Friday, May 12, 2006

The Greatest Secret of Drawing

I've been prepping for a massive pitch at work today. Sorry to slack off on the posting. I will make up for it next week. I have some other stuff that helps explain this point below to post later.

The greatest key to drawing well is to learn to stop thinking of your drawings as lines on paper.

Instead you should be thinking of your drawings as forms in space.

This is, obviously, hard to do. And of course many of the helpful tips on this blog deal with issues about lines, like Vance's tips about avoiding tangents in your drawings. As you draw you need to shift between thinking of the lines in your drawing from a design point of view and thinking about the forms and space in your drawing to give it a solid, three-dimensional feel.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to all types of drawing. Flat design-oriented drawings are more about lines, but the good ones are always based on abstractions of real life, so they have some relation to forms in space. And I always say that you should learn to draw the real thing before you draw the cartoon version. All the best cartoon drawings are based on knowledge of real anatomy and observation of real life.

I can't tell you how to reach this state - thinking of real forms in space instead of lines - but I think all artists reach different levels of this state as they learn and grow. I doubt many ever put that much thought into it - it just happens naturally. I just mention it to keep in mind as you work. Think about it as you draw and paint and look at the work of others to see how you can see this in their work.


Scott LeMien said...

yes, I am not there yet. I need reminders to bring that out of me, but to me, I still see things as lines on paper, 2-d dimensional design mainly, which explains a lot of my imagining hurdles. dunno if i'll ever get the 'shift' this late in the game, but who knows? you only get to keep trying.

Kirk said...

Often that is why some sculpturers drawings look like they have volume to them.

I struggle with this shapes and forms thing too. A trick to try and get yourself to think more shapes and volume is to draw only the shadows.

Drawing only the shadows worked awesome in my tech drawings. Did a bunch of gun drawings for a roleplaying company game supplement and drawing mostly shadows worked geat for those.

Marmax said...

I know it's really bad for my eyes but I often unfocus them w/o thinking as I draw so I don't really see everything in lines...but instead just searching and building on top of the forms.

Ashton said...

I first realized this awhile ago, and I immediately wrote it on a post it and stuck it to my drawing table alongside all my other notes. If I don't write these things down I'll forget them the next day.

clifford chiu said...

doing tons of lifedrawing should help.