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Drawing for the Absolute Beginner - A Clear and Easy Guide to Successful Drawing

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Learn how easy it is to draw anything you set your mind to - once readers learn the basics taught in this book. With a dash of humour and an encouraging attitude, the Willenbrinks make artists realise that drawing is a fun activity open to everyone. Every step readers take is a successful one, from choosing materials to drawing popular subjects. Each exercise builds on the previous one as readers develop skills, gain confidence and find satisfaction with results.
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Drawing for the Absolute Beginner


absolute beginner
A Clear & Easy Guide to
Successful Drawing

Mark and Mary



About the Authors
Mark Willenbrink is a freelance illustrator and fine artist whose work has been displayed in fine art shows, with several paintings receiving awards. Mark also teaches
art classes and workshops using demonstration, simple instructions and professional
tricks to help his students achieve beautiful artwork they can be proud to display.
Mary Willenbrink has her master’s degree. She is a Christian counselor and author,
but feels her highest calling is to be home to raise her children.
As a husband and wife team, Mark and Mary have authored and illustrated Watercolor for the Absolute Beginner (North Light, 2003), and the book has been translated
into several languages. Mark’s writings and illustrations have been featured in a number of other art instruction books. Mark is a contributing editor for Watercolor Magic
Magazine. His regularly featured column, “Brush Basics” has been rated as a favorite
among the magazine’s readers.
Mark and Mary reside in Cincinnati, Ohio, with their three children.

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner. Copyright © 2006 by Mark and Mary Willenbrink. Manufactured in China. All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including
information storage and retrieval systems without permission in
writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote
brief passages in a review. Published by North Light Books, an
imprint of F+W Publications, Inc., 4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45236. (800) 289-0963. First Edition.
Other fine North Light Books are available from your local bookstore, art supply
store or direct from the publisher.
10 09 08

5 4

100 Armstrong Avenue
Georgetown, ON, Canada L7G 5S4
Tel: (905) 877-4411
Brunel House, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 4PU, England
Tel: (+44) 1626 323200, Fax: (+44) 1626 323319

Metric Conversion Chart
To convert

P.O. Box 704, S. Windsor NSW, 2756 Australia
Tel: (02) 4577-3555
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Willenbrink, Mark and Mary
Drawing for the Absolute Beginner / Mark and Mary Willenbrink.— 1st ed.
p. cm
Includes index.
ISBN-13: 978-1-58180-789-9 (pb. : alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60061-601-3 (EPUB)
ISBN-10: 1-58180-789-9 (pb. : alk. paper)
1. Drawing—Technique. I. Title.
ND2237 .B67 2001
Edited by Kelly Messerly
Designed by Guy Kelly
Production art by Lisa Holstein
Production coordinated by Matt Wagner


Sq. Inches
Sq. Centimeters
Sq. Feet
Sq. Meters
Sq. Yards
Sq. Meters


multiply by

Sq. Centimeters
Sq. Inches
Sq. Meters
Sq. Feet
Sq. Meters
Sq. Yards


We would like to thank those behind the scenes at F+W Publications who have made this all possible: acquisitions editor,
Pam Wissman; contracts manager, Julia Groh; editorial director,
Jamie Markle; designer, Guy Kelly and production coordinator,
Matt Wagner. We would also like to give a special thanks to Pam
Wissman for her encouragement to write this book.
To our cherished editor, Kelly Messerly, we would like to give
our heartfelt thanks. Your time, patience, talent and encouragement were wonderful! We could not have done this without you!
Thank you, Dorothy Frambes, Mike McGuire and Mary
Helen Wallace for sharing your talents so they can be passed
on to others.
We would like to thank our mothers, Clare Willenbrink and
Grace Patton, who have been such an encouragement to us in

our artistic pursuits. Also, thank you to our family and friends for
your consistent support.
It is with great pride that we would like to acknowledge our
three children for their patience and continuous support while
we wrote this book. It is an honor to be your parents. Thank you,
thank you, thank you!
It is our encouragement for each other and our unique insights
that make this book special. It was fun to write together—which
just proves that our marriage, like this book, is a work of art!
Lastly, we thank the Lord for His inspiration. We are all created
in our Father’s image to be creative, and with our creativity we
praise Him.

Laus Deo
Praise to God
We would like to dedicate this book to our fathers, Roy
Willenbrink and Hugh (Bud) Patton, both of whom we love
and miss greatly.



10 Paper and Drawing Board
11 Erasers
12 Additional Drawing Tools

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

Sketching and Drawing

Practice the Techniques

15 Holding the Pencil

20 Black-and-White Sketches

55 Clouds and Grass

68 Boat

16 Structural Sketches

22 Contour Sketches

56 Leafy Trees

70 Cat Face

18 Value Sketches

24 Combining Approaches

57 Evergreen Trees

72 Side View of a Cat

58 Brick, Stone and Wood

74 Dog

60 Rocks

76 Cow

62 Plane

77 Swan

64 Train

78 Human Figures

66 Automobile

82 Faces

Chapter 2
Principles of Good Drawing
27 Using Basic Shapes

38 Three-Point Perspective

28 Gauging Proportions

39 Hidden Horizons and

30 Measuring Angles
31 Working From Reference
32 Understanding Linear
34 One-Point Perspective

Vanishing Points
40 Locating Vanishing Points,
41 Atmospheric Perspective

Chapter 5

42 Ellipses

87 Arranging the Elements

89 Cropping and Formatting

44 Arches and Roofs

88 Number of Elements

90 Lines, Tangents and Shapes

46 Reflections

36 Two-Point Perspective

Chapter 6
Let’s Draw

Chapter 3

92 Still Life

105 Expressive Portrait

94 Textured Metal

110 Telling a Story Through a

49 Contrast

52 Light Effects

96 Scene in Perspective

51 Creating Values

53 Plotting Shadows

98 Natural Textures

116 Landscape

100 Using Contrast

120 Seascape Composition

124 Glossary
126 Index


Do you remember when you got out your crayons and drew
pictures as a child? Now maybe you are proudly displaying your
children’s artwork on the refrigerator door. You love their pictures
because you can see their unique expression in the art, even if
it looks more like a Picasso than a Rembrandt. You were just as
proud of your own artwork at one time but somewhere along the
road of life you began to doubt your artistic abilities. Our belief is
that everyone is an artist, and that includes you!
The skills necessary for drawing are not limited just to pencil
and paper but can be used in other art forms. When you draw,
you are interpreting what you observe from your own perspective. With the principles in this book, you will develop your
observational skills, learn the proper tools to use, apply different

techniques to your drawing and make use of some of the tricks
professionals use every day.
You will learn more if you get out your drawing materials and
become an active participant rather than if you just passively
read through this book. The material is written to be used again
and again. By doing the exercises more than once you will be
able to witness the improvement of your artwork.
We hope you will regain that childlike passion for doing art
and learning without critiquing yourself harshly. We won’t make
you hang it on the fridge, but we do suggest you save your artwork because it will show your progress and increase your confidence as you go.


Pencil extender
Angle ruler
Pencil box
Small sketch pad
Large drawing pad
Drawing board
Pencil sharpener






You Need Only a Few Materials to Draw
All you really need is a pencil and some paper, but
a few other tools will make drawing easier whereever you go. See pages 8–13 for more explanation
of drawing materials.

Your Own Art Studio
With a few supplies, create your own drawing
studio so you can work anywhere. Put your
new studio in the park or in your living room. Sit
down and rest the bottom edge of the drawing
board on your knees. Use one hand to prop the
drawing board and use the other hand to draw.
Sit next to the subject, comparing your drawing
to your subject as you work.

Though one pencil may look just like any other, there are many
different types of pencils to choose from. Each has different uses
to achieve a wide range of results. One difference among pencils
is the core, which may be made of graphite, carbon or charcoal.
I especially like the graphite (commonly mislabeled lead) pencil
because it can easily be erased, it comes in many degrees of
firmness and it does not easily smear. Carbon and charcoal pencils provide rich, dark colors but they don’t erase as well, smear
easily and have a very soft feel. Black colored pencils don’t
smear, but they don’t erase well and have a firm but waxy feel.

Keep Your Pencil Choices Simple
4H, HB and 4B graphite pencils are used for the demonstrations in this book, but you may choose to use a different combination of pencil grades or a mechanical pencil for your own
drawings apart from this book. If you are trying to duplicate the
finished drawings in this book, make it easy on yourself and
work with the same materials suggested, or you may end up
frustrated, wondering why you achieved different results.

Pencil Hardness
Hardness is another important quality to consider when selecting pencils. Ratings, usually stamped on the pencils, range from
H (hard) to B (soft), with F and HB in the middle. For the demos
in this book, we will use 4H, HB and 4B graphite pencils. These
will provide a range in hardness without requiring you to keep
track of an overwhelming number of pencils. 8B pencils create
nice darks, but they are so soft that they need to be continually

Woodless Pencils
Woodless pencils have only a thin
coating over their thick cores. This is
a novel idea, but woodless pencils are
prone to breaking, especially when carried in a pocket! Use pencils with wood
surrounding the core instead.

Runaway Pencils!
Use hex-shaped pencils instead of round
pencils because round pencils roll and can get
away from you.

Pencil Extender
To get more miles out of your pencils, use a
pencil extender on the end of a pencil that has
been shortened by use.








Pencils Come in a Variety of Hardnesses















Keeping Your Pencil Sharp
If you want to draw a thin line, you will need a sharp point on
the tip of your pencil. You can sharpen your pencils in two ways:
with a pencil sharpener or by hand, using a craft knife and a
sandpaper pad.

Pencil Sharpeners Are the Simplest
Way to Keep Pencils Sharp

Sharpened with a
pencil sharpener

A pencil sharpener is the quickest and easiest
way to keep the tips of your pencils sharp.

Sharpened with a
craft knife and sandpaper pad

A Craft Knife and Sandpaper Pad
Reveal More of the Pencil’s Core
For a controlled point that exposes more of the
core, sharpen your pencil with a craft knife and
sandpaper pad.

First Shape the Pencil With a Craft Knife

Identifying Your Pencils

Grip the pencil in one hand, with the point away from you, and the craft
knife in the other. Push the thumb holding the pencil against the thumb
holding the knife to create leverage so the blade cuts into the pencil.
Cut, then turn the pencil and repeat the process until you’ve worked
the area into a point.

