The TOP 5 Best Drawing Tips
Ever draw a person, and it comes out looking like… well, not looking like a person? I’ve put together the top 5 best drawing tips. Incorporate these techniques into your drawing and you’ll be making works similar to an Old Master’s in no time. Keep in mind that all of these tips are equally important, so make sure to check this list to see if you have all of the techniques that will boost your drawing!
The best part about these drawing tips is that they also apply to painters. Let’s get started.
Tips and Techniques
Step 1 – Composition
Composition is where every artists begins; how do you want your subject placed on your substrate? You have literally a million different choices for composition. I’ll give you some examples, you can have a classic composition, with the subject directly in the middle. This is what the Old Master’s used a lot; everything is compositionally balanced. Even if the subject is cropped, it still is balanced. However, balanced isn’t always interesting. That’s when Contemporary artists started to play around with composition. “Everything’s been said and done,” they said. “Let’s do something new!” And Contemporary Art was born. Take Georgia O’Keeffe, she’s considered the mother of Contemporary art. She cropped flowers so much, it became almost abstract. You can do that too! Crop your subject, make the composition asymmetrical, crop your subject AND make it asymmetrical. There are so many options! Don’t forget your orientation of your substrate is also part of your composition!
Step 2 – Negative Shapes
Onto drawing. At this step, you may asking, “now what?” If you’re about to draw something and you don’t know how to do draw it, but you reeeaallllly want to draw it – don’t fret, negative shapes are here to help! What are negative shapes? Before I explain to you what negative shapes are, I need to give you some context. Let’s say we’re drawing a lemon (if you’ve read our past articles, you’ll know it’s our favorite subject), and you want to make it look as realistic as possible. The lemon is the subject, and the background is the background. Duh. However, if you approach drawing like that, you may forget the background! I won’t get into this topic of discussion, because it goes deep. I’ll just leave it at a lot of artists forget about the background.
The background and the subject are equally as important, so we change our language to reflect that. Instead of calling the lemon the subject, we say it’s the positive shape, and the background becomes the negative shape. Negative shapes are the shapes around the lemon. Instead of trying to draw the lemons itself, make your life easier and look at the shape that surrounds the lemon – this way, you draw the lemon without trying to draw them lemon. This is the best way to draw, as it helps with getting proportions accurate as well!
Step 3 – Tonality
You’ve drawn the lemon, but it looks a little flat. Let’s give it some dimension with tonality! Since you’re probably drawing with pencil, you’re translating all of your color to tonal. Tonal value is how you’ll express dimension, and the lights and darks of your subject. If you’re wondering how you can express that accurately, simplify your shape first, using facets. Faceted shapes are what the Old Masters used to demonstrate to their pupils how to know where to shade, and where to put highlights. Once you have the faceted shape, it’s must easier for you to transfer the information to your original drawing. Drawing with faceted shapes can be used as studies for your original drawing, however it can turn into an art piece, like what Picasso and Juan Gris did with Cubism.
Step 4 – Shadows Are Information!
Shadows are extremely important, and the Old Masters knew that! A shadow tells the viewer if the subject is touching the ground, or floating above the surface; if it’s floating, it tells you how far away it is from the surface. There is a lot of power in the shadow. Use it to your advantage in drawings and paintings! Play with the viewer and make everything look like it’s levitating by disconnecting the shadow from the subject.
Step 5 – Shading Techniques
This is where your personality will shine through. Are you energetic, or calm? Are you a perfectionist, or an expressionist? Will you shade with dots, lines, squiggles, or all of the above? Just like your choices in composition, you have a lot of options for shading techniques. To get inspired, check out all the different ways artists shade; look at the difference between Michelangelo and Van Gogh – both totally different, and totally viable. Play around with different techniques and see which one speaks to you the most. Or just let your hand flow naturally and let it do what it wants.
Like the tips? Want more? Take our Studio Intro drawing package, and go deeper into these tips, plus more!
If you’ve incorporated these drawing tips into your artwork, we’d love to see! Post your drawing to Instagram, tag us @PrimaMateriaInstitute and tell us which techniques you liked most, and you’ll have a chance to be featured on our social medias!