Learn To Draw With Online Drawing Lessons!
Learn To Draw Like A Pro With Online Drawing Lessons!
“I enjoyed and learned much. Your course was presented in an excellent pace for a beginner like myself. There are many excellent free drawing/painting videos on the Internet where one can learn the basics. However, your course was presented in a way that paced the student in the order required to draw anything from portraits to landscapes. I now have a road map – a GPS – to improving my skills.
— Mike McDowell
I have completed your course and want to thank you very much. Years ago I did some watercolors and pastels and had some art courses but due to changes in my life I have not done any art for about 10 years. When I was painting I knew the weakness in my work was my drawing skills. Recently I have been longing to try again and this time around I have decided to not take up painting until I considerably improve my drawing skills. When starting out with drawing I was so stiff. I decided to try to your course to see if it could push me in the right direction. I am so glad I did.
Faces and people are what I am most attracted to and most art courses focus on still life and landscapes. I can only take so many vases and flowers! I was attracted to your course because unlike most courses you do not rule out faces as too hard for beginners. It is difficult to work hard on a drawing if you don’t like the subject. As I said, at first everything was so stiff and awkward but I was determined to follow through the steps in your course. Those blessed cubes in your “Shapes” drove me crazy but as I persisted at last I got something that looked like a real drawing! That was some progress. I enjoyed the blind [contour] drawing. Then the action drawings, though initially intimidating, really loosened me up. At first they were awful but I eventually could see some real motion in the figures. I loved all the lessons on proportions and block – although it will take me some time to put it all in practice.
— Patricia Schroeder
Discover the “secrets” to draw anything you see!
You can see the drastic improvement in one student’s abilities as she learned how to “see” like an artist.
Do you love to paint but your compositions don’t look quite right? The problem is most likely your drawing skills. Many people look at a beautiful painting and say, I want to do that.” So they sign up for a painting course but they flounder and get discouraged. That’s because they got the cart before the horse. Drawing and painting are two disciplines that each require their own training and practice. After my course, you will have solid drawing skills that with practice will give your foray into painting a good foundation!
Welcome to the drawing instruction course that will do what other courses you’ve tried maybe haven’t done: give you the tools to draw anything you see with greater ease and accuracy than you’ve ever experienced before!
You DON’T have to be “born with talent” because ANYONE can learn what to do to make any drawing appear sophisticated.
YOU can be an artist!
So many people struggle with confidence and ability when they try to pursue their passion in drawing and painting.
Are you one of them?
Even if you have spent your time, effort, and money to improve your drawing ability, you probably still secretly wonder if you’re just “not meant to be an artist.” You may be disappointed, frustrated, and resigned to drawing pictures that look like a child’s drawings.
Well, your frustrating journey is OVER!
My name is Sarah Parks, and as a portrait artist, I’ve been painting professionally for more than a decade. I’ve developed a 12-lesson online video drawing instruction series that dovetails with my philosophy that your drawing skills need to be in place before any other skills such as painting with color media. I believe ANYONE can learn the techniques and “secrets” to draw anything they see. I have testimonials of dozens of students and customers that attest to the effectiveness of “Drawing Secrets Revealed”! This college-level course is equivalent or superior to any college course you could find to learn how to draw! Testimonial:
“I appreciate all your efforts to make this a superior and well-conducted course! Enjoyed your classes – thanks so much for your instructions and excellent “how-to” demos. It has directly impacted my drawing ability and your encouragement made it fun to learn! Best wishes.”
— Lyn Mazey
“Drawing Secrets Revealed 2.0” is perfect for you if you:
- have always wanted to learn how to draw OR tried learning how to draw but you’re still not satisfied with your skill
- love to paint but your paintings look lopsided or amateurish
- can navigate a simple website, which includes:
- making an online purchase with your credit card or PayPal
- creating a user profile on a website
- logging into a website to access the content you purchased
- playing online videos in your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome)
- downloading PDF files to your computer
- are willing to put in the time and dedication to watch each video and practice all the concepts and activities for each video
- don’t give up when you’re challenged and trust that if you follow the course, you WILL learn to draw beautifully
- want to learn from a professional artist whose work you admire
- want a drawing course that includes all the important concepts you need to learn and puts them all together in an organized, easy-to-grasp format with step-by-step demonstrations
- understand and read English fluently
If all of these describe you, you’re the perfect customer for this course.
