Drawing Is Like Bodybuilding...

Observational sketch process, Dinosaur Resource Center, Col-erase and Sharpie
...if you don't work it, it goes flabby.

I don't believe that you have to be a born artist to draw well.  Through college, I watched my own mundane doodles turn into decent drawings and I watched friends who couldn't draw to save their lives grow into classical-style drawers. Their growth was tremendous and put to rest the old argument "I don't draw because I wasn't born an artist."  The secrete is not in natural-born talent (although it can make it easier) but in practice. And like anything, if you don't practice regularly, your skills become flabby.

It's been a little while since I've had a semester with a drawing class (which was a guaranteed way of getting a minimum six hours every week of fast-paced observation drawing), so this weekend I spent some time at the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, to see how flabby my drawing muscles had become. I was surprised that I managed to pull some decent drawings, but I was slow. I used to create sketches like the Tylosaurus in 15 minutes, 20 minutes tops, and instead it took me about an hour.  I'll be spending the rest of my summer speed sketching and getting those muscles back in shape!

Not bad, but too slow!
My tip to visual communications majors is to bust out those pencils and sketchbooks and practice. You don't have to draw classically, but the more you draw (whatever subject or style), the better your mark-making and speed. Translation? You can concept posters, logos and more in a fraction of the time if you are comfortable with drawing. This summer, try drawing three things: photo copies, from your imagination, and from observation. Working from observation is the best way to learn perspective, 3D rendering and lighting. Imagination drawing can be done anywhere and will keep you in practice and copying from photos will let you draw subjects you might not have access to otherwise. They all have their merits, so use all three.

It doesn't hurt for other majors like mass communications students to learn a little drawing because when you are paired with a graphic designer for a promotional project, you can share your ideas in drawings. Graphic designers love visually-inclined clients, so you'll score a few brownie points.

All my sketches start with basic proportions and sighting (see the box marks?).

Then I refine the sketch and block in the main values.

During this drawing outing I tried a cloisonne style with the Sharpie. It makes the sketch a little graphic with sharper edges.


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