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learn to draw

Welcome to my page about learning to draw.

Here you can get tips and suggestions, from starting to draw the easy way (copy and following contour of a photo) to real-life lessons which is the best way to go.

Theres is no substitute to drawing from real life, from solid forms. Photographs are two-dimensional objects only, after all, and they don't reproduce everything.

Even at Walt Disney's they want people able to be drawing from life!

Tricks are not new. It is thought that Dürer invented the method below for easing the drawing task by dotting the contour of objects.

This doesn't mean that he could not draw of course (he is perhaps the best draughtsman of all times) but he probably also had time constraints couple with a deep curiosity and inventivness.

Learning to draw...surprises

a way to ease the drawing
Lithography, by Dürer, 1525. This system required two persons and it was rather complicated but at the end you would dot the drawing on the (opening and closing) white board by reporting the intersection of the line through the open canvas.

Then, from the early 1500 ans especiall in the beginning of the 1600, the "camera oscura" (already used by the Chinese centuries before). Started to be used in the Italian Renaissance..

camera oscura

Robert Hooke, "Picture Box", 1694,from "An Instrument of Use to take the Draught, or Picture of any Thing. Communicated by Dr. Hook [sic] to the Royal Society Dec. 19., 1694, in William Derham, Philosophical Experiments and Observations of the late eminent Dr. Hooke (London, 1726)

ca,era obscura brander 1769
Camera Oscura Brander 1769

camera lucida, 1807
Camera Lucida, a 1807 invention on an older principle by Kepler - in his 1611 book "Dioptrice"- patented by William Hyde Wollaston

camera oscura in 1825 - landscape painting
An artist inside a camera oscura painting a landscape in 1825

According to some scholars - and also according to the great British living artist David Hockney - , Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Vermeer, Memling, Raffaello, Giorgione, Bronzino, Canaletto, Velazques and Ingres are among those who probably used lenses and mirrors in their work. Often they were just sketches, later refined in their studio.

The Realism in the Dutch and Spanish painting which started to appear in the 1600s for the first time, seems thus to have had origin from a mostly guarded "secret" which gradually became known all over Europe.

This is a David Hockney diagramm who cleverly exposes the idea of a timeline in the utilization of mirrors and lenses vs. life drawing.

mirror and lenses vs. life drawing timeline

A David Hockney diagram showing his opinion of the general utilization of lenses and mirrors (in red) versus life drawing (in green). Click to enlarge.



(see also here the complete theory illustrated by Hockney himself in a BBC documentary)


...and it seems, the help of a camera goes on and on...

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera (...but certainly he didn't need learn to draw, uh! He simply used photography as a tool to save time. More books on Norman rockwell here)


Richard Anderson has this to say (from idrawgirls):

1) Draw everyday and everything you can see or think of, at least 2 hours a day. *Remember, when you are a professional, you have to draw at least about +8 hours a day.*

2) Go to life drawing session at least ONCE a week, better yet twice.

3) Practice drawing from cast and simple object around the house to study value and squinting to find basic value of the subject.

4) Study from any old school master sketches (Mucha, Sargent, Zorn, or whoever is you favorite artists) and try to mimic the piece. You will intuitively learn and try to figure out how they did what they did. The more you do the better you will get.

5) Practice drawing using different medium and switching them around and know how you can work with them, get out of you comfort zone. Try different pencil, graphite, charcoal, pen, markers, brush pen, brush, etc. Anything you can find...use you imagination and let the tool be your best friend.


I prefer to draw free hand, from life, making many mistakes. It's difficult but it's like flying and sometimes time awareness disappears. After a while -after the regular frustrations - there is a sense of calm and peace inside that it's difficult to explain.

But, to do that, I like to have good teachers, as well, possibly.

One is David N. Kitler is really a nice teacher and gives you also lots of tips to start drawing and gradually improving to confidence. A real jewel where you can also learn how to draw fur, tricks for texture, perspective. A great introduction to the basic of art: drawing with a pencil.This is a great video that I would like to share with you here.

5stars"...one of the best drawing DVD's I own" by Gary, USA

5stars "..is really amazing and helpful. In a couple of days I have changed my way of drawing animals!!! " -   by Sabina from Italy

This is the website I prefer when looking for a teacher:

The DVD production company , for all kind of levels, for all wishing to learn like myself.

CPC Videos website



When drawing digitally you should seriously consider byuing a pen tablet (Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet).

