- A focal point. This is the center of interest, the one thing in your drawing that makes someone look.
- Contrast. Light and dark values. These create shapes, forms, and shadows.
- Lines. Line guide the person who's looking at your picture to look at other sections. No, we don't mean arrows. Let's use the bowl of fruit as an example again. The lines of the banana lead someone's eyes up and to the left to where a glass of orange juice sits beside the bowl. The line of your subjects or objects should direct viewers to other areas of your drawing. Just remember we're talking about natural lines, not directional lines.
- Negative space. This is space that's not taken up by your focal point or an important subject.
- Overlapping. If you're drawing a still life of a bowl of fruit, you don't want the fruit lined up side by side. You want them to overlap or layer. Overlapping adds depth. It also adds unity.
- Proportion. You don't want a huge banana and an orange the size of a grape. You need to give enough space to the different aspects of your drawing.
How to Create a Focal Point
The focal point is the part of your drawing that attracts the most attention. Perhaps it's the most prominent subject in your drawing, or maybe it's the most interesting and all other things around it just lend to the focal point. Whichever the case may be, creating a focal point in your compositions is critical to your drawing. A strong composition lends to a captivating, interesting drawing. If you don't have a focal point, the drawing is less interesting and less likely to be complimented by others -- no matter how good of an artist you are.
Below we've listed some methods you can use to emphasize your focal point. You may be able to create focal points on your own without a problem, or you may find this information enlightening and helpful.
- The focal point should never be the center of your composition. Always place it off center. The reason is it demands full attention. People look at that and don't see anything else. Instead, place it off center. Everyone's line of vision automatically goes to the center of an image first, so let your viewers' vision stray over to your focal point. That way, they see your whole drawing and feel the full impact.
- Use secondary focal points. Secondary focal points are less interesting subjects that you put near your focal point to draw attention to it.
- Let objects within your drawing "point" to your focal point.
- Use stronger contrast and more detail on your focal point than on other objects and subjects. You want it to stand out.
Balancing Subjects and Objects
Make sure you balance the objects in your drawing. If all your subjects in a drawing are the same size, then it works out perfectly. But if they're not, you could have a drawing that looks lopsided and out of balance.
An object, subject, or vertical mass on one side of the drawing with an open area on the other side. It also has a horizontal base, which forms the "L." Your focal point can the object on the left hand side, or it can be in the open space. The choice is yours.
The first thing you want to do when drawing a photograph is to study it. There are things you don't see when you just glance at a photo that you'll see when you study it. Notice the different objects, the values, the sizes of the objects and the shapes made by the values.
Next, make a copy of the photograph if it's something you want to keep. Once you have a copy, draw grid lines on the photograph. If the photo has a lot of detail, use small squares. If there's not a lot of detail, use larger squares. This will help you to place everything in the right spot, and it will make it a lot easier to draw everything you see. It won't be so overwhelming.
Here are some more tips:
- Draw a grid on your drawing paper too.
- If you want your drawing to be larger than the photo, make sure the grid you draw on your paper is proportionately larger than the grid squares on the photo.
- Draw the grid lines on your paper lightly so you can erase them later.
- Draw one square at a time. Draw what you see in a square of the photograph onto the corresponding grid on your paper.
- Don't be afraid to "add" things to photographs to make them more interesting. Add a hat to a person. Put a worm in a tomato.
Pick a photograph that you would like to draw. Create a grid on it, then draw a grid on your paper that's proportionate. You can even go ahead and draw the picture if you want.
Perhaps as you get better at drawing, other people will ask you to put their memories down on paper too. Police sketch artists do this every day and draw pictures of suspects using other people's memories.
Your sensory information is fed to you from your five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Of all these senses, seeing provides the strongest sensory information, and it will be the sensory information that you use the most to draw things that you see in your mind. It stands to reason you can't draw something you've never seen. Even if you've only dreamt about a cute little puppy, you've still seen it. If you hadn't seen it, you can't draw it accurately.
Make sure you're memorizing your object at eye level because it will be easier to draw. Remember, you're going to have to draw perspective. It's much easier to add perspective to things at eye level, especially when you're not going to have the object in front of you to reference as you draw. True, it will be in your mind, but because it's in your mind the perspective will be harder to replicate if it's not at eye level.
The ideal viewing distance is just far enough away that you can see the entire object or subject, but close enough that you can see details. The composition that you select will also determine how close or far away you need to be from the subject.
Verbal memories are when you remember an object with words. You can give a very detailed, concise verbal description, and it's what provides you with a visual image. Perhaps you can describe a scene from a vacation, and see it in your mind.
Visual memories are those that you can see in your mind. These types of memories will probably be the easiest for you to draw, but everyone's different.
Think about an object that you see every day in your home, then attempt to draw it from memory.
Ask a friend or family member to describe a person or animal to you. Have them give you all the details about it. Draw it as they tell you about it. You can even ask questions to guide their memory along. Start out with the overall shape of the subject, then add details.
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