Your Guide to the Basic Skills of Drawing

Every artist, no matter the skill level, should be well-versed in the basics of drawing.

Refining your drawing skills and expanding your knowledge on the art form will not only help you to create new and exciting pieces, but also help you to explore other mediums as well.

The basic skills of drawing:

Perception

close up black pencil with stroke on white paperIt’s hard to bring a three-dimensional subject into a two-dimensional world.

However, this is the basis of pencil drawing for an artist. Every piece you produce needs depth and dimension, which both stem perspective.

Keeping everything proportionate while adhering to the perception of your overall work can be difficult, but with time and practice, you will be able to create a more realistic end product.

Elements of perception:

Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, determined that there were five basic skills of drawing when it came to perspective:

The perception of:

Edges: Separating two areas in a drawing, an edge isn’t as simple as a bold line on a page.

It is a complex concept, varying in sharpness across your drawing to create depth and areas of focus.

Sharp edges tend to be found in higher contrasted areas and cast shadows, whereas soft edges occur around areas of low contrast, where the light isn’t striking down so forcefully on the subject.

Spaces: More specifically, negative spaces.

Negative spaces are the shapes surrounding the positive forms that make up the subject we are focusing on.

Although it is against what we were taught as children, focusing on the negative spaces surrounding a subject will make the task of drawing said subject much easier.

top view of a city skyscrapers drawing

Why?

Well, negative spaces are normally more abstract, which allows our brains to think freely without relying on preconceived knowledge of what the shapes are supposed to look like. And in turn, our negative spaces will automatically create our positive spaces as well!

Relationships: Every element of your drawing has a relationship with one another.

Proportions on your subject, how values are working together, and the chemistry between your spaces and edges.

Until you define these relationships, you won’t be able to create a realistic drawing with accuracy.

So you must measure, whether that be with your pencil, a hand, or any possible reference that makes sense to an artist as a basic unit.

Staying sharp about your proportions and taking accurate measurements will ensure that your drawing has healthy relationships between its forms and elements.

Light & Shadow: The perception of values (lightness or darkness of a certain color) may be one of the most essential skills of drawing an artist must learn.

It’s all about balance and building a relationship between values in drawing, since you are limited to the values you can recreate with a pencil compared to the largely more vast spectrum of values that we witness in reality.

The Whole (Gestalt): The perception of the whole is thinking beyond the subject and paper right in front of you to see the bigger picture.

Staying aware of your end vision and viewing your whole drawing throughout the creative process will help to ensure that every piece comes together at the end, but more importantly, works together at the end.

Composition

freehand pencil drawing of modern bedroom interiorThe composition of your art piece is what makes it a “piece” entirely.

Composition in art is simply the elements of our work coming together to make sense visually–and it is extremely difficult to create a drawing without one.

You must understand the frame you’re working in, the contrast of your different elements, as well as how the positive forms and negative spaces are working together on your surface.

Gesture

Sometimes your subject will be moving, which presses you to then encapsulate that movement in your drawing.

The gesture is what gives the art piece life, adding flow and energy into the mix.

The key here is to study the figure that you’re drawing to see how the body moves and try to replicate that on paper.

Come draw with us!

At Hunakai Studio, we appreciate every artist’s journey and are here to help you through your practice.

Whether you are interested in an adult drawing class or would like to try your hand at colored pencils, we have it all.

Contact us today to learn more about registering for one of our classes!