The beginner’s section is intended for more entry-level drawings of realistic images. As for every realistic drawing, the key is preparation and knowledge about tools and techniques to use to achieve a realistic look for your drawing.
In the next chapter, we will take a look at what materials to gather in the preparation phase, understand one popular method of drawing and learn about how to outline (form structure, shapes) the reference photo that acts as a foundation for your drawing and eventually, introduction to shading.
Step 3. Understand Grid-Method of Drawing
As a beginner, it is important to understand how to structure or frame a drawing. Structuring a drawing starts by using a well-known drawing methodology known as Grid-Method.
The Grid-Method can be used to scale the reference photo for large drawings. This is helpful as it maintains an aspect ratio that allows it to scale proportionally. Grid-Method helps to create close-to-accurate drawing outlines and makes it easy to transfer outlines onto another medium like Canvas or Drawing Paper.
Image of a Grid-Method
Getting Started with Grid-Method
(a). Go to https://www.ernestech.com/free-grid-method-tool
- watch a short video on how to use the grid-method tool
- use the grid-method tool to generate a grid on your reference photo
[Optinional] The grids can be created manually with a ruler and an H1 Pencil (lighter pencil).
(b). After the grid lines have been plotted on the reference photo
- You can either print the reference photo (with grid lines on the photo) or use a Soft Copy ( reference photo saved to your computer ) to reference your drawing.
If you decide to use a Soft Copy, you do not have to print the reference photo with a grid marked on it, instead use a Computer to view the reference image and draw from observation. The key here is to transfer the Grid Boxes plotted on the Reference Photo using a tool mentioned in (a) onto the Actual Drawing Paper.
[TIP]: Professional Artists print several copies of the reference photo with grid lines on them. For example, if you’re drawing a portrait, the same reference photo (with grid lines on them) is printed in color and in black and white format.
This allows multiple aspect ratio prints to be used, for example, one copy could contain a closer look at the very tiniest detail (zoomed in on a specific area on the reference photo) you can possibly imagine and another might contain the same image but view from a different perspective with less detail on it (zoom out).
This technique gives an artist the ability to develop a story about the subject and choose what details to show in the drawing.
Printing different variations of the same reference photo with different color settings helps to see the shadow edges as well as other attributes that you might have missed if you only had one reference photo.
(c). Replicate the grid lines plotted on the reference photo onto the white-plain drawing paper or any medium you are using to draw on.
- Make sure that the scale on which the grid line was plotted on the reference photo matches with the scale on the drawing paper. This is important, if not accurately replicated, the drawing will not look similar to the reference photo.
Reference Photo with grid-lines Drawing Paper with matched grid-lines
(d). After the grid lines have been plotted on the drawing paper, it’s time to start drawing the outlines.
- Understanding Grid-Method coordinates are really easy, here is how you know where to draw the next outline:
(i). Observe the numbered lines on the X-axis starting from 0 to 7, and the numbered lines on the Y-axis starting from 0 to 10.
Take a look at the line you want to draw and observe the number of grid lines on the X-axis and Y-axis and plot a dot on where the both X-axis and Y-axis lines cross or meet each other.
[TIP]: Observe the coordinates on the reference photo then plot the dots on the plain white paper with grid lines on it. Draw the outlines in shapes, pay attention to the spaces in the single cell (box) and try to make an accurate guess on where the line crosses the box into another.
Making close to accurate guesses on where the line passes will determine the accuracy of the outline when you erase the checkered boxes from the Drawing paper. Remember, the key here is to create the most accurate outline of the drawing, eventually, you will erase those checkered boxes around the outline.
Step 4. Work on the Outline
Image of a complete outline (with grid boxes still on the Drawing Paper)
[TIP]: Getting the drawing structure proportionally structured like that of the reference photo will help you achieve realism in your final steps. All that is needed after the outline is complete is feeling in the empty space of the outline with graphite pencil, this stage is also known as Shading.
The outlining process can still be carried on even when in the Shading stage, the outline does not stop, when in the shading stage you can still erase and correct as an outline if you see fit.
As a rule of thumb, start outlining with a lighter Pencil such as H1 or H2 in some cases if you really want to be careful about not making mistakes.
Image of a complete outline (with grids visible on a Drawing paper)
Step 5. Remove the Outline
Image of a complete outline (without grids)
This stage is exciting as it gives you an opportunity to be careful with your outlines. You will start caring about the outlines at this stage of the drawing. This is important as preserving every bit of the outline will help you see clearly where the lines end so you could have easy shading.
If you happen to have erased some of the outlines when erasing the boxes from the Drawing paper, gently and carefully redraw them back with reference to the Reference Image. This is most likely to happen as the outlines will be drawn with lighter strokes of the pencil, any mistakes when erasing the grid boxes would result in erasing the actual subject outline.
Step 6. Shading
Step 7. Finishing Touches:
At this stage, you have completed shading your drawing and need to finish up by erasing rough or uneven edges to make the line edges clean or straight. This stage will add value to your drawing depending on your style, clean edges are critical to reflect realism.
Step 8. Preserving your Drawing:
Assuming everything is done at this point, the Drawing Outlines, Shading, Clean Ages, and Proper reflection of light on your drawing and are happy with your drawing, it’s time to spray the drawing with a “Workable Fixatif”. The spray will protect your pencil drawing from smudging or possible damage.
Image of KRYLON’S Workable Fixatif
[Tip]: KRYLON’s Workable Fixatif has been a good Fixative for my drawings, visit https://www.ernestech.com/store/art to see the Pencil Drawing Sprays available.
[Warning]: The product mentioned above is highly flammable, do not use it close to a fire. After applying the spray to your drawing, the application is final and the drawing can’t be changed or modified unless that is how you intend to create your art.
[Safety]: The advice is based on my experience, when spraying your drawing with any Fixatives make sure your mouth and nose are covered as the spray produces a strong smell which might cause breathing problems.
In concluding Beginner's Section, it is worth noting that when embarking on a new drawing, planning is an essential part of achieving accuracy. It is important to have a plan in mind and lay down your plan on paper.
If you are not sure or the kind to write things down, I would challenge you to start scribbling. Writing your thoughts down in the form of a journal, will not just help you remember important things in your journey but also help strengthen your memory.
It also goes without saying, how you start your drawing matters. Start with communicating your plan idea to yourself by asking important questions such as:
Asking these questions is integral to producing a masterpiece, a drawing that will make you look back in time and wonder how you drew such a captivating piece of Art.
Artists become good at what they do by practicing hard. Picking up your favorite pencil and grabbing a clean white paper that you care about should not be foregn to you. You should build the habit of getting in the zone of drawing for enjoyment and not for money.
Don’t get me wrong, there are artists who make a living off of their drawings, but if you really want to become a good Artist, do it because you Love drawing, the money aspect of it comes at a later age. Now that you’re done with the Beginners Section, let's dive into the Advanced Section.