The Fundamentals and Heirarchy of Drawing
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Thread: The Fundamentals and Heirarchy of Drawing

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    The Fundamentals and Heirarchy of Drawing

    (Edit: This seemed like the place it would do the most good, though it may fit better under another forum. Please move if necessary. Thanks.)

    Accurate drawing is the first key to representational, realistic art and illustration. The best approach to learning to draw accurately is through observational drawing and working from life using traditional materials in a traditional manner.

    The principles, or fundamentals, are not many, nor are they complicated, but they are challenging to become proficient with, let alone master. Every piece of art starts and ends with the fundamentals. It is helpful to practice them both separately, to work out specific handling of the principle, and together to bring them all into one composition.

    They take years to become proficient with, and a lifetime to master.

    NOTE: This is just my little list and what makes sense to me.

    BASICS
    At their most basic, and in order, they are:
    Statement: Have something to say
    Composition: Arrange it well so it says what you want it to
    Accuracy: Accurate drawing of shape, proportion, perspective and form
    Value: Careful observation and interpretation of shadow and light
    Edges: Careful observation of edges of forms
    Texture: Careful attention to the surface quality of the subject

    Color: Careful observation or interpretation of color in the subject.

    NOTE: There are many important secondary elements such as balance, rhythm, etc. but they fall somewhere under each of the fundamental princciples.

    HEIRARCHY
    A certain natural heirarchy exists in representational art, though each subject poses some unique challenges. It is a bit difficult to put them in an order but suffice it to say that you need to be able to handle the more basic subjects very well before moving to the more advanced.
    Basic Forms: sphere, cone, cylinder, cube, torus
    Forms in Composition and Perspective
    Still Life
    Figure/Landscape
    Portraiture
    The Figure/Portrait in the Landscape en plein air

    Good books to help with understanding and practice of these fundamentals:
    "Drawing Essentials" by Deborah Rockman
    "Drawing Scenery" by Jack Hamm
    "Fun With A Pencil" by Andrew Loomis
    "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth" by Andrew Loomis
    "Successful Drawing" by Andrew Loomis
    "Imaginitive Realism" by James Gurney
    "Alla Prima" by Richard Schmid

    "Elk Skull" - graphite - still life demo for class - 45 minutes
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    Last edited by JeffX99; June 22nd, 2011 at 03:30 AM.
    What would Caravaggio do?
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    Lovely, thank you for sharing this! At first I wondered why you placed the list 'Basics' first then 'Hierarchy', but the second read through I think I got it. lol

    Out of curiosity, one of my old teachers often said that Feeling (or mood) is part of the the basics needed for a composition. Is that something you'd consider under the 'Statement' section you have there?


    Thanks again! =)

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    Thanks for the comments Jpep. Feeling or mood would definitely fall under "Statement". Statement in a work is naturally quite broad, but that is where a piece should really begin. Studies of course do not require statement, any more than practicing scales requires it to be music.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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    Thanks! I figured it was used in a broader sense then I originally read it, and I just wanted to make sure.

    Haha, you know, that was going to be my next question, but I ended up taking it out. "What about studies?" They do not always have all you had in the list, but work help you move towards a culmination of skills. That is my thought anyway.

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    Exactly - I think of it like music, a major piece is like playing a song all the way through - there are a lot of components to put together just so. Whereas studies are bits and pieces of songs you're practicing, so when you put it all together you don't flail around like an idiot on stage...hopefully.

    Aside: I have a Zeppelin bootleg of the studio sessions when they were putting together "Stairway to Heaven" - it's like 27 bits and pieces of "Stairway" in various stages and parts...and I'm sure that is only 1% of what went into it. Just working out little riffs , bridges and timing...pretty interesting stuff...if you're old like me!

    What would Caravaggio do?
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    Oh wow, that would be amazing to hear. I didn't think they released raw studio sessions too often, so I never went looking. Heh, I can't say that I'm old, but I do like my music!

    Hmm, I think I may have to look this up....

    Oh no, this is going to be a new distraction. Must... Draw...

