Are you obsessed with those cool sketches made by artists that go outside and are able to capture cityscapes or landscapes so realistically AND so fast? Would you like to try plein air drawing or painting but feel like you'll never be able to capture your surroundings realistically? Does the word perspective scare you away or bore you to the point that you abstain entirely from creating artwork that involves different viewpoints from those you are used to?
Perspective is considered to be one of the fundamental components of drawing. A beginner artist may think that it only has to be mastered by landscape or cityscape artists, but this is not the case at all. Understanding perspective and how to create the illusion of depth is essential in order to render believable scenes in all kinds of art, whether it's still-life, interiors, and even animal and portraiture-based artwork. In this post I will explain a few key terms and ideas to grasp before moving on to the One and Two Point Perspective drawing techniques. I will also suggest specific exercises and provide you with downloadable grids that you can use to improve your drawing and visualization skills. With a bit of practice you'll gain the confidence to get out there and start sketching in plein air, which is so important and gratifying as an artist!
I remember first learning very basic perspective in Art class at some point in Elementary school. Our teacher taught us about simple One Point Perspective and we were asked to create a landscape drawing including a path going off into the distance. I remember how my mind was blown back then as I started realizing that creating realistic artwork is quite simply knowing how to apply a series of optical illusions in order to make the viewer believe that a picture has real-life qualities (be it texture, volume, depth, etc.). Later on in life, I learned about more complex perspective in one of my first semesters at university, where I took a SUPER hard course that architecture students took. I was super scared because this class involved numbers, Geometry and being extremely clean/precise. As a child, I had always been terrible at Math and, to the day, I have a tendency to tune out when calculations and numbers come up in conversations! The professor was incredibly strict and took off points for ANY little extra pencil or eraser mark on our assignments, but I passed the course and I honestly learned a ton. That class fast-forwarded my ability to visualize objects in space and gave me the abilities I needed later in order to begin creating realistic art. I promise it is not too hard! If I can do it, you can do it!
Understanding Perspective in Real Life and in Art
Perspective is what gives a picture a sense of three-dimensionality and depth. Take a moment to look out your closest window. Observe how the trees/buildings/houses closest to you appear larger, while the trees/buildings/houses farther from you appear much smaller. Even though the tree closest to you may, in reality, be the same size as a tree farther away from you, they appear to be different sizes to you due to the fact that you are standing at the specific point you are in. Artists must master the ability to create this effect on a flat, two-dimensional surface, be it paper, canvas, or whatever substrate is used. The more complex a picture is, the more important it is for the artist to approach the piece in a methodical and careful fashion.
Take a minute to analyze the following famous masterpiece by the great artist Raphael.
In this fresco we are able to see how the arches in the ceilings get smaller and smaller as they get farther away from us in the distance. Likewise, the human figures that are closest to us in the foreground appear larger that the people located in the middleground (more about these terms later). The combination of all of these things creates a very effective sensation of three-dimensionality, perspective and depth. Isn't it just astounding?
This famous masterpiece is an excellent example of One Point Perspective, which we will get into in a bit. If we place the One Point Perspective grid on top of the artwork, we are able to see how the artist was able to visualize where to effectively place the elements within the painting. Starting our work with a grid made up of straight lines, allows us to better visualize the three-dimensional space which we will place our shapes upon.
Before moving on, here's how the grid applies in a modern picture. Notice how the point at which the lines meet is off center in this image.
Important Art Terms Related to Perspective
Before explaining how to use the One and Two Point Perspective drawing techniques, I would like to just mention a few key art terms we need to be able to understand.
1. Horizon Line
This is the line that separates sky from land (in landscapes) or sky from water (in seascapes). It is also referred to as the "eye-level" of the viewer. The Horizon Line doesn't necessarily have to be right in the middle of your picture. In fact, it is a lot better, compositionally speaking, if it is somewhere below or even above the halfway point of your drawing area.
