How to learn to draw: Stage 3

Previous lessons:

  • How to learn to draw: Stage 1
  • How to learn to draw: Stage 2

In the previous lessons of the series, we learned how to “tame” a pencil and mastered hand-eye coordination. I hope you had enough time to try these lessons in practice! Today I present a series of exercises that, in fact, are a continuation of the topic, and for some of you this may be the beginning of “real drawing” – creating objects instead of drawing them.

I explained the philosophy and the mechanism of drawing from imagination in another lesson, so let’s get straight to the point. Before you begin this lesson, make sure that you read the article and practiced the previous exercises for a long time!

What to study

Before we begin the exercises, let’s define our goal. Please read the comment added to one of my lessons, namely to the lesson with stage 2:

“I can not draw. I really can’t do it, but these exercises are easy for me. I can draw 10 lines of the same length and a point at a certain distance, and I cannot imagine anyone for whom it will be difficult. ”

Very interesting, isn’t it? He can not draw, but in fact he can. The problem here lies in the definition. We have already divided the ability to draw into 4 stages, presented here in a simplified form:

  1. Drawing – creating borders.
  2. Drawing – control borders.
  3. Drawing – creating borders that resemble real objects.
  4. Drawing – creating borders that resemble real objects in an unreal way.

All these stages concern the ability to draw, however, each of them is based on a completely different set of abilities. Two people who say “I can’t draw” think about two different things, and they may need different exercises to cope with the problem.

The first two stages are technical. They do not relate to imagination or creativity, they relate directly to the action – drawing. The other two stages include the creative part – you use the technical ability to draw to convey pictures that arise in your mind. People convey their ideas in different ways, for example, with the help of music or poetry, but if your ideas relate to visual perception, drawing seems to be the most appropriate way to transfer them.

However, even mastering technical skills does not guarantee that you will be able to draw what you want. At this point, the technical part of the ability to draw ends, because drawing by imagination does not concern exclusively the technical ability to do something, but rather refers to understanding what you should do.

If you can draw anything from a picture or photo perfectly and accurately, but you cannot draw according to your imagination, this does not mean that you don’t know how to draw – in fact, you are very good at drawing! The problem is what you are trying to draw. In the case of the picture, you know exactly what it is, and all the lines are right in front of your eyes. But with imagination it will not work! You can “see” your friend’s face very clearly in your head, but if I ask you the color of his eyes, you will be lost.

Based on this, we can conclude that drawing from the imagination is not so much about drawing as knowledge of the things you want to draw. You know how to cook, but you need recipes to cook something. Over time, you can create your own recipes, but first you need to know what they look like!

And one final warning: in these exercises, it is assumed that you have no problem with exact copying from the source. If this is not the case, go back to the previous section, or if it’s too boring, practice copying from a source until you can do it with ease. Otherwise, it will seem too complicated for you, like, for example, using recipes, not knowing how to turn on the oven!

How to learn

This lesson will be different from the previous ones. You are no longer a beginner, so you should be able to work more independently. Also, these exercises have a different structure than “do it until it becomes boring.” This is how long you should do these exercises:

  • one: Until you understand the concept
  • 2, 3, 4: Until you can draw forms without much effort and obvious mistakes (obvious mistakes are the mistakes that you see immediately after you make them)
  • five: Until you develop a set of lines that you can recreate easily and effortlessly
  • 6: As long as you do not fit into the time constraints
  • 7: Until you find a set of forms that you can recreate easily and effortlessly
  • eight: While in the lesson for you there is nothing surprising (long-term exercise)
  • 9: Until you develop the skill to automatism (long-term exercise)
  • ten: Until you can draw the subject accurately, not seeing any sources for a long time (long-term exercise)

I will often tell you to return to the previous exercise if something does not work out as it should. Let it not upset you. Undoubtedly, it would be great if everything went smoothly, but it is better to see the mistakes and correct them, than not knowing why the picture looks bad, and pretending that it is not. The structure of this lesson is hierarchical, which means that the uncorrected error from one exercise will haunt you in the next. Do not let this happen!

