My stick figures have to wear bags over their heads
October 19, 2007 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn how to draw.

I've poked around online, but I can't seem to find any websites that offer beginning drawing/sketching lessons or exercises. I'd like to learn some basic pencil and/or pen-and-ink techniques so that I can enhance my doodling, and eventually learn to draw actual things - birds, mostly, but I'd love to know how to make a basic, decent sketch of a building, or a bowl of fruit, etc.

While I'd prefer something online, if you've got book recommendations, please add those as well. At some point I may well take a real live drawing class, but that's just not in the cards right now.
posted by rtha to Education (18 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm sure I won't be the only one who recommends Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Totally changed how I saw things and subsequently, how I drew them.
posted by turaho at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2007 [7 favorites]


Ditto what turaho said. More previously.
posted by cocoagirl at 12:14 PM on October 19, 2007


I spent years learning how to draw stuff that didnt look embarassingly bad or a mess of doodles. I'm still learning. I think the best advice I can give you is to go to the library and page through the various how-to-draw books. Focus on ones that make you draw thinking in 3D. Usually they start off drawings with shapes and spheres as opposed to flat circles. Once you begin to learn to draw thinking in shapes it usually turns out a better product than thinking in 2D. I think the problem here is that we're so used to seeing the finished product, we think we can go from blank to finished. Well, thats pretty much impossible. Even the pros have guiding lines, etc.

I highly recommend how to draw the marvel way. Its a good intro to learning how to properly draw and sheds some light on anatomy and composition. Granted its superhero based and pretty short, but its a great intro.

I feel that once you able to realistically draw figures and backgrounds with right looking proportion and depth then stuff like shading and lighting techniques will naturally come your way with practice. There's nothing worse than a highly detailed drawing of something that is out of proportion, too big/small, crooked, no depth, etc. That's where the path of drawing still-life fruits will lead you.

So be mindful that without some theory behind your stuff; your stuff is just going to keep looking flat and wrong. Usually a teacher would catch this but considering you cant get a class right now, I think the marvel book will help a lot.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:27 PM on October 19, 2007


I can directly link reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain to my desire to pursue my degrees in studio art and art education. So yeah, buy the book - you won't regret it!
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2007


Did you find http://www.finearteducation.com/ in your search? It looks very extensive.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 12:34 PM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Online lessons here (go back to February for the first ones).
posted by waterlily at 12:34 PM on October 19, 2007


I have drawspace bookmarked, but I've yet to sign up and really peruse it. Therefore, I cannot recommend it either way, but I can point out its existence.
posted by lampoil at 12:36 PM on October 19, 2007


I've been dying to blog this, but can't in good conscience because the copyright information is unclear - but I'm gonna link you to some fun Andrew Loomis books

Taking a life drawing class or a beginning drawing class is a very quick way to get the basics down and get you on your feet. I drew pictures for fifteen years before I took one week of drawing and was actually able to make stuff look right. Shape, proportion, form - what a teacher can show you in two pencil strokes, might take you a week with a book to figure out.
posted by annathea at 12:43 PM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, check out your local community college or university for drawing classes or workshops. It is so great to get instant feedback and help as well as being given the time to draw. It's so hard to carve out time and have the patience to just sit and draw.

Other than that, I recommend hitting your local library for probably the widest selection of "learn to draw" books.
posted by amanda at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2007


I used to draw a ton, and I found the ConceptArt.org forums an invaluable resource.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 1:00 PM on October 19, 2007


For portraits, I highly recommend Draw Real People! by Lee Hammond. I was a godawful artist, the sort that hesitates before drawing anything more complicated than stick figures. Picked up that book and dear God I cannot recommend it enough, who knew there was an artist in everyone?

I don't know about her other books, as I've only checked out that particular book. I'd imagine they'd be just as good, though.
posted by Xere at 1:10 PM on October 19, 2007


Thank you all - and keep them coming.

I'll see about signing up for a class at my local CC next semester, but this is a great start.
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2007


As you specified lessons I'd recommend Keys to Drawing which I found the closest thing to a drawing class in a book. I presume you aim to eventually go outside to draw (you mentioned birds) so I'd also recommend The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature - btw the author has an Amazon blog that links to her online classes.

(I haven't drawn for years, unfortunately, but I spent a lot of time with those books back when I used to draw every day about a decade ago - that's why I still remember them.)
posted by hgws at 4:46 PM on October 19, 2007


As with most things, it's more about putting in the time doing it than studying it. Set up a still life by selecting a few objects, an old shoe, whatever, and spend at least an hour a day drawing it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:51 PM on October 19, 2007


Lots of awesome links given, so all I have to add is:

1. You're going to go through many drawings that don't look good, but no one is born more artistic than anyone else. Some people just tend to it at an early age, and so it seems like they're naturally talented. As StickyCarpet said, you have to put in the time.

2. Hands down, one of the best ways I improved my motor skills was in 7th grade art class: we would draw still lifes, but the catch was that we couldn't look at our drawing, just at the still-life itself. To do this, we used newspapers to cover the whole desk, and drew under the newspaper. The drawings came out ridiculous, but the more we did it, the better we got.
posted by spiderskull at 8:35 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've been compiling a list of the best drawing sites I've come across for the past few years, I hope they help - http://www.treelightstudios.com/links/links.php#tutorials
posted by katala at 11:01 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are myriad ways to learn how to draw, but I think that the best is to find a local artist whose work you admire and ask them to give you lessons. If they don't feel comfortable, ask them if they have a friend who might.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:43 PM on October 19, 2007


the best thing drawing 101 did for me in college was it made m draw every day for several hours. And while you should get the books and learn some basics, just draw and keep drawing. Set aside some time and draw something around your house or go to the park and draw anything you can find.

Everyone I know who draws really well, draws during every free moment they have.

Always keep a sketchbook on you, even a small one (a moleskine will fit in your back pocket)

Embrace your mistakes.
posted by allthingsfixable at 11:15 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


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