Best Book on Sketching for an absolute beginner
December 28, 2017 7:06 AM   Subscribe

I want to learn to sketch. Not interested in color per sé. I just want to learn to draw on a basic level with a pen or pencil. Nothing fancy. Any book suggestions with an easy learning curve?
posted by captainscared to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
My mother learned to draw from a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which, if I remember the exercises she started out doing, may fit your bill nicely.
posted by gauche at 7:11 AM on December 28, 2017 [18 favorites]

Gauche has it in one. Another vote for "..Right Side of the Brain".
Easy to find - new, used or in your library.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 7:29 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you want Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Easy learning curve and amazingly effective. I went from “I can draw only stick figures” to fairly competent. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:31 AM on December 28, 2017

You may also enjoy taking a class at a school that has continuing art education. For me, I have used books, etc., but it was eight weeks with a teacher there that really helped me make the leap. If you want to stick with books, though, everyone here is right that Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the classic.
posted by dame at 7:33 AM on December 28, 2017

That was also the book that did the trick for me for drawing (I think of sketching as an additional skill). The basic lesson of it is that we have a tendency to resolve recognized objects into what we know them to be, instead of what they look like. There's a paradox in learning to see without that reflex, and the book clearly identifies this paradox and helps you learn your way around it.

If you're already past that point and you want to learn specific sketching techniques, the question will be what sort of sketches you want to be able to make. Architectural rendering (what I learned) is different from life drawing, and so it wouldn't help for me to suggest books for the former when you want the latter.
posted by fedward at 7:35 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain is great for 99% of the people who try it. If, like me, you are in the 1% who are illogically driven crazy by it (it’s a great approach!) You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler is very good. It starts with drawing spheres and moves up to faces and hands.
posted by corey flood at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Was also coming in to pitch Mark Kistler. He had a great (though super cheesy) drawing show for kids on PBS in the late 80s/early 90s and I learned quite a bit from watching him (even though I was already a grown-up person who should not have been watching "Commander Mark and the Secret City" by then).
posted by briank at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really like How to Draw What You See. I think of it as Drawing on the Left Side of the Brain; it's applying geometry to do perspective of basic shapes.

Also, Lynda Barry's tumblr is a rich source of fun drawing exercises and lets you follow whatever course she's teaching at UW. Kind of the opposite of the approach to How to Draw What You See. More, How to Draw What's in Your Brain. You might want to search on the "homework," "exercise," and "assignment" tags, but the whole tumblr is full of great stuff.
posted by BrashTech at 10:45 AM on December 28, 2017

I am among the minority to didn't care too much for Edward's, Drawing on the Right of the Brain. I much prefer Richard E Scott's Sketching from Square One to Trafalgar Square

Edwards demonstrates why your drawings look awful; Scott shows you step-by-step, how to get your drawings right.

Carl Purcell's Drawing with your Artist's brain has the same approach as Scott.
posted by luvmywife at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2017

oh! Drawing on the right side of the brain, and get the workbook that goes along with it! I did that last year and it CHANGED MY ART
posted by rebent at 2:10 PM on December 28, 2017

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