To avoid having to search and squint to read the markings on
the sides of your pencils, label the pencil ends with nail polish
or colored tape. Place the nail polish or tape toward the top
of the pencil, but avoid covering the rating stamp or placing it
where the pencil extender would cover it.

Then Sharpen the Core With a Sandpaper Pad
Sand the core back and forth on the sanding pad for a sharp point.


Paper and Drawing Board
Papers for sketching and drawing vary in size, weight, surface
texture (usually referred to as tooth) and content. They may also
be categorized as either sketch or drawing paper. When choosing drawing paper, always choose an acid-free paper, or the
paper may yellow over time. Sketch paper, as the name implies,
is for sketching and usually has a paper weight of 50 to 70 lbs.
(105gsm to 150gsm). Drawing paper, which is for more finished
art, usually comes in 90-lb. (190gsm) weight. A small 6" × 4"
(15cm × 10cm) pocket sketch pad is great for quick studies and
ideas, while larger sketch pads are obviously needed for bigger

sketches. Any drawing you begin may be completed as a keeper,
so you may prefer to begin all your drawings using an 11" × 14"
(28cm × 36cm) medium-tooth, acid-free, 90-lb. (190gsm) drawing paper.
The lights and darks in a drawing are achieved by varying the
amount of pressure applied to the pencil. Because of this, it is
necessary to have a hard surface beneath the paper, ideally a
drawing board. It offers a smooth, solid surface without surprise
ruts or nicks, and it won’t bend or give with pressure the way the
cardboard back of a drawing pad can.

Sketching and Drawing Paper

Drawing Boards Provide a Hard, Smooth Surface

Use both a small sketch pad and a larger drawing pad. Tear out the individual drawing pad sheets and use them on a drawing board.

Drawing boards can be bought with a clip attached to one end and a rubber band on the other to hold a sheet of paper in place.

Tracing Paper and
Masking Tape
Use tracing paper to make a more
refined sketch. Put the previous sketch
under the top sheet of tracing paper.
Use masking tape to secure the sheets
of paper to each other, then carefully
trace the desired elements of the image
onto the tracing paper.


Erasers are the sort of thing to have with the idea that you will
use them only sparingly. Each time you use an eraser, you risk
smearing the drawing or damaging the paper.

Kneaded eraser

Kneaded Eraser
The first eraser you get should be a kneaded eraser. These soft,
putty-like erasers are very gentle to the paper’s surface and leave
few, if any, crumbs. To erase, first try pressing the eraser to the
paper’s surface; this is less damaging to the paper than rubbing
the eraser back and forth.

White Vinyl Eraser
Use a white vinyl eraser to remove hard-to-erase pencil lines.
White vinyl erasers are more abrasive than kneaded erasers but
will not stain the paper, as some colored erasers often do. White
vinyl erasers leave behind strings rather than crumbs, making
cleanup easy.

Erasing Shield
Made of thin metal, an erasing shield masks the areas that are
not to be erased. To use it, with one hand firmly hold the shield
down over the area not to be disturbed and, with your other
hand, carefully erase over top of the shield.

White vinyl eraser

Erasing shield

Avoid Using the Eraser at
the End of Your Pencil
Never use the eraser at the end of a
pencil. It may smear pencil lines and
stain the paper.


Additional Drawing Tools
In addition to the basic supplies, there are other tools that will
help make your drawing experience easier and more enjoyable.

Using a straightedge will give you sharp, accurate lines when
your subject is technical and requires precision. The precision
from a straightedge would look awkward in a sketchy drawing,
though. If you want straightedge accuracy without the tightness,
use the straightedge during the sketching stage with a light pencil line, then draw over those lines more heavily freehand in the
drawing stage.

Using a triangle with a T-square hooked to the side edge of your
board or drawing pad will help you draw more precise vertical,
horizontal and diagonal lines. This method is best used for drawing technical subjects such as buildings in linear perspective (see
pages 32–38).

Angle Ruler
An angle ruler works like a ruler, but it can pivot to measure
angles and can fold small enough to fit in a pencil box. See page
30 for instructions on using this tool to draw angles.



Because it is larger than a ruler and has more surface area to
grip, a triangle can be easy to use for drawing straight lines.

Dividers are used to observe and duplicate proportions from
a photo or sketch. See page 29 for instructions on using
standard dividers.


Angle ruler


Must-Have Materials


4H, HB and 4B graphite pencils
Pencil sharpener
Sketch pad
11" × 14" (28cm × 26cm) mediumtooth drawing paper
Drawing board
Kneaded eraser
White vinyl eraser



Optional, But Not to Be Overlooked
Straightedge, triangle or angle ruler
• Light box



Dividers, proportional dividers or
sewing gauge
Small mirror
Erasing shield
Pencil extender
Craft knife
Sandpaper pad
Tracing paper
Masking tape

Sewing gauge
Small mirror


Light box

Proportional Dividers

Small Mirror

Proportional dividers are used to proportionally enlarge or reduce
a image. (See page 29 for additional instruction.)

Use a small mirror for self-portraits and for observing facial features. It is also handy for examining your artwork in reverse form.
Looking at a drawing in reverse will allow you to see the composition through fresh eyes.

Sewing Gage
A sewing gauge is an inexpensive tool that can be used to
measure the proportions of a still life, three-dimensional subject
matter, or when working from flat reference materials such as

Light Box
A light box allows you to work from a structural drawing without
having to sketch guidelines directly on your drawing paper. This
process is explained in more detail on page 24.

Fixative is a spray applied to pencil drawings to prevent the
artwork from smudging. It’s used mostly for carbon or charcoal
drawings, which tend to be powdery. For the demos in this book,
fixative isn’t necessary because you’ll be drawing with graphite.
Graphite is not likely to smear if the drawings are stored loosely,
one on top of the other.



Sketching &

Sketching and drawing are two different things. A sketch is a work in progress. You may sketch to observe your subject matter or to resolve questions
regarding a drawing you are working on. A sketch may help you understand
the values of a subject, or gain more understanding of the subject’s structure,
proportions and placement of its compositional elements. Sketches like these
may progress toward a more finished drawing. On the other hand, (no pun
intended!) drawing is an activity that is begun with the intention of producing a
finished piece of art.
With these definitions in mind, recognize that there are times to begin a
drawing with a sketch and there are times to begin a sketch without any intention of refining it into a finished drawing. As a beginner, if you are trying to do
more drawings than sketches, then you may be putting too much pressure
on yourself. Loosen up and enjoy learning four different
approaches to sketching and drawing: structural line
sketching, value sketching, black-and-white sketching
and contour sketching.

Let the Lines Guide You
Line up your drawing board and paper with
your subject and lightly sketch horizontal
lines. These will guide you as you place
your subject’s features. Grab a friend and
try it yourself!


Holding the Pencil
There are different ways to hold a pencil, depending on what
type of strokes and lines you want to achieve. You may start out
with loose, sketchy lines and progress to tighter, more controlled
lines and shorter strokes. Here are some common hand grips

you can try as you sketch and draw. You may find something
else that works better for you. You will find that pressure and
grip affects the line results of your drawings. Generally, the more
pressure you apply, the darker your line will be.

Create Thick, Loose Lines

Create Thick, Tight Lines

For thick, loose lines, avoid using the point of
the pencil. Instead, grip the pencil with your
thumb and fingertip so that the pencil lead lies
flat against the paper. Your fingertips should be
either just above the paper surface or gently
resting on it. This may smear your previous
pencil lines, so be careful. You will use your
entire arm to draw these wide lines.

Apply more pressure to the point of the pencil
by moving your index finger closer to the tip.
Your fingertips may rest on the paper, though it
isn’t necessary that they do so for this stroke to
be successful.

Create Thin, Controlled Lines
For lines like these, grip the pencil as in a
handwriting position, with the pencil resting between your thumb, middle and index
fingers. Your hand rests gently on the paper.
For very thin lines, the pencil tip needs to
come to a sharp point.

Create Long, Arcing Lines
This grip is similar to the handwriting position,
except you hold the pencil out at length. Use
this grip to achieve wide, straight and arced
lines. Let your hand rest gently on the paper.

Using a Frisket
A piece of paper can be used as a frisket
to make an even edge for a set of pencil
lines. This is also a great technique to use
if you want to create a clean margin for
your drawing. This method also works well
for backgrounds.

Cover the Drawing

Lift the Frisket

Place a piece of scrap or copier paper over
your drawing. Start the line strokes on the scrap
paper and continue onto the drawing paper.

Lift your frisket away. The pencil lines should
look as if they start from one invisible line.


Structural Sketches
A structual sketch is the basic linework in which values and
details are built upon. They are a great way to observe your subject, and are often used as a basis for a more finished drawing.
A structural sketch is also an excellent way to loosen up before
doing another type of sketch or drawing.

Focus on the Basic Structure
A structural sketch will help you observe and understand the underlying
structure of the subject. Here you will focus on the placement and proportions of the elements rather than on light or shadows (see page 18).


Structural Sketch of a Coffee Cup

A structural sketch helps you see how a subject is constructed.
Look for basic shapes such as squares, rectangles and circles.
Now ask yourself how they relate to one another. Before you pick
up your pencil to sketch your coffee cup, take a minute to study
your subject.

Must-Have Materials
4H graphite pencil
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser
Straightedge (optional for the first
step, absolutely prohibited for the
rest of the steps)

Structural guideline


Sketch the Basic Form and Structures
Use a 4H pencil to sketch the outer forms of the mug and
the most relevant structural guidelines, such as those that
will indicate the placement of the rim, the bottom of the cup and
the handle.




Add More Structural Lines
Sketch the rim of the cup and the handle. Use the lines
you drew in step one to help you add these additonal
lines. Look for points where elements line up such as the rim of
the cup and handle.


Add Detail Lines to Finish
Add details such as the inner lines of the rim and handle.
Erase any unnecessary guidelines with a kneaded eraser.


Value Sketches
Values are the degrees of lights and darks in a drawing or painting. A value sketch is used to observe a subject without much
regard for structural or proportional accuracy. Here you focus on
the lights and darks of your subject. One way to visually separate
the structural lines from the values is to squint at your subject.

This blurs the structural lines and makes the lights and darks
more noticeable. For a finished drawing that employs values,
it’s a good idea to do a structural sketch first to make sure the
elements of your subject are in the right places. See page 24 for
more explanation of combining drawing approaches.

