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DRAWING BASICS… things you need to know.

S. McNiff-Wolfe, EDES 361


CONTOUR LINE DRAWING – describing the exterior lines and shape of the form.


BLIND CONTOUR DRAWING – using line to describe form, looking ONLY at the form and NOT referring to the drawing being created.


CROSSCONTOUR DRAWING – describing planes and shape of the form through the use of horizontal and vertical lines.


Gesture Drawing – quick drawings (often timed) to capture the essence of a shape and describe the form of an object. Also used to lay (or map) out composition in the planning stages of a piece. They should be energetic and show the movement of the artist in the drawing process.


Focus CONSTANTLY, draw LIGHTLY, draw QUICKLY (follow natural scanning movement of the eye), REFINE and correct as you draw and do NOT erase! YEOWZAS!!!!


HIGHLIGHT – lightest area or value – suggests the area of the form closest to us. LIGHT

SHADOW – darkest area of the value scale – suggests greatest distance of form from us. CORE OF THE SHADOW REFLECTED LIGHT – appears in the shadowed area and helps conveys a sense of three-dimensionality

CAST SHADOW – should only be used if they help to define – and not hinder – the structure of the form.


RULE OF THIRDS – divide the picture plane into thirds vertically and horizontally and use the places of intersection for the placement of key elements. This helps move the eye through the piece and strengthens the composition. COMPOSITION is the way in which elements are arranged to create an image (can be either 2D or 3D). A strong composition leads the viewer through the piece and creates interest to keep the viewer with the work while also creating a focal point in the piece.


Good COMPOSITION: • considers rule of thirds • has levels (that lead your eye in, to and through the piece) • has depth


POSITIVE SPACE is the space taken up by the OBJECT while NEGATIVE SPACE is the space around the object. When trying to draw an object accurately, and while using a viewfinder, use the viewfinder to CROP the image closely, helping to reveal the shapes of the spaces around the objects.

Then, instead of drawing the object, draw the SPACES AROUND THE OBJECT (revealing the object/positive space).


GRAY SCALE – is the range of values – from light to dark – that can be achieved by layering your drawing medium (pencil, charcoal, etc.). Do NOT press harder to get a darker shade as this reduces the depth that can be created for darker values.


Drawing Basics