It’s a common belief among people that drawing is a talent. Due to this belief, many give up on drawing after comparing themselves to someone who has years of artistic experience because they think they just are not good enough. Many people don’t give drawing a chance because of this same reason as well, they do not believe they are talented at it, so they do not bother with it. Although this belief is popular, it is very far from the truth. Drawing isn’t a talent you’re born with, but a skill that you improve through practice and study of important concepts. Knowing that drawing is a skill brings up an important question, what techniques are necessary to learn in order to improve drawing skills? A skill like drawing is developed through consistent practice and studying important concepts of it such as perspective, proportions, lighting/shading and art styles. This paper goes in depth on these concepts in order to show specifically how drawings skills can be improved and what is the best way to do so.
For beginners, or the people who are willing to improve their art skills in general, consistent practice is necessary and you must be passionate to improve your art skills. In order to have a deeper understand of the topic, we asked an art professional, teacher and artist, Alejandra Cantu that has been working and teaching art/painting in the American School Foundation of Monterrey for a period of around 12years. We asked her, “What techniques are necessary to learn in order to improve our drawings?”. She replied, “The 3 most important and basic skills of art you must master are shading, proportion and perspective”. Shading is very basic of art, shading is used to represent light and shade by varying the color and intensity of the medium being used.Proportion is all about being realistic about the different sizes of objects and drawing them according to how they are in reality; for example, an apple isn’t the as big as your face, right? Instead an apple is big as your palm.The last technique is drawing with perspectives. Perspectives are actually linked with shading and shadows as you must draw the shadows and colors by your imagination as well, you cannot see all the shadows by just looking at the real object. This technique is all about going into debt on your drawing.
Firstly, shading is a technique for depicting levels of darkness on paper by applying lighter force or with a darker shade for darker areas, and less densely or with a lighter shade for lighter areas. We asked two teachers teaching at the ASFM, Paco Segovia and Alejandra Cantu, “What techniques are necessary to learn in order to improve our drawings?”, and one answer we were able to find in common between the two teachers was shading. There are many ways to shade drawings. Dotted shading, cross-hatching and just one way shading which is the most used type. Shading is important as it could give the structure of the object and even the effects of the lighting onto the object. For example, one of our group members drew a hand whereas he tend to shade the left side of each finger darker than the other to show that the light was coming from thr right direction. Shading makes your drawing more realistic and interesting. You can practice to shade by an extremely easy exercise called, “Pencil Shading Egg Exercise”. This exercise was published by Helen South by Thought.(South) She was able to plan an exercise to practice shading and to understand shadows just by the use of a lamp, an egg and drawing utensils. When a light is directed straight to the egg on the surface of a paper there are three points that you must look carefully to shade. The dark ‘core’ shadow, highlights, and reflected lights. Dark ‘core’ shadows are the area that is opposite the light's’ direction, where the light isn’t able to reach due to the egg blocking the light waves. Highlights are the opposite of the dark ‘core’ shadows as it is the brightest part of the egg where the light is directly reflected off the egg, showing an extremely white color. Reflected lights, also called the cast shadows are where some parts of the shadows are lighter than the other due to the lights getting reflected into the shadow. When finished compare it with the real image in front of you and try using a different type of shading to perfectionate the technique. If you were able to do this exercise effortlessly or fluently, we strongly recommend you to try draw hands and try shading them with detail. Hands and fingers are one of the hardest topics in art drawing, therefore it will be a good practice for you. Practicing and implementing shading to your drawing is a technique you must practice in order to improve your art skills.
Adding on, Using proportion will make your drawing more realistic and lifelike. You must know how to draw objects the correct size. No amount of shading will make your disproportionate object look fairly proportional. When you are making a drawing using proportion you need to take in mind the scaling of different objects and their spacing which may vary depending on what do you want to draw. When drawing an artistic piece, we tend to compare the size of objects to the human body. When drawing something bigger or smaller than us, we use the human body as reference. If you want to draw a human, understanding the join placement and muscles placement will greatly help you out when drawing. To further improve your proportion, plan out the proportions and scale of your drawing from the beginning. To further improve your proportion drawings, spend more time on measuring and less time drawing. Use lines and shapes to indicate the presence of objects. Proportion is considered one of the hardest things to master and draw so we challenge you to try and master it.
To continue, perspective is a very important technique to master to improve in drawing, it’s what brings a drawing to life and what tricks our brain to see depth and three dimensional space in a flat piece of paper. Being able to understand and manipulate this sense of space will greatly improve the quality of your drawings. To interpret this concept it is important to understand the horizon line, a line in the background that represents, as the name implies, the horizon. Everything you draw should be fading to points in the horizon line, as this gives it the sense of depth we get from the real world. It is commonly taught that you should have one or two points that everything should fade towards in your image when using perspective, while this is normally true, it is important to know that you can draw lines fading to another part of the horizon line instead of the one or two specific points when drawing rotating shapes. Although you’re breaking from the points in this situation, under no circumstance can you break from the horizon line.
Furthermore, to answer the most frequently asked question and some tip on starting your practices, you must understand that there are a lot of people actually struggling about where to start the practice, such as what to draw. We asked Mrs Cantu, “In what style do you think someone who’s learning to draw should start with?”, as we were also kind of confused after we finished our exploration phase. She replied, “Realism”(Cantu), to be the first style people must practice to get better at art. Realism drawings are the type of drawings that rejects imagination and looks into the reality and life. If you are lost on where to start your practice, thence you should look for realism drawings from artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, and try to copy and portrait their drawings as there are lots of things you can learn just by drawing them. You can also try drawing from photographs, drawing from photographs and real life objects has the highest level of difficulty in Art Drawing as you must take in consideration of the two dimensional objects, edges and the environment.
Do you know your weaknesses in art? If the answer is yes, you could try combining and merge your weaknesses and make a piece out of it. For example, a member of our group knew that his weaknesses were cross-hatching and coloring therefore he decided to draw a hand and an apple to practice. The hand contained all the shading and shadows which will help him practice shading and the apple was used to practice color shading such as finding the dark ‘core’ shadows and highlights with colors. This technique can save a lot of time and increase creativity. Due to the practice he has done, the grade he received for his drawing was rated higher than what he have done before. Youtube videos and channels such as, “Art of Wei”, can also be extremely helpful to learn about new skills. These youtubers that teach art start from a blank paper and starts explaining as they draw, demonstrating how we could use our pencils differently depending on the area you are drawing and execute the techniques.
Overall, many people stop drawing because they don't think that they have the necessary skills to draw and don't feel confident enough to continue. The techniques that you must practice consistently in order to improve your art skills are shading, proportion, perspective, combination of skills and most importantly the will to improve your art skills. Shading, managing proportion and viewing from different perspectives are the basic practices you must do in order to start improving. Start from drawing/copying paintings with the theme of realism and if you already know your weaknesses ,then venture to combine those to incorporate to your practices.We invite you to try drawing any drawing that you like following our guide.