Learn to Draw - drawing in front of your computer




Getting Started

Since you'll be spending some time in front of your computer drawing pictures, I'd recommend turning off your screensaver, and if your monitor shuts itself off after a time, disable that feature as well. If you don't print out these exercises (and you don't have to) you don't want to look up and all of a sudden you're looking at your screensaver. It's gonna ruin the "drawing mood" you'll be in.

Let's pause here and think a little bit about what drawing is. Drawing is Art. Ok, so what is Art? Art is human expression of human thought. There are many forms of Art, and Drawing is one of those forms. Drawing stems from the inadequacy of another form of art - the written or spoken word. When words can't convey what you want to express, then you draw what you want express. And I think that drawing was and is, used as a universal language. You don't need to speak Italian or French for your drawing to be understood in France or Italy. And even though drawing is a language, it does have limitations. The biggest limitation is that we're loosing the third dimension. The drawing surface (paper, cloth, concrete, a computer monitor...) will display only height and width. Since you can't dig into the surface of your drawing plane, you can't physically convey depth. Drawing is translating the three dimensional world around you into two dimensions and creating the illusion of depth. I think some people say that they can't draw because they think that when they draw they must create something that everybody will think is "Art". And when they create something that they themselves don't define as "Art" they think they have failed and they say that they "can't draw". Every drawing is Art because it's a human expression of a human thought. A drawing is not "bad" - it just didn't turn out as you had originally intended. Art is in the eye of the Beholder.

Let's Draw!

Let's start with a few exercises that you may have done in grade school. These exercises are meant to show you how to move back and forth from your two modes of thinking. And just because you may have done them in grade school doesn't mean they are "elementary", so wipe that aloof look off your face!

Basic Drawing Concepts
There are a few things that your "artistic" mind needs to know about so you can start drawing. Your brain already knows this stuff subconsciously, but I'm just pointing it out to your conscious mind so you can develop these skills. The skills or concepts that we'll be exploring are: line, shape, proportion and perspective, light and shadow, and finally, the whole of the finished drawing. You'll have each of these elements in mind as you draw, but they will become almost immediate and involuntary as you get better and more comfortable with drawing. Just as when you have several things in mind while you drive a car - your foot on the accelerator, one eye on the car behind you, one on the car in front of you - these thoughts are so subconscious that you don't even know you're having them. Some of these concepts you already know, like line and shape, but you may not know them in an artistic sense yet. These skills also build upon each other, meaning that, understanding what lines are and what they do will lead to the understanding of shapes and negative spaces, which will lead to the perception of depth and proportion, which naturally leads to the understanding and use of light and shadow, which will help you to see the drawing as a whole composition in the confines of the drawing surface. Whew! Don't worry, it's really not that complicated, I just thought it sounded good.

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