Great resource for all -- looking forward to participating. I really relate to your intro video, Abbie. As a child, my favorite library books featured drawing methods utilizing cylinder & box shapes. Cartooning was also of great interest, I have a habit of 'noticing' mannerisms ;)
Brandon Schaefer does a great job of detailing drawing tools in the OP video -- love that kneaded eraser, not so much for erasing, but lifting off layers of excess graphite. Remember Silly Putty & lifting off cartoon drawings from color comics?
This is a sketch I created while sitting relaxing on a riverbank, studying my favorite tree. This particular tree always caught my eye -- wasn't until I came home and turned my sketch upside down that the torso revealed itself.
This piece goes back some 30 years, early on in developing my traditional skills. HB graphite pencils, ranging from HB to 6B, and F tip.
I love focusing on detail -- bark texture, stone, among my favorites. About a 2 hour session to create this.
A tip : When using smaller scale items to sketch from, a favorite branch, a small stone, a shell -- I set it, or a combination arrangement, on the table in front of me, with a light to position a variety of ways on/over/by the subject to see how shadows are cast. I also make use of natural light. I demonstrated that way often when I was teaching in the school system, and in my studio.
A studio course I created "Who Says You Can't Draw?" filled quickly -- great memories of eager, talented folk.
A valuable lesson I learned early, at a Tutorial, helped me enormously, when new, when trying to draw what I saw,but being
overwhelmed by details I could see but that were not altogether necessary for 'sketching'........lesson being.........................
Try to view the subject by viewing only the negative space surrounding it......
That's a challenge, but worth it, to open one's eyes to the image as a complete work, without detail, just via abstract shapes
that do describe the subject. Have a go, people.
Often, with colour, I find a drawing ,or its painting, is just as exciting when a limited palette is used,
and then one sees all the nuances of lights,darks,forms, again in a slightly abstract way....."my" way,it seems.
Here, in black/white,gray is how to see the forms,details,clearly and is an exciting way to draw....b/w is very
challenging too,and refreshing to the viewer.
I met a guy in my local national park who was busy painting one small section of a tree. He was spending ages sketching the one area. He wasn't happy. I told him to stop drawing it and to just add a dash of colour, then go from there. When I walked back the other way, he was happy grinning and splashing paint on canvas.... Well, I may add.
Do you think there is a time and place for drawing?
I'd like to add that I truly believe being able to sketch is a necessary precursor to a good painting when you've time.... But not so important en Plein air.....
Some of our members are fabulous en plein air painting......the whole experience is different, though sketching, when using paint. I have a few fav's of
others' fine paintings en plein air. Will go find them,post them here.
Yes, sketching takes out all the knots you don't want to unravel when doing a final work/painting from the sketch.
Here is the Master ! looks simple,! Isn't.......
Please visit his works, to learn from.....................drawing, btw, like painting, brings out a 'style' eventually, that is considered
Sketching has been one of my favorite activities though I haven't done much of it lately. I used to sketch from life often. My only tip is that if you want to learn to draw, sketch from life as much as you can, it doesn't matter what you sketch or what mediums you use just do it from life and often.
There are many other drawing groups here at FAA to join and share. You can find the
art groups under the Community tab at the top of the page then click on Groups.
You can search for other illustrations, drawing and chalk art groups too.
I like Roger's tips but will say that I often sketch from photos, my own or, with permission, others. But I do concede that sketching from life is an important part of learning. Before I start any finished work I make a pencil sketch in my sketchbook. That way I can play around with the elements and make sure they are where they should be. I start with lighter graphite pencils like HB and then use some of the softer ones like 3B or 6B to add darker lines and shading. I pretty much work the same way with charcoal, from harder varieties to softer.
1. learn to really visualize the play of shadow and light across a surface. Where are the highest highlights and medium to dark shadows?
2. Variety of line is important. Some should be light and/or thin and some heavy/thicker.
3.When learning to sketch, don't be afraid to use your eraser.