Use Layers of Shading for Value Sketches
Begin a value sketch by first locating the areas of highlights, which will be left white. Then lightly
shade the areas of overall values. The next step is to add more layers of shading for the middle
values. Finally, add the darkest shading.

Using an Erasing Shield
If you want to erase in a specific area
of your drawing, use an erasing shield.
Place the erasing shield over the region
that is not to be erased. Gently begin
erasing with a kneaded eraser. Use a
white vinyl eraser if the kneaded eraser
doesn’t fully erase the first time.


Value Sketch of a Coffee Cup

In this exercise you will be focusing on values instead of lines.
The idea of a value sketch is to define form through light and
shadow instead of lines, so use shading to give your coffee cup
form. Remember, this is not intended to be a finished drawing, so
relax and enjoy the process.


Sketch the Lighter Values
Use a 4B pencil to sketch the lighter values, keeping the
lightest ones the white of the paper. Use pencil strokes
that feel comfortable for you. They may be vertical, horizontal or
even scribbles.

Must-Have Materials
4B graphite pencil
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser


Sketch the Middle Values
Continue adding layers for the middle values, gradually
giving form to the sketch.


Sketch the Dark Values
Finish by adding more layers for the darkest values.
Use a kneaded eraser to lighten some areas if you
think they need it.


Black-and-White Sketches
Black-and-white sketches are like value sketches, except that
you focus on the contrasting blacks and whites and ignore the
middle values. Your softest 4B pencil will work, but charcoal and
carbon pencils work especially well for this because of their rich,

No Outlines or Middle Values Allowed
No matter what part of the subject you’re drawing, use only black and
white forms to define it for a Chiarosuro drawing.

Avoid Smudges
As you are drawing, your hand glides
over the paper surface and can smear
the pencil lines. One solution to this is to
use a slip sheet, which is a sheet of paper
placed between your hand and the drawing surface. This way your hand does not
rest directly on the drawing.
ART 018-2 (1-5)
bw reflect


dark qualities. Also called chiaroscuro sketching, this type of
sketch is a good exercise for understanding what makes images
visually identifiable with the most basic of values, black and white.

Chiaroscuro Coffee Cup

No, it’s not a fancy type of coffee, it’s a black-and-white sketch of
a coffee cup! This is like taking a value sketch to the extreme; no
outlines and no middle values will be used to interpret the subject. Use this method to examine a subject’s most basic lights
and darks.
Remember, this is just a study. Like a sketch, this is not
intended to look like a finished drawing.


Start With the Most Obvious Darks
With a soft-lead pencil, sketch the most noticeable darks
of the subject. In this case, the interior of the mug, along
the rim, and down the right on the outside of the mug are the
darkest areas. Keep your pencil strokes close together so areas
will look black.

Must-Have Materials
Anything from a 4B to 8B graphite,
carbon or charcoal pencil
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser


Add More Darks
Continue adding darks, using them to define the image.


Add a Background
Finish adding darks to complete the mug. Add a background and some shadows to further define the image.


Contour Sketches
This type of sketch is also called a continuous line sketch because
you draw with one continuous line, drawing outlines and defining
value areas. Don’t worry about accuracy. This is a fun exercise for
loosening up before you draw, and it will sharpen your observation
skills. Add more of a challenge by blocking your view of the sketch
in progress, letting your hand guess at what the pencil line looks
like on the paper. This is called blind contour sketching.

Continuous Line Sketch
Once you start moving your pencil, don’t lift it until the sketch is done.


Blind Contour Sketch

Blind Contour Sketches Help You Understand Your Subject

This sketch was done by observing the subject without looking at the
drawing paper. Block your view of the sketch with a piece of cardboard
until you’re finished.

No one expects contour sketches to be identifiable. As Mary worked
through this sketch, she gained a real understanding of the contours of
her coffee cup.

Contour Sketch of a Coffee Cup

This sketch is done by placing the pencil onto the paper and not
lifting it until the sketch is finished. Look for lines and shapes.
Follow the contours that define the subject and the shadows
around it. Doing a contour sketch is truly an exercise in putting
observation into practice!


Start Moving the Pencil
Put an HB pencil to the paper and start moving it,
following the contours of the subject without lifting the
pencil from the paper.

Must-Have Materials
HB graphite pencil
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser


Continue the Pencil Movement
Keep moving the pencil so that the sketch is formed with
a single line.


Finish Up
Keep moving the pencil until the sketch is complete.


Combining Approaches
We’ve explored four different approaches to sketching and drawing. If you tried the value, black-and-white or contour sketch
demos, you might be thinking your art didn’t turn out anything
like you expected. Do not be discouraged and don’t give up! You
are already growing in your observation skills.
You can combine some of the different approaches to achieve
a more finished drawing. For instance, start with a structural line
sketch and then add values. During the structural sketch stage,
you should look for the basic shapes (see page 27) and propor-

Combine Approaches for a Finished Drawing
Work out proportions with a structural sketch and
placement of the elements in your composition. Add
value changes to define form and shadow.

A Light Box Makes Combining Drawing
Approaches Easy
Do a structural sketch of your subject, erase
obsolete guide lines and add detail lines defining
the form and shadows. Use this sketch as the
basis for a value sketch, black-and-white sketch
or contour sketch. Place the sketch on a light box
and then place your drawing paper on top of the
sketch. Turn on the light box so the image of the
sketch will be visible through the drawing paper.
This will provide a framework for your subject so
you don’t have to sketch the structural guidelines
onto the drawing paper.


tions (see pages 28–29) so you can be confident of their placement before you add the values.
A light box is a device that allows you to see the structural
lines for a drawing without having to draw them on the artwork
itself. First, create a structural sketch of your subject. Place the
structural sketch on the light box, then tape a piece of drawing paper to the structural line sketch. The image will be visible
through the drawing paper to provide a foundation for your value,
black-and-white and contour drawings.

Structural Line Sketch
These lines indicate highlights and shadows as well as the structure of the
subject. To use other drawing approaches, erase any obsolete markings.

Value Drawing Using the
Structural Line Sketch and Light Box
A light box was used to backlight the structural sketch as a guide for this
value drawing.

Black-and-White Drawing (Chiaroscuro)
Using the Structural Sketch and Light Box

Contour Drawing Using the
Structural Sketch and Light Box

A light box was used to backlight the structural sketch as a guide for this
black-and-white drawing.

A light box was used to backlight the structural sketch as a guide for this
contour drawing.



Principles of
Good Drawing

Good drawing does not come just from having a skilled or trained hand, but
also from your ability to observe your subject matter. In fact, one of the things
we love most about art is being able to see how each artist interprets a subject.
What is it that gives someone the ability to draw well? It is a matter of learning
basic principles, applying them consistently and training the eye to observe
the subject. Observing invovles noticing the basic shapes, proportions and values of objects rather than thinking of them as “buildings,” “trees” or “people.”
Once you have an understanding of the principles and have trained yourself
to observe, it is then only a matter of telling your hand to draw what your eye
sees, not what your mind thinks the subject should look like.


Using Basic Shapes

Before you pick up a pencil to begin drawing, take time to
observe your subject matter. Look for the basic shapes, then
sketch them lightly on your drawing paper, working out the correct proportions of those shapes and determining where each
should be in relation to one another. If you have questions about
the composition, do a few quick thumbnail sketches at this point.
Once you decide where to place the major elements of your
composition, take your sketch to the next step, adding structural
details. Finally, add the values. This method of drawing will help
ensure that the results will be proportionally correct.

Must-Have Materials
HB graphite pencil
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser



Look for the
Basic Shapes
Look for
circles, squares, triangles, ovals and rectangles in your subject
before you sketch.


Add Details to the Structural Sketch
Add the details including the columns and trim to the
building, define the shape of the trees and add a row of
shrubs in front of the building.

Sketch the
Basic Structure
Start with the
basic shapes and use
them to work out proportions (see page 28)
and composition (see
page 86).


Add the Values
Add values over the lines to give the scene depth and
definition, and to make it look more realistic.


Gauging Proportions
Gauging proportions is as simple as making sure that the width
and height of the objects in your drawing are proportionally similar to those in your reference. Believable art starts with correct
proportions, so learning how to gauge proportions accurately will
be invaluable. You don’t need to know the actual inches or cen-

timeters; instead, measure the relative sizes of the elements to
achieve an accurate representation of your subject.
There are many tools available for gauging proportions, from
a simple pencil to tools made specifically for measuring, such as
sewing gauges or dividers. Dividers, both standard and

Gauging Proportions With a Pencil
Gauging Proportions can be done by “measuring” each part of the subject with a pencil. Use the top of your thumb to make the
distance from the end of the pencil. Now
compare this measurement with those of
other parts of the image. In this example, the
teapot’s height is equal to its width.

Lock in Accurate Proportions
To correctly gauge proportions in this manner, lock your arm straight in
front of you, holding the pencil straight up. Look at the pencil and the
subject you’re measuring through one eye. A bent arm may result in
inaccurate measurements because you may bend your arm at different
angles from one measurement to another.


proportional, are used to gauge proportions of two-dimensional
reference materials, such as photographs, rather than of threedimensional objects, such as those in a still-life setup. Proportional dividers enable you to enlarge or reduce by measuring the
reference with one end of the tool and then using the other end
to determine the size of the image in your drawing.

Proportioning can be done loosely for a quick sketch or more
precisely for a finished drawing. The subject also influences how
accurate the drawing needs to be. You may be less concerned
about the proportions of a tree than you are about the proportions of an automobile.

Using Standard Dividers

Using Proportional Dividers

Measure the subject in your reference with the dividers and transfer the
length to your surface. You can only measure a one-to-one ratio with
standard dividers. If you wanted to enlarge this window to twice its size,
you would have to double the divider’s measurement.

Proportional dividers are used not only to compare proportions but also
to enlarge or reduce. Measure the subject in your reference with one end
of the dividers, then use the other end to mark the measurement for your
drawing. The notches in the center of the dividers let you determine just
how much you want to enlarge or reduce the size of the image.

Using a Sewing Gauge
Align the edge of the object with the end of the
sewing gauge, then move the slider up or down
to mark the other edge. Transfer that measurement to your drawing.

