Thursday, September 26, 2013

The art of thumbnail drawings - 7 steps for drawing a landscape picture

I'm loving my watercolor class! Our instructor is teaching us far more about drawing than I expected and I'm finally learning how to utilize my sketchbook. I've seen vast improvement in not only my drawing abilities but also my attitude towards sketching.

I've never been a person who sits in class and doodles and draws, which is ironic being a painting and DRAWING major. I've looked at it as a recreational thing that I just never got into and frankly its always been something I dread... Until, I've been in this class!

I now know it's just a matter of understanding the different techniques and approaches to drawing and their purpose in helping one attain a specific design. This info has really simplified and made sence of the how and why of sketching. 

I always assumed in order to be a person who draws well you have to be absolutely precise and exact in drawing to scale etc. What I have learned from this class is the art of communicating what I see by beginning with simple loose shapes and values. It gives one far more freedom and choice for design and artistic license. Once the simple things are established then one can work more at refining and honing in on detail etc. I now understand how your sketchbook becomes a problem solving tool rather than busy work that I try to fake my way through. 

Ahhh!! A whole new world has been opened up to me!! It's amazing!! 

So you want to know some tips on how to draw... We'll let me tell you. 

For beginners//

1. Start with a photograph (black and white would be easier) and simply observe the shapes and values in the picture. If using color photo squint your eyes to determine the values. It also helps to turn it upside down so you don't see it for an image as a whole but rather as shapes. 

2. Get out a soft (B, 2B, or 3B) pencil and draw in a small picture plane no bigger than 1x2 inches. The bounding box that is your image. 

3. Lightly and loosely draw the contour lines that make up the shapes of values you see in the photo. (Contour lines are the outer "lines" that make up a mass or shape. Values are the lights and darks in the shapes.)

4. Pay attention to design. How are your eyes lead through the compositon? Are you filling up the space allotted. Does your image touch at least 3 of the sides of the picture plane? Make adjustments if needed. 

5. Then fill in the values starting with the darkest and working up to the lightest.  Don't be concerned about drawing in every little tree, remember you're only paying attention to the values as a whole. Trees make up a mass shape and only do their points give the impression that they are a clump of trees. Feel free to add contrast and down the darks or brighten the lights, this is where your interpretation can really add to the design of the image. A thumbnail sketch should take no longer than 3 minutes. If it takes longer than that, you're adding in too much detail. 

6. Transfer the small thumbnail image to a slightly larger picture plane. This time going at a slower pace allowing yourself to fill in more detail and to be more accurate. You've already worked through the shapes  and values this will give you the chance to simply refine them or make further adjustments to position and composition. 

7. Repeat!! Do it again with another image or this time go outside and work from what you see. The more you practice the better you'll be able to distingush values and shapes and the better you'll get at being able to design and communicate the landscape into a 2D surface. 

Cool huh? With these two simple sketches you have all the information you need to create one or even several paintings from. Its kind of like a blueprint for a work of art.

Now go out and do it! :) 

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Philip Woolley said...

Sweet! This is so simple even I could do it. Well, maybe with a little practice. :)

Jacqueline Woolley said...

Thanks, McKenna! Hope you're planning on a teaching license after posting this! You're a natural!

Brittani said...

I loved that! Thanks so much! It makes me miss school too...bummer. But no joke, I'm pulling out my sketch book and trying this today!

Dilan Dilir said...

lovely post! :)

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