Jul 25, 2021

Figure Drawing: Placing and sizing the eyes

Head proportions: Placing and sizing the eyes, front view and side view

One way to improve our ability to draw a face or head is to learn where the features fit relative to each other and their approximate sizes compared to the head.

To do this, we can turn to the figure proportions guides. These figure proportions guides are maps to drawing the human body created by artists who observed some commonalities between the shapes and forms of the body. They developed these guides based on these commonalities to help the rest of us. 

We can draw a person more accurately and quickly using these proportional guides.

Today, we will look at some proportional guidelines to place and size the eyes correctly. Learning to position and size the eyes is a great place to start learning the proportions of the head. Using these guidelines not only helps us with the eyes, but it will also help us draw the facial features more accurately.

The Height of the Head: Our first unit of measurement

The first thing we need to find is the height or length of the head. This measurement is an important one. Many proportions guides use the head length as a primary or base measurement. The guides compare the sizes of the body's forms to the length of the head to find the correct size. The proportional guides describe lengths of the body's parts as measured in head lengths. 

We measure the length of the head from the top of the head down to the chin. Be careful to measure the top of the head and not the top of the face.  We find the top of the head above the hairline, within the body of the hair. 

Head proportions chart: This is our first unit of measurement when placing the eyes as we draw the head.

As it pertains to drawing the head, we use the head length to find the position of the eyes along the vertical axis of the head. We divide the head length into smaller measurements to determine how high up on the head to place the eyes.

Jul 17, 2021

Figure Drawing: Drawing an Ear Demo

This video is a follow-up to the previous video, Figure Drawing: Understanding the structures and anatomy of the ear. In that video, we look at the ear anatomy to better understand the forms that make up the ear that we need to draw when drawing the ear. In this video, I draw an ear to demonstrate how we can that information as we draw.

Jul 10, 2021

Figure Drawing: Understanding the structures and anatomy of the ear

A drawing of the ear.
Ears can be challenging to draw because there is so much happening with all the shapes we see within an ear that it can get a little confusing. Ears are surprisingly complex forms. On top of this complexity, everybody’s ear looks a little different. The shapes we see within an ear differ from person to person just enough that we can get tripped up by what we see. How can we make it easier to draw ears? One thing we can do is learn about ear anatomy. If we understand the ear anatomy, we can interpret the shapes we see within the ear, using an understanding of that anatomy to guide us. Doing this makes it easier for us to identify the relevant structures and organize the shapes more readily as we draw an ear. Today, we will look at the ear anatomy to see how these structures combine to form an ear.

The Ear Anatomy

The anatomical structures that shape the ear are the Helix, Antihelix, Concha, Earlobe, Tragus, and Antitragus.
The structures of the ear as seen from different views.

Jun 28, 2021

Learn to Draw a Honey Bee

This week I demonstrate drawing a bee, and this demo walks you through the steps to draw a bee from start to finish. From this tutorial, we learn to use the basic shapes and forms to step up the structures of the bee, then learn how to add the details onto that structure.

We will also practice some shading and change the line weight of our linework to finish the drawing. 

This demo starts at the very beginning of the drawing process and ends with a completed drawing, with no skipped steps in between. You will see everything I do, even my adjustments and corrections.

Enjoy the video and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Jun 21, 2021

A Simple Practice Exercise to Improve your Drawing Skills

An example of a drawing practice exercise. Practicing drawing boxes can help improve your drawing skills.

As with any complicated skill, it takes practice to get good at it. Just like learning to dance, play a sport, or learning a musical instrument, learning to draw requires that we practice. One thing that is often forgotten about or ignored when we are first learning to draw is that we can practice our drawing techniques.  

Our drawing technique is the method in which we engage with the tools we use as we draw. Our primary tool is the pencil. The pencil is a very versatile tool and, if we learn how to use it to take advantage of that versatility, we'll improve our skills. As a result, our drawings will be a higher quality of craftsmanship. A more confident artist will have created these drawings as well.

As we explore different techniques, practicing helps us better understand them. It is through practice that we truly learn each technique. Let's take a look at an easy exercise to practice how we use the pencil to draw lines.

The Exercise

In this exercise, we are practicing drawing fluid, confident lines. We are also practicing our control of the movement of the pencil as we draw.

For this exercise, we will draw a bunch of boxes. As we draw these boxes, we will focus on the lines we draw to make those boxes. We will pay attention to and practice how we draw those lines. 

Fill the sketchbook page with as many boxes as will fit on the page.
Fill the sketchbook page with as many boxes as will fit on the page.

To explore and practice our linework, we want to draw as many boxes as we can. We should fill each page of our sketchbook with boxes until there is no more room for any more. We also should fill several pages of our sketchbook this way to give ourselves enough practice. 

Draw each box small enough to fit several boxes on the page. Depending on the size of the paper, 10 to 20 boxes per page is a good range.

Jun 13, 2021

Figure Drawing: Drawing an Arm

Arm illustration
In this video, we are drawing an arm to see how we can separate elements of the arm drawing to make it easier to draw. Drawing the human figure can be a difficult thing to do. It can be challenging because the figure is a complex form that we are accustomed to seeing. This complexity and familiarity require us to pay attention to many different elements if we want to draw the figure accurately. 

The arm is an excellent example of the problems we might encounter as we draw. Though we regularly see arms, we are, likely, not as familiar with the different structures of the arm as we might think. Nor are those new to figure drawing necessarily familiar with the various elements we need to consider when illustrating the arm. 

To make it easier, we can separate the elements that go into drawing an arm into stages. Then we can focus on them at different times, allowing us to address one part at a time. That is what we do in this demonstration. 


Let's look at how we can separate the different elements of drawing an arm to make the process easier. The list below shows how I separated those elements and the order in which I drew each.

