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Drawing: Which Techniques Are Best for Different Types of Illustration?

By Yann, published on 22/03/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Drawing > How to Draw: A Learner’s Guide

Are you taking a drawing lessons or course in drawing? Is graphic art your passion?

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics of drawing, it’s then necessary to refine your drawing skills in a way that allows you to draw anything and everything. So how can you do this? Well, every area of illustration has its own techniques and methods.

Learning how to draw is therefore a case of developing a good technique in order to achieve the best results you possibly can.

It’s not always easy to integrate this into your work, so, before you get started, let us show you the basic principles of drawing that you should know as a learner.

How to Draw Faces

Master the art of drawing faces! A good portraitist doesn’t improvise – you’ve got to train tirelessly to draw realistic facial features. Photo on Visualhunt.com

How do you draw a portrait? Drawing people is the most difficult exercises in drawing. Even if you think you’ve got a good handle of your pencil, in your first attempts you’ll probably find that something’s not quite right about the face you’ve just drawn.

How do I draw a face with expression and become a great portrait artist?

How do I draw an eye?

How do I draw a mouth correctly?

To initiate yourself into the art of portrait drawing, it’s important to know the specific techniques and how to respect the proportions of your object. To capture the basic features, here’s how to draw a face, step by step:

  • Draw an oval shape for the head
  • Draw a subtle horizontal line to divide the oval into two equal parts. This line will be where you draw the eyes
  • Draw another horizontal line in the middle of the bottom part to divide it into two again. This is where you’ll draw the bottom of the nose
  • In the middle of the very bottom part of the oval, you will draw the mouth
  • The bottoms of the ears must be at the same level as the bottom of the nose
  • The space between the eyes should be roughly the same size as a third eye itself

And that’s it for the major facial elements. You will need to really study the face and head in order to add the smaller details to your drawing, and it’s also important to observe the style and shape of the hair as well.

The expression of the eyes is without a doubt the most difficult element to reproduce. To approach this, you’ll need to not only draw the eye, but also accurately draw and distribute the pupil and iris, the eyelashes and the eyebrows.

Once you have done a first outline of the face it’s time to start detailing your drawing. As well as mastering the essential elements, you must also learn to observe and play with light and shadow, shading and blending. This will allow you to define the face and bring it to life. For example, drawing the shadow below the bottom lip will immediately give the mouth volume.

How to Draw a Hand

After the face, the hands are another difficult part of the body to get right. With 27 bones and lots of muscles and tendons, hands can take all sorts of positions. Before knowing how to draw them realistically, you’ll need to practice.

You can start by observing the hand’s anatomy, which will help you draw basic hands fairly quickly.

After this, if you wish draw a more realistic hand, you’ll need to refine your drawing technique in order to catch the smaller details.

  • Step one: concentrate on the open hand and draw some simple geometric shapes to help you capture the palm and fingers. Forget the thumb for now as it’s a little further apart from the main shape. Divide the palm into two with a subtle vertical line, which will separate the middle and ring fingers.
  • Step two: define the length of the fingers and the positioning of the joints. Each finger has three separate bones (phalanges), apart from the thumb which only has two.
  • Step three: integrate the thumb into your drawing. You should start drawing from the base of the palm and work out and up to get the right positioning.

So now the basic outline of the hand is done, it’s time to focus on the details to obtain the likeness of a real hand. Refine the shape of the fingers, and don’t forget to account for the joints. Add the fingernails if you’ve chosen to draw the back of the hand. If you’ve draw the palm of the hand, then add in those lines.

Some advice to successfully draw a hand:

  • Don’t forget that fingers are not flat, they are cylindrical
  • Make sure to give the nails a rounded, natural edge to enhance the volume of the fingers
  • The muscles in the palm form the various depths and heights, so make sure to capture the light to show this
  • The lines of the hand must be drawn just as you see them, they’re not straight, so you can draw them in gentle, feathered strokes until you achieve the shape you want, then make the lines more defined

If you want to draw comics or manga, working on hands is just as important. They are more stylised and less detailed, so they need to be equally well executed and the proportions should be respected too. In art, hands transmit all sorts of information and emotion.

How to Draw in 3D

Learn to draw in different perspectives Perspective is crucial in architecture, but also in drawing. Photo by guymoll on VisualHunt.com

Drawing in three dimensions is another technique that you can learn with online drawing classes. The realism of a drawing depends mainly on how you can integrate the feeling of depth into your work. The basics for learning to draw in 3D lies in the art of drawing in perspective.