2. Vanishing Point
The Vanishing Point is placed somewhere on the Horizon Line and it represents the farthest point in your picture. There can be a number Vanishing Points (One Point Perspective has one, Two Point Perspective has two and Three Point Perspective has three). When creating a grid, this point is were the Orthogonal Lines all meet.
3. Orthogonal Lines
Orthogonal Lines (also known as Convergence or Vanishing Lines) are key when drawing perspective. They are diagonal and recede back into the vanishing point(s). A perspective grid can have many Orthogonal Lines or very few of them, depending on the complexity of the picture. The more elements in the picture, the more lines you will probably have to include in your grid.
4. Transversal Lines
These are completely horizontal or vertical lines that are either parallel or perpendicular to the horizon line. They form rectangles or right angles along the grid and are especially useful when drawing interiors (I will provide you with an example in a bit).
5. Vantage Point
The Vantage Point refers to the specific place from which a scene is viewed. This point can actually be very high (referred to as bird's-eye) or very low (referred to as worm's-eye). It is crucial to decide where the Vantage Point is going to be in the very beginning because this will affect the placement and size of all elements within the composition.
Foreground, Middleground and Background are also helpful terms to understand because including a variety of layers within a drawing or painting really helps transmit a sensation of depth. The layer closest to the viewer is referred to as the Foreground, behind it is the Middleground and the layer furthest from the viewer (which in many cases is simply the sky) is the Background. It varies from image to image, but the important thing is that you are able to discern which layers are closest to the viewer and which layers are farther away. This will affect the color placement within the artwork, as well as the sharpness of the elements included in each layer. The image below is an excellent example that illustrates how the elements in the foreground are much more sharp and saturated than the layers behind it.
Finally, foreshortening is a drawing technique that helps us create the illusion of an object/person/animal receding into the distance. The object, person or animal is drawn shorter, in a way that makes it seem as if one part of it is closest to the viewer and the other end is far from the viewer. It is a great way to transmit a sense of depth, even when the only subject included in an artwork is an object or a person. When used in extremes, it creates very interesting artwork. Andrea Mantegna's famous Lamentation of Christ (1480) is an excellent example of foreshortening.
The picture below also shows foreshortening. If you notice, the man's forearm appears wider than the width of his open hand. This is because his forearm is so much closer to us than his hand!
Drawing 3-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
Knowing how to draw three-dimensional geometric shapes is absolutely necessary before moving on to using the One or Two Point Perspective drawing techniques. Why? Because, here in reality, EVERYTHING around us has volume (length, width and height). First, practice drawing simple three- dimensional shapes (use the PDFs at the end of the post titled Geometric_Shapes1 and Geometric_Shapes2 for step-by-step instructions). Once you feel more confident, try placing them within the One and Two Point Perspective grids (I have also included both grids at the end for you to use). If you are already great at this, ignore this step.
When attempting to draw any geometric shape, straight lines are important. This is even more important when creating three-dimensional shapes because they involve parallel lines and angles. Due to this, I recommend using a ruler in the beginning. If you want to get even more technical, bring out your protractor! Keep in mind that, once you have enough practice, you will be able to create 3D shapes without using any straight-edged tools. Unless you are going for a super clean and precise drawing, slight imperfections will not affect the picture if the perspective is successful overall.
How to Apply the One and Two Point Perspective Techniques
One, Two and Three Point Perspectives are referred to as ¨Lineal Perspectives¨, which means that they rely on the use of straight lines to depict a three-dimensional space and the forms within it. In other words, to apply these techniques we will need to prepare for our drawings by creating grids using a ruler. It is important to note that this grid should be created LIGHTLY. Though it will be heavily used throughout the drawing phase, they will be erased later on.
The One-Point Perspective grid is made up of straight lines that converge at the Vanishing Point. Firstly, decide where your Horizon Line will be placed within your drawing area. Secondly, place your Vanishing Point somewhere on your Horizon Line (remember it does not have to be placed right in the center). Then, carefully draw straight lines from one edge of your paper to the other using a ruler, making sure that they all cross at your Vanishing Point. This kind of perspective is excellent to draw simple cityscapes, landscapes and interiors.
