Monday, August 2, 2010

Basic Procedure on drawing a still life

When practicing my drawing skills, I always go through a basic set of steps: 1) Quick sketch, 2) Mark important features of the sketch, 3) Define value structure, and 4) tighten up drawing and add background.

These steps are for the basic drawing of a still life. One of the important reasons that I stress this is because, unlike doing a painting, I don't worry about the environment or the background until I get to the tonal phase/final phase.

First step: Quick sketch. As you can see from the drawing, this is a basic quick sketch to just get the general shapes. I don't tend to erase, unless the drawing is absolutely wrong. This took about 5 minutes to do. The purpose of this sketch is to just get the general form and proportions correct. Notice on the legs/feet and the hands? No detail. I just wanted to get the overall form laid out and then I'll worry about the corrections later.

Now that I have the general shape and proportions correct, it's time to tighten up the lines to make sure that the drawing is more accurate. I pay particular attention to the position of the parts closer to me and how they appear to the parts that are farther away (make sure that the perspective is correct). For the hands and feet, I define the shapes better. Notice that the drawing still does not have a lot of detail. However, the lines are more accurate than they were before.

Once the basic shape's accuracy is defined, the next step it to outline the major lines. Most of the lines in the middle will be defined using cross-hatching to define the value relationships. Now that the major muscles are determined, the pencil lines are erased and only the general ink lines are left.

The third phase involves defining the value relationships between the muscle areas. This also includes deciding where the light is coming from and what parts of the figurine is still in shadows. This requires much closer observation of the model, for accuracy.

The lines of the dinosaur are still fuzzy, but the form looks better. The issue that I had with this current dinosaur was that I overly-cross-hatched the shoulders and back. Unable to lighten up those areas, the dinosaur turned out much darker than I wanted. In addition, my cross-hatch technique was suffering due to the fact that the "light touch" just wasn't there, that day. When doing cross-hatch work, it's extremely important to be able to draw really really thin lines that are close to each other. The closer the lines are, the darker the area becomes. This is the basic method, in pen and ink, to create a value variation.

The final phase is to "ground" the toy. It needs a surface, rather than floating in air. In this case, I was watching the clouds above my house and decided to model them. The point on doing the landscape is not to make it too detailed. The focus of the drawing is the dinosaur, not the landscape.

Tip: To help ground anything, always place some significant shadows at the point where the model touches the table. For the most part, in any still life, this will be the darkest area (See the dark patches where the dinosaur's feet touches the ground? This helps make him look like he's walking).

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this drawing. The entire drawing took about 1 hour to do.

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