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Drawing Essential Form and Structure

Drawing Lesson - Structure Drawing Exercise

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Visualising simple forms in a complex object.

H South

The Two Approaches to Drawing Structure
There are two main approaches to drawing structure. The first is to start with basic skeleton and add detail, visualizing the basic shapes that underly a complex surface, like a sculptor working in clay and adding pieces on. The second method involves an imaginary box, working from the outside in, imagining basic shapes that the form fits within, like a sculptor starting with a block of marble and chipping bits away. Often you will find yourself using a combination of these two approaches. Give them both a try!

The Aim: To practice establishing the basic structure of objects.

What You Need: Sketchbook or paper, HB or B pencils, everyday objects.

What to Do:
Choose a simple object. It doesn't have to be 'artistic', a sewing machine or electric kettle is fine!

Now, imagine you are going to sculpt it from a piece of stone. What rough shapes will you carve out first? Note the very simple cylinder shapes used for the first sketch in the example above. Draw the perspective as correctly as you can, freehand. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Now you can begin to indicate the main shapes within the form, such as the line through a row of detail, or large indentations. Show where details will go, but don't get sidetracked by them. Concentrate on getting the overall proportion and placement.

Finish the drawing if you wish, or just leave it as an exercise in structure.

Going Further: Try drawing more complex objects, always looking for simple component shapes. Try looking for shapes within the objects, like a skeleton, and looking for containing shapes, like boxes, with which to establish your structure. You can practice observing without a pencil too, just observing your surroundings wherever you are.

Tips:
- Begin with the largest section of a complex form.
- Don't worry about mistakes, they are part of learning.
- Don't use a ruler - train your hand.
- You don't have to 'finish' the sketches.
- Practice!

More on Drawing Structure and Perspective
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