1. Understand the concept of depth

Even from one word “perspective” skin goose bumps. Architecture comes to mind and a bunch of neatly measured lines. However, this is not what perspective means. Perspective allows us imagine, as an object that we observe will look like if you rotate or move it. It follows that this cannot be avoided if you want to draw according to your imagination!

When you draw from a picture, you don’t need to think about perspective. All you need is already in the picture. But if you try to draw from the imagination, it becomes unbearably difficult to draw any pose truly apart from the original pose. Talented people usually stop here, and hone the ability to draw this single pose, because only one they can draw. And they do not even imagine that they can learn to draw what they do not know how!

Drawing only one posture is like adding the same sauce to all dishes. No matter how versatile and tasty the sauce is, over time it will become mundane, and even the most interesting ingredients will not make your dishes delicious. Also, there is a difference between adding a sauce because it fits the dish, and adding it everywhere and everywhere, because you do not know how to use other sauces.

Now there are two ways you can go. I wrote two articles about the perspective – theoretical and practical. You should read at least the first, but if it seems too confusing to you, try another way. Make your own analysis – take a small box and move it before your eyes. See what happens if you move it up, down, sideways, back and forth, and if you rotate it. Try to find a pattern in this, and make notes for further work.

2. Learn the ingredients

In previous parts you practiced with lines, but the problem is that their very easy to use but very difficult to remember. This makes them useless when it comes time to draw according to the imagination – they have too many forms.

To make it easier to remember, we need to divide all these forms into several simple blocks. This is how to write: an illiterate person can copy all the lines along with the style of letters, while a competent person will copy letters – not strings, but rather their idea.

In this exercise, you will learn how to draw letters. To understand this is very, very important. In fact, there is a chance that if you understand it, the rest of the exercises will be almost obvious to you. Be extremely careful when doing the exercise and remember: if you notice at any time that you are not in control of the situation (for example, the oval does not look the way you would like), take a break from the exercise and do some precision practice for a while.

Using the rules for creating depth, practice drawing shapes. They do not have to be 100% accurate in terms of prospects; all you need is certain sides. You must be able to determine where the front, back, top, bottom and side are, which ones are visible and which are not.

You do not need to be too precise when drawing a shape, but try to keep the lines as clean as possible without using an eraser. Drawing too many lines indicates uncertainty, and possibly lack of ability. If you notice that your lines overlap too much, go back to the previous exercises.

Step 1. Ellipsoid

This form is similar to a sphere, but instead of a circle in cross section it has an ellipse. The figure is well suited for the basis of the body of living beings.

Step 2. Cylinder

The cylinder is similar to the 3D shape of a line – a line with added volume. It is ideal for building limbs.

Step 3. Box

Despite the fact that the boxes do not seem so organic, for them there will be a place among the parts of the body, for example, in the thighs of animals.

3. Modify the letters

It would be great if everything that we needed to build anything was limited to these three letters, wouldn’t it? The bad news is not enough; the good news is that the rest of the “letters” we need can be created on the basis of these three.

In this exercise, allow yourself to have some fun with the three main letters. Present them as material forms, add something to them. Squeeze, stretch, bend … The point is to understand their perspective, whatever you do with them. I will say again, if it is too difficult, go back to the practice of perspective. Do not scold yourself, be calm – there is nowhere to hurry!

4. Draw simple structures according to your imagination.

It’s time to draw in imagination! No dragons yet. See if you can imagine a simple structure built from all the forms that you worked out earlier. Then draw them, but not once. Turn them in your imagination and draw again. Make sure your forms do not change, that this is not just a lucky coincidence. You should not base your abilities on luck!

Start with simple designs, then build more and more complex ones.

5. Find the rhythm of the object.

From now on, we will be more specific. Choose a topic that interests you. Remember: you will not learn how to draw, say, animals by doing one exercise. An eagle resembles a scorpion no more than a chair – the name “animal” that the eagle and scorpion share do not make them the same. Some groups of animals are undoubtedly similar, but this can be deceptive. Lions and wolves are identical, but if they could be drawn in the same way, they would not be different animals!

