What are the Key Skills I need to learn to Draw?

Often I get asked by beginner learners who are very keen to learn art ‘what are the most important skills I need?’  There are many skills involved in being good at art so it is really difficult for me to answer this question.  However I do think that there are some fundamental skills in drawing that once learnt can go a long way to help you build a foundation to develop your skills on.

I was set the challenge last year to create a short course in drawing and painting which only had the absolute ‘nuts and bolts’ in it and nothing else.  After editing and revising many drafts I was able to come up with a list of the absolute essential skills and these were the areas I identified.

Continue reading “What are the Key Skills I need to learn to Draw?”

4 Useful Homemade Accessories for Art

When you go into art shops and stores there are so many things you could buy other than the basics like the paper, the paints and the palette.  It can be really daunting because you begin to feel that you need everything and then you start thinking that perhaps drawing and painting is going to be too expensive.

It doesn’t have to be that way, it is nice of course to have all the accessories and gadgets on offer in these stores but you can still develop your art without many of them.  I wanted to share a few simple tools or accessories that you can make at home yourself that could make drawing and painting a bit easier.

A Drawing Board

A drawing board can be as simple as a piece of hardboard like this one seen below.  This type of wood is extremely cheap to get hold of, often you can ask for an off cut in an DIY store and get hold of one for a few pounds.  You could also look out for things with a hard back that you could use as a drawing board such as an old table top, trays etc.

Using a drawing board for drawing offers more flexibility to draw at different angles
Using a drawing board for drawing offers more flexibility to draw at different angles

Why do I need one?

Drawing boards are handy because they allow you to draw with your paper at an upright angle.  This can make the observation, measuring etc. process more accurate. They also make you more mobile as you can take the board with you wherever you like so you are more likely to move towards or around subject rather than drawing a subject from where the table is.

A Viewfinder

A viewfinder is basically a square or rectangle shape that allows us to frame a composition for drawing or painting.  They can be made without too much effort from paper, plastic or card. See my post What is a Viewfinder?

A viewfinder is a useful tool
A viewfinder is a useful tool

The simplest viewfinders can be made by just cutting out a square or rectangle from a piece of paper like this one shown above.  This type of viewfinder may not last very long as the paper will become damaged.  You may want to make a more durable version out of card or plastic.

Why do I need one? 

A viewfinder is useful for trying out different compositions, producing thumbnail sketches and framing images.  They tend to make artists more experimental because it is so easy to try out a composition or viewpoint just by holding up the viewfinder. They are just like using a camera where you look through the viewfinder to see a picture before you take it.

A Colour Isolator 

A colour isolator is simply a way of looking at colours in isolation so you can work out what the colour is.

Homemade accessories and tools for art
A colour isolator can isolate a colour making it easier to identify

You can make a colour isolator by simply hole punching a piece of paper like the one seen above.

Why do I need one?

Being able to identify colour is important for painting.  They are useful when you are looking at something that is all one colour at first glance like this plant which appears to be all one green at first glance.  There are in fact many different shades of green but they are hard to see, isolating colour makes them identifiable next to one another.

Acetate Grid 

A grid is useful for drawing, it is a way of mapping out a drawing or scaling up.  See my post What is Scaling Up? if you are unsure what this means.  Artists have used grids for centuries as a tool to help them with drawing and most don’t consider it cheating!  You can make one by drawing a grid on a piece of acetate.  You could also stick the grid into a viewfinder to provide a frame like the ones seen below.

Grids on acetate and within a viewfinder
Grids on acetate and within a viewfinder

Why do I need one?

If you are struggling with proportions, or you want to scale up a photograph or image that you are copying then a grid is a useful tool.

I am sure there are many other useful homemade DIY art accessories you could make, if you have any ideas do share with other readers!