My suggestion would be to begin using this technique to draw simple landscapes and focus on adding in different organic elements with believable proportions. Then, master placing three-dimensional geometric shapes within the One-Point Perspective grid to effectively transmit a sensation of depth (see picture below). Afterwards, one can move on to buildings and interiors.
How to do this exercise:
1. Prepare your One-Point Perspective grid (you can download the PDF at the end or draw it for yourself).
2. Draw a few flat (two dimensional) rectangles or squares anywhere on your grid.
3. Pinpoint the corners/angles of your shapes that are closest to the Vanishing Point (see red highlights in the image).
4. Using your ruler, draw straight lines from the corners of your shapes down to the Vanishing Point. Take into account here that there may be two to three lines, depending on where you placed your shape.
5. Finally, close your shapes with vertical or horizontal lines. Remember to make these lines parallel to the lines you used in your initial two dimensional shape.
Take a moment to analyze this important artwork by Van Gogh. Judging by the lines you can see in the image, where would you say the Vanishing Point is located?
The Two-Point Perspective grid is also made up of straight lines that converge at the Vanishing Point, only this time there are two! This grid is going to help us create the effect of viewing objects (think boxes or buildings) as if we are standing on a corner. It is slightly more complex and is often used when drawing buildings in a cityscape or objects at more extreme angles. Let's start practicing! You can decide if you'd like to use the Two-Point Perspective grid I have included at the end of the post, or if you'd like to create it for yourself. Here are the steps you need to follow to make it yourself!
To prepare a Two-Point Perspective grid, I usually start by folding my paper in half both lengthwise and widthwise. The horizontal fold will be my Horizon Line in this case.
Then, decide where your two Vanishing Points will be on this Horizon Line (I recommend placing them at a good distance from each other). You can see in the image below how I placed my two Vanishing Points close to the edges of my paper. I often like to place them at equal distances from the edges and use a ruler to help me do this.
The vertical lines you can see here will be erased and are not really a necessary part of the grid. You can also see that I have folded my paper two more times. Sometimes I like to do this because the folds help me visualize straight lines as I am creating my grids, but they are not necessary either.
Next, create small marks using a ruler right on the central vertical fold on your paper. You can decide how close or far apart you want these marks to be (I recommend somewhere between 1.5 to 2 centimeters to start out).
To finish the grid, carefully draw lines starting at your Vanishing Points and ending at the marks you previously created on the central vertical line. The lines you draw coming from your left and right Vanishing Points should meet, creating a symmetrical/mirrored effect.
By this point your Two-Point Perspective grid should be finished. If you have never used this technique before, I recommend starting out by drawing simple three-dimensional geometric shapes on it. This will help you understand how it works and will set you up for success in your later drawings.
Next, use the grid to create a cityscape! Remember, these buildings are nothing more than rectangular prisms with a few details added in. Nothing to be scared about!
After enough practice, you will be able to easily conclude what kind of drawing technique you need to apply in each project. The sketch below is something I created a while back. Where would you say that the Vanishing Point is located in this case? Remember that even though certain elements are not always visible within a final piece, the artist must always have them in mind when working so that the sense of perspective is achieved at the end.
If you still feel a bit unsure about taking it outside, I recommend searching for pictures of buildings or houses online and apply what you have learned. Draw one single house or building three-dimensionally and move on to groups of houses, then street views, etc. I assure you, you WILL get more and more comfortable. Thanks so much for reading! I hope this helped shed some light on this important topic.
To conclude this post, I leave you with this great da Vinci quote about Perspective:
"Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship… There are three aspects to perspective. The first has to do with how the size of objects seems to diminish according to distance: the second, the manner in which colors change the farther away they are from the eye; the third defines how objects ought to be finished less carefully the farther away they are."
