Hola, my fellow warlocks!👋 Today let’s talk about the 5 basic skills of drawing that are to be learned to become an artist. If you are like me, you would have never thought about the intricate techniques, theories or the actual how-to behind a good drawing. You just draw, try to recreate a beautiful painting you’ve seen somewhere or let your imagination run wild and create something of your own. It’s good. But to make our drawing experience better, let’s get into the rules and details of the required skills.
There are 5 basic skills of drawing which are as follows.
- Perception of edges
- Perception of spaces
- Perception of relationships
- Perception of lights and shadows
- Perception of the whole or the Gestalt
Pure Contour Drawing
Before we get into the skills, it’s necessary to know what is pure contour drawing. It is nothing but the simplest form of linear expression. For example, take a look at this simple drawing.
Here, to draw a fruit, simple and definitive lines are used. In simple words, pure contour drawing is linear drawing, that is, using clear and definitive lines or edges to draw without any shading techniques.
Perception of Edges
After we learn about the pure contour drawing, we can move on to the first basic skill in drawing that is, perception of edges. In the world of drawing, an edge is not just an outline of an object but also a shared boundary between two things. For example, take a look at this drawing.
Here in this simple line drawing, the edge is the shared boundary between the boat and the surface of the water. Also the horizon line is also a shared boundary between the water and the sky. We don’t have to draw separate lines for these things. It is our understanding of this concept of shared boundary and drawing it and the exact way it is perceived by the viewers, is what it takes to master this skill.
Perception of Spaces
When I say spaces, it’s actually negative spaces. A positive space is the space taken up by the object that we are drawing. Negative space is the space surrounding and in between the space taken up by the object. In a way, the negative spaces are the ones that highlights and gives life to the actual drawing. Let’s take a look at an example.
In this example, the positive space is the space taken up by the furniture and negative space is everywhere else.
In this negative image, focus on the darker spots. Like an exercise, instead of drawing the chair, try drawing the negative, dark shapes. What you are doing here is, you are not trying to draw the chair but end up drawing a chair! Weird and confusing? Let me make it clear.
Let’s imagine a tougher drawing. For example a scenery in landscape.
In this drawing, take a look at the sky. The negative space here is the sky. Instead of drawing clouds, I’ve shaded the sky black leaving out the clouds part. So in a way, I’ve drawn clouds by not drawing clouds! Sounds cool, right? Also, for the ocean, I’ve drawn random strokes here and there to depict tides. It’s the negative white space, that gives life to the ocean. It is this understanding and incorporating this concept, makes us master this skill which in turn elevates our simple art to an ‘art with capital A’!
Perception of Relationships
Ever seen an artist in a movie or any show, holding out a pencil or thumb in front of them to scale the object they are about to draw? It’s called sighting, a part of perceiving relationships.
Let’s say you are standing in front of the Eiffel tower and want to draw it in your sketchbook. Now, what you need to figure out here is how to fit that hundreds of meters tall tower into a small paper and make it look convincing. This is where the sighting comes into play.
Before you begin drawing this tower on your sketchbook, imagine you are looking through an imaginary camera. This is where you need to stop your brain from thinking too realistically, because obviously you can’t draw that tall tower into a paper of equal proportions! Instead to fit it in that tiny paper you’ve got, hold out your pencil or thumb to scale for proportions in length and width. Maintain the same distance between your eyes and thumb (or pencil) to ensure accuracy in the scale. In this case let’s say, the tower is one pencil height and one-third wide at the base.
Take a look at this giant wheel. If we are standing perpendicular, that is at 90° angle, what we see is a perfect circle. But in this picture, from the point of view, it’s not actually a circle but oval. Note that as angle of view changes (imagine walking around the giant wheel in a circle), the shape we are supposed to draw too changes from circle to oval, then back to circle.
This perspective is very important because if we don’t pay attention to the angle of view, our drawing is a disaster. We can never make convincing drawings ever. It needs practice and imagination because, when we think of an object to draw, our brain automatically brings forward and fixes the default shape of it. (In this case, a wheel which is ‘always supposed to be circle’.) This is where our imaginary camera comes into play again. Imagine you are looking through a camera and with a little practice, it’s a piece of cake!
Perception of Light and Shadow
This is another important topic to be concentrated in drawing. It sounds simple but it’s got the power to make or break a drawing. If your drawing doesn’t look convincing enough, lights and shadows might play a big part in it. Read on to know what it’s all about and how to get it right every single time.
Let’s look at an example, like these beautiful pumpkins here. Apparently, the light source is at the top left corner. Half of the pumpkins are brighter and the other half in the right side are at a darker tone.
There are two types of shadows : form shadow and cast shadow. The form shadow part is the darker half, that is the half facing away from the light source. The cast shadow is the shadow that is cast on the ground by the object itself.
In this landscape scenery, I’ve chosen the light source to be at the top right corner. Hence the right side of the house is white, while the left side of the house is darker because of the concept of form shadow. Simply to remember, while drawing every object in a scenery, we need to remember the position of light source and imagine how the shadows will be cast and which portion of the object will be darker.
Perception of the Whole or the Gestalt
The fifth basic skill – the Gestalt is very interesting, fascinating and huge topic. (May be in future I’ll make a detailed post about it.) Gestalt is a German word (pronounced in English as Gesh-tult), meaning unified-whole. It simply means how we perceive a whole drawing or art, the final impact it creates on us.
Our brain is a thing to be marveled about! When we see a group of separate objects, our brain immediately focuses on finding similarity or continuity between them, perceiving it as a whole and understanding the meaning of it. It’s almost as fast as a reflex action.
Let’s take a look at this drawing for example. I have drawn dead/dry branches in a way that as a whole what is seen is a human face. This is similarity/closure. It doesn’t have to be a perfect human face for our brain to perceive it. But of course, I can’t draw those branches randomly and expect everyone to see a human face! That’d be ridiculous!😄 There is a grey area between the two ends and that’s where you can dabble and create beautiful art!
There are five laws of gestalt: similarity, continuity, proximity, closure and periodicity, which I’ll talk about in detail in future posts.
So, these are the five basic skills that every artist should remember. It might look simple but it gets as complex as our drawing is. It might look intimidating to the beginners but all it takes is keeping in mind these things while drawing and after a little practice, it will come naturally!
Thank you for visiting! Here’s a few more interesting topics to check out.👇 If you’ve liked it, do share it with the world!💜 Regards, the Art Warlock.