Foundations of Drawing
Illustration by John Hersey

Foundations of Drawing

with Will Kemp

Video: Upside-down drawing

So once you've drawn out the frame onto your piece So in this layout, what I've got is I've how far is it from the other shape? So I just twist my So again, I am just jumping my eye between and trying to judge what is that shape.

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Drawing
2h 24m Beginner Apr 28, 2014

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Anyone can learn how to draw. Success comes down to three things:

Shape: By focusing on the shapes of the objects (and more importantly the shapes between the objects) you can view subjects with a whole new outlook and focus.

Simplicity: You'll get better results by concentrating on simple subjects and drawing techniques that will still prove powerful when used together.

Structure: A structured approach makes drawing easier to master.

Each chapter in this course is built on these three principles, combining drawing theory and practical examples with worksheets and drawing assignments. Will Kemp brings his passion for teaching and infectious love of drawing together in these lessons. You'll learn about line, value, tone, negative space, and perspective, and come away with the confidence to start making drawing a daily practice.

This course was created and produced by Will Kemp. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Materials you need to draw
  • Drawing theory
  • Framing your composition
  • Using the picture plane
  • Creating contrast
  • Using negative space to create more powerful compositions
  • Creating form from shadows and light
Will Kemp

Upside-down drawing

So once you've drawn out the frame onto your piece of paper, we're going to be working on our first drawing. Now ideally we'd be in a classroom situation, and I could pass out all your drawings to you, because the main way that this really works well, is if you have your drawing and if you see only abstract shapes. So ideally I'll pass it around or you could try and get someone at home to print it out for you and pass it to you. So the actual drawing is upside down, and you cover it over so you just see a small section of the drawing.

I'm going to demonstrate on a different drawing than the one that's on the download, the download's got a this way up on it, just to help guide you, and that's the way that I want you to draw it. So it's all done upside down and you cover as much over as you can so you only see a small amount at a time. Okay? So if you get your print out and try and close one eye when you look at it and it'll really work well for the success of this exercise. So in this layout, what I've got is I've got the actual frame that I've drawn out onto the paper, and now I've got a very very faint lines that I've drawn across onto the frame.

On this example, these are two centimeters, and on the reference image that I'm working from, this has been arranged upside down, and that's also got these lines printed onto it. So this is what you've got to have so that it's covered over, so all you can see is these abstract shapes at the top, and you just going to be transferring your image, one to one, one band at a time. So this is why it's best if someone can pass it to you, so all you can see is abstract shapes rather than you trying to label the object really strictly.

What this forces you to do, is just look and observe the lines that are there, rather than your logical side of the brain trying to label what it is. So once you've printed this out, you've tried your best only to look at the parts of the drawing, we are ready to go. So what you are going to be looking at, is the shapes that's all we are trying to copy, these very simple lines within the frame. So start the drawing, I'm just looking and saying what is this shape here, how far is it from the other shape? And that's all I'm concerned with.

So I just twist my pencil sometimes, if the line gets a little bit fuzzy. When you twist it, you'll often get to a finer line on your pencil. So again, I am just jumping my eye between and trying to judge what is that shape. I mean, that there, I could come up a little bit.

And then when I get to the end, I'm jumping my eye from this edge here, the right hand frame, to here. That's why it's so important to draw your frames out. They can be so helpful in arranging your composition. So if you've done your first few lines and you start to think, hm, this looks a bit out. Like I can see where, when I look back at it, this looks a bit out here. This line, it's got too much of an angle to it. What you can just do is take your eraser, and I'm just using a plastic eraser, that I've cut to a point with a knife.

Just so that I can, you know, get in nice and detailed. Take that line out and then- Just put the new line in. And so you can just keep on adjusting it until you're really happy with the first section of your drawing. When I look again, I can see this very, very faint line here that I didn't see to start with, so I can just very faintly put that in. So now what I'm going to do is just move this down a line, just so that I can start to reveal the next line down, and continue the drawing down.

So now when you've moved your page down, you can just start to try and concentrate on this band again. So just moving that line down. So then when you've got the next line down, I can start to look at it as a whole and say okay, maybe this line here could just be, have a little bit more of a curve to it. That line can come in there. And you'll find with drawing, the more you start to look at the shapes, the more your eyes starts to get in tune with what you're looking at. So I'm just emphasizing here any parts where I've got heavier line.

There's a heavier line there, very slight heavier line there on that middle line. Okay, I'm now ready to move down to the next line. The more you look at something, the more you begin to see it, and the more you start to make adjustments on what's there. So now when I've got to this stage, I can start to see the gap here between these two marks, that point and that point, on this section here, I've made that too narrow.

So only now when I start to get to the next stage I can see my mistake, and see that that just needs to come back a bit. And that's got more of a curve to it. So, it's just always a case of looking at the drawing and as it progresses, starting to tweak elements. Even that part that I'll just put in there, I can start to see this has got more of a roundness to it, and this has got more of a curve to it. So even though they seem very subtle, very little tweaks, they really make a difference to the flow of your drawing.

So using your, eraser and making alteration in your drawing, is already part of the process as your eyes start to get more in tune with what we are looking at. So at this stage of the drawing as we're getting further and further down to the bottom, you'll find it's harder and harder to just concentrate on the lines because your brain will be constantly trying to flip this drawing upside down.

So it's constantly trying to second guess, what is the shape that we're looking at, what is this subject? So what you can do is just grab another piece of paper, cover up everything above it again, just so you've got that very thin line and just concentrate again, just on those abstract shapes. When you really concentrates on those, that's when it all work the best. Okay, now just down to the final line below.

So when you've got to this final stage of the drawing, you can see the entire drawing upside down. It's also an idea just to have a look at the whole thing, just to see if there's anything that's pushing your eye that you could easily change. Now you can carefully rub out the very light guidelines that we first put in, just so we can see the actual lines that we've got on the drawing. And then we can turn it the right way up and have a look at your drawing.

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