What's Being Taught About Sketching

Sometimes, I like to check out how art techniques are being taught out there. Today: Sketching!

I think exercises like this are helpful for a few reasons:

  1. Good review

  2. Helpful to know what other artists who are just starting out are exposed to

  3. Get me out of my comfort zone

  4. Reconsider techniques (both “wrong” or “right”) that I’m doing automatically

So this week I watched a Craftsy class and read a book about Sketching!

The video is focused strictly on the portrait. While the book covers sketching landscapes, animals, portraits and figures.

When it comes to portraits both sources say the same thing: Start with the face shape then add your darkest shadows, imply the features but don’t add them until later.

The video had a very effective demonstration. Two photos of male portraits were shown, then the artist swapped the features but left everything else in tact. It really was amazing how the two sitters clearly look different than each other but with features swapped don’t look that different from themselves. Very helpful exercise in seeing how the priority of portrait drawing doesn’t need to be the eyes or lips instead focus on getting the head shape and hair right.

The book stressed the same idea but related to other subjects. Get the outline solid then add shading. The book has awesome examples of sketching on location, sketching crowds, and sketching at the zoo (which I’ve been itching to do again). It also provides smart exercises you can do at home. Like pausing the tv to draw people mid sentence.

I’m completely guilty of not sketching enough. I’d rather jump right into a full finished piece. However, sketching is good to loosen you up and get used to observing lots of different things. For my exercises I passed on landscapes or still lives because they just haven’t been inspiring to me lately. Instead, I took what the sources suggested and sketched my doggo Rocket in different positions and then myself in a few different poses. Below are my attempts:

I don’t think I spent more than maybe 2 minutes on any one sketch above.

Drawing pets is awesome! They rarely stay in a single position for long so there’s a build in random timer. You don’t know if you’ll have 10 seconds or 15 minutes. It’s super fun!

Drawing myself was hard because I was working with a mirror and could only do poses where I could see myself. Plus…it’s drawing myself and self portraits are the worst.

I’d definitely recommend both sources. Obviously the video, if you want to get into portraits and the book if you’re looking for sketchbook or travel journal inspiration.