Monday, 25 November 2013

Improve your Drawing Skill by Drawing Symmetrical Shapes

One of the most common problems with drawing is the affliction of skewed-looking objects. The crooked look to a drawing may remain unforeseen until the drawing is well under way. The solution is to practice drawing symmetrical objects freehand without any drawing aids.

Drawing Exercise to Improve Skill

Symmetry can be found in many objects including ornaments, tools, creatures and art. I believe that students with low drawing ability lack visual awareness of one or more quadrants of the visual field, whether this is the left, right, top or bottom of a page. This results in a drawing that appears to lean to one side, or to be placed too far on one corner of the page. Common problems are: teapots that appear to lean to one side, lob-sided ellipses, squashed-up edges of portraits or animal drawings.

Drawing Lesson for Beginners

Crooked Drawings become
when Placed in a Grid
Countering skewed drawings can be aided by the practice of symmetrical drawing freehand. Try practicing drawing simple symmetrical objects such as circles, squares and triangles. The challenge is not as easy as it sounds. Rulers and compasses are not permitted, but the rendering of freehand and the use of the naked eye.

Skill of the Naked Eye

The aim is to practice how truly horizontal a line is; how perfectly curved an arc is or to judge the location of the central point of an object. Students that may benefit most from this drawing lesson are those that find it difficult to visually judge if a mirror is hung straight on a wall or similar. Perfectly symmetrical drawings are not possible without being able to make accurate visual judgments.

Video Clip of Drawing Exercise

My video clip shows how I drew simple symmetrical shapes freehand by gradual increments. The first attempt will seldom be perfect, as can be seen. Few can actually draw a perfect circle straight off. Work toward accuracy by working progressively darker and viewing the drawing from different angles. An eraser is of course allowed, but no rulers or other such drawing aids can be used. Keep rubbing out the drawing and adjusting the lines. Practicing this skill will develop visual awareness of the following:

Drawing Symmetry Freehand
  • How close to horizontal a line is.
  • How close to vertical a line is.
  • If one side of a symmetrical drawing truly mirrors the other.
  • How central to the page the drawing is.
  • How equal each quadrant of the drawing is.
  • To judge a central point in the drawing.
  • How truly curved a line is
  • How straight a line is.
How to Counter Skewed Drawings

Drawing of Cockerel
The clip also shows how I drew a near-perfect rectangle and triangle. This is followed by a step by step demo on drawing a circle as perfect as possible.

Accurate visual judgments of such drawing elements will guard against a skewed drawing in the future, even if the object drawn is not symmetrical. This is because every drawing ideally should inhabit a good portion of the page, be centrally placed and has roughly equal amounts of space around the drawing. This can be seen in the drawing of the cockerel.

More challenging shapes can be practiced if need be. Drawing simple shapes larger will also be more challenging than drawing them small.

More Articles on Drawing Methods

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Step by Step Demonstration on Drawing Ellipses

Drawing ellipses is one of the basics of drawing techniques. However, I have seen many of my students struggle with drawing a basic ellipse. The ellipse’s gentle curves and its symmetry can be hard to put down freehand. Not only that, but the ellipse’s arc will shift in appearance depending upon how the vessel is viewed.

Difficulty in drawing Ellipses

Drawing an Ellipse
The challenge becomes ever more difficult if an object has multiple ellipses such as that seen on the thread of bottle tops or ornaments. The best thing to do is to draw the simplest ellipse shape before venturing further. My video clip on drawing the most basic ellipse shape will enable the artist to build upon this skill when more complex subject matter is tackled.

Mistakes in Drawing Ellipses

Improvements can be made in drawing when looking out for common mistakes whilst drawing an ellipse. This can also be seen in the video clip, which includes: drawing ellipses with corners, sloping ellipses, ellipses without symmetry and ellipses without depth to the rim. The secret is to plot the ellipse before drawing it. This will guard against the elliptical element turning out wrong.

Drawing Techniques for Still Life

Make sure the plotlines on which the ellipse rests is perpendicular in form and symmetrical in shape before laying down the lines. To this end, the beginner may plot a faint cross onto a piece of paper before drawing the ellipse. Make sure the cross is true to vertical and horizontal. The video slip shows how to plot the elliptical element of an object into a rectangle sketched on top of the cross. The ellipse shape itself can then be placed within the rectangle and the rectangle rubbed out. Make sure the ellipse shape rests centrally within the rectangle before going further.

The Curves of an Ellipse

The curves of the ellipse can be sketched faintly at first. Turn the drawing upside down to check if any element of the ellipse is not central or symmetrical. Bear in mind that the curves of an ellipse will alter between top, bottom and sides. Ellipses will never possess corners, regardless of how obliquely it is viewed. The curves simply become tighter in appearance. This means taking care on how the curves are drawn. Of course, the arc opens out on the top and bottom of the ellipse form.
How not to Draw an Ellipse:
Asymmetrically, tear-shaped, with corners & with a rim of equal depth

Sketching Techniques for Still Life Objects with Ellipses

The rim of an ellipse will have depth of some kind. Due to the foreshortening effect, the depth will appear widest to the far left and right of an ellipse. This can be seen in the video clip. Never draw the rim of an ellipse as having the same depth all round, also this is true in reality.

Once the ellipse shape is sketched in, the rest is simple. Sketch the rest of the vessel using the cross as guidance. Note that the curve at the base of the vessel (if viewed from slightly above) will appear more curved than the ellipse at the top. Never illustrate the base of a vessel with a flat bottom.

Objects with Ellipses in Drawing

The key to drawing good ellipses is to avoid common mistakes, which are asymmetry, illustrating corners, rendering sloping ellipses or tear-shapes ellipses. This often means sketching plotlines onto which the ellipse may rest. The outline of an ellipse can then be keyed into these plotlines. The video shows how an ellipse element can be plotted over a cross and a rectangle. The ellipse is more likely to be even, perpendicular and symmetrical in shape. The rest of the vessel is then made more easy.

More Drawing Techniques