How to Draw

Learning how to draw is a matter of learning four different elements. If you learn and practice the concepts of line, shape, perspective, and light, you will find the ability to draw comes naturally.

Learn Drawing

When you decide to learn drawing techniques it’s best to start with the basics. The following are some basic drawing steps.

Line

The line is the most basic unit and element of any drawing. The basic definition of a line is this — a line is what separates one area of the drawing surface from any other. When you draw a single line, you divide up your drawing surface into two different areas. Once you begin to add more lines, your drawing becomes more complex and intricate — multiple lines means separating light areas from dark ones, positive space from negative space, foreground from background, etc. A single line can be one width and shape from beginning to end, or (to add complexity) you can give the viewer more information with varying widths and flourishes.

Shape

A shape is best defined as the area marked out by lines. You create a shape as soon as you draw your first line. A plain white piece of paper even has shape — whatever shape the paper is in. Shape, far from just “round” or “square”, means information that is presented between your drawing lines, or the area that is enclosed by a line. What does shape do? It defines an object that you are drawing. Shape is the element of drawing that is most important for creating a realistic figure or drawing.

Perspective

How to Draw

How to Draw

This element can also be called “proportion”. Perspective and proportion refer to the size of one part of your picture in relation to the size of any other part. To put it a different way, perspective is what tells us that your legs are longer than your arms, some fingers are longer than others, and the shape and size of elements of the face. When you get proportion correct in a drawing, your drawing “looks right”.

Perspective is an illusion — in reality, your lines are all made of the same stuff, but adding perspective means that thing that are farther away look smaller. When you want to make an element of your drawing appear “farther away” than the rest of your drawing, just draw it smaller than the other objects.

Light

Light, along with its opposite “shadow”, work together to add depth and mood (or “atmosphere”) to a drawing. When you want to make a drawing “realistic” (or life-like) you need to add shadow and elements of light because light and shadow exist in the real world. When you see a drawing made with only one width and forget to add shadow, your drawing looks flat and two dimensional — most of all, the absence of light and shadow make your drawing appear unrealistic. When you add shadow to a drawing, it automatically lends perspective to the paper because a shadow or a pool of light means that something is either in front of or behind another object. In this way, light and shadow are some of the most important elements of drawing in that they affect all the other elements.

Learning to Draw

Learning how to draw doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility, crumbling paper into tight wads and growing frustrated with your inability to make a shape. Simply understand the four elements of drawing, and you’re well on your way to a fun and relaxing hobby.

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