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    Nice drawing Jaffx99.

    Clearly, you know how to use graphite; I have never quite figured graphite out. And in only 45 minutes? My hat's off to your display of skill.

    I like to think of my drawings as music frozen in charcoal.

    A sparse melody in a minor key.

    Other times I prefer to think of my art as dream catchers, haunted by the memory of the daemonic impulse and the echoes of a beautiful dream image.

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    Lovely Jeff, this should clear up any confusion . It's still helpful for me even, helps to keep everything organised.

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    Hi Jeff, how are you matey? Good I hope

    in this thread

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=223100 - Labelled "WTF is wrong with you guys" look at page 4 because I had an idea about sticking a tips for newbies sticky up that will lead us sad acts around by the nose and stick our heads in the basics drawer, well this is exactly the thing I was thinking about, you must be psycic or something (psst (whispers) any good with lottery numbers mate??)

    all the best as usual mate

    P.S. Like the sketch and the info thank you for that

    A great kind hearted lumbering bullock



    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=209918 = my Sketchbook
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post






    HEIRARCHY
    A certain natural heirarchy exists in representational art, though each subject poses some unique challenges. It is a bit difficult to put them in an order but suffice it to say that you need to be able to handle the more basic subjects very well before moving to the more advanced.
    Basic Forms: sphere, cone, cylinder, cube, torus
    Forms in Composition and Perspective
    Still Life
    Figure/Landscape
    Portraiture
    The Figure/Portrait in the Landscape en plein air

    I agree with the heirarchy (if it is a heirarchy that tells how to start and not a heirarchy that says what's easier and less important). I just want to say something because there are people who believe that after you paint/draw for example 10,50,100 still lifes, you stop, and move to more advanced themes. That, I believe is not true. Still lifes (and even simple basic forms) can become extremly complicated in terms of colour, composition and drawing. Yes, still lifes are the best for beginning to paint (for obvious reasons) but not only for starters. A good still life can be as important as a good portrait or a portrait in the landscape en plein air, and I believe that creating a Good still life is equal if not harder to do than painting a portrait . I believe it's one of the hardests things. ( to make a good still life) (obviously I'm in love with still lifes ) That's why ( I think) ''our friend'' Paul Cezanne did, what he did..

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    As someone who is really trying to get a good foundation with these fundamentals this is very helpful with laying out a good way to organize my practice. I will be using this for sure so thank you!

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    With begginers, I usually make a point to linking to the Elements of Art. I had a book on these fundamentals in high school that I found quite helpful. What you list as the basics seems to be halfway between this and what Scott McCloud lists as The Six Steps in the artistic process. One of the most common issues I find on these forums is people starting at step 6.

    Past step one, I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind your hierarchy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grunler View Post
    With begginers, I usually make a point to linking to the Elements of Art. I had a book on these fundamentals in high school that I found quite helpful. What you list as the basics seems to be halfway between this and what Scott McCloud lists as The Six Steps in the artistic process. One of the most common issues I find on these forums is people starting at step 6.

    Past step one, I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind your hierarchy.
    You're absolutely right Grunler, about the problem often being people wanting to start at step 6. This applies to both an individual piece and in general to their development as an artist. It's just human nature and I think is true for all of us as artists. The whole trick is to be open to hearing what the real steps are and getting started down the right path (of which there are many, but they all have the fundamentals in common).

    The "heirarchy" has more to do with the technical challenges and relative levels of difficulty between the various subjects rather than the subjects themselves. It is just much more challenging, and therefor a higher level of "mastery", to pull off a figure in the landscape en plein air and with an alla prima approach, or even further, in watercolor. People might disagree with that but that is generally considered to be the case.

    Edit: An afterthought...part of why I even put the idea of the "heirarchy" out there is because of exactly what you were saying about starting at Step 6. People want to draw/paint the wildly imaginitive scenes yet don't even yet understand basic form. So that was just my attempt to open up people's awareness that it's going to be hard to start at teh end of the journey.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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