4. When doing a portrait of a person or animal I usually start with an eye and work from there. I feel that the eyes anchor the whole composition.
5. Try to stay loose and not get bogged down in details, unless you are going for photo realism.
6. Hold your sketch up to a mirror to get a different perspective on placement of elements. You can often see mistakes better when you do this.
That's all I can think of for now. Here is a finished sketch of Abbie's dog from a photo that I did for one of the edit contests. It took a few hours to do in charcoal pencil although I did also do a quicker pencil sketch first. I did not get the face in this drawing very symmetrical and probably should have taken more care with that but I also think that most faces aren't perfect and that can add to the personality of the subject.Take note of the eyes and nose especially where I used highlights and shadows to give them dimension.
I almost always sketch in pencil. Not because mistakes can be more easily fixed but because I like the better ability to control the value of line and shading. An ink line is an ink line. It can be thick or thin, straight or curved, but it is pretty much the same value and opacity unless you are using an ink that is a bit translucent and maybe sketching with a brush. Compare this ink drawing of a mouse with my dog drawing above to see what I'm talking about. The lines and shading in the dog are much more subtle.
I think sketching for the sake of sketching is a great way to train your eye. Especially when working from life or some other reference. My tip is to do it as often as you can. Take a small sketchbook whereever you go, and do it when you have down time. It's amazing how much your skills can grow that way.
I also think sketching is a great way to work out composition and ideas for more finished pieces. I think skeches can be particularly useful when doing an imaginative piece. I actually did a video on the advantages of using thumbnail sketches. https://youtu.be/UbBvAriTz4E
In that case Roger I would recommend starting with vine charcoal on a large newsprint sheet, as I think you suggested earlier. That is how we used to sketch from life in drawing class back in the day. I still think that a softer medium is more forgiving for a beginner than using ink.
I've sketched direct with pen plenty and I've also sketched with pencil a lot, each has it's uses but yes, you have to take care to not overuse the eraser, OTH, there's nothing inherently evil about using an eraser, it's just another tool.
In my drawing classes we started out with charcoal and news print as well, then moved onto India and walnut ink with a brush.
Actually, our first time using the India ink, we were not allowed to use a brush. Our professor had us use a tennis ball for drawing! We had to dip the tennis ball in ink and use that and only that for mark making. This was to loosen us up and have us let go of the idea of perfection. It was also to get us to only focus on the important lines instead of fine details.
Speaking of ink, I really enjoy sketching with ball point pen, and use it often in my sketchbook. It is a good place in between pencil and ink and brush. You cannot erase your mistakes but can get a wider range of value. Plus, they are inexpensive if you are just starting out and there are usually a couple laying around the house. This was one that I did for inktober one year, but my sketchbook has a lot of drawings like this in it. And you can use colored ball point pens which are fun too.
It was quite interesting Roger, some of the ugliest drawings we did that semester came from that day, but it was fun and boy did we learn a lot. Did I also mention we were drawing from a live nude model? Definitely not the most flattering figure drawings, but it was worth it!
The thing about a beginner trying to sketch in ink is that it can lead to a lot of frustration. Experienced artists may embrace mistakes but sometimes it is more difficult to convince a beginner to do so, especially if it is a detail oriented person or someone slightly obsessive. I don't have a problem erasing large parts of my pencil sketch if I don't think it is working the way I want it to, at least not if it is only a preliminary sketch. That is why one does the sketching in the first place. For a finished work you want to have those details worked out in advance.
Shana, I remember your ballpoint pen drawings and thought at the time they were impressive. I still haven't gotten around to trying that yet. I think I will try it with a gel pen sometime though. I prefer those for handwriting to a ballpoint. Maybe by next Inktober I'll get around to that.
Lois I've been enjoying your daily sketches on Facebook.
Actually I guess another important tip is to familiarize yourself with as many media types as possible. That way you can find what works best for you and your developing style.
