Draw like an artist: go from "I can't draw" to "handmade art for sale"


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/29/draw-like-an-artist-go-from.html


This isn’t one of those old dried-up ‘how to draw fifty battleships’ books.

These exist? I have never seen an old dried-up ‘how to draw fifty battleships’ book.


… “and both at the same time”!



Just leave them in the sun. They do eventually dry out. Brush off the sea salt residue.


Those books are very popular with the 6th grade and under crowd. The author is Lee J. Ames, and he cranked out a whole series of books on how to draw various broad subjects, from cars and trucks to princesses and anime. They start with a few basic shapes, and turn them with lines and shading into drawings. Most of them originally were published in the 70s, and they still get checked out of our library.


That brought back some 70s memories.


Cookbook style. They contain a lot of detail but no instructions on technique, or how to see like an artist. Just a lot of shapes to mash together.


UToo flat. Not structural enough.

The trick of drawing is not to mentally flatten the world as quickly as possible but to hold a 3D conception of form as long as possible and to preserve that feeling on the page. If you want to tell the viewer what a cylinder looks like you need to draw it at somewhat of an angle into depth so that the ends are curved. A cylinder edge-on is indistinguishable from a rectangle. In the hand making an ok gesture illustration the wrinkles are too straight and edge-on and the wedding ring isn’t pulling its weight in terms of working to tell the viewer that the fingers are to a large extent cylinders.

But if someone finds this approach useful then good. As Glen Vilppu says, "there are no rules. Just tools. "


I loved those books! Less than three! But I don’t recall a battleship one.






And if you have terrible depth perception, you get the best of both worlds!

Not joking. I have the luxury of my visual perception always being flattened (due to strabismus) while having the visual-spatial-kinesthetic-whatever cognition to mentally explore objects as 3D elements and surfaces.

I’ve read that Rembrandt had terrible depth perception as well.


I have the same thing but I can control it unless I’m very tired. There are all kinds of cues that convey depth and form and many of them require neither stereo vision nor motion parallax. People should use whatever helps them to draw however they like but I think my own drawing was initially harmed by these flat 2D gestalt ways of working.


Reminds me of a tattered and worn but enduring joke among sculptors. There are many variations but this is the one I remember:

How to Carve a Marble Elephant

  1.  Obtain a block of marble.
  2.  Remove everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.



Well, at least now I have the proper bb post to introduce the portrait drawn by a sketch artist who ambushed me in downtown Tijuana…

P.S. Just look at it.


Banana for scale?


Nah. Just holding down the paper. Maybe I should have suggested he use the banana to help with proportion?

Edit: Here’s some work of my own, for comparison.


But how do I draw an abstract-expressionist bird?