There are many sizes and prices to choose from, see below


Then, you can put a photograph (or your own drawing) on the tablet and fix it with some scotch tape, and then simply follow (copy) the drawing in your computer. This is in the end the same (untold) technique used from the Renaissance (they would use a glass and paint what-they-saw-through-it) and onwards (e.g. many illustrators of the early 1900s-40s, many airbrush artists, etc..) often times to cut time and be more productive

The same applies to painting by the way : have a photograph underneath (a separate "layer" in Photoshop, Painter or CorelDraw) and copy (with your artist sensitivity) the colors underneath...


The "easy" way. Probably you won't get all the nuances (and pleasure) of a real artist from life, but you can cut time and have a go at drawing. At least initially...

This is called "line art" in the digital world, by the way.


idrawgirls TUTORIAL

Similar technique.Xia Taptara is a great illustrator and digital artist working

idrawgilrs (free tutorials)

idrawgirls blog, recommend

An excertp from an interview with Richard Anderson:

Is your work completely digital or do you also use pencil and paper?

"I do a lot of sketchbook stuff, I ride the bus, and go out and life draw a lot. My favorite thing to look at is sketchbooks, I really love to see how people work. And just lately I’ve been taking a watercolor class and messing with that. Not sure when I’ll show though, it’s a little embarresing."

Drawing a face , learning to draw


how to draw a face 2

and for the steps inbetween and instructions go here again, sorry, rush here again to Richard!


how to draw a face 1


Turning photograph of people into line-art

A better line art tutorial is this one. Here you can start seeing the subtilities of drawing, even though digitally made. The "trick" of using different line sizes and interrupting the lines: the human eye will "automatically recompose" the picture in the viewer's mind. The illusion of a "realistic" painting is done!

Line art tutorial by melissa clifton


In learning to draw I would pick up a single phrase:

"...There are no hard or fast rules"

(p.63, Marie Angel, in her book Painting for Calligraphers, referring to painting fur



Never thought of learning to draw from a french website? Drawing a cat, a dog, flowers with a French tutorial (you can use the drawings and illustrations without knowing French as well).

There is a French drawing club where you can get step-by-step instructions. The catch is that you have to join the club (which is like joining a forum) but it's for free. When you click the form you receive an email for confirmation with a link which you have to click on.

Then you are given points to use for downloading step-by-step instructions.

The free tutorials are here while all tutorials (of which you will be given three for free) are here. You can then sbscribe and get what you want although I find it very expensive for what you get....

Here some hints:

Basically, French and English are very similar because part of the English vocabulary was actually originated thanks to the Normads (French people,1066 Ad...I spare you the story):


Inscrire = join in
Prénom = Name
Nom = Family Name
Môt de passe = password
Pas à pas = step by step
Telechargement = download

Complicated? Yes! It's the French men!



In my experience, the single, most important tip I learned years ago is this one:


I read it in the now ultra famous book by Betty Edwards "Drawing on The Right Side of the Brain" (now there is a new edition here ):


negative shape 1
When you look at these leaves with your normal, "human" eyes, you are distracted by the many features and it's hard to reproduce them. This is the POSITIVE space.


negative shape 2
But when you don't look at the leaves but at the shapes of the space AROUND them, it's easier to reproduce those lines.
This space is the NEGATIVE space


If ever there is a general, "hard" rule in learning how to draw, well this is the one:TIME.

Be patient and be calm inside, don't hurry up.


Drawing is NOT easy although there are some easy techniques and tips to know.

For many artists, drawing is a struggle. Some are corageous enough to admit that they cannot do it well. But, I read and read again by many professional artists that anybody can really be learning to draw: it's a skilled anybody drawn to it can acquire.


The accuracy method

G Bjorn Thorkelson developed a kit on a century old tradition of using a transparent medium to help sketching proportions accurately. The grid method is not new. You can buy the kit or just have a look and learn how also the masters and Italian, Dutch , in short, the Renaissance "botteghe" used to work

albrecht durer drawingAlbrecht Durer,"The Art of Measurement with Compass and Ruler", 1445


"We sometimes think of the ability to draw as something magical...a gift given to a blessed few...we call that gift, a “talent.” The fact is, in order to draw accurately, the gifted artist and the novice alike have to implement the same exact principles of comparisons and alignments."

"With time and practice these “magical” skills can become second nature and anyone can join the ranks of the “talented.”
(from the accurasee.com website)


(more on Learning to draw soon...)

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