Monday, September 23, 2013


Today, we're going to draw some blocks.

Blocks?! Yes!  I have two sons and a house full of toys.  Before the days of motherhood, I enjoyed painting still-lifes in oils (you can see some of them here).  As I look around my house at the random blocks and toys, I often think it would be fun to jump back into painting by creating a still-life out of toys.  And then I got to thinking about the basics of drawing.... So that's why we're drawing blocks today.

Drawing (or painting) is the process of creating images out of line, shape, and form.  Line has an obvious definition.  Shape can be defined as enclosed lines -- we often learn shapes as very young children.  And forms are three-dimensional shapes, ie: a cube is a square that has height, width, AND depth.

So how does this relate to paper dolls? If you choose to work in a realistic style, then this is very relevant.  To create a realistic representation of a 3D figure on a 2D page, you need to understand form.

A human figure is essentially composed of cubes, cylinders, spheres, etc.  That's why I chose these two blocks.  I roughed in at outline and we'll shade it.

To create shadows, you need a light source.  Preferably one light source, but it's rare to have one light source occur naturally.  These blocks, for example, had a primary light source coming from the right/front, but there were secondary light sources as well.  In this case, our lightest tones are on the "light" side of the block, and our darkest tones are directly opposite that light source.

My blocks were on a reflective surface, so instead of a shadow, they have a reflection that grounds them to the plane. Huh?  That just means that didn't let the blocks float on an empty page.  Ideally, there's a light tone that sits next to a dark tone, etc, to emphasize the light and dark tones.

This is a still-life I drew years ago in an art class.  The pink circled areas show places in the drawing with strong black & white contrast.  Having dark darks and light lights against each other helps to give the impression of three dimensions.

Here's a rough sketch of an arm to demonstrate how a body is really just a series of forms mashed together.

I realize this is a pretty rough overview of shading principles.  Try to keep these ideas in mind as you draw your dolls.  And if realism isn't your thing, that's cool too!  Sometimes it isn't mine either :)

There are a number of wonderful resources that provide additional information. This gallery on deviantArt has lots of useful information specific to figure drawing.

Happy drawing everyone, and we'll have a new doll up on Friday!

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