Monday, 29 April 2013

Learn to draw using shape

Shapes in your drawing

In my opinion, the most important thing an artist needs to master first while learning to draw, is the shape of an object.  

A shape can be any flat area that is bound by tonal value, line or both.  A drawings complexity is determined by all its various components that defines its shape.  The shape is also one of the elements that helps the audience to make sense of what you are drawing. 
It is extremely important to spend more time on your shape before you advance to shading your object.  There are two different types of shapes namely organic and geometric.  Organic shapes are any shape that is irregular and they tend to echo the contours of nature.  Geometric shapes are more structural.
Drawing of a vegetable in ink
Organic object

Organic shapes

The use of evenly curved or a lot of straight lines are very little or even absent in organic shapes.  They are gentler than geometric shapes.  Examples of organic shapes are fruit, seeds, trees etc.
Line drawing of bottle
Geometric shape

Geometric shapes

As the term implies, a geometric shape can be a square, circle, triangle and so on or it can be a combination of the curved or angular boundaries of a geometric shape.  Examples of geometric shapes are bridges, houses, chairs etc.

Shapes can be big or small, hard-edged or vaguely edged; they can be active, passive, stable, negative or positive.  A shape can be consistent or irregular in its properties.  When you want to draw an object, you will need to interpret the shapes of which it consists out of.  You can squint your eyes to help obscure the detail of the object and its background.  This allows you to spot the shapes much easier.  To interpret a shape, you must begin to avoid placing all the attention on the subject as a mass in space.

Getting your shape right

If you are drawing a strawberry but it looks like an orange then the audience are going to interpret it as an orange.  This is due to lack of spending time on your shape.  Shape recognition is important.  If a drawing is in silhouette, one should be able to recognize what it is.

Study the object you want to draw and imagine drawing it.  I always imagine how I am going to draw an object before I even choose to draw it.  I study its qualities and classify it as organic or geometric.  I then look at the basic shapes it consists out of like circles, rectangles and so forth.  I then study the proportions and relations of these shapes to one another.  I will then start drawing my object by starting with those basic shapes and then when I am satisfied with those shapes, I start adding details.

It is important not to neglect your shape and to spend the necessary time on it.  A shape is an essential part to mimicking reality and it would be a pity if you neglected it and spent so much time on the other elements but your shape is lacking.