The Illusion of Depth
One of the Purple Ink members asked me if I would share some tips on how to add depth to both writings and drawings. Last month was devoted to writing. This month, I'll demonstrate a few techniques that I use to make my drawings and sketches look more realistic.
Let me start by saying that I am by no means a professional artist. I am not even a serious art student. I have taken a couple of art classes, but I was never one for doing homework. I do not think that my drawings are polished, nor do I want them to be. My personal goal is to satisfactorily capture the essence of the objects that I see around me. If what I have drawn is identifiable, then I am happy. If I want to draw a puppy, and the image that I have drawn is the basic shape and form of a puppy, then I am happy. The only thing that I want to be serious about is expressing myself creatively on paper.
These tips are aimed at people who want to sketch and draw, but who don't want to make a big deal out of it. My intended audience consists of those who believe that technical perfection is not worth the sacrifice of fun and spontaneity. If you keep primarily a written journal but want to add some visual snippets to your pages, this is for you. So, without further ado, here are a few techniques that I use to draw my pictures. I do basically the same things whether I am drawing by sight or from my imagination.
First things first...Figure out whether you work best on a large or a small scale.
I draw best when I only have to cover a small area. I can work quickly, and there is less effort needed to do the shading and layering that make a drawing look more 3-dimensional. You may be exactly the opposite. You might prefer the freedom to make big sweeping strokes and do lots of blending. There are advantages to both ways, and you'll be doing yourself a favor to figure out which way is more comfortable for you.
The camera sketch below is no more than about 2 inches across.
Start with objects that are familiar to you.
To create the illusion...
For a simple, outline illustration, use bold lines to emphasize certain parts of an image.
Begin with a light touch.
In general, shade from dark to light, beginning just inside the outline of the object, moving in.
To show that one object is in front of another, shade from dark to light.
When coloring, start with a light color, then add shadow and depth with a darker version of the same color.
In the sketch below, I started with the pear and worked my way backwards. I shaded the pear from dark to light, working from the outside edge inward until I was satisfied with it. Then I moved on to the next piece. I drew the basic outline of the apple and shaded away from the pear, from dark to light. I continued the process with each object, shading both inside of the outline and outside of the outline where appropriate. For the leaves at the bottom, I added shadow highlights with a black pencil.
When sketching with watercolor pencils, use regular colored pencils to add more depth.
I hope these ideas help you with your own drawing and sketching. For more information on how to get started with a creative journal, visit the Beginners page. If you'd like to see a particular topic covered on this web page, let me know.
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© 2000 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.