Foundations of Drawing
Illustration by John Hersey

Foundations of Drawing

with Will Kemp

Video: The final project

The first thing I'm doing now is with a harder pencil, either an HB or a 3B, I can now refine some of the edges and that area, there can go a I've now changed my grip again to an underhand grip.

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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

The final project

The first thing I'm doing now is with a harder pencil, either an HB or a 3B, just putting in a hatch, just to build up the tone on the leafy areas of the drawing. Notice how I'm lifting my pencil between every mark just so I get this small area with the tonal ground in between it. I might go darker as the drawing progresses, but it can be a good way just to establish a tone within your drawing to start with. Now I can start to judge areas around it.

This part down here, at the bottom of the actual jug lid. And it just gives you an idea of which areas are going to go really, really dark and which areas can start to be more of a mid-tone in your drawing. I can now refine some of the edges and that area, there can go a little bit darker, and then I start to just flick my eye throughout the entire scene. Start to refine the some of these shapes that are here in the votive, and I'm using quite a sketchy mark here, keeping it a bit looser.

Notice how my fingers are quite a way back from the tip of the pencil. That just gives me more flexibility to move around the object a lot more freely. So, the actual marks have got a bit more fluidity to them. I've now changed my grip again to an underhand grip. And this again just leaves it so I've got this nice fluid movement. I'm keeping it really nice and sketchy. And shading in some of the edges so I get this broken effect on to the surface. You don't have to have every part you're drawing really, really refined, so notice how I just flick my pencil around, so I can get a little bit more refinement with it, and you can work between that under hand grip and that over hand grip.

The over hand is always going to give you more control, just turning the edge, and the underhand is just going to give you that little bit more. Fluidity into your drawing. I can now start to concentrate on the shades within the rose. And you see how when I first started, I block it in like it's very angular, and this is often really easy for you to see objects in an angles to start with. And then, if there's any curvature in the forms, you can add that in later. So, I'm just starting with those angles and building up a combination between a hatch and a shade just to build up the shapes within the rose.

And then I just darken down other areas. And you'll find in drawing what happens is as the drawing progresses, your eye becomes more used to the subject that you're looking at. So you'll start to be able to add refinement that you didn't see initially, and that's just because your eyes have been looking at the same subject for longer Become more accustom to it. I can now take the plastic eraser again and just to pull back some of the ground color. And what this again does by working on those negative spaces is, it brings those positive forms.

And this is where having those cast shadows were so helpful because then they create those shapes in between the objects. So I've got all these nice, interesting shapes happening through out the composition. Again with this underhand grip, I can just put in these more sketchy areas. And I'm working quite hard here, pushing quite hard, and this is with 7B or 6B pencil. Really pushing it into the paper, getting that really as dark as I can. And still using this loosive grip, I can just move around and I'm jumping my eyes around the whole of the drawing and just looking for those areas, that are called dark accents that I can just go a slightly bit darker to and they just help to create that very very subtle flow throughout the drawing of the darkest areas.

So down here I just really put it in dark here for that dark accent that just helps to ground the jug, so it feels like the jug is actually sat onto a surface. And then I work back with the eraser to draw on top again any of those parts that might just need tweaking. You notice there how I've got a light area, then a dark area, then a light area. This can all really help just to bring those shapes forward. And then, again, with the harder pencil, the 2B, I just go in for the actual tip of the jug, and just use that just to get a more, a more refinement to that finish.

And you can often have a small area that's got that real nice tightness to the drawing and other areas that have that real lovely loose quality. It's just getting that balance between the two. So now, sit back and have a final assessment really, and start to see if anything is grabbing my eye or anything is looking out. And look at this horizon line or the table line, and it looks kind of dips in a bit, so I'm just adjusting that so it's got a, a cleaner horizon to it.

And now once I've got that clean out rising in, I can just make any final refinements really to the whole of the drawing, just seeing how it's working together as a whole. And, and there it is. A really simple study building up from those simple planes. If the dark plane, the light plane that's made with your razor, and the medium plane that's made with a tonal ground, and then you can start to build your details on top of that.

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