-Leonardo da Vinci
This week I started my days with face sketches. I am pushing myself to draw faces in a variety of angles, which is something I think I need practice in. I was also able to complete my second collage painting based around a picture of my hands. I am really enjoying painting these experimental pieces and am going to continue doing more, which I am selling later. These pieces mean a lot to me because they are the first to actually have a more personal meaning behind them.
I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Cheers!
This was my last week drawing hands at the beginning of my work days. I can't believe it's been a month of morning hand sketches! I can definitely see a lot of improvement compared to the first week (see sketches in this post). I am still thinking about what my next subject for morning sketches will be.
This week was kind of nuts for me. Between business appointments, family commitments to attend, work to finish for family, other work popping out from out of nowhere with very tight deadlines, and a lot of house cleaning, I didn't have the time I would have liked to paint. I did, however, explore a new method in the only painting I was able to finish. I've always loved creating collages and wanted to try to paint a composition made of various pictures meshed into one. I'll be experimenting more with collage painting for sure!
Thanks for coming by today and I hope to see you around soon. :)
In today's post I will be explaining a few techniques that are very useful to know when you are ready to start giving drawings a sense of realistic volume and depth. Once you can create basic outline drawings, the next step is to start practicing further observational skills which will allow you to pinpoint light and shadow areas as well as other details in subjects. This is an essential skill to develop as you work your way towards creating more realistic artwork.
I will be including seven different shading techniques commonly used by pen and ink artists. However, I use many of these myself when drawing with pencil and they can be used when drawing with charcoal, chalk, and many other kinds of drawing media. I will not be going into the graphite blending technique that is commonly used to create hyperrealistic drawings because what I want to get across with this lesson is the importance of value placement, more than creating realistic texture.
Value placement is an essential idea to understand and great artworks can be created monochromatically as long as value is placed effectively (see an example of a portrait created in grayscale here). Many artists argue that value is even more important than color. It is common for artists to create sketches prior to starting paintings and, in these sketches one of the most important things to decipher (besides proportion and placement of elements within the composition) is where the darkest and lightest areas will be.
Let's begin with the topic! Hatching, crosshatching, stippling, etc. are traditional drawing techniques that have been used by artists for centuries. All of these are nothing but patterns and groups of lines (or dots) placed in well thought-out ways in order to transmit a sense of volume, three dimensionality, depth and texture. Some artists style is more controlled and precise, which lead to cleaner and more organized lines, while others have a more free and expressive style. I greatly recommend looking for drawings by Van Gogh, Durer and Da Vinci to be able to see different results.
First off, I want you to take a moment to observe the following etchings created by Giorgio Morandi.
These etchings were created by using a combination of hatching and crosshatching. I want you to notice the lightest areas in the artworks, as well as the darkest. Notice how the lightest areas have nearly no lines in them, so they look almost entirely (or entirely) white. Now notice how the darkest areas are full of lines to the point at which they look close to (or entirely) black. Try pinpointing the different values in between the lightest and darkest throughout the drawings. How many can you count? How many variations in value do you think you can create using only one pen or pencil? Practice creating value strips showing gradual tonal changes using the downloadable PDF at the end of the post (VALUE_STRIPS.PDF). This will help A LOT!
Now take a moment to observe this piece by Jean-Baptiste Greuze created with only red chalk. Notice how this drawing is more complex due to the nature of the subject. Notice the whitest areas and the darkest areas and the values in between.
In this drawing, the artist used a mixture of shading techniques. I can find both straight lines, contour lines and even some scribbles which create the texture of curly hair. Understand that different shading techniques can be used together in one same piece.
Ok! Moving on!