Get It Straight
Straight lines can be drawn using a
straightedge or ruler. Another method
is to place the side of the hand holding
your pencil against the edge of your
drawing surface, then glide your hand
along the edge.


Measuring Angles
Measuring angles sounds technical, but drawing angles mostly
involves observation. If you want to take the guesswork out of
drawing angles, use an angle ruler. Correct angles will make your
drawings more successful.

Duplicate the Angle

Transfer the Angle to Your Drawing

First, duplicate the angle of the subject by aligning a pencil with it.

Keeping the pencil at the same angle, hold it over the drawing and adjust
the sketch as needed.

Using an Angle Ruler
An angle ruler (see page 12) also can be used for duplicating
angles. Line up the angle ruler with the subject, then hold it over
the drawing. Then transfer the angle to the drawing by placing the
angle ruler on the relevant area of the drawing and marking along it.


Working From Reference Materials
Images from books, magazines, greeting cards or the Internet
that allow you to observe a particular subject are called reference
materials. It is good to practice observing actual subjects such
as the birds in your backyard. Firsthand observation will help you
to capture the essence and nature of your subject. The problem
with observing from life is that the subject, especially an animal,
may not stay still for you. Moreover, the lighting and colors will
constantly change. A still life, in which you set up your subject
matter with a consistent light source, is another option. You
can sit down and take your time observing your subject at your
leisure—be sure to warn your family that the fruit bowl is being
used for study, or your reference may be eaten by mistake!

How to Approach a Challenging Drawing
Some subjects may seem so daunting, you may not know
where to begin. Even finding the basic shapes, which is the
best place to begin, may be hard. The following method
may help.


Reference material

Trace the Basic Shapes
Lay a piece of tracing paper over your reference and trace the
basic shapes of the image.


Initial source

Use Your Tracing as a Reference
Use the tracing as another reference to determine the placement
of the shapes and their proportions as you begin the drawing.

Reference Materials
Observation of a subject can be enhanced with reference material.
Start a reference file by categorizing photos and magazine pictures in
an accordion folder.


Understanding Linear Perspective
Perspective is what gives the illusion of depth to a picture. It
affects almost everything we see, if only in subtle ways, which is
why it is important to have an understanding of how perspective
works. Artists employ two types of perspective: linear and atmospheric (also called aerial). Linear perspective involves the use of
converging lines and the manipulation of the size and placement
of elements within a composition to create the illusion of depth
and distance. Atmospheric perspective, which will be explained
in more detail on page 41, relies not on lines but on variations in
value and detail to achieve similar effects.

Horizon Line
The first step in using linear perspective is to establish a horizon
line where the land or water meets the sky. The placement of
the horizon influences the viewer’s perception of a scene and
determines where its sight lines should converge. Even when the
horizon line is not actually visible, its location must be clear or the
perspective of the scene may not be correct (see page 39).

Vanishing Points
Vanishing points occur where parallel lines appear to converge,
usually on the horizon. For example, when you look down a
train track, the rails seem to converge in the distance. The place
where the rails appear to meet is the vanishing point. A single
drawing may contain several vanishing points—or none at all—
depending on the location of elements within a scene and the
vantage point of the viewer.

Vantage Point
The best way to describe the vantage point is to say that it is the
point from which the viewer observes a scene. In a drawing, the
relationship between the location of subject elements (such as
trees and buildings) and the horizon line will determine the eye
level of the vantage point. In addition, the vantage point can influence the mood of a scene (see page 33).

Vanishing point

Vanishing Points
A vanishing point occurs where parallel lines
appear to meet in the distance. For instance,
when you look down train tracks, the parallel
lines of the rails seem to converge at a point
on the horizon.


Dog’s Eye Level

Man’s Eye Level

Placing the horizon low makes the vantage
point seem low. In this example, the vantage
point is at the dog’s eye level. Notice that the
horizon line goes through the eye of the dog.

Placing the horizon at the same level as the
eyes of the man in the scene puts the vantage point also at the man’s eye level. In this
example, the horizon line runs through the
man’s eyes.

Overhead View
With the horizon placed well above the man
and dog, the vantage point is also very high.
This creates the feeling that the viewer is looking down on both of them.

Low Horizon, Low Vantage Point

High Horizon, High Vantage Point

With the horizon placed low, the subject may look taller and more massive
than normal.

A high horizon can give an unnatural feel to a subject that is normally
viewed from eye level. Instead, bring the horizon line down to a more
natural vantage point.

Vantage Point Can Influence Mood
The placement of the horizon can influence the mood of a scene by creating a variety
of sensations in the viewer. Placing the horizon unnaturally low will make the viewer
feel as if he were looking up at the subject from a very low vantage point. Placing the
horizon unnaturally high will make the viewer feel as if he were looking down on the
subject from a great height.


One-Point Perspective
One-point perspective is a simple form of linear perspective with
only one vanishing point. Remember to always draw the horizon
line first, then determine the placement of the vanishing point
on the horizon, which should not be far from the center of the
scene. First draw the horizon line, then determine the placement
of your two vanishing points on either side of the paper on the
horizon line. As you work out the perspective of the elements in
the scene, extend the parallel lines either up or down toward the
vanishing point, depending on the vantange point you want to
create for the viewer.

Let’s Get Technical
Use a T-square or triangle with your drawing board. These
tools will make technical and perspective drawings easier
to do and more accurate.

Vanishing point
Parallel lines drawn
so they meet at the
vanishing point

These basic shapes
could be the basis
for a building or
other structure


Dog’s Eye Level, One-Point Perspective
Here the horizon line and vanishing point are both at the dog’s eye level.
Notice that all parallel lines below the dog’s eye level angle up toward the
vanishing point and all lines above the dog’s eye level angle down.

Vanishing point
Draw these lines to the vanishing point,
even if it doesn’t feel right

Man’s Eye Level, One-Point Perspective
Here the horizon line is at the man’s eye level, so this view shows a
vantage point at the same height as his eye level. All parallel lines
below the man’s eye level angle up toward the vanishing point and
those above it angle down.


Vanishing point

Parallel lines are angled up
towards the vanishing point

Overhead View, One-Point Perspective
In this view, the horizon is above both the man and the dog. The vantage point is somewhere
above the man and the dog creating the feeling that the viewer is looking down on the scene.
All parallel lines angle up to converge at the vanishing point.

Principles of Perspective
There are three important principles to keep in mind when you
render linear perspective:
• Depth is expressed by size. Similar objects will appear
bigger if they are positioned closer to the viewer than if
they are placed farther away.
• Depth is expressed by obscurity. Objects closer to
the viewer may hide from view, cover up or cancel out
objects that are farther in the distance.
• Depth is expressed by convergence. Elements that are
parallel to each other will appear to converge in the
distance. The point of convergence is called the vanishing point. A scene with linear perspective may have an
unlimited number of vanishing points, or none at all.


Two-Point Perspective
Two-point perspective employs the same principles as one-point
perspective but with an additional vanishing point. Two-point
perspective can give a scene more depth than one-point per-

spective. The first object you draw will help you determine the
relative sizes of any other objects in the composition.

Extend the parallel lines toward
the two vanishing points
Vanishing point

Vanishing point


Notice the man
and the dog also
have invisible parallel
lines that need to be drawn
through just like those of the boxes

Vanishing point

Dog’s Eye Level, Two-Point Perspective
Here, the horizon line is at the dog’s eye level. The vantage point is also at the same level as the
dog’s eye. Just as in one-point perspective, all lines above the dog’s eye level angle down toward
the vanishing points and all lines below the dog’s eye level angle up toward the vanishing points.

Vanishing point
Extend the parallel lines toward the
two vanishing points

Man’s Eye Level, Two-Point Perspective
Here, the horizon line is at the man’s eye level; the vantage point is
at the same level. All parallel lines above him angle down toward the
vanishing points and all parallel lines below him angle up toward the
vanishing points.



Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Overhead View, Two-Point Perspective
Parallel lines extend to converge
at the two vanishing points

Here, the horizon is above the man and his dog,
creating the impression that the viewer is looking
down on them. The vantage point is above the
man and the dog. In this case all of the parallel
lines are angled up toward the vanishing points.

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Two-Point Perspective,
Two Vanishing Points
These books are neatly stacked and lined up, so
they share the same two vanishing points.

Vanishing points

Vanishing points

Two-Point Perspective, Many Vanishing Points
A simple stack of books may have many vanishing points.
Each of these books has its own set of two vanishing points.


Three-Point Perspective
Linear perspective may include many vanishing points, as shown
by the staggered books on page 37. When you add more vanishing points to a scene, you also add drama and complexity to your
composition. If you take a vanishing point and move it high above
or far below the horizon, you will create three-point perspective.

Three-Point Perspective,
Looking Down

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

This drawing of tall buildings employs three
vanishing points and a high horizon. The
resulting perspective is extremely dramatic.

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Three-Point Perspective, Looking Up
Reversing the placement of the vanishing
points and horizon line gives the viewer the
impression of looking up at the buildings. Once
again, every line is directed to one of the three
vanishing points.


Vanishing point

Hidden Horizons and Vanishing Points
Applying the principles of perspective to all objects in a scene
is important, even though horizons and vanishing points aren’t
always noticeable. They may be hidden behind other elements
in the composition, but understanding where they are will help to

keep your perspective accurate. If necessary, sketch the horizon
and vanishing points lightly with a pencil to make sure perspective is applied to eveything in your drawing. Once you’ve established perspective, erase your guidelines and finish the drawing.

Hide and Seek

Vanishing point


Even when the horizon or vanishing points in a
scene are hidden, they still affect your drawing.
You can easily find your horizon line and vanishing points. If you draw lines from all the parallel elements in this room, they will converge at
the vanishing point. Now that you have discovered the vanishing point, you know the horizon
line goes through that point in the scene.

Vanishing point

Beyond the Horizon
Though the subject is not bound to a horizon,
this scene still uses the principles of linear


Locating Vanishing Points
The location of your vanishing points has an important effect
on the vantage point of your drawing. The closer the vanishing
points are to each other, the closer the object will appear to the
viewer. The farther apart they are, the more distant the object will
appear to the viewer.

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Close Vanishing Points, Close Vantage Point
The vanishing points are close together, making the box appear close to the
viewer. Notice how the sharp angles create a more exaggerated perspective.


Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Farther Vanishing Points, Farther Vantage Point
The vanishing points are farther apart, making the angles less extreme.


Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Distant Vanishing Points, Distant Vantage Point
With the vanishing points far apart, the box looks flat, almost without
perspective. This will give the viewer the impression that the box is in
the distance.


Atmospheric Perspective
Atmospheric perspective, also referred to as aerial perspective,
uses definition and values to create the illusion of depth and distance. Atmospheric perspective relies on the idea that the closer
something is to the viewer, the more it is defined and the more its
values contrast. For instance, trees close to the viewer will show
more detail and more color variation than trees farther away.

Using Values to
Create Depth
In this grouping of
trees, the value of the
closest trees contrasts more against
the background than
those farther away.

Linear Perspective Only
Depth in this scene relies on the size differences
established by linear perspective. The larger windmill seems closer to the viewer than the smaller
ones. Atmospheric perspective is not used to
show the distance between the windmills.

Atmospheric Perspective Only
All three windmills are the same size, so no linear perspective is used. The only difference is
the intensity of their values, which makes them
look like they are progressively more distant,
going from left to right.

Combined Perspectives
By combining linear and atmospheric perspectives, the depth of the scene is expressed
through size and value contrast.



A circle drawn in perspective becomes an ellipse because it
follows the same principles as other shapes drawn in linear perspective. An ellipse can be made by first sketching a square in
perspective. The lines of the square will be used as the boundaries for the ellipse, because both a circle and a square are equally
as wide as they are tall.

Must-Have Materials
4H graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser
White vinyl eraser

Horizon line

Vanishing point

Horizon line

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Vanishing point
Center point


Sketch a Square in Perspective
Sketch the horizon line, then place the vanishing points
on the horizon. Now sketch a square in perspective by
using those vanishing points.


Connect the Opposite Corners
Sketch lines connecting the opposite ends of the square.
Each line will define the widest and narrowest parts of the
ellipse. The intersection of these two lines is the center point of
the ellipse.

Horizon line

Ellipses Don’t Have Points
Ellipses do not have points on the
end. Their ends are round, even if
the ellipse is rather flat.
Vanishing point


Vanishing point

Sketch In the Ellipse
Sketch in the shape of the ellipse. Notice that the ellipse
is longest in relation to the longest center line.


Ellipses In Use
Ellipses can be drawn as vertical, horizontal and angled, but still
use the same perspective principles. Remember the first step in
drawing an ellipse is to sketch a square in linear perspective.

Sketch Cylinders Using Ellipses
The ends of cylinders drawn in perspective are
ellipses. First establish the horizon and vanishing points, then sketch the boxes. The ends of
the boxes will be the boundaries for the ellipses. Connect the ellipses to create the cylinders.

Ellipses Are All Around Us
Ellipses that stand vertically can be drawn in
a similar manner. Notice how the center lines
direct the shape of each ellipse.


Arches and Roofs

Circles are not the only curved objects you must draw in perspective. Arches are also quite common and need to follow the
rules of perspective to look accurate. The peak of an arch is centered over the space between its supporting walls. The same is
true of most roofs. To draw a roof in proper perspective, you will
need to know how to find its the center point. Measuring with a
ruler will not give you the correct center point as far as perspective is concerned, which is why knowing how to find the center
point is important. Try this little exercise to learn how to find the
center point for a roof.

4H graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser
White vinyl eraser

Sketch a Rectangle In Perspective
Establish the horizon line, then the vanishing points
(which are far off to the left and right). Sketch a rectangle
in perspective. This will become the walls that support the roof.





Add Vertical Lines
Sketch vertical lines up through the center of the Xs.
These lines designate the center of the box’s side walls.


Must-Have Materials

Connect Opposite Corners of the Rectangle
Sketch lines connecting the opposite corners of the sides
of the rectangle, making two Xs. The intersection of these
lines are the center points for the sides.

Sketch the Top of the Roof
Sketch a line for the top of the roof. If completely drawn,
this line would converge with the other lines on the right
side of the box at the vanishing point far off to the right.


Connect the Points
to Finish the Roof
Connect the lines from the top of
the roof to the side points. These lines will
make the roof ends.

Drawing Arches

Round out the top
and sides to create
an arch

Drawing the arch of a doorway or the bottom
curve of a suspension bridge is similar to drawing the roof of a building. For the doorway, find
the center point of the rectangle by connecting
the opposite corners of the rectangle. Make a
vertical line straight up to establish the peak
of the arch. The curve of a suspension bridge
can be thought of as an arch with the curve at
the bottom instead of at the top, so apply the
same principles.

Center point

Center point



Reflections are an exciting element to draw because they double
the beauty of a scene. The reflection shares the very same horizon and vanishing points as the images they are reflecting.
Reflections Are Perpendicular to Their
Reflecting Surface
Reflected images are perpendicular to the
reflecting surface. The vertical lines show how
both the trees and their reflected images are
perpendicular to the surface of the water. This
is most noticeable when the reflecting surface
is smooth.
Reflecting surface

Reflections Use the Same Perspective
as the Objects They Reflect
In this pond scene, the same horizon and vanishing points are used for both the bridge and
its reflection. It is not a repeat or reverse of the
bridge, but a continuation.

Vanishing point


Reflection on a Rough Surface
When the reflection surface is rough, such as when there are waves on
the surface of the water, the reflected image is broken up. This occurs
because some of the waves are not perpendicular to the image, causing
distortion to the image’s reflection.

Distant Elements Can Be Reflected
The image reflected doesn’t have to be near
or directly over the reflecting surface. The
mountains are far away from the water, yet their
image is still reflected on its surface.

Reflections Can Be a
Drawing’s Focus
In this example, the reflection on a
car’s wheel cover shows the sky,
ground and trees. Even the person
viewing it is visible in the center.




Values are the degrees of light and darkness in a drawing. They give additional
form and depth to a basic structure. Observing the wide range of values that
make up your subject will give you a better understanding of how light creates
highlights and shadows on the form.

Observing Values Exercise
Take white foam shapes from your local craft store, set them up with
a good light source, then observe the characteristics of the shapes,
the highlights and how the shadows fall. Notice the wide range of values. You may need to paint the foam white to get an opaque surface
that reflects light smoothly and accurately. Be sure to use latex paint,
because spray enamel will melt Styrofoam.


Differing values create contrasts that can affect the mood and
composition of a drawing. The more extreme the difference
between values, the greater the contrast. One way to achieve
higher contrast in your drawing is to place your darks and lights
side by side.
It’s All Relative
Value contrasts are relative. They appear differently
according to their environment. The small square
on the far left may appear darker than the small
square on the near left, but both are the same value. The square on the left appears darker because
it is placed directly against the pure white of the
paper, providing more contrast.

Value Contrast Creates Impact
A drawing done without much contrast will not have much impact and will look flat and pale. The
white smoke of the rocket on the right looks brighter against the dark background. The drawing on
the right uses richer values, creating more contrast.


Making a Value Scale

You can use a value scale to compare the values of a scene with
that of a drawing. Hold the value scale up to the subject and look
through the holes punched along the side. Where do the values
in the subject fall on the value scale? As you begin to compose a
drawing (see page 86), it is always best to establish the highlights
and very light areas. Sketch those in, then look for where the other values are in the subject. To fill in the other values, one option
is to go from the lightest shades of the drawing to the darkest.
Another way to map out the values is to fill in some of the darkest
areas around the lightest areas, then work with the midtones last.
Try each of these methods to see which one works best for you.


Draw a Rectangle
Draw a 2" × 6" (5cm × 15cm) rectangle on a 4" × 8" (10cm × 20cm)
piece of drawing paper. Add a line down
the middle right of the rectangle as a
guideline for the holes you will punch out
in the last step.



Must-Have Materials
4H, HB, 4B graphite pencils
4" × 8" (10cm × 20cm) drawing paper
Kneaded eraser
Hole punch



Create the Lighter Values
Keeping the top white, use a 4H
pencil to create the lighter values
with back-and-forth strokes.
Add the Middle Values
Add the middle values with an
HB pencil.

Add the Darkest Values
Use a 4B pencil for the darkest values. With scissors,
trim around the rectangle pattern
you drew, and punch seven holes
along one side with a hole punch.


Map Out the Value
Variations in Your
Reference Photos
Now you can hold your scale up to a
picture or scene to judge the values
as you work on your drawings.




Creating Values
When you draw, you use lines to suggest light and dark values.
The grade of pencil, the sharpness of its point, the angle of the
point on the paper, the amount of pressure applied to the pencil,
and the surface of the paper all influence the values you create.
Even the pencil strokes you use influence the values you create
on the paper.

Individual lines

Individual lines,

Back-and-forth lines

Often type of stroke and the direction of the lines is determined by the subject. When drawing wood, the pencil lines will
follow the direction of the grain; when drawing a cat, the direction
of the pencil lines will follow the contours of its body.

Back-and-forth lines,







Making the Grade

Different Folks Make
Different Strokes
If you are right handed, it is natural for
you to make lines moving from the
upper right to the lower left. But lines
may go any direction you like, depending on what is comfortable for you and
the effect you want to achieve.

Here are some basic lines strokes created with different pencil grades.
Hard pencils are good for sharp, crisp line work, and they keep their
points longer than soft pencils. Soft-grade pencils can make smooth,
dark values. Consider duplicating these pencil strokes as an exercise,
then get creative and invent other textures.


Light Effects
Values are used to create the effects of light and shadow in a
drawing. To make your drawings look realistic, you will need to
replicate these different light effects.
• Light Source. Basically, the origin of the light. To determine
the shading and shadows of a scene, it is important to determine the position of the light source so you know from which
direction the light is coming. The light source is usually the
sun or a lamp, so the light usually comes from the top. A light
source positioned at the top left or right will give more depth
than one located straight above your subject.

Using Light
Accurately Adds
Realism and Depth
to Your Drawings





Highlight. A highlight occurs where light reflects off an object.
In a drawing, this appears as a bright spot.
Form Shadow. A shadow on an object that gives depth and
dimension to its form.
Cast Shadow. A shadow that is cast or thrown by one object
onto another surface.
Reflected Light. Light that bounces off a surface and adds
light to a region of the object that would otherwise be darker.

