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19 You Can Draw Better Than You Think
Anastasia BW.jpg

Materials you will need: Paper, pencils or charcoal, eraser, printed downloads.


The previous exercises have been designed to allow creativity to surface, and reflect on the challenges at this unique moment in time. The final activity is a departure. Anyone can draw better than they think they can, so this is a very basic lesson in draftsmanship. Two printable PDF files, Apple Photo and Apple Outline, are provided below. The outline is very faint, or try drawing without it!

Creating a realistic image has a great deal to do with detailed observation of light and shadow. Drawing the shape of lights and darks creates the illusion of three-dimensional objects. We do not really see outlines, so one key to realistic drawing is to draw mass without outlining first, as in the Look Ma, No Lines (#7) activity. For this lesson, I provided a faint outline to print if you feel it will help you get started. Begin rendering the apple, using the side of your pencil or charcoal to create gradations of tone. Start by drawing the darkest areas as one large shape. Squinting your eyes can be helpful. At first, you should not even define the edge of the apple where it meets the shadow. As you proceed, you will refine shapes by adding mid-tones – the range between darkest and lightest. Leave your lightest areas as the paper, or add white. You can also use an eraser to help create lighter tones. Look at the photo more than your paper, seeing nuances of shape in your tones. Note alignment of shapes. The dark shadow begins just to the right of the stem, for instance. Observe carefully, and you may be surprised at how realistic your drawing looks!

Below: White to darkest tones. 2 ways to achieve gradation:

1) Use artists' pencils in hard to soft grades. F=Very hard/lightest line * H=Hard * HB=Hard -Soft * 2B-4B-6B=Soft /darkest lines.

2) Vary pressure on the pencil.

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Photo of apple with shadow

Apple and shadow Posterized.jpg

Photo reduced to two values


1st step drawing, darkest shadow as one shape


Finished drawing with dark, light and mid-tones

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