Therefore, be specific. If you want to draw animals, you can choose a lion. Its anatomy is easy to understand, there are many photos of lions on the Internet, and they share several qualities with most animals that you may want to draw, such as wolves or even horses. And if you want to draw dragons, lions are still a good choice if you, of course, imagine dragons more like dinosaurs than lizards.

Step 1

Collect several sources (pictures, photos) with the selected animal in different poses. In the case of a lion, it is better to choose a lioness or a young lion, since the mane often hides important anatomical details.

My favorite way to collect sources is to use Google Images. To get an accurate result, try to be specific in your query: “the lioness is walking / running / hunting / playing” is better than just the “lioness”. Warning: be careful, Google is not always right about tagging “lion”.

Step 2

Look at all the pictures, and try to find a common rhythm. For example, these poses are very different from each other, are in different perspectives, but they all have something in common. Find these elements and sketch them using as few lines as possible. You just need to draw these lines – no details, no corrections. You have to draw them quickly, at least when you have them done. Make these small pictures – it will be easier to keep the correct proportions.

If this seems too complicated to you, it may be useful for you to look at the skeleton of an animal and try to imagine it in a living body. Remember: your sketches should not look like mine. They should be the result of your analysis and understanding, and attempts to copy me will only complicate your task in the future.

You do not need to draw directly on the pictures, this is just an illustration of what you should see when looking at them.

6. Practice rhythm

Step 1

Time to test your “rhythm lines.” It should be easy to draw them, and they have to build a whole silhouette very minimalist. To check if this is the case, use this online slideshow maker. Use the same query as before, adjust the search options if necessary (if you don’t want any surprises, you’d better choose Strict SafeSearch (Safe Search)), and when the slideshow starts, click “very slow”.

You can also use any deviantArt gallery for this purpose, if you prefer a particular collection of pictures.

Step 2

Reade set Go! Draw lines from the current slide as fast as you can. Do not worry if at first you do not have time, your goal in this case is to adjust the rhythm lines that you have developed for the desired speed. Along the way, simplify them, and take it as a challenge, not a competition.

However, if you feel that you really cannot do this, slow down. Stop the picture, draw it as fast as you can, and then switch to the next picture manually. Draw some pictures this way, then try to continue with the timer. If there is still not enough time for you, go back to the previous exercise – maybe there is a rhythm that you like more?

Skip the inaccurate slides, and if some picture catches your attention (if it’s an interesting posture), you can also pause the presentation to work on it longer. However, do not abuse this feature!

Step 3

When you are already fully working out, and you scribble every picture in seconds, you can start drawing by your imagination. It is best to perform this exercise immediately after the previous one – your hand and your mind will be sufficiently heated and focused on the desired topic.

Draw a few poses in memory and a few in imagination. Do not limit yourself to simple postures, go to madness! Is it easy for you? Fine! You can continue. If not, go back to Step 1. This time you can choose another query, for example, if you used “lioness running”, this time type “lioness sits”. The more different poses you draw, the stronger they will be printed in your head.

7. Find a recipe

As soon as you can draw any pose of imagination in seconds, cleanly and without using an eraser, you are ready to create a body recipe.

Step 1

Again, search for sources for your topic, but this time be more selective. Select only a few of them, but each of these pictures should show a pose as others cannot. Try to find one for the side view, one for the front view, and, if desired, one for the rear and top view.

Step 2

Print images with low opacity. You can do this with Photoshop or any other application for working with graphics, or adjust the opacity in the printer settings. You can use black and white pictures.

Step 3

Look at these pictures and compare them with the lion’s muscle diagram. Imagine a body filled with simple forms that we worked out earlier. How could you build something that resembles a body from the smallest possible number of such shapes?