Light source

Form shadow

Cast shadow

An Unnatural Light Source
It’s more than just a bad haircut that made
Frankenstein’s monster look scary. Placing the
light source below the subject contributes to
his fightening looks.

Reflected light

A Natural Light Source
Moving the light source from below the
subject to above gives the monster a less
frightening appearance.


Plotting Shadows
While the concept of plotting shadows may seem daunting, a
basic understanding of it will help you to draw realistically. There
are two primary methods of plotting a shadow. One is for when
the light source is in the background and can be shown on the
drawing; the other is for when the light source is in the foreground and cannot be seen directly. Both of these methods use
the principles of linear perspective. You must also plot out the
horizon line and vanishing points to be able to get the right perspective for the shape of the object’s shadow.

Light source
Perpendicular line to
determine the shadow’s
vanishing point

Direction of light

Shadow’s vanishing point

Light Source in the Background
In this example, the light source is in the
background. Notice that there is a line coming
straight down from the light source to the horizon. That point on the horizon is the shadow’s
vanishing point. From this vanishing point, draw
lines passing through the bottom corners of
the cube. Next, draw lines from the light source
passing through the top corners of the cube.
The intersections between the shadow’s vanishing point lines and the light source lines will
make the shape of the shadow on the ground.

Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Direction of light

Shadow’s vanishing point


Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Light’s vanishing point

Unseen Light Source in the Foreground
Though the general direction of the light is assumed, the light source is so far away that it cannot
be indicated in the drawing. Because of this, the direction of the light and where those lines would
converge on the horizon will be a vanishing point. Then draw lines from this vanishing point and
pass them through the bottom corners of the cube. Next, plot the lines coming from the vanishing
point of the angle of the light source. Place this vanishing point below and perpendicular to the
other vanishing point. From this point, draw lines that pass through the top corners of the cube.
The intersection of these lines will form the shape of the shadow of the cube.



Practice the

You will find certain subjects easier to draw than others. For instance, you may
have a knack for drawing faces but feel you can’t draw a building in perspective to save your life. When you don’t feel comfortable with a certain subject,
you will probably try to avoid it, but then you will not gain experience working
with that subject. Challenge yourself—give some of the lessons you may deem
more difficult a chance. You might even try some lessons more than once, then
compare the results from your first attempt with your last. I predict that you will
be amazed at the improvement in your drawing skills. You can draw all of these
examples with your 4H, HB and 4B pencils. Use the 4H and HB pencils for the
light and medium values and the 4B pencil for the darkest values.

Drawing Subjects Are Everywhere
Be on the lookout for drawing subjects such
as these rocks. This drawing was done from
a photograph taken by one of my students,
Jackie Chunko.

Graphite on drawing paper
11" × 14" (28cm × 36cm)


Clouds and Grass
The world around us offers an infinite number of subjects to
draw. Commonplace items such as clouds and grass can be
interesting by themselves or as complements to other elements
in a picture.
When drawing clouds, start by sketching the outline, but
use subtle value changes to show the shape and depth of their

forms. You can achieve value changes by varying the type or
pressure of your pencil strokes. Be particularly conscious of the
location of your light source. Stormy days while the sun is still
out are especially good for drawing clouds because there are so
many sharp contrasts between the lights and darks of the sky.

Clouds in Sunlight

Clouds Blocking the Sunlight

With the light source above, the tops of the clouds appear lighter, while
the undersides appear darker and shadowed. One way to learn how to
draw clouds in sunlight is to study the effects of light on something more
solid, such as cotton balls.

Clouds can be both translucent and opaque. When the light source is
behind the clouds, the cloud in front of the sun will appear bright white
around the thin, translucent edges where the light shines through it.
The thicker parts of the cloud will appear darker because they are more
opaque, blocking more of the light.

Grass in Sunlight

Grass in Sunlight and Shadow

Line strokes can imply individual blades of grass. Use darker strokes to
indicate shading and depth.

The background grass is shown as a dark silhouette, whereas the foreground grass is suggested with light pencil strokes. Vary the direction
and spacing of the lines to make the grass look more interesting.


Leafy Trees

Trees may be the center of interest in a scene or just a background element. Each tree has a character all its own.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Creating Values (p. 51)

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Branch Out
Exposed branches can add interest
to an otherwise ordinary tree. First
sketch the branches of the tree, then
erase the lines that are going to be
covered by the leaves. Finally, shade
in the leaves.


Sketch the Basic Shape
Start with the basic overall shape
of the tree. Place the trunk toward
the bottom of the page.


Sketch the Branches and Refine
the Shape
Sketch in some of the branches.
Even if the branches are not visible in the
final drawing, sketching them will help
you understand both the structure of the
tree and the placement of the leaves. Add
more definition to the outer form of the
tree by outlining the edges of the leaves.


Add the Leaves and Shading
Erase any unnecessary lines.
Use a variety of back-andforth lines to suggest the leaves.
Make some lines darker than others
to create shadows. Notice that the
direction of the lines adds a sense of
liveliness to an otherwise static subject. Remove your initial outline with
an eraser.


Evergreen Trees

Use the same basic steps to draw evergreens as you would use
to draw leafy trees. When drawing a tree, examine the subject
closely to capture its uniqueness.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Creating Values (p. 51)


Sketch the Basic Shape
Start with the basic overall shape
and trunk.


Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Sketch the Branches
Sketch in the branches, noticing
their direction. The branches angle
downward the farther down you place
them on the tree. Many trees are structured like this, not only evergreens.


Add the Needles and Shading
Erase any unnecessary lines. Use
a variety of staggered back-andforth lines to suggest the needles of the
tree. Apply some lines more heavily than
others to create shading and depth.

Carry a Camera
Be on the lookout for interesting trees
that you can photograph and use as
references for future drawings.


Brick, Stone and Wood
Knowing how to draw different building materials such as brick,
stone and wood comes in handy when you want to draw a
house. These elements add a range of textures that make your
drawing more interesting. Besides, they’re fun to draw.

Draw Anywhere, Anytime
The really great thing about drawing is that once you have
the necessary materials, you can draw anywhere, anytime.
Draw while you’re waiting in line! Draw on the bus! Draw on
your lunch break!

Bricks Up Close
A subject viewed up close will display more
texture than when viewed from a distance, so it
should be drawn differently to show that detail.
To emphasize their worn appearance, draw
old bricks with multidirectional lines of varied
degrees of thickness.

Bricks at a Distance
A distant view of bricks is drawn with minimal
detail. Use back-and-forth line strokes to
add values to the bricks. Add shadows under
the individual bricks with heavy dark lines for
a subtle sense of depth. Also create depth
through the use of one-point perspective.


Fitted Stones

Rough Stones

Draw the massive fitted stones of an ancient Roman building with shading
lines going in different directions to show texture. Make the joints of the
stones dark to imply shadow and depth.

Use irregular shapes and sizes, varied line strokes and shading to create
a wall of rough stones. Add heavy, dark lines under the stones to imply
shadow and depth. Notice the left end of the wall is set against a background made of dark vertical line strokes to suggest a corner.

Wood Beams
Draw wood grain using differing values and
line strokes. Make the places where the wood
was chipped out darker to suggest shadow
and depth. Use semicircular lines to create the
knots in the boards.

Wood Boards
Draw weathered wood boards with coarse pencil strokes flowing in similar directions to show
the grain. The spaces underneath and between
the boards are dark to suggest depth.



Apply the same drawing principles and techniques that are used
when drawing complex subjects to relatively simple subjects
such as rocks. You can make the drawing more interesting by
varying the shapes and sizes of the rocks.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)
Gauging Proportions (p. 28)

Creating Values (p. 51)
Light Effects (p. 52)


Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch the outer shapes of the
rocks, varying the sizes and
shapes for interest.


Map Out the Lights and Darks
Add lines to map out the lights and
darks on the rocks. In this case, the
light comes from the upper right, so draw
lines on the upper right areas of the rocks
for the highlights and on the lower left areas
for the darkest portions of the rocks.


Add Shading and Shadows
Use consistent up-and-down
pencil strokes so that the surface
of the rocks will look smooth. Make the
pencil strokes darker on the left side of the
rocks to create shading and depth.


Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Other Types of Rocks
You may think that if you’ve seen one rock you’ve seen them
all, but that just isn’t true. Rocks offer a variety of shapes, sizes
and textures.

Coarse Rocks
The rough shaping of these rocks makes
each one unique. This appears to be a simple
drawing, but its subtle value changes make
it challenging The outer shape of some of the
background rocks is defined by the shading
behind them.

Projecting Rocks
These rocks jut upward, their top edges appearing light in value.
Use back-and-forth lines to fill in the values, altering the pressure of some of the strokes to add shading and depth.



Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using a Frisket (p. 15)
Using an Erasing Shield (p. 18)
Gauging Proportions (p. 28)

Two-Point Perspective (p. 36)
Ellipses (p. 42)
Creating Values (p. 51)
Light Effects (p. 52)

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser


Sketch the Wings
First sketch the wings as a long
box, using two-point perspective
as if looking down on the subject.





Add More Elements
and Begin to Refine the Shape
Add boxes to indicate the placement of the wheels and engine area. Draw
lines to better define the shapes of the
rudder. Chisel out the fuselage and shorten the lower wing tips.


Add Lines for the Body
Add lines for the basic structure of
the fuselage and where the rudder
and tail stop. These lines share the same
perspective as the wings.

Refine and Add Details
Smooth out the lines of the wings
and body and add details, including the ellipses of the wheels, engine
compartment and propeller.


Add Shading
Erase any unnecessary lines, and
shade in the overall form. Make
sure the lines shading the wings follow the
same direction as the wings’ perspective.
Add the darkest areas last, such as the
shadow under the wings.

Draw A High-Speed Jet
First draw the basic shapes in perspective to carve out the shape of the
plane. Add highlights, shadows and details.



This type of steam engine is a Norfolk and Western 4-8-4. The
structural elements of this scene are drawn using one-point perspective. Make use of the principles of atmospheric perspective
as you apply the lights and darks. When you want to shade subjects like these, friskets and erasing shields may be handy tools
to use.

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using a Frisket (p. 15)
Using an Erasing Shield (p. 18)
Gauging Proportions (p. 28)

One-Point Perspective (p. 34)
Atmospheric Perspective (p. 41)
Creating Values (p. 51)

Sketch the Basic Shapes
Draw the horizon line, with the vanishing point on the left
side. Start with the basic shape in one-point perspective.
Notice that all the vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizon
at this stage.





