a relevant part of Chapter 4 to help you relate the theory to your drawing practice. The more you draw, the more curious you will become about what really goes into the process of looking and mark-making. Use the final chapter of this book to go deeper into drawing with a look into the fundamental skills and concepts that lie behind the process. [image: illustration] Chapter 4: Drawing Skills 2 FIRST MARKS If you’ve never drawn before, or if you just want to start at the beginning, then start here. The aim of this chapter is to give you confidence and get you off on the right foot with your drawing. The exercises in this chapter each take no more than 15 minutes, so all three can be done in under an hour, using basic materials. As you progress, bear in mind the following advice: • There is no right or wrong way to draw, just better and worse ways of achieving certain kinds of drawings. Find and practise approaches that work for you. • Most problems in observational drawing come from problems in looking: look first, and then draw. • Every mark you make should be the result of a clear observation or intention, learn to make your marks with confidence. • Learning to draw is like learning a new language: at first your drawings will be clumsy, and you’ll stumble over lines as you might stumble over a foreign phrase. In time you’ll learn to become more fluent and articulate in your drawing. [image: illustration] • As you draw you might be hampered by self-criticism. Replace your internal critic with an internal tutor by turning unhelpful self-criticism into useful questions (see here). • You learn to draw only by drawing. Read a bit to help you, then draw, draw and draw some more. • Failure is an integral part of learning; you’ll make lots of bad drawings while you’re learning to draw. Each ‘bad’ drawing will be a step towards better drawings. [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Pen or pencil • Paper or sketchpad Setup: Sit down at a table and make sure you’re comfortable. If you like, put on some music to relax yourself, and make sure nothing is going to distract you for a little while. You don’t need any special equipment for these exercises; simply a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. MAKE MARKS In order to draw better you’ll want to develop a personal vocabulary of marks that you can use to make your drawings, and lines are the most fundamental element of your vocabulary. You’ll want to feel confident in drawing a line, and become fluent with your mark-making: beginners often start with a hesitant, feathery line that is indistinct and slow to draw. Before drawing a fixed subject, fill a few pieces of paper with abstract marks, lines and scribbles; get comfortable with your drawing materials and enjoy the tactile sensation of making marks. [image: illustration] METHOD Start with a simple line. Make two dots on your paper and, without hesitation, join those dots with a single smooth straight line. Repeat the line, making your marks swiftly and confidently. Vary the weight of your mark, pressing harder for a dark line, or making a gentle, pale mark. [image: illustration] Experiment with lines and different marks. Try pressing heavily at the start of a line and gradually easing off the pressure to create a line with direction. Make the line curve between points. [image: illustration] Draw some simple shapes to practise your mark-making – use dots and lines to construct a simple square, adding diagonals to turn it into a cube. [image: illustration] Experiment with holding your pencil with different grips – hold it with a writing grip, or farther back like a painter might hold a paint brush. Explore the variety of lines that different grips facilitate. [image: illustration] DRAW YOURSELF To make better observational drawings, you’ll need to establish a strong connection between your eye and your hand. When you begin an observational drawing, it can help to look for edges and shapes first. Look for an edge to draw, trace that line with your eye and then make that line smoothly and confidently on your paper with your pencil or pen. One line in isolation might look strange and abstract, but as you gather several lines together you’ll start to see your subject emerging on the page. This exercise is all about the process of looking; the outcome isn’t important. First, try it with your feet as the subject, then repeat the process, now with your hand as the subject. [image: illustration] METHOD Prop your feet up so that you can see them at the same time as the paper, making it easy to flick your eyes between the two. Look for edges in your shoe; trace that edge with your eye, hold the image of it in your head for a moment and then turn it into a line on your page. Make smooth, confident lines and spend more time looking at your feet than at your drawing. Keep the drawing linear and don’t try to draw everything: be selective. [image: illustration] Forget what it is that you are drawing and simply see edges and shapes – don’t think of the shoe as a shoe, but as a puzzle of abstract shapes that fit together to make a visual jigsaw. [image: illustration] If a line goes in a direction you don’t intend, re-draw it rather than erase it, leaving your misplaced line on the page. This will stop you spending half the drawing erasing what you have already drawn. [image: illustration] A FIGURE When we draw familiar things, we tend to bring all of our preconceptions about that thing to our drawing. We don’t always draw what we see, but instead draw what we expect to see. Learn to draw just from observation, looking and making marks in response to what you’ve observed, trusting your eye. Copy the upside-down drawing as you see it here, working from the top corner and simply copying one line at a time. Don’t think about what your subject is and don’t turn your paper or sketchbook around until you are finished. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Copy (don’t trace!) the drawing without turning the book around. Start with the outline first. Starting in the top left corner, work your way down and to the right, looking for shapes and lines and drawing them in without trying to interpret them. When you are finished you can turn the drawing around and assess your work. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] 3 MAKING DRAWINGS START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON Taken at face value, each of the exercises in this chapter is a quick and accessible way to fit drawing into your day, wherever you are and whatever you want to draw. There will often be obstacles that stand in the way of your drawing; lack of equipment, confidence, time or subjects are the most common. Remove these obstacles and you’ll find regular drawing becomes much easier. OVERCOMING OBSTACLES • Don’t have the right equipment? Use here to help you select your kit, and make sure you always have something to draw with close to hand. • Not sure what to draw? Try out different exercises in this chapter to find out what you enjoy drawing, then look for that subject everywhere; if you like drawing people, find the people-drawing exercise in each section; if you enjoy drawing landscapes or interiors, look for the exercises that relate to those subjects instead. • Worried that you’ll make bad drawings? You definitely will. And some good drawings too. You never know how a drawing will come out until you’ve made it, and you won’t make better drawings without practise. Engage with the process rather than worrying about the outcome. • Have trouble finding time to draw? As long as you can identify what you want to draw and you have the materials to hand you should be able to start drawing almost immediately in any location. Make the most of your time: any gap of five minutes spent standing around waiting could be five minutes spent looking and drawing. Each exercise is a starting point; alternatives are suggested at the end of each section along with suggestions of what you should practise to improve. Use your initiative and adapt the techniques to suit your own intentions. If you find an exercise you enjoy, try using it in a different location, or try using alternative mediums. [image: illustration] STYLE Given the same subject to draw, everybody will make different drawings. Don’t worry about establishing your own ‘style’ of drawing. Style is a nebulous concept comprising elements of the materials you draw with, how you perceive your subjects and your physical application of marks. By all means learn from other artists, but don’t try to be them; learn to borrow elements from their drawings to assimilate into your own practice. Learning to draw is a journey of self-discovery, experimentation and innovation, and it takes a long time to learn to draw like yourself. [image: illustration] TECHNIQUES & ATTITUDES TECHNIQUES Techniques are structured processes, developed to help you arrive at particular outcomes. A drawing technique is like a recipe and, just like cooking up a new dish, you can make a particular kind of drawing by following the appropriate technique to achieve the desired outcome. As with cooking, sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t, and practise will help you to improve. Any technique that you learn should be seasoned to your taste to make it your own. Over time, you will develop your own techniques that incorporate the variety of approaches you’ve learnt in the past to create outcomes that are unique to you. [image: illustration] ATTITUDES More important than the techniques you employ is the attitude you take to your drawing. Sometimes you are happy with a drawing, sometimes you are not; rather than defining your success by your outcomes, aim to maintain integrity in your process. Make drawings that are authentically your own, driven by curiosity and intention, and you will gain something from the process irrespective of the outcome. A drawing you are happy with gives you satisfaction and a drawing you are not happy with gives you a learning opportunity; both results are important and valuable. [image: illustration] VARYING YOUR MATERIALS