Basic Shapes

Let's look at how we can separate the different elements of drawing an arm to make the process easier. The list below shows how I separated those elements and the order in which I drew each.

The first thing we can do is translate the main parts of the arm into basic shapes. Here, I converted the hand, upper arm, and lower arm into three rectangles.

Draw the parts of the arm as translated into basic shapes.

Drawing these basic shapes allows us to work on the general positioning and portions of those parts. We use these basic shapes to see if we have the right size for each part of the arm relative to each other. We can also use these basic shapes to make sure that the length and width of each part of the arm are correct.

'We can also use these basic shapes to place the parts of the arm correctly. We want to draw them to have the joints connecting accurately. We can also work out the angles that each segment points to get the directions lined up. 

Jun 6, 2021

Drawing Basics: Drawing a Barn

The underlying structure od a barn

If you are just beginning to use the basic or simple form to draw, this step-by-step demonstration provides some tips on how to set up a drawing using simple forms.

This video shows us how we can use one of the simple or basic forms to draw a building. I demonstrate how we can use the box to establish the underlying structure to work out the positioning, proportions, and perspective as we draw a barn. We also take a look at how to set up some drawing guidelines to center or align parts of the barn to keep it appearing symmetrical.

Underlying Structure

This drawing technique looks for the hidden or underlying structures of objects to make drawing these objects easier to do. The underlying structure is the framework of shapes and forms that the complex visual information and details hang on. We can reinterpret each object into simple geometric shapes and forms. We can then use these simple geometric shapes and forms to understand how all the parts of the subject come together within three-dimensional space. 

The simplified forms used to set up this drwing of a dog.
The simple forms used to set up the structure of the drawing of the dog.

May 29, 2021

Drawing Basics: Drawing a box and understanding its shapes

A drawing of a box.

If we draw simple or basic forms to set up the underlying structure of our drawings, we need to make sure that we can draw those forms accurately. In this lesson, we'll look at drawing a box. More accurately, we'll learn to identify the critical elements that go into creating a precisely shaped box.

We'll look at some tricks to help draw a box to appear as if it is a three-dimensional form. Those tricks are all derived from the linear perspective guides.

We'll discuss one of the guides, but we won't be using any perspective grid in this demonstration. We will look at the edges of each side of the box and examine how and why we draw each edge to fit the structure correctly.


Drawing a Box

We will, first, do a quick walk through some steps to draw a box. The steps below are not the only way to draw a box. However, if you have never drawn a box before, these steps set a simple process that makes drawing a box easier to do.

May 22, 2021

Drawing Basics: Drawing using the Simple Forms

A drawing using the simple forms
We can improve our drawing skills by drawing the things we see around us.  Drawing from observation helps us by refining our observational skills and teaching us how to organize our drawing method. 

We can organize our drawing process by focusing on well-defined chunks of information at each step of completing a drawing.  Rather than simply trying to mimic what we see, we can approach drawing conceptually by organizing these tasks around separate bits of visual information. We can use conceptual frames of reference to understand what we are drawing. 

One way one frame of reference we can use is to identify the underlying structure of our subject and draw that first. If we can learn to identify the underlying structures, we draw we will improve our ability to draw more accurately. Our accuracy improves because we can lay out some fundamental features of our subject matter correctly before investing time in the details.

A great approach to identifying and drawing the underlying structure is to illustrate that structure in simple or basic forms. Let's look at why this is and how to do it. 


The above video explains the simple forms, why we use them, and demonstrates drawing an object using the simple forms to set up the underlying structure.

May 14, 2021

Drawing Basics: Line weight

To draw, one way to hold the pencil is the writer's grip

A simple technique we can employ to add variety and direct our audience's attention is by varying the weight of the lines within our sketch. 

Line weight is the visual strength or intensity of a line. We can achieve different line weights or intensities by changing the thickness of a line or changing how light or dark a line appears. We can even do both by changing the thickness and the darkness of a line. 

May 8, 2021

Holding the pencil to draw

Two ways to hold a pencil when drawing.

There are a few differences between using a pencil when drawing versus writing, and I want to cover a few of the basics of using a pencil as related to drawing. Understanding these basics will make drawing and sketching easier and more exciting.

As many of us are self-taught artists up to this point, we could benefit from the information below to improve our drawing technique. As self-taught artists, we may not have been introduced to these techniques.

Let's start by looking at how to hold a pencil.

How we hold the pencil is an often overlooked but essential part of a good drawing technique. I am sure that we all have struggled with drawing a line or mark as we sketched at one point in time. This struggle happens because we put our hand into an unnatural position to draw a line angled in we couldn't otherwise draw. If we find that we are rotating the sketchbook often, we are doing this for the same reason. We can't position the pencil as we need to move the pencil in the direction we want. Anyone who has drawn before has developed cramps or pain in the fingers and hands as they draw. There is a solution to all these problems. That solution is to adjust the way we grip the pencil.

When we hold the pencil appropriately, we will have more control and flexibility as we draw. We find that the pencil becomes easier to use as there is a greater range of movement within the fingers, wrist, and elbow.

We can hold the pencil in a variety of ways to help us when we draw. Let's look at the two basic types of grip.

Apr 30, 2021

About Graphite Pencils

Some graphite pencils and an eraser

Graphite pencils come in various levels of hardness. The graphite within the pencil is processed to have different degrees of hardness or firmness. Some pencils are made of firmer or harder graphite, creating lighter lines and shading. Some pencils are made of softer material, creating darker lines and shading.

As an artist or designer, we can select the correct type of pencil for the task at hand. For example, when we start a sketch, we might use a pencil with firmer graphite to draw the light lines of the initial setup of the sketch. After we work out the light lines of the initial sketch, we might want to shade the drawing using a pencil with softer graphite.