Drawing techniques in general are very repetitive. Artists can basically use the same procedure to draw anything. Those of you who have taken classes from me or have read my books, know firsthand that I use the same approach to drawing, whether it’s a face, an animal, or a tennis shoe.All things hinge on the five elements of shading, and the dreaded sphere exercise. You can clearly see this in every book I write. But this information, while not hugely exciting, is your answer to realism. If you can’t draw a good sphere that clearly looks like a 3-dimensional ball on a table, your chances of drawing a good face is next to none.
I took note of the most asked questions throughout this week’s class. Most of the questions were about my “Hammond Blended Pencil Technique,” and how I make the tones look so seamless. You can’t tell where one tone ends and the other begins. Most beginners have a very difficult time getting the smoothness that I achieve in my drawings. Don’t worry if this is true for you. It takes practice, practice, and more practice to hone this skill. Always remember, I’ve been doing this daily for more than 35 years. While everything about this is already there for you in my books, let me give some quick pointers here.
1. Practice using value scales and drawing the sphere repeatedly, so they become second nature
2. NEVER attempt to draw portraits unless you’ve practiced drawing each of the facial features individually first. (Learn how to draw a nose and how to draw lips, practice drawing hair and drawing eyes, etc.)
3. Take your time to achieve accuracy. Speed should never be your goal.
4. When blending, go from dark to light, just like you do when drawing the value scales. Fade into the light gradually by lightening your touch. Go lengthwise into the lighter areas, following the contours. You can’t control the fade into the light areas with individual strokes going in.
5. Practice everyday to perfect the “feel” of your pencil and tortillions. This takes time, like anything else. A concert pianist still does the basic scales to keep in musical shape. And, they don’t attempt a sonata too soon. Chop Sticks comes first!
6. Love your subject matter! If you’re drawing something that you aren’t emotionally connected to, or a face you don’t like, your art will reflect that. Draw something that makes you smile.
Look at what great work one of my art students did in just a few days. The “before and afters” always crack me up a bit, for the students come in with them believing they are pretty darn good. I love the look on their faces when they surpass even their own expectations. I never tire of seeing someone smile at their own abilities, especially when they’ve doubted themselves.