My philosophy is that sketching from life and often is what's most important, the medium or technique used is not nearly so. Most people probably can't attend figure drawing sessions or any kind of group drawing sessions, I never have because I have to work and it seems they were always scheduled during the day on a weekday. A beginner especially is going to be too shy to go out in public with an easel and huge piece of paper and some like me don't want the attention that would draw regardless. Better to be out sketching in a small sketchbook than not at all. For the first year I studied art just about the only thing I did was sketch in small sketchbooks with pencils outdoors from life. I have sketched on large paper with charcoal a few times but not from life.
MM, I agree that it could be a bit frustrating for beginners to start in ink. I also agree with what you have said about getting the details worked out in the sketch so you do not have to worry about all the erasing etc. while working on a finished piece. I also think it is important for people to experiment with different mediums, that is one of my favorite things to do actually. Different things work for different people.
Going more into what MM has stated about getting the details worked out ahead of time another tip I have is to never do your preliminary sketch on your finished drawing/painting surface because you risk ruining the surface while trying to work out all the details. Sometimes it can be hard to cover eraser marks especially when working on paper. But also on canvas, it can be hard to get an accurate sketch when fighting the tooth of the surface. I almost always work my preliminary sketch out on a separate, less expensive, piece of paper first then transfer it to my final surface after. Then I don't risk overworking my final surface before I even start.
Of course, I would like to specify that I have done it both ways, and it depends on the piece. If I do decide to do a preliminary sketch directly on canvas I try to do it with watered down paint instead of graphite or charcoal. If it is a highly detailed piece that needs a lot of preliminary work, then I will draw it separately and transfer it. I find it much less frustrating this way.
Edited to add, MM, thank you, I'm glad you like my ball point work. You should definitely try it sometime! Gel pens are a lot of fun too!
As a final tribute to my recently deceased German shepherd, I wanted to do a commemorative pencil drawing, based on a photo I took in 2017, which I reduced to just a black-and-white version, in order to better see the basic tonal range:
I started with a very primitive (embarrassingly so) attempted study of basic angles:
I then tried to drop the analytical frame of mind, and just go for some sort of representation of the masses (sooooooo childlike):
I did one other drawing, in this effort, which I seem to have thrown away, but, from it, I developed what I considered to be a finished line drawing of the basic outline:
That line drawing has been sitting around for weeks, as I procrastinated in my goal to try to shade it in with some competence. I transferred the line drawing to archival board yesterday, and, just this morning, I started trying to fill it in with some detail, realizing how sorely inadequate I am at this:
That's as far as I have gotten. ... The outline I was pretty pleased with, but the shading, so far, is not very skilled looking, I think, but it is what it is, and I guess I'll continue to slave along, a little each day, until I see what I end up with.
Tips? On drawing? Me? I laugh, as the only tip I can offer is gut out your goal, until you get something you can live with. If you can't live with it, trash it, and start all over.
I haven't watched the video yet. You just witnessed how I teach myself. (^_^)
When sketching especially the human body...Never think of it being the human body, it will just screw you up..You'll never be able to remove those preconceived notions of the human body from your mind if you do.
Concentrate on all those wonderful 3 dimensional forms that make up the human body or any other objects as just FORMS.
I forgot to mention: ... this is my first attempt ever at trying to do any sort of portrait likeness of an actual (or once actual) living being. ... Progress report, so far, is that I basically just now finished the shading of the whole dog. ... I think I'll wimp out and forget the ball -- I just outlined it as a composition space holder, so that this spot will not look empty -- sort of leaving it with a work-in-progress look PERMANENTLY -- ["slacker", you say -- yeah, I admit it]. ... I'm just not good enough at the shading to want to add another not-good-enough element to it. ... But I think that I can live with it for what it is -- my first ever (and probably final) such attempt.
When I've tweaked it as best as I can, cleaned it up a bit, and stabilized it with some spray fixative, I'll scan it and post the scan for all to see my drudgery.
The tip here, I guess, is ... if you think you can't do it, maybe try it anyway - you'll only learn something from the process.