(Full, instant, and permanent access to the lesson videos and materials.)
You can also pay by Section and build your way to great drawing skills!
(Read below for lesson descriptions!)
Here is an example of one student’s progress through the entire program with the benefit of critiques for each lesson. I use a photograph of Hollywood actress, Gene Tierney, to show students’ overall progress from the first lesson to the last. (Remember, this progress was accomplished with professional critiques from me after each lesson. Those critiques are included in the price of my “Drawing Secrets Revealed” coaching program. Find out more about this version of my program here.)
“This course directly targets key points that the ‘would be’ artist has weaknesses in. This is the first time I have researched a course that deals with ‘grass root’ fundamentals to get the novice up and going. It is the best course around. The staff are also great to work with. Well done, Sarah!”
— Dr. Stephen MacMahon, Sydney, Australia
(Full, instant, and permanent access to the lesson videos and materials.)
You can also pay by Section and build your way to great drawing skills!
(Read below for lesson descriptions!)
“Sarah has been an excellent resource. Through her help, I have found my calling!”
— Joseph McGlon
Here’s what’s in
“Drawing Secrets Revealed 2.0”
Everything is bigger, better, and brighter with this updated program! Every single lesson was completely renovated from the ground up, and some content was reorganized in a way I felt would help students based on the extensive feedback I’ve received from the dozens and hundreds of students and customers.
I’ve completely redone all the video demonstrations, incorporated new demonstrations that can’t be found anywhere else (including my North Light book, ArtistsNetwork.tv DVDs, or my other Store products). Each lesson will come with a Lesson Workbook that enables you to really absorb and synthesize the concepts I teach you in the video so you can begin to construct your own understanding, drawing on my daughter’s extensive training in education (including a Master’s Degree). This program is different because it combines my training and experience as a professional artist and art instructor with Nicole’s background in education and perspective as a non-artist so I could bring you content that would truly take you from where you are and BUILD you up to where you want to be. Everything I teach you makes perfect sense not just as standalone art concepts but also in the broader context of the foundational understanding of drawing you will have.
This is, hands-down, more thorough and well-thought-out than any typical college art course you will take. I’ve had a number of students say they’ve taken classes and workshops and just haven’t gotten as much out of them as they had hoped, and a big reason is because it’s hard to find a course or a class that provides:
- a trained artist who has honed these skills over decades
- an instructor who will explain exactly what he or she is doing at each step and talk about his/her thought processes.
- a well-developed pedagogy (method of delivering the instruction) that is designed for maximum success based on research and the input of a trained educator.
My daughter, Nicole, and I developed Drawing Secrets Revealed years ago and it’s been a true meeting of the minds. Together, we’ve created a drawing program that is designed for the non-artist and built from the ground up. No huge leaps where all of a sudden, you’re expected to do F when you’ve only learned A, B, and C. We’ve taken years to refine and tweak and improve this program based on my art knowledge and experience and her training as an educator. So it’s important to go through the entire program, which is why I only offer it as a complete package (rather than breaking up the lessons for individual purchase). Temporarily, while we finish up the last few lessons, I’m offering Lessons 1 – 8 as Sections 1 & 2 (as a sort of “Part 1” to the program) so you can start getting the benefit of this terrific program NOW! You’ll be able to purchase Section 3 once you’ve gone through Sections 1 and 2.
Let’s take a look at what each lesson covers:
Lesson 1: Getting Started
This lesson gives you a treasure chest of materials, tips, techniques, and drawing secrets to get your drawing skills started off on a solid foundation.
We start out with some warm-up exercises that I’ve used myself and that my students have said really loosen them up and get them ready to draw. These exercises shake up your preconceived notions and set habits so you can approach drawing with a fresh mindset. I recommend doing these exercises frequently as you continue on your drawing journey.