Add More Structural Lines
Add the more obvious lines, including the vertical lines
that define the individual cars. Add a cross in the upper
middle of the circle, to mark the placement of the engine lights.


Indicate the Basic Shapes of the Front
Fill the previously drawn square with a circle. Add other
lines to indicate the basic shaping of the front of the engine.

Add Details to the Train’s Structure
Add the tracks, wheels, engine light and smaller details
such as the handrail and the steps. Also add trim to the
tops of the cars.


Add Shading
Erase any unnecessary lines, and
finish with shading. Use uniform
up-and-down pencil strokes to make a
smooth appearance. Create atmospheric
perspective by drawing the closer portion of the train with more contrasts and
details than the more distant portion.

Draw a
Steam Engine
Sketch the basic
shapes, chisel out
the shape of the train,
and add feature lines.
Next add the shading,
paying close attention to subtle value



This is a Facel Vega, a French sports car built in the 1950s and
1960s. This is a fun lesson to practice dissecting your subjects
by first looking for the basic shapes, remembering the rules
of perspective.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Two-Point Perspective (p. 36)

Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Ellipses (p. 42)
Creating Values (p. 51)

Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch a basic box shape in two-point perspective. Take
the time to get this right so the rest of the drawing will
work out accurately.





Add and Refine the Structural Lines
Chisel out the shape of the car, and sketch in ellipses for
the wheels. Add lines to mark the placement of the front
elements such as the grill and headlights.


Must-Have Materials

Add the Top and Squares for the Wheels
Add the top of the car to the basic shape. Draw squares
in perspective to indicate the wheels’ placement. This
will help you draw the ellipses for the tires accurately. Like all
the elements, the squares share the same perspective as the
basic box shape.

Add Details and Begin Shading
Add details such as the headlights, grill, windows and
interior. Keep in mind that the cutouts for the wheel are
shaped differently from the wheels themselves. Add some shading to the wheels and shadow under the car.


Add Details and Shade
Add more details to complete the
car, such as wheel covers and
chrome trim. Erase obsolete lines. Shade
the form, using uniform line work to create
a smooth appearance. Add another layer
of darks to the wheels and shadows, giving them more contrast against the lighter
values of the car.

Creating a Shiny,
Metallic Surface
Rich darks and graduated values give
this Jaguar a shiny metallic appearance.
It is important to make uniform pencil
lines to create the smooth, metallic look
for the car’s surface.



The graceful lines of boats and shimmering water reflections
inspire great compositions. For this demonstration, we’ll start
with a simple side view.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Locating Vanishing Points (p. 40)

Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser





Sketch the the Lines of the Hull
Start with the lines of the hull, which tilt slightly upward on
the left side.

Add the Side of the Cabin and the Top of the Hull
Draw the side of the cabin and the curve of the top of the
hull. The boat is viewed from the side and at a distance,
making it look flat.


Must-Have Materials

Finish the Basic Shape of the Hull
and Indicate the Cabin
Connect the ends to complete the basic shape of the hull.
Add lines to indicate the placement of the cabin.

Add Details
Sketch in details, including windows, trim and the man.


Shade to Finish
Add values to the elements. Use
long, straight pencil strokes on the
hull. Make the inside of the cabin dark.

Sketch a Rowboat
Sketch the basic shapes in perspective,
then add details and shading.


Cat Face

For those of you who are cat lovers, this demo will be lots of fun.
For those of you who prefer dogs (we know everyone falls under
one of the two categories), go ahead and try this exercise, then
give the finished art to one of your cat-loving friends. This demo
offers a great way to develop your shading skills.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)


Add the Ears and Neck
Add lines to indicate the ears and neck.


Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)

Sketch the Basic Shapes
To draw the feline face, start with the basic outer oval,
two lines for the top and bottom of the eyes, and an
oval for the snout.


Must-Have Materials


Place the Facial Elements
Add more lines for the eyes, mouth and the top of the
ears, as well as a triangle for the nose.


Refine the Lines and Add Details
Refine the structural lines, rounding
and curving where necessary. Add
details, including the pupils, nose and muzzle.


Add Shading
Erase any obsolete lines. Add
shading with pencil strokes that
follow the direction of the fur. Apply darker
values for the stripes and shadows.


Side View of a Cat

Cats are as varied as people, and it is fun to capture their unique
qualities in your drawings. In addition to helping you create
shape and texture, this demo will give you an opportunity to work
on developing your proportioning skills. To sketch the legs and
body in the correct proportions, first sketch a baseline. A baseline is used to establish the placement of your subject and to
help work out proportions of a drawing.

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)


Sketch the Basic Body Shape
Draw a rectangle to suggest the
basic body structure. Take the vertical lines all the way down to the baseline.


Add the Neck and Legs
Add lines for the neck that connect the head to the body. Sketch
angled lines for the legs. See page 30 for
instructions on how to transfer angles.



Add the Head Shape
Sketch an oval for the head. Position it so it just overlaps the top
horizontal line.


Complete the Body
Draw the outline of the tail, and
complete the legs. Lightly indicate
the legs on the other side of the cat’s
body. Add the outline of the ears and
position the eye and mouth. Erase any
obsolete lines.


Add the Shading and Details
Use back-and-forth strokes to suggest the cat’s
fur, varying the lights and darks to imply form.
Add details to the eye, mouth, nose, ear and paws.


Side View of a Dog

Use the steps you practiced on the cat’s body (see page 72) to
draw a dachshund. Start with the basic overall structure and then
add more features as your drawing progresses. While observing dachshunds for this drawing, I became aware of how short
dachshunds really are!

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)





Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch lines to form the basic body and head structure,
including a baseline to establish where the feet will rest.

Add Lines for the Body, Neck and Legs
Connect the circles to form the shape of the body and
neck. Sketch lines that will indicate the muzzle and the
foreground legs.


Must-Have Materials

Add Circles for the Head and Body
Add circles for the head, chest and rear. This will help you
shape the dog’s overall form.

Refine Lines and Add Structural Details
Refine the line work to further shape the dog’s body. Add
the eye, tail, ears and legs. Place the background legs so
they are staggered in comparison to the foreground legs.


Add Fur,
Details and Shading
Erase any obsolete
lines. Shade the dog’s glossy
coat with short, uniform pencil
strokes that follow the fur’s
direction. Add details to the
eye, nose, mouth and paws.

Drawing Long Fur
Use long pencil strokes that follow the
direction of the fur to shade in the coat
for a longhaired dog. Make these pencil
strokes less uniform than those used
for a shorthaired dog. This will make the
long fur look more textured.



Cows are incredible creatures. Besides giving us milk, cheese
and meat, cows do amazing tricks, but no one knows about it
because they pull these stunts only when no one is looking.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Gauging Proportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)

Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch the basic shapes: a rectangle for the body and
a triangle for the head. Add a baseline to establish the
length of the legs.





Refine the Lines
Refine the line work to further shape the cow’s body. Add
the eye, ears, tail and udders.


Must-Have Materials

Indicate the Neck and Legs
Add lines for the neck and legs. Pay attention to the
placement and angles of these lines. Use a small circle to
indicate the joint of the front knee.

Add Shading and Finishing Details
Erase any extra lines. Add light shading to imply form,
using darker shading in the more shadowed places.
Make the coat’s dark patches with semi-uniform back-and-forth
pencil strokes.


The elegant lines of this swan makes it an interesting subject.
Enjoy practicing your skills with this mini demo and then consider
using your drawing as a greeting card.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Measuring Proportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)


Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch the basic shapes of the head and body. Be conscious of their proportions and placement.


Add the Neck and Beak
Add curved lines for the neck, then add the beak, paying
attention to the distance between the neck lines.


Sketch in the Feathers
Indicate the feather placement on the swan’s back, and
add the eye to the head.


Add Final Details and Shading
Add the shading with short pencil strokes. Start with the
lighter values, then add another layer of pencil strokes for
the darker areas.


Human Figures
People make fascinating subjects to draw. While at a mall, just
look at all the different sizes, shapes and proportions of the
people around you. Though you may observe that people come
in many different “varieties,” there are basic principles that apply
to all humans.

Female waist
Male waist

Middle line

Proportions for Adults
Though men are generally taller than women, they are shown as the
same height here for comparison. For both sexes, almost half the height
is made up of the legs, with the tips of the hands falling to the mid-thigh
region. The waist is lower in men than in women. Another difference is
that men are generally bulkier and wider than women.



Middle line

Equal Height and Width
For most adults, their height is equal to the
width of their outstretched arms.

Proportions for Children
Children are proportioned differently from adults, more noticeably in
younger children. Their bodies are smaller in relation to their heads, and
their legs are shorter, with the tops of their legs well below the middle line.

Figure Drawing
Once you become familiar with
basic body structure and proportions, you can draw more
confidently, using a minimum of
structural guidelines.

Structural Sketch
This sketch has its structural
elements blocked in.



Man Standing
As you draw the human figure, remember that almost half the
height of the body is the legs. Establish the middle line first, then
mark the top of the inseam. Pay attention to the head size, which
takes up a little more than one-eighth of the overall height. A
common mistake in figure drawing is to make the head too large
and the legs too short.

Holding the Pencil (p. 15)
Using Basic Shapes (p. 27)


Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Gauging Poportions (p. 28)
Creating Values (p. 51)

Establish the General Proportions
Start with lines to indicate the placement and proportions.
Because the weight of the body in this example rests over
the man’s right leg, include a vertical line that goes from the head
to the right foot.
Add top, bottom and middle horizontal lines. Then sketch
a line halfway between the middle and top lines, then sketch
another line between the last line drawn and the top line.


Must-Have Materials


Sketch the Head and Legs
Most adults are about 7½ heads high. The distance
from the top line to the next lower line is one-eighth of
the overall height. Make a line slightly lower and sketch an egg
shape for the head, which should work out to about 7½ units of
the overall height. You can use dividers if you want to check your
proportions. Sketch in the legs, placing the top of the inseam just
below the middle line.


Add the Torso and Waist
Sketch the basic shape of the
torso along with the waistline.


Sketch in Details
Sketch in the details, including
facial features and clothes.


