Drawing Fundamentals: Weeks 1 & 2

Welcome to the first 2 weeks of this fundamentals course. Week 1 and 2 are essential to building a strong foundation for your art. Because drawing fundamentals is the backbone of this course I have broken it down into separate segments. Making it easier for you to progress as well as to understand the importance of learning the basics before you attempt to try more complicated drawings and compositions.

There are many components that go into making a successful drawing. Most of the techniques and explanations may give you the impression that you are back in primary school. The reason for this is that we learn the basics of mark-making at a very young age. Then as time progresses we tend to set aside these simple techniques in exchange for more complicated methods.

The real trick to drawing anything is to keep things simple at the start and then gradually add details according to the level of completion you are looking for.

As adults, too often we lean towards complex ideas and methods which simply do not allow us to grasp the essence of our subject. Leaving us frustrated to the point of thinking we have no talent or that art is simply not for us.

If you find yourself in this category of people then perhaps you need to give yourself a bit more time to really understand the basics, it will serve you well in the future.

Here are the 6 fundamental principles of art and why I have chosen them in this particular order.

Week 1 Drawing the Line

The most commonly used application when drawing is the line. It is by far the most underestimated mark when it comes to practicing. The sheer diversity of this mark makes it the most versatile and also the most complicated.

Line & contour drawing

Even in its simplest form such as drawing a straight line. Being comfortable with line control will make a significant difference to your drawing. As you progress into more complex shapes and forms, you will have the confidence to sketch faster and more accurately.

Week 1 Drawing flat shapes

There are countless references to flat shapes all around us, these shapes can be separated into two categories. The first being geometric shapes. My preferred shapes are the Square, triangle, and circle. These are in my opinion are the most essential shapes to understand.

How to draw basic shapes

The other flat shape references are amorphic shapes. These refer to organic loose shapes that have no defined angles or designated start and endpoints. These shapes can be found in clouds, trees for example.

Pencil sketches of cars

Week 1 Drawing in perspective

The word “perspective” is a relatively common word used in the spoken language to describe someone’s point of view or opinion on a subject. It more often than not refers to an understanding from a particular angle or location. Seeing something from your perspective is a very descriptive form of communication. It lets people know that you are clear about your position and opinions. Drawing in perspective is describing to your viewer the angle at which you are observing and or representing a particular landscape, object, scene or emotion.

Perspective in landscape drawings

Perspective gives a depth of field to your image and enables you to control things like proportions, scale, and focal points of interest. Essentially when you draw in perspective you are showing your point of view by creating the illusion of a 3D environment enabling some items to appear far away and others much closer.

In order to achieve this, a good understanding of basic shapes is essential. The precision of line orientation and weight (thick or thin) is equally important to maintain consistency and accuracy in your drawing.

Week 2 Volume

Using volume in your drawings is a way of emphasizing certain elements of your subject. Creating volume is generally accomplished by adding a light source and light direction to your perspective drawings.

Drawing fundamentals of Light and texture drawing ball shapes

The light source will help you structure your drawing and as a consequence, your drawings will feel and look more natural. Volume is also created by using a variety of textures that emulate certain traits and characteristics of your subject.

Texture tutorial with basic shapes

Week 2 Shading

Shading your drawings requires a similar approach to creating volume. You have to show a variety of tones and values based on how light is being projected onto your subject. Shading is by far the most complex item on this drawing fundamentals list.

Grey Scale shading of ball shapes in the landscape

In order to simplify complex shading, a good starting point is to use the 3 tone method. Identify all the lighter areas and consider this your white. Then combine all your medium tones which will be your base grey. All the remaining darker tones will be black.

Alternatively, you can use a five-tone method which gives you an additional light grey and dark grey. If you are not into realism then the 5 tone method is generally sufficient.

Drawing of a tree a 4x4 car and a spaceship to show shading

In order to get the best results when shading you need to consider the pencil, you are using. Unlike line drawing where you can use just about anything that will let you make a mark. Your shading results will vary tremendously based on the type of pencil you are using. Consider how sharp or blunt it is before shading.

Week 2 Composition

The final component of the 6 drawing fundamentals is composition. Similar to the term used in music, to compose is to basically create order out of chaos. By combining a variety of lines, shapes, textures, and shading all placed in a well thought out manner, you are able to control how the viewer is going to experience your drawing.

Pencil drawing of a tree

There are many different formulas that you can follow to help you gain a better understanding of composition. Some of the more popular ones are the golden section, the 3rds lines and the pyramid.

If using rigid guidelines puts you off then you can always rely on your intuition. Drawing from instinct and feeling may enable you to achieve a greater sense of composition. Knowing the basics of composition is however recommended.

Composition samples in perspective

Thinking about a composition forces you to draw with intention. A successful composition creates a sense of harmony, balance, and consistency that makes a drawing look finished or accomplished.

Wrap up

That concludes weeks 1 and 2 of Drawing Fundamentals. Here are a few suggestions to consider when practicing any of the listed items.

  1. Get yourself a lot of paper. You will mess up and that’s ok.
  2. Practicing drawing fundamentals may come across as dry and boring. Use your creativity to make your learning experience more interesting and entertaining for you.
  3. Learning how to draw may be a lengthy process if you can’t set aside regular time to practice. To avoid any frustrations, stick to simple exercises and set out a small plan to help you stay focused. This could be a goal-oriented plan to achieve a particular task or a timeline that will reassure you. It is not a race but rather a lifestyle.

For more information about the program for the following weeks click HERE

Course teacher David Lagesse