For each of the following exercises I have recommended a drawing medium that is appropriate to the location and task; if the exercise requires tonal drawing, for example, then I have suggested using charcoal rather than, say, a ballpoint pen, which might better suit a linear drawing exercise. All exercises could be attempted in other media so don’t feel you are restricted just to the materials suggested, simply think about how changing your drawing material might create a different kind of outcome or necessitate an altered process. Experiment, explore and enjoy using your materials! [image: illustration] AT HOME Sketching at home will give you lots of control over your surroundings: you’ll be able to set yourself up comfortably, with drawing materials to hand, and you’ll be able to keep this book at your side to guide you through the exercises. Beware though; it is easy to be waylaid by the responsibilities of domestic life, so set aside dedicated time to draw and do your best not to get distracted! [image: illustration] ACCESSIBLE KIT First, make sure your drawing materials are easy to find. Store your main drawing kit somewhere accessible so that you don’t waste time searching for the disparate contents of your art box. Maintain a stock of your favourite drawing materials alongside your primary kit so that you don’t run out: if you like drawing with ballpoint pens then don’t just buy one but have several packs dotted around. If you like working in pencil, buy a whole load of erasers and sharpeners, and have them both with your kit and near to anywhere you might be drawing. Keep a small sketchbook and some drawing materials in a kitchen drawer so that you can draw while the kettle boils, or on a coffee table for making swift studies of your family on the sofa. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] PORTRAITS We are inexorably drawn to other people’s faces; many of us start drawing in the hope that one day we can accurately and empathetically render the face of another person on paper. We have evolved to recognise the subtle plays of expression on another person’s face and to recognise the minute proportional differences that differentiate us from one another. It is this very faculty of recognition that both allows us to make empathic portraits of one another while also making us critical of the drawings we might create. The human face is the most challenging subject available to you; if you can learn to draw a face you can learn to draw anything. Sitting down with somebody to draw them can be a wonderful opportunity to look at them in a way you may never have looked at them before. Make sure your sitter has realistic expectations of the outcome, be honest with them about your level of experience and allow yourself time to make more than one drawing. A time limit of 15–20 minutes per drawing is ideal for most people to sit before they start fidgeting. Ask your model to get comfortable and to set their eyes on a fixed point. Don’t be afraid to guide them into a suitable pose and to ask them to return to it if they move; they’ll thank you later for anything that helps you make a better drawing! [image: illustration] [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Drawing board and paper Time: Allow an hour for the sitting, with poses of 15–20 minutes. Setup: Think about how the light will fall on your model’s face and your paper. Let them get comfortable and place yourself so that you have the head angle you prefer. A profile will give you a clean line to work with, a head-on view will provide symmetry and directness, a three-quarter view can be challenging but dynamic. AIMS & ATTITUDES You should approach this portrait as an exercise in looking. Draw the overall mass of the head as well as the face itself. Represent the shapes of any shadows you see, rather than worrying about how you think a face should look. Your idea of how a face should look often stops you making clear observations of what you see in front of you; the purpose of this exercise is to simply draw what you see. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Start with the mass of the head and imagine the shape of the skull underneath. [image: illustration] Loosely sketch the oval of the cranium, the jaw and the average line of the front of the face, followed by the mass of the neck. [image: illustration] Sketch in the shape of the eyebrow, work down to the dark shape of the eyelash and iris, the underside of the nose, the centreline of the mouth, and the overall shape of the ear. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] Elaborate on the lines of the face, using the marker points of features to guide you. Find the overall shape of the hair on the head and block in tone using marks that follow the direction of the hair. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Making studies from different angles to understand the shape of the whole head. Try drawing people in profile while they’re in front of the TV or computer. [image: illustration] TO IMPROVE… • Spend more time drawing heads (see 1 and 2). • Learn about the anatomy of the skull. • Learn more about the edges of the profile. • Learn more about relationships between features. [image: illustration] DRAWING ROOMS If you find yourself sitting in the corner of a room at home, pencil and sketchbook out, wracking your brain for what to draw, then don’t despair: the solution is all around you! This is a great exercise to try in your home, but it can easily be applied anywhere. You can apply the same approach to drawing in any enclosed space: waiting rooms, airports, offices or anywhere you find yourself with a few minutes to spare. It can be a great way of recording the places you have visited and rooms you’ve stayed in, or of recording a single space changing over time. [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Ballpoint pen • Sketchbook Time: 25 minutes Setup: Sit comfortably, with a good view of the whole room. AIMS & ATTITUDES This exercise is all about taking your eye on a journey around the room and recording that journey on paper. Don’t be concerned about the strictures of proportion or perspective; simply aim to draw shapes in the appropriate relationships to one another. [image: illustration] METHOD Decide on an area of detail somewhere in the room where you will begin your drawing. Take your eye around the outlines of the objects you are drawing and use a simple continuous line to record the shapes that you see. Keep the drawing linear, leaving out tone. By working out from a little pool of detail on the page, you make it easy to return to the drawing if you get called away. [image: illustration] Work outwards, following key lines around the room. Don’t try to be too accurate, but draw from what you see. Lift your pen from the paper when you need to; if a line goes in a place you don’t want it to, leave it where it is and redraw it elsewhere. [image: illustration] Work the drawing right out to the edges of the page; you are bound to have fallen out of proportion at some point, but don’t worry. See this as an exercise in looking rather than as an exercise in making an accurate picture. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… As a variation on this exercise, try making the drawing without looking back at your paper. See more instructions on this kind of ‘blind’ drawing. TO IMPROVE… • Learn to use your pen to judge proportions and angles. • Develop your understanding of edges. • Develop your understanding of shape. [image: illustration] Drawing Light & Shadow Inanimate objects make the most reliable and consistent subjects. You can pose them as you like and draw them without their needing to stretch, or wandering away when they need something to eat. The problem with drawing still-life objects is finding a subject that holds your attention. It is always important that your subject engages you; you should only draw things you really want to draw, otherwise you’ll bore yourself and your drawing will lose its sense of purpose. It is a skill in itself to learn how to find something interesting in any subject. For this exercise, pick an object that has meaning to you as your main subject. Find a second object of meaning with a contrasting nature – something with different textures or of a different size – and imagine a simple narrative that ties the objects together. Place the two objects near to one another to make a visually satisfying composition. Finally, place a third object to set the other two off. Give yourself a reason to make the drawing; make it interesting. [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Charcoal stick • Charcoal pencil • Cloth or kitchen roll • Eraser • Paper and board • Three objects • A desk lamp or window Time: 45 minutes. Setup: Set yourself up comfortably in front of your subject. Arrange the objects as you’d like them, but don’t overthink their composition. Set them up near a window or lamp so that the directional light creates clear shapes of shadow. [image: illustration] AIMS & ATTITUDES Your aim is to select interesting objects and create a composition out of them. Look for the shapes of shadows in the arrangement, and explore how you can create the illusion of three dimensions through simple blocks of tone, using the eraser as a drawing tool and using the charcoal pencil to add clarity to shapes. [image: illustration] METHOD Scrub a ground of charcoal onto the paper to establish a pale grey mid-tone. Using the stick of charcoal, draw the outline of shadow and object shapes. Look for big shapes first. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] Use the eraser to draw light into the image, and a snapped charcoal stick to draw in blocks of dark. Build up tonal contrasts. [image: illustration] Use the eraser to erase back to the white of the paper for the lightest lights, and use the charcoal pencil to build up the darkest darks, adding textural marks to the drawing. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Exploring the still life from unusual angles. Make quick studies of it from the opposite side, from the top or from the floor. Note how the shapes change and the feel of the picture shifts when drawn from different viewpoints. TO IMPROVE… • Learn about negative space. • Learn to see tone more clearly. • Learn more about composition. [image: illustration] DRAWING ANIMALS Pets have as much character as their human counterparts and make engaging subjects to draw. However, the inevitable language barrier means that it is unlikely they’ll understand you asking them to pose for a long drawing. You can draw a surprising amount in the moments that they are still, making for energetic, albeit incomplete, drawings. Think of this kind of dynamic drawing as a record of your interaction with the animal, and for maximum drawing time, try to catch them at moments when they are still. Draw your dog while it is eating, or your cat while sleeping; a fish in a tank might repeat a movement, giving you an opportunity to finish partially complete drawings. Drawing from photographs will allow you to capture the look of your animal but it won’t allow you to capture the feel of their movement; enjoy the experience of drawing a moving target! [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Dip pen • Ink • Paper • A pet to draw Time: 25 minutes. Setup: Use a portable sketchbook or board so that you can follow your subject, taking every opportunity to make quick sketches. AIMS & ATTITUDES This is as much a philosophical exercise as a practical one. Due to the hit-and-miss nature of the task, you will have some successful drawings and many that don’t work at all. You almost certainly won’t finish any of them; see the drawings as recording an experience, not just making a good picture. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Watch your subject for a while and work out when they are most likely to be still. [image: illustration] Sketch the overall form of the animal, looking for simple geometric shapes beneath the fur. Look for repeated shapes when your animal moves; you’ll find they often return to poses, allowing you to continue the drawings you’ve started. [image: illustration] Fur and markings can be layered over the structure of a pose, and can be ascertained from a variety of different poses. Practise different kinds of mark-making to render textures. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Taking your sketchbook to a zoo, a farm or an aquarium. If you want animals that will reliably stay still, you can try sketching at a museum of natural history. [image: illustration] TO IMPROVE… • Improve your visual memory by sketching people moving (see 1 and 2). • Practise intuitive gestural drawing. • Learn to see edges more clearly and to draw confident lines. [image: illustration] OUT & ABOUT Even when you don’t have a pencil to draw with, you can practise looking around you with the eyes of a draftsman. Be curious and look for line, shape and tone in the world around you. Try to have materials with you at all times so that when opportunities to sketch your observations present themselves you can the make the most of them. Carry a sketchbook and drawing materials everywhere, and improvise if necessary, drawing on scraps of paper that can be stuck into your sketchbook later, for example. Don’t worry about passersby watching you while you draw; talk to people about your drawings, or, if you’re shy, go drawing with a friend and make a social occasion of it. Drawing can be an excellent way to record new experiences and to find new wonder in everyday things. IDEAL KIT When you’re sketching away from home, you’ll need an easily portable drawing kit with some basic equipment. A small hardback sketchbook will be ideal to draw in and will ensure your paper is properly supported. If you like drawing with pens, always carry several in case they run out of ink; and if you use pencils, also bring several erasers and sharpeners in case any get lost. You know that drawing has become a habit when you regularly mistake a jangling pocket of pencil sharpeners for a pocket of change! Refer back to here for advice on your materials, and practise supporting your sketchbook on your knee when you set up for some impromptu sketching. [image: illustration] SKETCHING ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT When you can draw, you never have an excuse to be bored. If you’re travelling on a bus or train you’ll be surrounded by a wealth of drawing subjects, from fellow travellers to views out the window, to the interior of the vehicle itself. Drawing on public transport is as much an exercise in sketching strategy as an opportunity to practise drawing techniques. Working with the jolts that jog you, finding surreptitious ways to draw other passengers and dealing with the inevitable movement of your subjects are all part of the exercise. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: PASSENGER PORTRAITS SETTING UP What you need: • Ballpoint pen • Sketchbook Time: As long as your journey! Setup: Ideally you’ll have your small drawing kit to hand, but if you only have a receipt and a biro, that will do! AIMS & ATTITUDES You’re not aiming to make finished drawings but rather to create a collage of brief glimpses that record your journey. Keep your marks quick and confident, and try to simplify your subject into as few lines as possible. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Pick a person who is staying relatively still and (ideally) not looking towards you. Using quick, simple marks, sketch out the dark lines that make up your impression of their face. [image: illustration] Work outwards on the page using simple lines to suggest the basic forms of your subject’s clothing and surroundings. In this exercise your pen will be recording the journey that your eye is taking over your subject. [image: illustration] When your subject moves, try sketching this new angle, or move on to somebody else. Fill the page with little visual notes on the journey, snatches of conversation and anything that interests you. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Filling a page with things you see outside the window, making it into a dynamic composition of signs, textures, buildings and briefly glimpsed views. TO IMPROVE… • Practise drawing faces. • Practise linear drawing and interiors. • Try blind contour drawing (see here). [image: illustration] [image: illustration] URBAN SKETCHING The urban environment is the result of thousands of drawings; town planners, architects and designers conspire to create the jigsaw puzzle of buildings and public spaces that make up a city. Each city has its own character, its own combinations of building shapes, colours and textures. Its inhabitants shape it even more, filling the streets with stories. When you make drawings of urban spaces, you’re not just sketching bricks and mortar; you’re making a portrait of a city. This exercise is all about capturing corners of the town or city around you. Bring little figures into the scene using the exercise in here, and make written notes wherever you need to. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: AN URBAN PORTRAIT SETTING UP What you need: • Ballpoint pen • Grey felt-tip • Sketchbook Time: 20–45 minutes. Setup: Find somewhere you can comfortably sketch for as long as you need. AIMS & ATTITUDES This approach is an alternative to the Drawing Rooms exercise. Rather than working from small shapes and expanding, you will establish large shapes first and then draw the smaller areas of detail within them, allowing you to maintain control over the composition. As well as capturing how the city looks, you should aim to capture something of its atmosphere, looking for characterful details to accentuate. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Establish the overall composition of the scene, thinking about where you will place buildings. Start with a light line to establish shapes and draw over with a more confident line when you have decided where the emphasis will lie. [image: illustration] Draw into the composition any interesting details and elements that catch your eye. Again, work lightly and confidently, drawing bolder lines over your initial marks once you are confident of their position. [image: illustration] Use the grey felt-tip to add simple blocks of tone, adding depth and focus to the scene. Be selective with where you place the tone, thinking about the design of your drawing. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Adding colour to your drawing using coloured felt-tip, or watercolour washes in place of the grey pen. TO IMPROVE… • Improve your understanding of how to compose a scene (see here). • Learn more about seeing edges. • Learn more about using tone. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] RURAL LANDSCAPES Landscape drawing shouldn’t just be about sketching picturesque scenery; it should be a record of the experience of drawing in the landscape. The urgency of your marks will inherently reflect your relationship to the environment around you. Drawing on a windy day creates frantic drawings as you scrabble to keep the paper under control; a lazy summer afternoon on the grass tends to produce more leisurely strokes. You’ll be using drawn marks to represent the visual phenomena of the landscape, while being inevitably affected by the elemental forces around you. As you draw different parts of the landscape, explore how you can use a variety of marks to imply texture or direction, and think about how you can draw attention to elements of the landscape that interest you. Get out and about; make drawing an adventure, and don’t just rely on your photographs. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: SKETCHING IN THE LANDSCAPE SETTING UP What you need: • Pencils • Eraser • Sharpener • Sketchbook Time: Draw until you’re too hot, cold or too uncomfortable to draw any more! Setup: Find somewhere comfortable to perch with your sketchbook or drawing board. You might have the luxury of drawing from a window, although there’s nothing better than being right in the middle of the scenery. AIMS & ATTITUDES This exercise is intended to help you look at the landscape around you and to experience it through drawing. It’s also a great opportunity to practise your composition and to explore varied mark-making. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Pick your view carefully and establish the major lines and shapes of the composition that you see in front of you. Think in terms of tonal masses as you decide your composition. [image: illustration] Block in the masses of tone in the scene, breaking it down into foreground, midground and background. Unfocussing your eyes a little will help you to judge relative tones; note how the background often appears tonally lighter than the foreground. [image: illustration] Work more detail into your scene using textural mark-making to create visual variety in the scene and focus the attention of the viewer. Focus more on foreground details, letting the background remain vague to create the illusion of depth. ALSO TRY… Splitting a page into boxes and trying out some tiny simplified thumbnail studies to provide you with alternative views, or a visual narrative of a walk. TO IMPROVE… • Learn more about composing your image. • Develop your understanding of tone. • Learn more about using shapes of tone in your drawing. [image: illustration] DRAWING TREES From sprightly saplings to bowed grandfathers of the forest, there is an anthropomorphic quality to trees that makes them an engaging subject for drawing. As with a figure, you can attempt to capture the complete pose of a tree, making drawings that generalise details to capture shape and form, or you could choose to study discrete parts, making small drawings of branches, leaves and fruits. This exercise is about capturing the feel of a tree energetically and efficiently; some of the figure-drawing exercises in here could also be applied to drawing trees. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: FOREST DRAWING SETTING UP What you need: • HB Pencil • Dip pen • Ink • Sketchbook Time: An hour or more. Setup: You need a sturdy sketchbook for working outdoors. A tin or plastic box will be useful for keeping your ink and pen in. Sit or stand to sketch, as you find most comfortable. AIMS & ATTITUDES This aim of this exercise is to capture trees in context with their environment, designing the drawing to make a satisfying composition. Use the pencil to establish big shapes, and then use the dip pen to inject movement into the scene, building up marks to create the impression of tone and texture. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Establish the form of the trees in pencil. Don’t get caught up in detail, but record their overall shape. [image: illustration] Draw in more details, working from big shapes to smaller shapes, and drawing the negative spaces between the branches. [image: illustration] Draw over the pencil with energetic textural marks in ink; don’t draw what you imagine a tree should look like, but draw the shapes of the branches, bark and leaves that you see in front of you. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Making similar studies of plants and flowers. Take a look at examples of botanical drawing and go out in search of beautiful blooms to draw! TO IMPROVE… • Learn more about negative space. • Learn to judge relative tones. • Learn to make balanced compositions. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] LITTLE FIGURES The human form can seem like a complex subject to tackle, but it needn’t be intimidating. The figures that populate the cities and rural landscapes that we might draw can be seen as tiny collections of simple shapes that give the suggestion of humanity. By drawing the figure as simple blocks of tone, leaving out any detail, you can tap into the shapes of clothing and gestures. This exercise is intended for quickly sketching static or moving people at a distance, and can be combined with previous exercises to add figures to your urban and rural landscape drawings. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: DRAWING PEOPLE SETTING UP What you need: • Pencils • Sketchbook Time: 1–3 minutes per figure. Setup: You can do this exercise just about anywhere – try it when you’re standing in line sometime to practise your guerrilla drawing technique, or get comfy and settle in to see how many people you can capture in an hour. AIMS & ATTITUDES This exercise is mostly about simplifying something you know to be complicated into the simple shapes that you actually see in front of you. Draw small and try to perceive the figure as a whole shape made up of smaller shapes of clothing. As you observe them, hold the shapes of movements in your head like frames of a film. This will help develop your visual memory. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Draw the figures no bigger than your little finger. Work from the inside out, using short marks to sketch in the mass of tone that makes up the torso and head, treating them as simple blocks. [image: illustration] Use simple directional tonal mark-making to block in the shapes of arms, legs and clothing, arriving at a basic silhouette of the figure. [image: illustration] Use darker tonal mark-making to create focus, drawing the darker shadows that you see and avoiding drawing anything you can’t clearly see. You can use an eraser to clean up the edges of the tonal shapes. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Putting together figures you’ve sketched out and about and environments you’ve drawn to compose imaginary scenes. This will help you to develop your imaginative drawing skills at the same time as borrowing usefully from your observations. TO IMPROVE… • Work on your visual memory. • Develop your tonal mark-making. • Learn to judge shapes better. • Practise gestural figure drawing. [image: illustration] AT museums & GALLERIES Museums are incredible resources, repositories of history that give us insight into the world around us. As a sketching location, even the lowliest museum will house sufficient curiosities to keep you scribbling for hours; national museums can be a source of wonder for a lifetime. By drawing with friends and family you can engage with exhibits in a new way, looking harder than you might have ever looked in the past. Walking around art galleries with a draftsman’s eye will give you a new way of relating to the work you see. The ability to see critically is a hard-won skill, and some artwork requires time to be properly understood and appreciated; you don’t have to like the work you see to learn from it. Drawing from artwork will help you gain insight into the processes of the artist who created it. Most museums and galleries welcome sketchers; some even provide fold-up chairs to carry around with you. If you’re visiting a museum or gallery with non-drawers, then prepare to be left behind each time you get caught up in a sketch. IDEAL KIT You’ll need easily portable drawing materials that won’t make a mess, so avoid charcoal sticks and pots of ink. Keep to pens and pencils, and use sharpeners with an attached container for catching shavings. A compact sketchbook will be ideal to draw in, or you could bring a drawing board and paper in a folder. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] CAST DRAWING Many galleries contain busts, head-and-shoulder portrait sculptures usually carved in stone or cast in metal. Light-coloured stone or plaster busts will provide you with a great opportunity to study surface tones without the complication of varied skin colour. Cast drawing is often associated with the sight-sized studies (where the drawing is made the same size as the subject appears from wherever the artist is standing) popular in contemporary drawing ateliers; in contrast, this version of the activity is a practical guerilla-drawing exercise that will yield loosely defined sketches of your subject. Drawing busts allows you to sketch a considered portrait from a perfectly still and consistently lit model. If you’re looking for portrait-drawing practice, this will be superior to copying from photographs as it will incorporate all the challenges of translating a three-dimensional head into a two-dimensional drawing without the performance anxiety of working with a live model. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: DRAWING FROM A BUST SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Sketchbook Time: 20 minutes. Setup: Sitting down can help you keep your position, but consider the angle you will be drawing. Before you start sketching, move around to find the composition you like the best. AIMS & ATTITUDES As you set up to draw, think carefully about the angle and lighting of the head – although you can’t move the bust, you can control your own position. The outcome of your drawing will be led by your initial decisions as much as by your drawn marks. Taking a different attitude to the bust will create different drawings: drawing the bust while imagining it to be a real person will allow you to imbue the drawing with the vitality of a living sitter. In contrast, drawing the bust as a still-life object will encourage more accurate and objective drawing. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Choose your position: think about the head angle, the lighting and how the drawing will be composed on your page. Start with a loosely sketched outline, jotting in the top, bottom, left and right limits of the head with short, sharp marks. [image: illustration] Don’t become fixated on features, but instead draw the edges of shapes of shadow. The resulting jigsaw of tonal shapes should resolve itself into the illusion of a face. [image: illustration] Add tone to the shapes of shadow. Keep your mark-making simple and consistent and reduce complicated gradients of shadow into simple blocks of mid-tone. Don’t go too dark too quickly but reserve your darkest marks for the deepest edges of shadow. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Drawing from garden statues. If you don’t have ready access to a gallery with busts, try sketching in garden centres and public parks, or buy yourself a plaster cast or stone garden ornament to draw from. TO IMPROVE… • Practise alternative approaches to drawing heads (see 1 and 2). • Learn more about shape and tone (see 1 and 2). • Develop practical measuring techniques (see here). [image: illustration] FOCUSSED TRANSCRIPTIONS We can all intuitively appreciate paintings, prints and drawings on a visual and emotional level, and accompanying text, gallery staff and audio tours might provide details of the historical and cultural context of an artwork, or the motivations behind its creation. As a maker of drawings, you might also want to gain greater insight into an artwork by making focussed studies that interrogate ts composition and execution, learning lessons from the work that you can apply to your own. In this transcription I’ve drawn from a compositional sketch of a nude by Edgar Degas. In order to gain the most from your transcriptions you’ll need to draw with clear intention and avoid simply redrawing imagery in your own style. Copy drawings in order to learn something about the artist’s mark-making; as you draw, don’t simply replicate the drawn marks, but ask yourself questions about how the artist made them. What medium have they used? How did they hold that medium? How far were they from the paper as they drew? Were their marks made slowly or quickly? Are they loosely drawn or tightly controlled? Paintings and drawings can be reduced to their fundamental compositions by an understanding of their armatures and use of tone. If you are trying to copy paintings and non-drawn artwork by drawing them, you won’t learn nearly as much as you might by making focussed transcriptions. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: TRANSCRIPTION SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Sketchbook Time: Spend plenty of time looking at the work, and then spend 15 minutes making each transcription. Setup: This largely depends on the work you’ve chosen. It’s best not to pick the most popular piece in the gallery at a busy time! If you can sit down, make sure you can see your chosen artwork clearly, and be prepared for interruptions when other people come to have a look at your subject. AIMS & ATTITUDES Make transcriptions from artworks in order to understand them better. You can make different transcriptions to learn different lessons from a work: try developing your own approaches to transcription. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD First, take a look at for guidance on composition. For this exercise you’ll want to look for the basic compositional devices that underpin the image, and to appreciate how the dimensions of the picture plane affect its appearance. [image: illustration] To develop your understanding of a composition, you can transcribe for tone by simplifying the picture into blocks of light and dark. Take a look at here to gain some further insight into tonal drawing. [image: illustration] Make a copy of a section of another artist’s drawing, think about what elements of their subject they have chosen to represent and try to emulate their marks to learn how they made them. [image: illustration] TO IMPROVE… • Learn more about composition. • Learn more about shape and tone (see 1 and 2). • Explore mark-making. • Regularly visit art exhibitions; don’t just look at images of artwork online. [image: illustration] STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST This exercise will involve using transcriptions from the exercise in here as a means of gathering information that can then be applied to your own original drawings. The compositions and marks that you choose to borrow needn’t just be applied to the subject represented in the original drawing. For example you could take a composition from a landscape painting and apply it to a still-life drawing, or apply the marks from an artist’s drawing of a tree to your own study of a figure. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: BORROWED MARKS SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Sketchbook Time: Variable. Setup: Work directly in front of the piece that inspired you, or wherever you feel most comfortable. [image: illustration] AIMS & ATTITUDES Bear in mind that you are drawing in order to learn. By emulating a great artist whose work you admire, you should be learning from their approach and applying those lessons to your own work; you might come to discard some approaches over time, while assimilating others into your regular practice. [image: illustration] METHOD In this example I have taken the composition of a landscape painting and applied it to a still-life drawing, using a variation of the exercise in here. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] [image: illustration] [image: illustration] Here, I’ve taken the tonal distribution and composition from a still life and used it to develop a group scene, taking figures from my sketchbook, borrowed from the exercise in here. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] [image: illustration] In the drawing beneath, I have borrowed the marks I observed in a figure study and applied them to a drawing of a tree from the exercise in here. [image: illustration] TO IMPROVE… • Make more transcriptions to develop your artistic vocabulary. • Try making drawings in the style of artists you admire in order to learn more about their techniques. • Apply the lessons learned from transcriptions to different exercises in this book. [image: illustration] SKETCHBOOK OF CURIOSITIES As you wander around a museum there will always be little artefacts, trinkets and ephemera that catch your eye. Taking the pieces home yourself is broadly frowned upon, so try collecting them in your sketchbook by making little drawings of them all. Make your sketchbook into your own personal collection of curiosities, composing them together on the page and adding your own annotations and reflections. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: SKETCHBOOK COLLECTION SETTING UP What you need: • Pencils • Sharpener • Eraser • Sketchbook Time: A single drawing might take 5–20 minutes. Setup: Grab your portable sketchbook and curator’s mindset, and take as long as you need to capture what you can of your subject. AIMS & ATTITUDES Become a collector of little pictures of things. The items you choose to draw will say something about where you are, who you are and what interests you. Filling a page might be a full day’s work, and filling a sketchbook might take a month, a year or a lifetime. Each small drawing is a contribution to a greater whole. [image: illustration] METHOD Set a scale for your sketches; you might want to draw the items in correct proportion to one another, or to play around with scale. Each time you add an item, think about where you will place it on the page. Make simple sketches, drawing the shapes of objects, dwelling on the elements of the subject that interest you and making any notes you feel add to the drawing. [image: illustration] Fill the page with objects, composing them as a collector might line up items in a display case. Date your drawings for posterity. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Making sketches of other collections of items that interest you, from discarded items in the street to objects from your house. Set items next to one another in interesting ways, making the mundane intriguing. TO IMPROVE… • Think about how you compose the items on the page. • Develop your core drawing skills. • Practise observational drawing exercises to help you improve your looking. [image: illustration] AT WORK Drawing is a visual language, a tool for communication. When we draw for artistic purposes, we use this language poetically, employing marks that describe our subject with eloquence and grace. Like any language, drawing can also be used to record ideas, to describe concepts and solve problems. If you want to draw more, then don’t confine drawing to your leisure time; start using visual language in your work. This chapter contains practical applications for drawing in the workplace, with exercises that you can try outside of work in order to develop your skills. IDEAL KIT Practical, communicative drawings require materials that make clear, efficient marks. Pens, pencils and good-quality felt-tip pens are good materials to start with. If you need to draw on a white board or flip chart, think about how you’ll stand in order to minimise the distortion in your drawing. All the drawings in this chapter utilise the same set of materials: • Felt-tip pens • Ballpoint pens • Fineliners • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Paper [image: illustration] APPLICATIONS OF DRAWING • Draw to communicate. Drawing breaks down language barriers and is the best way to describe complex visual or spatial subjects. You might draw a map rather than give spoken directions, for example. • Draw your ideas. Drawing can be a way of exploring new ideas and articulating things that you don’t quite have words for. Most man-made objects start their life as a drawn design. • Draw to remember. A drawing can act as a helpful mnemonic; an illustrated story is more memorable than a purely verbal one. Images can conjure instant associations, this is why companies often have a picture as a logo. • Draw to get a new perspective on a problem. The process of drawing allows you to look at the world in a fresh way, by drawing something you often learn to understand it better. [image: illustration] PRACTICAL ADVICE • Don’t let performance anxiety hold you back. Practise your drawing at home and bring the skills you learn to work. • Start to think of drawing as part of your arsenal of everyday communicative tools. When you need to describe something, think, ‘Could I draw that instead?’ • Use your breaks for practising. Try some of the other drawing exercises in this book during lunch (try the exercises from 1, 2 and 3). • Recognise how you might already be drawing, and develop your skills to enable you to do it better. Diagrams, doodles and maps all employ drawn marks. • Find colleagues that want to learn to draw. Sketch at work together, start a sketchcrawl or go to a life-drawing class after work. • Bring in expertise. If you think your colleagues would benefit from better visual communication skills, consider inviting a drawing tutor in to run a workshop. [image: illustration] SEQUENTIAL NARRATIVE Images arranged in an order create a linear visual story. These sequential images are often used for instructions as they can be easily imitated. Signage is the simplest kind of instructional imagery; the little person running towards the door on a fire exit sign immediately conveys what to do in the event of a fire. Instruction manuals often contain simple annotated line drawings to demonstrate how to assemble a model plane, or how to use your oven. A multi-panel instructional drawing needs to be unambiguously drawn, using simple, efficient marks, illustrating the key stages of the activity it describes. For the exercise on the next page you will make a simple instructional drawing for fun, illustrating a day-to-day task. The aim is to be efficient and use as few panels as possible, while illustrating each separate action required for the task and stripping out all unnecessary detail. Enact the activity yourself, taking photographs to draw from, or drawing from your imagination. Use other pages in this book to help you improve your drawings of specific activities or locations. EXERCISE: INSTRUCTIONAL DRAWING APPLICATIONS • Leaving instructions for family or friends at home. • Leaving instructions at work. • Signage, as simplified instructions. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] METHOD Pick a task to illustrate, break it down into four or five simple actions and, using a pencil, loosely plan out panels that illustrate each stage in the simplest way. As you plan the task, you might want to describe it verbally to help you break down the stages. Take a photograph of each stage of the task and make a simple pencil line drawing based on each one. If it involves hands, you might want to refer to here; figures, or faces. [image: illustration] Go over the pencil lines in pen, clarifying the shapes. You might want add simple tone or colour to the drawing using felt-tip pens. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Using the sequential style to create a simple storyboard. The storyboard is a standard device used to tell a linear narrative in key frames of action. Animators and filmmakers might use storyboards to plan out scenes. Making simple signs that convey something you do or do not want people to do, using the skills you’ve learnt from this exercise to get the message across in the most direct way. TO IMPROVE… • Practise simple line drawings (see 1 and 2). • Practise simple figures. • Practise sketching the subjects of your instructional drawing from observation. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] DRAWING FOR DESIGN Verbal language tends to fix ideas to existing concepts, but when you’re designing something new you might want your ideas to remain pliable as you develop them. Drawing allows you to explore a visual idea without pinning it down so that you can trial alternatives and develop your thoughts. Presenting your ideas as drawings makes it easy for other people to engage with a new idea and to see the process you followed to arrive at your final outcome. If you’re designing something new, you might first want to use observational drawing to explore other approaches to the same subject, as well as drawing shapes and objects that inspire your own designs. This exercise will help you try out the approach by designing an imaginary new chair, breaking the process down into idea-gathering, trialling new ideas and refining your favoured design. This is a basic approach to design; professional product designers, concept artists, architects and so on will all have their own design processes, and in time you will doubtless develop your own. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] APPLICATIONS • Designing new objects you’d like to make: cupboards, candlesticks, etc. • Working out the best way to do a practical task such as putting up a shelf – planning its position on the wall, the brackets you will use, what to put on it, etc. • Planning the look of something, for example, an outfit, party decorations, etc. [image: illustration] METHOD Gather ideas. Make observational drawings of chairs and any object that might provide further inspiration. Explore the practical purpose of the chair and extract shapes and textures from inspirational material. [image: illustration] Sketch a variety of alternative chair designs from your imagination, giving yourself several options to work from. What would you like to see in a chair? [image: illustration] Pick your favourite idea and develop it, drawing the design from different angles and imagining it in use. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Costume design. Use the stickman exercise to create a standard figure from the front and side and try out different costume designs. Fashion design uses a stylised, attenuated figure; character design might require a greater variety of figure shapes. TO IMPROVE… • Make more sketches from observation. • Learn to extrapolate lines and textures from your subjects that you could apply to other designs (see Edges). • Develop your stick people. [image: illustration] MAPS & DIRECTIONS Most people will happily draw a map to give directions; verbally complex directions can be easily simplified into a basic visual form. Some maps are more complex than others; working out what information needs to be included is as much a part of the skill of drawing the map as the physical draftsmanship. A hastily sketched roadmap will look very different to the creative cartography that might go into a map of picturesque walks around a village, but both fulfil their purpose. For this exercise, draw your route from home to work. Imagine the route from above, sketching out the roads you take to scale and noting landmarks on the way. To embellish a map you could include enlarged landmarks, sketched using approaches from here and drawn as if you were looking at them head-on. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: MAPPING A ROUTE APPLICATIONS • A road map to direct a friend or colleague. • A map of the floor plan of a building. • A decorative map. [image: illustration] METHOD Illustrate your route to work. Roughly sketch out a map of the route from above in pencil and note down any major landmarks along the way. [image: illustration] Clarify the route by drawing over the pencil in pen and lightly erasing the earlier marks when the ink is dry. [image: illustration] Draw in the major landmarks from observation, photographs or memory. Add colour and tone if needed. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Laying out a room. If you’re thinking about different arrangements of furniture in a room, try mapping them on paper and trialling alternatives. TO IMPROVE… • Practise sketching key features in the landscape (see here). • Practise drawing interiors to gain a better sense of space in drawings. • Practise making clear, bold lines (see here). [image: illustration] [image: illustration] THE ULTIMATE STICKMAN The stickman is a simplified human figure. At its worst the stickman can come to symbolise the insecurities many people have with their drawings; people often defensively state, ‘All I can draw is stick people.’ Just like all other aspects of your drawing, your stickmen can always be improved. If you have a shorthand for the figure you can use it for anything from storyboarding and instructional drawing to planning compositions for paintings and sketching figurative scenes. Your basic figure might lean towards the cartoonlike, or it might be more representational; it is up to you. The stick people in this exercise demonstrate an evolving anatomy that becomes more complex as they need to communicate more complex ideas. The first represents the presence of a person and nothing more. The final stickman is fully articulated and could adopt a plethora of poses. When using them in context, pick the level of detail that is suitable for what you want to communicate. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: EVOLVING STICKMEN APPLICATIONS • For drawing a figure in relation to any designed objects, from chairs to buildings. • Stickmen can be used in storyboards or instructional drawing. • The basic figure can underpin characters in comic strips, simple character design and in pictures drawn for fun. All of these stick people are useful for something; even the most basic one can signify complex attitudes and ideas. [image: illustration] METHOD Here are some different stick figures for you to practise and adapt – play around with them on the page, doodle them performing different actions, interacting or telling a visual story. The simplest stick figure can be a useful way to quickly and plainly symbolise a person – sometimes it will be the best figure for the job! [image: illustration] Filling out the body of a stick figure and giving them tapering limbs will broaden the gestures they can perform and make them feel all the more human, whilst retaining their simplicity. [image: illustration] More complex figures can be developed from a simple armature based on skeletal structure – any knowledge of anatomy you might have developed from life drawing exercises will contribute hugely to more lifelike people. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Using photos of figures in action, or paused film footage, as a basis for drawing action poses. Vary body shapes and vary scale to suggest distance. TO IMPROVE… • Draw more figures from life (see 1, 2 and 3). • Practise drawing your stick figures in a variety of poses. • Learn more about the anatomy of the human body (see 1 and 2). [image: illustration] IN A LIFE CLASS Life drawing is the practice of making an observational drawing directly from a model, typically unclothed. Although many artists employ life models for one-to-one sittings, most life drawing takes place in group sessions with several people drawing from a model. Life drawing isn’t just about making pictures of unclothed figures, it is a great way to exercise core drawing skills. Fundamentally it is an exercise in observation, training you to look properly at your subject, using selective drawn marks to make efficient sketches within the time constraints of poses. At its best a life-drawing class can be the heart of an artistic community, encouraging skill sharing and providing an environment in which to meet others who are keen on drawing. MODEL & POSE TIMINGS Remember that the model sitting for the class is a person, not just a subject for the drawing. Respect the life model and be considerate in your language towards them; they are providing the source of inspiration for your work! If you’re used to drawing from photographs, still life or landscapes, then getting used to the speed of shorter poses will be your first challenge. The time constraints of a life class will require a compromise; make a conscious decision about how you will direct your time in a drawing and don’t try to draw everything all at once. The exercises in this chapter will help you to get started. ABILITY & EXPERIENCE Life-drawing classes are often pitched at different levels of experience with tutored classes for beginners or improvers and untutored drop-ins open to all abilities. Pick the class that you feel best reflects your confidence level, but be brave – you shouldn’t be put off attending by inexperience. Do some research to find out whether you need to bring your own materials, and if you do, use the advice on the next page to guide you. [image: illustration] Equipment If you haven’t been asked to take specific materials to a class, here is some suggested equipment. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many options at your first class, but go prepared. The board and paper could be any size you prefer; if the life class has easels you can work really big! A VARIED KIT • Ink and dip pen • Watercolour brushes • Charcoal sticks • Charcoal pencils • Graphite pencils • Eraser • Knife • Pencils • Sharpener • Drawing board • Paper • Folder [image: illustration] A SIMPLE KIT • Sketchbook • Pencils • Eraser • Sharpener • Ballpoint pens [image: illustration] SETUP For the drawings in this chapter, you’ll usually be set up at an easel or with a drawing board on your lap. Think about your position in the room, as it will affect the poses you see, and make sure your paper is well lit. [image: illustration] WARM-UPS It is worth spending a little time warming up before committing yourself to a longer drawing. I always think of these first sketches as sacrificial drawings intended to establish a connection between your eye and hand and get you making marks. You can use this exercise to help you draw quick poses, or use it at the beginning of a longer pose before starting a more earnest drawing. If you’ve never drawn before, this can be a good exercise to start with. Because the exercise involves not looking at the paper you have an excuse to make strange and misproportioned drawings! [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: BLIND CONTOUR DRAWING SETTING UP What you need: • Ballpoint pen or pencil • Sketchbook Ideal pose length: 1–3 minutes per pose. AIMS & ATTITUDES This is a commonly used exercise to help you make clear observations, unrestricted by the worry of how the drawing looks. It will also help you to identify edges, make decisions about where to draw a line and it will encourage confident linear mark-making. [image: illustration] METHOD Secure your paper and sit looking at the model; don’t look at the paper at all throughout this drawing. Touch your pen or pencil to the paper, near the top, and focus your eyes on the top of your model’s head. Slowly let your eye trace a line around your subject. As your eye ‘draws’ its way around the subject, let your pencil follow the same movements on the paper. [image: illustration] Draw a continuous line around your subject’s outline, moving inwards when necessary to follow lines in the body. If you lose your place, you can look down at your drawing briefly, reposition your pencil and continue the process, keeping your eye on the subject as you draw. [image: illustration] When the time is up, lift your pencil off the paper and take a look at what you’ve drawn. Expect the drawing to be bizarre and inaccurate; after all, you weren’t looking at it! Repeat this exercise regularly to help you get used to looking and drawing. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Making blind contour drawings of people outside of the life drawing class, drawing without looking back at the paper to improve your observational skills. TO IMPROVE… • Learn more about drawing edges. • Explore different ways of making lines. • Read more about observation. [image: illustration] GESTURAL DRAWINGS A gestural drawing captures the energy and feel of a pose. In poses lasting just a few minutes a model will be able to hold a more dynamic posture and this energy can be captured in a swift gestural study. Although the drawing is still rooted in observation, you’ll be drawing how the pose feels as much as how it looks. The time constraints of a quick pose mean you have to sacrifice some accuracy to maintain the right feeling in the drawing, and a good way to do this is to set yourself some boundaries to stop yourself getting caught up in detail as you draw. For this exercise, you’ll only have three lines with which to capture your subject. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: THREE-LINE DRAWING SETTING UP What you need: • Charcoal pencil • Lots of paper Ideal pose length: 10 seconds–5 minutes per pose. AIMS & ATTITUDES Gestural drawings should be made with energy, but they shouldn’t be made in a panic. Look first, then draw. Some drawings will work better than others and you may find you can make several sketches during one pose. This is an exercise in selection; you must learn to make quick, instinctive decisions about where to draw a line, and to put those lines down confidently. [image: illustration] METHOD Take a moment to look. Draw the first line from the top of the pose to the floor, capturing energy in the pose using a flowing and intuitive mark. You’ll have no time for detail. Don’t let the line hesitate. If you don’t like where it has gone, start again next to the first line. The next line should balance the first line. Keep it confident, keep looking at the model. There will be lots of things you aren’t able to capture; that is fine. This exercise is all about being selective. [image: illustration] The final line can create a focus and interest in the drawing. If you have time, try the same pose again, and try to improve on the drawing. Some drawings will come out well, some will not. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Drawing the pose in five lines, giving you the opportunity for a little more expression. TO IMPROVE… • Learn to be more selective in your drawing. • Draw subjects that don’t stay still (see 1 and 2). [image: illustration] NEGATIVE SPACE Our observations of the figure are inevitably affected by how we expect a body to look. We bring fewer preconceptions to the abstract shapes of spaces that surround the figure, and we can use those spaces to help us see the figure more objectively; by drawing these negative spaces around a figure, you can arrive at the silhouette of the body. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: DRAWING IN NEGATIVE SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Sharpener • Eraser • Paper Ideal pose length: 3–10 minutes per pose. AIMS & ATTITUDES This exercise trains you to see negative spaces; do your best not to become distracted by the details of the body. Bear in mind that when you draw a line around the boundary of the figure you are simultaneously drawing the boundary of the negative space. [image: illustration] METHOD Start with a clear, simple shape, ideally a small shape enclosed by the body. Draw the space as accurately as your time allows. [image: illustration] Draw the next nearest shape, judging the relationship between the spaces. Don’t draw the body in between, but maintain an awareness that the spaces are creating the silhouette of a figure. [image: illustration] Draw the negative space around the figure. You might also want to draw in the shapes of the furniture that the model is posed on in a similar way. If you want to, you can darken the negative spaces to make the figure stand out. [image: illustration] Using a viewfinder can help you to identify the negative spaces around the body. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Using a viewfinder to create an artificial boundary around the body. A viewfinder can easily be cut out of card or the backing of your sketchpad. TO IMPROVE… • Practise drawing chairs and stools in negative. • Learn to recognise abstract shapes more easily. • Learn to judge the relationships between shapes. • Learn to identify the boundary around a figure more easily (see here). TONAL DRAWING We see the world around us by perceiving tone and colour. Tone, also called value, refers to how dark or light we perceive something to be. When you are drawing the figure you are presented with a complex map of tones that you need to selectively translate into drawn marks. Judging how light or dark a relative tone is will take practice. It can be helpful to separate tones into broad categories, looking for the lightest lights, mid-tones and darkest darks. This exercise involves adding a mid-tone to the paper first, erasing away to represent light and adding darker marks to achieve shadows. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: SUBTRACTIVE TONE SETTING UP What you need: • Charcoal sticks • Soft cloth • Plastic eraser • White paper Ideal pose length: 5–20 minutes per pose. AIMS & ATTITUDES This exercise will help you simplify the figure into blocks of tone. You needn’t draw all the shadows you see; be selective and make decisions about what to put into your drawing and what to leave out. Learn to see shadows as a jigsaw of blocks of light or dark and develop a vocabulary of tonal marks for describing these shapes. [image: illustration] METHOD Prepare your paper by lightly scrubbing a stick of charcoal over the paper and then rubbing over the surface with a cloth. Aim to cover the surface with an even mid-tone of grey. [image: illustration] Take a good plastic eraser, cut to a point, and start drawing in shapes of light. Start from a big clear shape of highlight and erase areas of light as you see them, maintaining an awareness of the relationships between shapes. Keep the drawing simple and draw the shapes of highlights, leaving the mid-tone shadows behind. [image: illustration] Once you have drawn in simple blocks of light, use your charcoal stick to draw in darker shadow shapes, drawing in the sharp edges of shadows to add clarity to your drawing. [image: illustration] Finally, balance the background against the figure, creating contrasts that help draw attention to the shape of light on the body. Use your eraser to lighten large areas or your charcoal to darken them [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Drawing on a mid-tone paper. Choose a paper that isn’t too dark and draw the shapes of shadows on in charcoal, allowing the paper to stand in for the mid-tones. Use white chalk or gouache to create the shapes of highlights. TO IMPROVE… • Learn to recognise tones more easily. • Explore different ways of drawing tonal shapes. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] CONSTRUCTED APPROACH When a model adopts a pose, we see the underlying structure of bones, muscles and fat expressed on the surface of the skin. Figure drawings can have a similar underlying structure of simple lines and shapes, a drawn anatomy that relates to the physical anatomy of the human body. By understanding the structure of the body better, you can learn to make more focussed and selective life drawings. This tutorial demonstrates how you might use observations of anatomy to develop a simple drawn anatomy, taking the neck and shoulders as an example. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: A CONSTRUCTED DRAWING [image: illustration] SETTING UP What you need: • Pencils • Eraser • Sharpener Ideal pose length: 10–30 minutes per pose. [image: illustration] AIMS & ATTITUDES By developing a basic knowledge of what is underneath the surface of the skin you can learn to make clearer observations of the figure. By developing simple structures to sketch down underneath your figures, you’ll create a scaffold of marks on which to hang your observations of the body. If you like the approach, develop your knowledge of the figure by studying anatomy alongside making focussed observational studies. Everybody draws differently, so this approach won’t suit everybody. [image: illustration] METHOD Research the anatomical structure of the part of the body you wish to study, making sketches from anatomical textbooks, and develop a working understanding of that part of the figure, paying attention to muscles and bone structures you see demonstrated on the surface of the skin. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] From your observations of the figure and from your research, develop some simple shapes that underpin what you see in that part of the body. Instructional drawing books that focus on the figure might also suggest a framework of constructive shapes. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] When you observe your area of study in a life-drawing class, make quick sketches, laying down the underlying shapes you have developed, and elaborating on those structures based on what you are observing. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Move on to studying other parts of the body and develop a complete figure construction. Use this to practise drawing simple figure poses from your imagination. TO IMPROVE… • Improve your judgment of relationships between major landmarks on the figure. • Study human anatomy. • Learn more about other suggested structures from figure-drawing books. [image: illustration] AT THE DRAWING BOARD This chapter is an extension of the section on drawing at home, intended for days when you can carve out a little more time to draw. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated studio space then perhaps this is drawing to be done there. If not, do it at the kitchen table, in your bedroom or anywhere you can focus fully on your work. Here is some advice to help you get the most from your time. PRACTICAL ADVICE • First you’ll want to cut out all distractions. Remove anything from your immediate vicinity that will pull you away from drawing. • Put technology aside. Even if you’re drawing from a screen, steer clear of the internet for a few hours, and set your phone to silent. • Don’t let other people distract you. Perhaps your first drawing could be an attractive ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for your door. • Set a minimum time. Allow yourself enough time to relax into drawing and don’t forget to make a few warm-up sketches before you start in earnest. • Don’t play the starving artist. Have something to eat! Have a snack and a glass of water to hand so that nothing will pull you away from the task ahead. • Don’t feel under pressure. This is time to learn, play and experiment. It is as much about the process as the outcome. • If you like music, put on some music. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] WARM-UPS Before starting any serious drawing, set aside a few minutes for making some sacrificial warm-up sketches. This will help you coordinate your eye and hand and loosen up your wrist a little. The paper-to-paper exercise in this section is a good warm up, but you might also want to start with any of the exercises from Chapter 2, a drawing of the room, the alternative exercise in here, or the blind contour drawings from here applied to objects rather than a model. [image: illustration] IDEAL KIT Get your drawing kit out, but don’t overwhelm yourself with too much variety. Picking your materials is as much a part of the drawing process as is putting pencil to paper. This is your time to try new tools, or to become more competent with the materials you enjoy; explore the range of potential that drawing has to offer. Nobody is looking over your shoulder or judging your work; you have permission to make mistakes, to take risks and to fail. Organise your drawing space, make sure you have a good surface to rest your paper on and ensure the kit you intend to use is accessible. [image: illustration] PAPER TO PAPER It is often useful to develop a few basic drawing exercises that help you relax into the process of looking and making marks. Ideally these exercises should require minimal equipment and a readily accessible subject – and what could be more accessible at your drawing board than a ball of paper! This is a great exercise in tonal drawing and shape recognition, and it can be a wonderfully meditative way to get lost in drawing something relatively simple. It is cheap and easy to set up, and was first suggested to me by the artist Daphne Sandham. Daphne advocates eating a square of chocolate at the same time to help you maintain concentration, and drawing for the length of a song; so put on a 3–5 minute song and draw until it finishes. [image: illustration] [image: illustration] EXERCISE: TONAL PLANES SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Eraser • Sharpener • Paper • A desk lamp Time: The length of a song. Setup: Crumple up a ball of paper and sit it on the table in front of you with a desk lamp providing directional light. AIMS & ATTITUDES This is a commonly used exercise to help you make clear observations, unrestricted by the worry of how the drawing looks. It will also help you to identify edges, make decisions about where to draw a line and encourage confident linear mark-making. [image: illustration] METHOD Start your drawing with a shape in the middle of the ball of paper; don’t begin with the outline of the ball. Draw the abstract planes that you see, drawing one shape next to another. [image: illustration] Start rendering tone using quick, simple diagonal marks. Judge how light or dark each shape should be relative to the shapes around to it. Save your darkest mark-making for the shadows in the creases of the paper. [image: illustration] Work out towards the edge of the paper, but don’t feel that you need to draw the whole ball; stop when the song ends. [image: illustration] ALSO TRY… Taking the same approach with other objects that are made up of many small shapes next to one another, a bunch of flowers for example. TO IMPROVE… • Learn to group tones into darks, mid-tones and lights (see here). • Learn to see abstract shapes more clearly. • Become better at judging relationships between points. [image: illustration] DRAWING HANDS We use our hands for reaching out and interacting with the world; they are also expressive tools for communication. Leaving your model’s hands out of a drawing is to neglect an important part of their identity, but if you’re drawing a full figure you might only have a few moments to capture the gesture of the hand. Spending some time making focussed studies of your own hands will allow you to concentrate on the varied shapes they can create. Simplifying hands into manageable structures will help you break down what you see, creating a framework on which you can hang your observations. This exercise uses a pencil for the underdrawing, and a black pen for later lines. Alternatively, you could do the underdrawing in willow charcoal, rub it back with your hand and over-draw in compressed charcoal pencil, or make the drawing in pencil, erasing between stages. [image: illustration] EXERCISE: HAND STUDIES SETTING UP What you need: • Pencil • Black ballpoint pen • Paper Time: 10 minutes per study. Setup: Secure your paper and pose one hand on the table so that you can draw it with your other hand. You might want to prop a mirror up in front of you so that you can draw your hand at a range of different angles. AIMS & ATTITUDES The pencil in this exercise helps you separate the processes of establishing and constructing the hand from elaborating on the form, allowing you to lay down confident black lines to cl