Different Shading Techniques
Here are seven different shading techniques that you can use in your drawings and sketches. When using all of these techniques, it's important to keep in mind that, even though lines do not have to be super perfect, you do have to take your time and think about what your doing. It is essential that the characteristics of your lines (length, thickness and direction) are consistent throughout your piece. What's even MORE important, is that the lines you create accentuate the form of the object you are drawing. Increase the density of your lines by placing them closer together or creating a second (or even third) layer overlapping the first in areas that you want to appear darker. If you need practice drawing sets of parallel lines, I recommend practicing until your hand becomes steady enough. Practice each of the following techniques using the dowloadable PDF at the end of the post titled SHADING_TECHNIQUES.
1. Hatching/Parallel Hatching
This can be considered the most basic of all of the shading techniques included here. It involves creating groups or patterns of parallel lines. These lines don't have to be completely vertical or horizontal. They can also be slanted or follow any angle you'd like, as long as this direction is uniform throughout the area you are shading.
2. Cross Hatching
Cross Hatching is like taking parallel hatching to the next level. You create a first layer of parallel lines (in any direction) and a second layer of lines is drawn on top in a perpendicular or nearly perpendicular manner. This technique is probably the quickest of all due to the fact that you are able to create darker values faster than with the other techniques. I tend to go for this method most of the time myself.
3. Contour Hatching
This technique involves using lines that follow the curves or lines of the initial contour/outline drawing. When used correctly, contour hatching enhances volume and three-dimensionality in a very striking manner. With this method, it is important to be able to visualize the three-dimensionality and planes of whatever it is your drawing.
When stippling, tone and texture is built up by applying dots in different densities. This technique takes time and you have to make sure that you don't start creating lines instead of dots.
5. Tick Hatching
This method is similar to stippling but instead of making dots, you make short lines. In darker areas, lines are placed in an overlapped manner. I personally don't use this method very much because I find the texture it creates looks like hair! However, it is very useful when using oil pastels or similar media to create Impressionist-style art.
6. Woven Hatching
Woven Hatching leads to a very interesting outcome when done correctly. This technique involves creating sets of short(er) parallel lines in one direction and then placing another group of parallel lines next to it in perpendicular or near-perpendicular directions. Crosshatching can be later added to add density in areas that require darker values.
Scribbling is an excellent technique to use when drawing specific subjects like trees or hair because it not only creates values, but also transmits a sense of texture. In the drawing below I used scribbling to create the leaves of the tree and the effect of grass below it. I love scribbling!
Practice the different shading techniques described using the PDF titled SHADING_TECHNIQUES attached at the end of the post. Then, before starting with more complex figures, practice shading simple geometric shapes (use PDF titled GEOMETRIC_SHAPES).
Steps to Achieve a Successful Shaded Drawing
1. Select a good, contrasted photograph as reference
What makes an effective photograph? Firstly, make sure it is large enough to allow you to view details. Do not select blurry photos. Secondly, make sure the photo is not over or underexposed and has a good balance of light and dark areas. I recommend selecting a photo that has only one visible light source hitting the subject so that you can easily distinguish where the lightest parts and darkest parts will be. Try going for a simple object first. Perhaps a simple still life photograph with only one or two objects in it?
Start out with something like this. You can download this image for free use here or find other great pictures to practice from at www.pexels.com.
Photograph by Lisa Fotios. Find her photos at www.pexels.com or visit her website here.
2. Create a light pencil sketch including only outlines of shapes
Practice your observational/drawing skills to create a simple, outline drawing of your subject. Focus only on the general shapes, proportions and locations of the subject(s) in relation with one another and within the composition.
I strongly encourage you to keep practicing your drawing skills and not resort to tracing, but I have included my outline drawing in PDF form for you to download if you wish to only focus on shading techniques today (CHERRY_OUTLINES.PDF).
3. Take a moment to observe the reference picture and answer the following questions:
-Where is the light source located in relation to my object(s)? Is the light in front, behind, below, above or to the side of the subject?
-Where are lightest/whitest parts of the subject?
-Where are the darkest/blackest parts of the subject?
