Drawing Basics

  • The fundamentals: Drawing is the practice of applying marks with mediums (e.g. charcoal, graphite, pastels) onto surfaces (e.g. paper, canvas).
  • Observation: The key to producing quality drawings lies in focused observation of your subject and translating it onto your medium.
  • Mark Making: This refers to the different lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures we create in a piece of art. Variety in mark making can enhance the expressive quality of your drawings.
  • Value and Tone: These terms refer to the lightness or darkness of a colour. Understanding and utilising these can greatly improve your sense of depth and three-dimensional form in your sketches.

Key Drawing Techniques

  • Line Drawing: This is the most fundamental drawing technique, where the artist uses lines to define the contours and aspects of the subject.
  • Shading: This technique represents the different degrees of light and dark in a drawing. It helps to give flat, two-dimensional shapes a three-dimensional form.
  • Hatching and Cross-Hatching: These techniques involve creating a series of parallel lines (hatching) or intersecting lines (cross-hatching) to convey shadow and volume.
  • Stippling: This technique uses small dots to suggest value and texture.
  • Blending: A technique used to create a smooth transition from one tone to another.

Material Techniques

  • Graphite: Graphite is a common and easily accessible medium. Use different grades (H for Hard and light lines, B for dark and soft lines) to achieve a variety of textures and depths.
  • Charcoal: Charcoal creates rich, dark lines and is great for quick sketches and expressive pieces. It can be more difficult to control than graphite, but offers stunning, bold results.
  • Ink: Ink is a dramatic, unforgiving medium. It provides a strong contrast and requires a careful, planned approach.

Compositional Techniques

  • Perspective Drawing: This technique involves creating depth and three-dimensionality by representing how objects appear to the human eye.
  • The Rule of Thirds: Dividing an image into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and placing key compositional elements along those lines, can greatly enhance the balance and appeal of your drawings.
  • Golden Ratio: Much like the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio (1.618:1) can be used to achieve aesthetically pleasing, naturally balanced compositions.

Rendering Texture

  • Understanding the physical properties of your subject and accurately representing its texture can dramatically increase the realism and attractiveness of your drawings.
  • Different rendering techniques include: creating stipples for rough textures, using smooth gradients for polished surfaces, and using hatching and cross-hatching for bumpy or fibrous surfaces.