Drawing sounds simple in theory - creating something from in front of you or from your imagination using 2D lines on a piece of paper. But anyone who is new to art can tell you it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are some physics and fundamental ideas you need to practice and understand before you can become a master artist. They are perspective, proportion, lighting and shading, and shapes and forms. All of these things together result in realistic artwork. Once you understand these rules, you can break them to create surreal imagery, cartoons, and more.
It’s important to understand perspective if you want to create artwork that has a 3D effect. It’s a way to communicate the relationship between objects spatially. For instance, showing that an apple sits in front of an orange or communicating the length of a long hallway. Depth is important for realism. Objects change size and sometimes shape depending on how far they are away from the viewer. When you understand this relationship, you can create realistic looking artwork.
You can practice perspective by drawing objects on, beyond and in front of a horizon line. You can also practice drawing perspective lines and vanishing points to get used to the idea of objects shrinking and getting closer together as they get farther away.
The idea of proportion is one of the hardest for many artists to grasp. Have you ever tried to draw something and it just seemed off or wrong and you couldn’t decide why? Have you ever tried drawing a portrait and found it looked silly and cartoonish no matter how hard you tried? It was very likely that the proportions were off. Proportion has a lot to do with mathematics, balance and the Golden Ratio. But it also a learned skill that requires a good eye and practice.
When attempting a lifelike drawing, you need to be able to achieve shading, which imitates the effect of light on objects. In order for an object to be seen, there has to be light hitting it. Light will affect colour and shade on various sides of a 3D object.
When drawing, you first have to establish a light source or where the light is coming from. A realistic object not only has shading, but will have a bright spot where the light is most concentrated and a shadow where the object blocks light. You can study this in real life with almost any object.
When drawing real objects, you may be surprised to find that all things are made up of a few very basic shapes at their core. These are:
In 3D or realistic drawings, these shapes become spheres, cubes, pyramids, cones and cylinders. When drawing something, you first want to find each of these shapes in each piece of the subject. For example, an ice cream cone is nothing but a sphere on top of an upside down cone. The human form is made up of a few spheres for a head and mostly cylinders for the torso and limbs. If you can sketch these simple shapes in the correct proportion first, you can then fill in all the details to finish the sketch.