Add the Arms, Hands and Feet
Add the arms, with the wrists falling
at about the middle line and the fingertips reaching mid-thigh. Sketch a line for
the placement of the eyes. Sketch in the feet
along the baseline.


Shade the Drawing
Add shading and details.


Face: Front View

To draw faces correctly, it’s important to understand their basic
structures and proportions. One way to do this is to use the
width of the eye as a unit of measurement. These examples
show generic proportions of an adult male of European origin.
The features of individuals vary according to age, gender and
ethnicity, if only in subtle ways.


Sketch the Basic Shape
Start with the basic shape eggshape of the head. It should be five
eye-widths wide by seven eye-widths high.

General Face

Width is about
5 eye-widths

Height is
about 7

Eyes are
halfway from
crown to chin

Add the Eye Line
Sketch a horizontal line in the
middle of the face to place the
eyes. Sketch a vertical line to establish the
center of the face.


Add Eye Shapes and Nose and
Mouth Lines
Sketch the eyes, leaving one eyewidth between them. Add a line for the
nose a little less than half the distance
from the eyes to the chin. Sketch a line
for the mouth a little less than halfway
between the line for the nose and chin.








Add Eyebrows and Lips
Add a horizontal line above the
eyes for the eyebrows and sketch
them in. Add the top and bottom lips.
Add the Nose and Ears
Add the base of the nose. The
width of the nose aligns with the
inside corners of the eyes. Add the ears,
with the tops of the ears aligned with the
eyebrows and the bottoms aligned with
the base of the nose.


Add Details
Add details to the eyes and nose,
along with the hair and neck.


Face: Three-Quarters View

A three-quarters view of the face shows most of the face and
part of the side of the head. Keep in mind that the proportions
and the placement of the elements are similar to the front view.

Must-Have Materials
Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Sketch the Basic Shape
Sketch an egg-shape for the threequarters view with the chin slightly
off-center toward the right.


Add the Eye Line
Add a slightly off-center horizontal
line for the eyes. Sketch a vertical
line through the middle of the eye line to
establish the center of the face.






Add Eyebrows and Lips
Add a line to place the eyebrows,
then sketch in the eyebrows. The
curve of the brows should follow the curve
of the eyes. Add the top and bottom lips.

Add the Nose and Ear
Add the nose. Working down,
the nose bridge should angle in
toward the center of the eyes and then
angle out from the center to the base of
the nose. Add the ear, with the top aligning with the eyebrows and the bottom
aligning with the nose’s base.

Add Eye Shapes and Lines for
the Nose and Mouth
Sketch the shapes of the eyes
with one eye-width between them. Add
a line for the nose a little less than half
the distance from the eyes to the chin.
Sketch a line for the mouth a little less
than half the distance between the line for
the nose and the chin.

Add Details
Add details to the eyes and nose,
along with the hair and neck.


Face: Side View

Placing the elements for a side view of a face is similar to that for
the front and three-quarters view. As with all drawings, look for
proportions and places where the elements align. You may want
to examine the proportions with a tool such as a pencil, dividers
or a sewing gauge (see page 28).

Graphite pencil
Drawing board
Drawing paper
Kneaded eraser

Sketch the Basic Shapes
Sketch a circle for the top and
middle portion of the head. Sketch
a vertical line down from the right side of
the circle for the front of the face. Add a
short horizontal line at the end of the vertical line, slightly lower than the circle, as
the base of the chin.


Add Lines for the Eye,
Nose and Ear
Sketch a horizontal line, halfway
between the top of the chin, the circle and
the base of the chin, for the placement of
the eye. Sketch a vertical line to the right
of the circle to help with the placement
of the nose. Another vertical line, coming
from the center of the circle, will help with
the placement of the ear.






Add Eyebrows and Lips
Add a horizontal line for the eyebrow. Sketch the eyebrow, making
it slightly curved. Add lines for the lips,
connecting them to the vertical line in the
front of the face.


Must-Have Materials

Add the Ear and
Form the Profile
Sketch the ear shape, placing it
slightly left of the central vertical line and
from the brow line to the nose baseline.
Form the profile of the face and complete
the jawline, which ends near the lower
right part of the ear.

Add the Eye Shape and Lines
for the Nose and Mouth
Sketch a triangle for the eye, placing it about a third of the distance from
the right edge of the circle to the vertical
line for the ear. Sketch a horizontal line a
little less than half the distance from the
eye line to the chin line for the base of the
ear. Add a short horizontal line a little less
than half the distance from the previously
established nose line to the chin line to
help place the mouth.

Add Details
Add details to the eyes, ears and
nose. Add the hair and neck.

Drawing Individual Faces
Most adult faces have similar overall proportions, with the differences being most noticeable in the features such as the eyes,
nose, ears and lips.

Ethnic Variations
The ethnicity of a person can be developed by
changing the features while using the same
basic structure.

Age Variations
For an elderly man or woman, draw the ears and nose larger, the chin
longer and make noticeable wrinkles.

Child’s Face
The proportions of a
child’s face are different
from those of an adult.
While the eyes of an
adult are placed at the
middle, a child’s eyes are
below the middle, creating a bigger forehead.
The head itself is wide
and the features small.

Women’s Features
When drawing a woman’s face, follow the same
basic proportions and placement of features as
used for the generic male. The ears, nose and
jawline are usually smaller and more delicate,
the lips larger and more noticeable. Details
such as earrings, eyeliner and hairstyle can also
express femininity.




Composition involves the arrangement of the elements in an artwork. Though
composition is inherent to all art, good composition involves planning and forethought. A strong composition entertains the viewer, while a weak composition
may make the viewer feel indifferent toward the artwork. A good composition is
cleverly planned to lead the viewer through the scene.
Aspects of composition include symmetry, the number and placement
of elements within the scene, and how the scene is framed. As you plan your
composition, you will also decide on a format, create a path for the viewer’s
eye, and look for trouble spots.

Graphite on drawing paper
11" × 14" (28cm × 36cm)


Arranging the Elements
Symmetrical composition can be useful if you want to make your
subject look orderly and structured, but it often comes across as
bland. Asymmetrical composition is preferable because it makes
the objects in your drawing seem more neutral.

Symmetrical Composition

Asymmetrical Composition

Though this scene is evenly balanced, it has
two strikes against it: the horizontal line splits
the scene exactly in half, and because the tree
is placed in the middle of the composition, the
scene looks contrived.

Moving the tree off center makes the scene
asymmetrical. The viewer should find this more
appealing and realistic.

Using a Grid for Asymmetrical
One method for achieving balance in an asymmetrical composition is to divide the picture
into nine equal rectangles. Use the intersections of these gridlines to locate major elements
in the scene.

Using Thumbnail Sketches
Thumbnail sketches allow you to plan
what the finished drawing will look
like. Examine the differing placement
of lights and darks in these examples.
Can you tell which thumbnail sketch
was used as a guide for the Textured
Metal demonstration (page 94)?


Number of Elements
The number and placement of elements can affect the balance
of the composition and by leading the viewer through the scene.
An odd number is usually more interesting than an even number.
Evens and odds can also refer to the number of elements reaching the edge of the artwork, which affects the way the viewer’s
eye travels in and out of the composition.


Even Number of Elements

Odd Number of Elements

An even number of elements can seem uninteresting. The viewer’s eye
has nowhere to go but from one fish to the other.

An odd number of elements is usually more interesting than an even
number. This scene has an odd number of elements, with one dominant
and two subordinate elements. The viewer is first drawn to the big fish,
then to the smaller fish, then back to the big fish.

Even Number of Elements at the Edge

Odd Number of Elements at the Edge

Evens and odds can also refer to the number of elements that reach the
edge of the artwork. In this example, the buildings are touching the edge
on the left and the right, making an even number.

A simple change allows the buildings to touch the edge on the left, right
and top, creating a more interesting composition.

Cropping and Formatting
Some scenes contain too much visual information to include in a
composition, and it can be hard to determine where to begin and
what to leave out. By looking through a viewfinder, you can visually crop the composition before you pick up the pencil. Once
you have determined the area you want to include, you will find
the drawing easier to manage.

Using a Viewfinder

Using Your Fingers

One method for planning a composition is to crop the scene with a viewfinder, a piece of cardboard with a cutout like a window frame. This is
especially helpful when working outdoors, when the subject may seem
overwhelming and you don’t know where to focus your attention.

Forming a rectangle with your fingers is another way to crop a scene
without using any special equipment.

Format Affects a Composition’s Mood
The mood of a picture can be accentuated
by its overall shape, or format. A horizontal
format tends to give a stable, more serene feel,
while a vertical format can feel more impressive
or powerful.

Add Diagonals to Your Subject
Diagonal lines and angled elements create a
sense of action in a drawing.


Lines, Tangents and Shapes
Leading lines guide the viewer through a composition. Lines can
be indicated through a pattern of elements, such as stepping
stones that lead the viewer to another place in the composition.
Leading lines can also guide the viewer to a focal point, which is
the center of interest in a composition.

In art, a tangent is the unfortunate meeting of two or more
similar lines or elements. Artists usually avoid tangents because
they can make a scene confusing.

Good Use of
Leading Lines
In this example we
are led back to the
distant mountains.

Tangents Cause Confusion
Tangents can be confusing for a viewer. This sketch has a tangent
where the tree aligns with the end of the house, making it look as if the
tree were part of the house.

Bad Use of
Leading Lines
Not all lines lead
properly. They may
lead the viewer right
out of the scene.

Remedying a Tangent
An easy remedy for this example is to move the tree slightly away from
the corner of the house to avoid a tangent.

With this shape,
it’s clear this is a dog


This shape makes it less
clear what the subject is

The Shape of Your Subject Is Important
Make your drawing experience easier by looking for subjects with an outer shape that is easy to identify. The form
of a dog standing is more identifiable than the form of the
same dog lying down. If you were to try to draw this dog
lying down, the process of sketching and shading the dog’s
shape could become a bit taxing.



Be patient with yourself. Good drawing skills are developed through observation and practice. Try drawing the same demo more than once and compare
your results. You will probably be surprised by the level of improvement you
have made.
Each demo is done in two stages. In the first stage, you’ll work through
structural drawing. In the second stage you’ll apply values with pencil strokes.
As you work through these demos, write the date in the corner of each drawing and sign it. By doing this, you will be able to see the progression of
your skills in your artwork. Save your artwork, even if you are tempted
to throw it away or send it through