Lesson 3: Start Drawing

Start Drawing

Lesson 3

Finding Your Baseline

Before we push forward into the lessons, we need to make a record of exactly where you are at now. This is your baseline. It can be a very daunting task but you are just going to have to jump in and start drawing!

Open your sketchbook and on the first page write the date and sign your name under it. As you sign your name, imagine that you are signing a contract with yourself to give your passions the attention that they deserve. People can have very strong past associations with drawing, and many times students get discouraged because their drawing skills aren't up to snuff. But instead of buckling down and working hard they give up. This makes it hard for many to start drawing.For whatever reason you've made a pact with yourself to learn this new skill. There's the date, and your name. This marks the beginning of your commitment! enjoy! Now all you have to do is put that pen to paper and start drawing. Don't worry if it's terrible, just jump in, and start drawing today!

I understand why drawing can be really hard for some people. Gazing at the white page mustering up the courage to make that first mark. And then suddenly, there your drawing is. Staring right back at you. During this point of reflection it is important to identify if you have any evil inner critic present. An evil critic is a voice in your head that discourages you, and tells you how you don't know anything. It is great to look at your own drawing and see where you need to make improvements, but don't be too hard on yourself in the beginning.

For your first assignments you will be creating three drawings. You will also get a "sketchbook" assignment which I will explain later. The accompanying images come from students, as well as famous artists. The point being that I don't want anyone to just copy how I draw. So I've tried my best to vary the drawing styles as much as possible.

Assignment #1 : Your Baseline .

Time: 2 Hours

Drawing #1 "Small Object Still Life"

Materials needed: Sketchbook (Click here to buy a Moleskine, but any sketchbook will do). Pencil.

For this assignment you will find a small object, position a light source on it, and draw it. It could be a salt shaker, a little figurine, a toy car, etc. For the light source you can use a desk lamp or even some tall candles. Just make sure the light is coming strong from one direction. If light is streaming in through the window in your kitchen sit down there and draw! Give yourself 20 minutes for this drawing. Set a timer, or an alarm clock.


Drawing #2 "An Interior Space"

Turn to a clean page in your sketchbook. You are going to be drawing an interior space. Let your lines touch the edges of your page. Do the drawing across two pages if you wish. The main concept here is to see how you deal with space. So you can draw shallow space (such as a table with an assortment of objects) or an entire room. You have 30 minutes. Go!


Drawing #3 "A Self Portrait"

This can be the scariest of all the drawings so why not just get it out of the way now! You are going to set up a mirror (even a small pocket mirror set up a meter (3 feet) away is big enough to get your whole face) and then you are going to light yourself. In drawing it is very important to always understand where your light is coming from. The best way to light a model is to use something called "form lighting". Form lighting (illustrated below for all you visual learners) is when you have a direct light source coming at a fourty-five degree angle above the model.


This gives you a lot of nice cast shadows that fall on the form in a pleasant manner. There are many different ways to set up your lighting and once you get the hang of drawing you can delve more into using the lighting to create mood. But for now lets just stick to using form lighting.


So once you've got the lighting set you are going to sit down and draw yourself. Try to have your head take up a good portion of the page. You have 30 minutes.

George Richmond (28 March 1809 – 19 March 1896) English


Sketchbook/Blog Assignment.

You are going to photograph or scan your drawings (instructions on how to photograph your work are below. ) and upload them to your blog. I also want you to make one blog post post about one artist who you admire. It can just be a few short sentences and an image of their work. Don't skip this though. Learning about loads of different artists will only help you find your own creative vision. If you cannot work out how to maintain a blog then print out an image and paste it into your sketchbook. Write a few lines about the artist. You can also go to http://antiquity.tv which serves as the art history department of painting-course.com . Here you will find constantly updated artist profiles from all throughout history.

How to photograph your finished work


Unfortunately photographing drawings isn't that easy. The best way to get a good copy of your drawings is to scan them. If you don't have a scanner available then there's always the possibility of photographing your work. Under optimum circumstances you will have two light sources. Both at pointing at the drawing from 45 degree angles. This minimizes shadow. However it can take a lot of trial and error before a good picture is made.

One of the big problems is that most digital cameras have an automatic setting. There are light sensors in the camera and they detect how long to expose the image. So, when you point a digital camera at a white page the camera thinks it's lighter in the room than it really is. This can make the drawings look really dark. One way to fix this is to hold the button on your camera half way down (this sets the light settings) while pointing it at a shadow, then (keeping the button held half way down) point the camera at your drawing and push it down the rest of the way. This makes the camera think it's taking a picture in the dark which will make your page look a lot whiter. There are also services through facebook and twitpic which allow you to sms your images to the internet from your phone. So, if you've got a camera in your phone. You can post those images to the web! Having digital images of your work will make it easier to show off your skills and is a good habit to learn early.