When I moved back to Germany, there were a few things I wanted to do. Among them was getting involved in local politics (I’ve become a member of the Green Party and have become involved in local party stuff) and going back to the marvellous Volkshochschule (adult education centre) to learn something new. When the programme for the autumn term of 2017 arrived, I automatically gravitated to the languages-section and to the computing-section. But then I thought: why not do something I’ve never done before? And so I looked at the applied arts section. And remembered that one of the stumbling blocks to my learning appliqué properly is that I can’t find templates online that I like enough, but can’t (or think I can’t) make my own.
And that’s why I joined a ‘Drawing for Beginners’ class. And what should I say? I’ve loved every minute of it. Drawing is totally engrossing, so much so that time just goes past without me noticing. Those two hours class time just fly by. I’ve also begun sketching in my spare time. It’s so enjoyable, in fact, that I’ve decided to share the story here and, hopefully, my development from beginner to moderately competent drawist.
Everyone can draw. Not everyone is necessarily a genius at it, but, with enough practice, anyone can be competent. All you need is some paper, pencils (as you’ll develop, you’ll acquire different grades other than the ubiquitous HB), and an eraser.
We began by just doodling and discovering how we can create texture by using a light touch and then push down on the lead rather more heavily.
The next exercise was probably the most important in the entire course: it was about proportions. If you get proportions right, your drawings will already look lifelike.
The exercise involved laying a bunch of keys on a square of paper, marking out the same size square on my drawing paper and attempting to get the outline of the keys down so that, the keys would fit exactly on the outline if placed on it. And, in the second exercise, we were given a photocopy of some cutlery and told to do the same thing. Try it. It’s harder than it sounds. You need to forget that you’re drawing keys. Instead, focus on outlines only. Check where your keys hit the side of the square and work out where they are compared to the edge or the middle of the paper.
Every model can be reduced to a number of simple, underlying shapes. Key to lifelike drawing is to get those underling shapes (outlines, if you will) down on paper, and to get the proportions right, so that a nose is in the right spot in a face, that the ears are not too near the eyes, that the eyes aren’t too close together, etc., when you’re drawing a face.
The next exercise was to draw the outlines of animals. Again, we were working from photocopies of drawings. At this stage, three dimensional drawing wasn’t the object of the exercise: again we needed to get the proportions right.
And if you’re curious how I learnt about shading in order to make my drawings appear more three dimensional, look out for the next exciting instalment of this story. 😉