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Pencil Sketching Lesson - Structure and Form

Seeing and Basic Form and Structure


camera structure drawing

'seeing through' an object to build structure

H South

How do you make something look three-dimensional and in proportion?

Lack of structure is one of the most common problems in drawing. It's easy to spot - sometimes you don't quite know why, but something just 'feels wrong'. You can see it when a bottle or cup looks distorted, or a person's arms and legs dont' quite seem to belong to them. A face might look vaguely familiar but the expression is strange. When this happens, it is often because the artist has dived too quickly into drawing detail. The surfaces look good, but the structure beneath is weak. All the details are there, but they don't match up. It's a bit like a house with a beautiful door that won't close because the frame isn't straight.

How do I draw the structure?

Drawing the structure means ignoring all the surface detail and looking for big shapes. This approach is similar to the 'step by step' method of circles and ovals that you will often see in drawing lessons, where the picture is broken into simple squares and ovals. But instead of flat, two-dimensional shapes, now you need to look for three-dimensional ones that you will sketch in perspective.

Begin with simple objects. You can try to imagine that the object is made of glass - like a fishtank - so you can visualize the edges that you can't see, sketching the main components. Have you ever built toys out of cardboard boxes? Think of a camera made with a box and a plastic lid, or a rocket made from a paper tube and cone, or a robot made with a collection of small boxes. This is the kind of simplicity to begin with.

Next Page:How to Sketch Structure

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