The first thing to take into account is that the further away an element is in a drawing, the smaller it should be in relation to the foreground. But this alone isn’t enough to create a realistic 3D drawing.

In your composition you should mark out the frame and determine the point of view. To truthfully reflect your object or landscape and draw it in perspective, it’s crucial to bear in mind these points of reference:

  • A horizon line: this is the horizontal line situated at eye level of your model
  • A vanishing point (or multiple): these are the points situated on the horizon line

To find the vanishing points, look at the elements that make up the overall scene (for example, a road, a house, a river, a row of trees) and trace the lines which lead towards the horizon. You’ll see that they cut off or fade out at one or a few points: these are the vanishing points.

Once you have traced out these points of reference, you can start sketching with the assurance that you’re respecting the correct proportions and perspective of your scene.

The technique is called the linear perspective. There are other techniques you could try too, such as the parallel or one-point perspective, or the atmospheric perspective. Once you’ve mastered the art of perspective, you can create a trompe-l’œil (or optical illusion) with an anamorphosis technique – a distorted perspective which allows you to play tricks on the eye.

After trying observational drawing, why not give some graphic art and design a go too? Graphic designers are creatives who use their knowledge of drawing and illustration to create things like logos.

So how is that different from a simple drawing? 

It’s a different approach in many ways, combining graphic competence with the mastery of all the visual techniques.

Drawing a logo is a difficult exercise. The idea is to transmit a particular or multiple messages in one small graphic representation, as simply as possible. The logo represents the visual identity of a company or organisation. It’s the element which allows them to be identified in just a glance.

For a logo to be striking you need to find a great idea. This is the most complicated step of the process and will require lots of thinking and sketching. At the end of this step, you can start creating the basics of your logo: a shape and a symbol which represents the company.

In order to get your message across, there are different visual techniques to use:

  • Colours
  • Effects
  • Textures
  • Typography
  • Negative space
  • And many more!

Logos can appear simple at first glance, but when we look a little closer we often discover hidden messages. Each detail is carefully considered in the production of a logo.

And don’t forget that a logo should be simple, timeless and adaptable to different media!

How to Draw a Tattoo

Do you have a way with drawing and want to draw your own tattoo?

Once again, you’ve got to get started with some specific techniques.

Before jumping straight in, it’s important to take a minute of reflection so that you can find your subject and style. Tattooing is a very varied art. There are all sorts of styles, and each tattoo artist will have their own. Feel free to visit a tattoo studio to talk about your project and find inspiration from the various examples on show.

Japanese tattoos, tribal tattoos, old school tattoos, calligraphic tattoos, 3D tattoos – everyone has their own styles and preferences. Once you’ve determines your style, choose your subject. A tattoo is a personal piece of art, symbolic for the person who has it.

The next step is to draw your tattoo. Again, think about how you want it to look:

  • Where will it be placed? (arms, back, torso, neck…)
  • How big will it be? The more detailed you want your tattoo, the bigger it needs to be
  • Black and white or coloured? Choose wisely so that your tattoo is the right colour scheme

And don’t forget that a tattoo is forever! So before sitting down for the needle, take the time to think about your decision and then go ahead and give your design to the tattoo artist.

How to Draw Comics 

Start drawing comic strips with these simple steps! To bring your drawings to life you’ve got to have your own style! Photo by RCabanilla on Visual Hunt

Is your head full of stories? Are you a big fan of comics? Why not draw a comic yourself?

Have you ever wondered how to draw manga? Or how to draw a character?

Before anything else, you need to carefully determine a few key elements. Imagine your comic and try to put your basic ideas and guidelines on to paper:

  • The story frame encompasses the start, the end, but also the different narrative stages in between.
  • Then go on to organising the different scenes which will compose the narration
  • Create your storyboard: draw the pages of the comic with their internal panels and start to draw the scenes
  • Make any necessary adjustments: add or remove panels, adjust their size and positioning
  • Create a main character and secondary characters: who are they? What are their characteristics, stories and names?
  • Draw your characters paying close attention to facial expressions, attitudes and general appearance 

Once these steps are complete, all that’s left is to sort out the serious stuff and draw out your comic. This is the best part for a comic designer: breathing life into his story and characters!

There are lots of different perspectives when it comes to drawing, and it’s a creative art which requires various techniques. So, to perfect your style and flourish in your art, don’t hesitate to take some drawing courses, either at school or in your local area, or by following an online course.

And don’t forget to invest in some great drawing materials that are suited to your style and a sketchbook to take wherever you go!

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