One of the most crucial things to learn once learning to draw is understanding the process nearly every artist uses to fill a white sheet of paper with more and more lines until she finished the drawing. Although seemingly complicated this process consists of several separate and simple tasks.
Most creative persons pursue intuitively these separate tasks stepwise in the right order. Unfortunately while starting to learn drawing, you lack the experience to follow this strategy intuitively. But rather than waiting for the necessary experience, you should use this shortcut.
I created a scheme close to this formula most artists understand and stick with intuitively. It is composed of four steps: Placement, Outlines, Shapes, Illumination. These four steps are rather simple and pursue the common forumla to make a drawing. I shortened this formula P-O-S-I - a POSItive way to learn drawing.
So let's get going:
1. Placing the objects in your drawing
This makes up the opening move. Have a look at the complete scene, distinguish the different objects in the scene and try to understand the scene. Focus on the different objects' placements and their position in relation to each other. Finally if you believe your understanding of the scene is good enough, mark on your sheet where you would like to lay out the different objects.
Try to be as accurate as possible unless you possess some competence in the art of pictorial composing. Experienced artists know how to modify the scene for a stronger impression without hurting realism at the same time.
2. Drawing Outlines of the different objects
Now you know where to place the objects it's time to outline them as mere outlines. Look cautiously at every part of the scene and try to understand its outline and shape. Then draw its outline - only the silhouette - in a few faint lines. Restrict yourself to the outer lines of each element. Repeat this step for every element in the scene. Ideally you begin on objects in the background and continue to the foreground parts.
After completing the sketch of the whole scene this way, it's time to have a concluding judging look (but not too judging though!). In this stage it's still easy to reposition any element or to correct some lines. But don't be overly critical and keep in mind: every good drawing comes alive thanks to minor deviations.
3. Draw the Shape of the different objects
Now it's time to focus our attention to the objects' shapes. Begin to add the internal structures of the scene's parts with only few and fine lines. Aim the strokes in the proper directions to travel along and form the shape of the parts of every element.
For arced objects use curving lines and in plane sections use straight lines. But still limit you to few and faint lines. Just try to catch the contours decently. As there are still only fine and faint lines on the sheet you still have the chance to correct a line here and there.
Finally your drawing has gained a more substantial perspective and three-dimensional appearance. Time to fill the blanks and perfect your drawing!
4. Illuminate your Drawing
Thus far we only worked on laying out the scene utilizing faint lines. Forming the outlines and contours of all objects in the scene we created a line drawing that portrays the scenes lookout reliably.
But for creating real naturalism something is lacking: texture, light and shadow. In this final step we'll fill in these elements that give volume to our drawing and ultimately make it seem naturalistic. So in this step our opportunities for completing a outstanding drawing are great but also is the risk of damaging it beyond repair.
What to do? Once again look cautiously at every section of the scene. Note how light, shadow and surfaces are forming the shapes and what the colors are looking like. Most important is the surface - because even if a surface is completely one-colored, its structure and texture produces different tones.
The same applies to shadows. Look how the objects cast shadows on themselves and on objects around them. Add these darker areas by first sketching their outline, correcting and honing it and then filling it with darker tones.
When adding all the shades and textures to your drawing all of the time try to draw from the background to the foreground. Whilst following this strategy travel from lighter tones and weak contrasts in the background to dark tones and contrasts in the foreground. This ensures a more substantial three-dimensionality.
Congratulations! With this terminal step you finished your drawing. Make one step back and enjoy the result. But keep in mind: if the little critic in you comes to life, store your drawing away, the more you'll love it in a few months!
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