-If there are different colors included in the photograph (in this case we have red and green), how do they relate to one another in terms of their value? Is the red included here LIGHTER or DARKER than the green? This is very important! It may be easy to notice different values within one same color, but once more colors are added in, it is important to notice how they compare to one another in terms of lightness or darkness. For example, in this picture, the values of reds in the cherries are darker (for the most part) than the green in the stems. The green in the stems is pretty light when compared to the reds of the cherries and this is something that has to be translated within a one-color drawing.
*If you still feel unsure, I recommend you take your time when preparing your initial sketch. Create a map for yourself using LIGHT pencil strokes within your outline drawing. I do something similar when painting with watercolors in order to remind myself what areas will be left completely white and which areas are darkest.
I recommend starting your drawings with pencil if you haven't practiced these techniques much and move on to pen and ink once you feel more confident. Pen and ink drawings are wonderful and super fun but each and every line you create is permanent and it is easy to get discouraged if your drawing doesn't turn out the way you want it to. Experiment with different techniques and go for the one you feel comes most natural to you. You can move on to exploring combinations of techniques and more complex subjects as time goes by. The way I usually start this type of drawing is by placing my hatching in darkest areas and go back and forth adjusting values as I see fit.
5. Consistency is key
It is essential to keep in mind that the lines you are creating are meant to ENHANCE and not DISTRACT the viewer when the piece is finished. So, again, remember that line length, thickness, and direction should show some kind of consistency. Take your time! These kinds of drawings are very much a mental exercise as much as they are a drawing exercise.
I hope this helped you in some way and I wish you have fun practicing and developing your art skills. Do not hesitate to get in touch with me for any questions or if you are interested in my work. I'd love to hear from you! Talk to you later art friends!
The past weekend I decided to go back to basics and do some human figure studies in my sketchbook. I want to get quicker at drawing the female figure in interesting poses because, for the longest time, I drew very stiff and boring bodies. I really admire comic book artists because they have to know how to draw pretty much every pose imaginable super fast!
I initially started learning about human body proportions around six years ago, when I came up with the idea of giving a Fashion Sketching Extracurricular class at the school I was working at. Even though back then I was focusing much more on creating templates that my students and I could use to design clothes on, I learned as much as I could about proportions of the human body and how to go about drawing one. I learned that even though in reality there are a million different body shapes and sizes, there are certain measurements that have to be kept in mind when drawing a believable human figure. Usually, realistic (adult) figures are around 7.5-8 heads tall whereas the fashion figure is elongated to around 9 heads tall. There are also other measurements that have to be considered like arm length, shoulder width, feet size, etc.
With this information in mind, I took out my ruler and created templates that I could use to start practicing an over-simplified skeleton of the human shape using simple lines and shapes. You can find a lot of different ways of drawing this skeleton, and in my opinion it doesn't really matter how you do it, as long as it represents realistic proportions and it allows you to visualize your drawing so you can eventually work from it.
By taking time to practice drawing this skeleton and (when your ready) using it to flesh out your humans, you'll eventually be able to develop an eye for what looks right in an artwork and what doesn't. After some practice, you'll be able to draw any pose that you see in pictures or real life and you'll become faster and faster!
The sketches below are recreations of what I used to start practicing all those years ago and an empty template that you can use to practice yourself! If you have never tried this before, I suggest beginning with the forward view. When you've got that down, start moving that skeleton around more and more! What would it look like dancing? Sitting down? Kicking a ball?
Once you can do this, it will be time to look into how to draw each bodily element!
Drag these .jpgs onto your desktop or download them below to use them as you'd like!
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to visit my website.
Last weekend was kind of busy for me. It was one of those weekends that didn't really feel like a weekend because you didn't really have time for proper rest. I fear that the next will be super busy as well, as I am moving all my stuff from my current apartment to what will be my new home for probably another year. It's kind of hectic, but I am committed to improving my art and will make sure to make time for it.
Here are some pencil studies I worked on throughout the week. I also made a couple of smaller watercolors, but will post them later! Cheers, friends! Have a great week!
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