Use your pencil or ballpoint pen to draw shapes right on the pictures. Make them the same for all images – these are 3D shapes, and they should be constructed according to the perspective of the poses. Make these drawings as accurate as possible without using too many forms.

If your sketches are dirty, print the picture sheet again. Take your time, as this is a very important step!

Hint: if you have a very realistic animal figure, include it in your analysis. There is nothing better than a 3D model when it comes to understanding the shape of something!

Remember, this should be your analysis – do not copy me!

This exercise will help you understand that even the limbs are not flat, and they may not look the way you expect in some species.

Step 4

Return to your sketches from Exercise 6. Use your “body diagrams” as a source, and place 3D forms on the “skeletons”. When you begin this task, do not be afraid to modify and simplify the structure. Your scheme should allow you to quickly create the feeling of a realistic animal, not leaving much to the imagination, but also without too much detail.

Step 5

Re-use the slideshow of your choice and start sketching, this time using both the rhythm and the body. At this stage it should be easy for you! If this is not the case, make sure that your bodies have all the necessary lines, but not the line anymore. Look for ways to reduce the number of lines, see which lines can be connected to one, and which you can skip.

8. Add spices

This exercise is the slowest, with no clear end point. Your goal here is to show a thorough analysis of the details. Draw eyes, nose, ears, sideburns, mouth, teeth; analyze the folds of wool, parts of bones visible through the skin, the direction of growth of the wool on the whole body. Use good quality pictures for this exercise, and never stop at one.

Parts also have their own ways of cutting, but this time you need to be more careful when creating them. Any error in the proportions will be very noticeable, so it is sometimes better to leave the sketch unfinished than to complement it with incorrectly understood details.

9. Practice, practice, practice!

After all these exercises become predictable and boring, you can start an exercise that should print this knowledge in your head for a long time. At this stage, it should be easy enough to do, and if it’s not, well, you know what to do.

Turn on good music or an audiobook, or whatever you like to listen to when you do something without much thought. Use a huge collection of sources and throw all of them, one by one, quickly and efficiently. Your day job will be complete when you realize that you are thinking about something else, and you make sketches automatically, that the sketches begin turn out without any conscious effort on your part.

10. Test knowledge

The problem with memory is that information that is not used is quickly forgotten. Drawing incredible things after a day of practice, and in a few days to return to the level of a preschooler in the order of things.

To make sure that the information is stored in your head, you need to convince your mind that you really need it. And to do this, you need to use the information regularly. Every conscious attempt to remember the work refreshes the information. Imagine that there is a road between your memory and your consciousness, and the more you walk along it, the more it is suitable for walking. But as soon as you stop walking on this road, it will disappear under the grass and weeds.

These exercises are all about drawing by imagination. If you practiced drawing lions, now draw them without any pictures. Use all the poses that come to your head: how lions hunt, jump, sneak, lie with their paws up … Make sure that you do not guess that you are taking all the necessary information from your memory. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to access this information in the future.

And if you suddenly realize that you have to guess something, because you have forgotten it, or have not learned it at all, please use the picture to learn it. It will not be a fraud – learning is a constant process, and the ability to draw a lion by imagination does not mean that none of the poses will ever be a problem for you. Although, over time, such problems will be less if you really focus on the topic.

Now what?

I often see people complaining that they cannot draw by imagination. I am sure that after you do these time-consuming exercises, you will understand all the absurdity hidden in these words. Drawing by imagination is not an ability that you have or not. This is a skill, a multi-space skill. You can learn how to draw lions according to your imagination, and wolves can still remain a mystery to you.

You need to decide what you want to be able to draw by imagination. Each topic will take a lot of your time and energy, and everything you learn will require practice in order to keep your skills in good shape, so choose wisely. It is not necessary to learn everything!

And I have another task for you. When you hear someone say, “I can’t draw by imagination; I know what a lion looks like, but when I try to draw it, it looks awful, ”explain to them why this is so. If you know what the dish tastes, it does not mean that you can cook it without a recipe! If you really want to learn, show them how. Together we can get rid of a dangerous myth!

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