Drawing week 04 - Using the brain

Drawing at the right side of the brain

Also read Teaching yourself to draw.

As I’m slowly getting a tiny bit better at drawing things I see, I still don’t have a fundamental basis to rely on. Until I’ve read “Drawing at the right side of the brian” from Betty Edwards. Everything I’ve read in there came as a complete revelation to me. She explains how you should “look” at things, what is important to look out for when realisticly drawing and how values/tones work. It’s an amazing book and I’m very glad I’ve added it to my toread list (a few years ago, I finally got around to actually reading it.)

Can you spot the difference between the portraits below?

Yes, I am well aware that the second portrait still looks like crap but come on, at least it shows highlights, it has a decent contour and my skull isn’t “chopped off”. Both drawings took me 45 minutes. I’d say that’s a definitive improvement here.

Other exercises in the books concentrate on hands, interiour, chairs, …:

Everything is done with a pencil. My preference is starting to lean towards 2B and 4B instead of HB.

So, what did I learn this week: (these are some quick oneliners that summarize each important chapter in the book)

  1. Draw (shared) edges of stuff: call them contours.
  2. Draw spaces between stuff: call it negative space.
  3. Draw relationships between stuff: call them angles and proportions.
  4. Draw lights and shadows on stuff: call them tonal differences.
  5. Do not draw the appearance of stuff: call it “the gestalt”.

The last point is an interesting one. It’s also called “making it come together” and is usually achieved by simply focusing on the other 4 points.

Doing these exercises gave me a real boost in confidence and motivated me to draw even more. I even started enjoying the use of a pencil - soft shading is nice and not doable with a pen!

Read more on how to draw better in Jen Review’s How to Draw Better blog post.

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