Then I go into drawing materials. There’s far too much to contain in one lesson, but my objective with this lesson is to give you a great primer on some basic (and some not-so-basic) materials that I find personally helpful, and some outright irreplaceable. I go into detail about the qualities and differences of graphite and charcoal (information that’s actually hard to come by), so you feel much more prepared to go into an art store and know where to go to get the materials you need for your composition. I illustrate the differences in types of charcoal, the different effect you can get, and how different types of paper affect the marks you make.
Then I’ll address pencil grips – a concept that’s so important to master because your pencil grip can be the difference between a successful drawing and one you can’t do anything to adjust or correct.
I share a few drawing techniques and concepts, including tone, the effect of a bevel pencil tip, hatching and cross hatching, and how to avoid banding in your pencil work. Then I finish that off with addressing negative space, a concept which will crop up several times throughout the course.
I close the lesson with my Top Drawing Secrets, those techniques and tips I use every time I draw or paint. These are absolutely invaluable to getting started off right in your drawing journey and if you start incorporating these into your drawing sessions now, you will find your drawings improve by leaps and bounds!
It’s easy to think you can skip a lesson called “getting started” because you’re ready to get right to it! But I am not exaggerating when I say this lesson provides you with such a great foundation that you will benefit from in every single subsequent lesson. I can’t wait to show you all the great materials and techniques I have to share so you can start becoming the artist you’ve always dreamed of being!
Lesson 2: Basic Shapes
In this lesson, you’ll learn about more than just a few shapes! You’ll learn how to quickly draft a subject by just identifying the shapes involved. This is a preparation for Lesson 3 on blocking in your drawing, and enables you to get the whole subject on your paper with just a few lines.
Then we go right into the Elements of Lighting, which is crucial to being able to shade realistically. I explain five main elements of lighting and show how they change on different shapes. This leads right into the section on ellipse shapes which are featured prominently in shadow shapes, especially for rounded objects.
I address the perspective involved in accurately gauging and rendering those elliptical shadow shapes.
I finish off the section on elements of lighting with showing some exceptions to those elements depending on the strength and location of your light source(s). I show lots of examples so you can see for yourself all the ways those few elements of lighting show up in your subject (including in the human figure), which is integral to being able to render your subjects realistically in your drawings.
Then it’s time for the step-by-step demonstrations! I demonstrate drawing the sphere, the cube, the cone, and the cylinder, focusing on how the elements of lighting are showing up in each subject and showing you step-by-step how to go from a blank page to a realistically rendered object.
This practice in drawing and shading basic shapes is essential to initially learning how to recognize the elements of lighting in very simple situations so you can apply that knowledge and practice to more complex subjects. This lesson is a terrific (and necessary) precursor to my Lesson 4 on Values where I go into more detail about tone and shading. Taking your time to master drawing and shading simple basic shapes will enable you to master later lessons with much more ease!
Lesson 3: The Block-In
In this lesson, you’ll learn all about the block-in, starting with an introduction that explains WHY it’s so essential to any drawing or painting.
Then we’ll move on to our first block-in approach, using axis lines, which is great to use when drawing from a photograph. I use two different step-by-step demonstrations to teach this because I feel it’s so important when first learning a proper block-in. I include tips and techniques in this section that are absolutely VITAL to your drawing, restating some of my Top Drawing Secrets from Lesson 1 – Getting Started, and modeling their use in my demonstrations so you can see how to use them in an actual drawing session.
After those two demonstrations showing you how to use the axis lines approach, I address both negative space and changing scale, which is important to understand when blocking in a drawing or painting.
Then I move on to techniques you can use to block in when drawing from life. There are special considerations when drawing from life you don’t need to think about when drawing from a photograph. I address these considerations and offer you a number of techniques to use when drawing from life (which you can also use when drawing from a photograph, incidentally).
All of this is to provide you with a terrific “starter kit” of block-in techniques to apply to your own compositions. I finish off the lesson with a brief look at how you can use the block-in techniques I’ve taught in this lesson on more complex compositions like human figures.
Then I present a brief lesson recap because I cover a LOT in this lesson and repetition is so important to really lock in what you’re learning. I share a practice exercise that gives you a chance to apply what you’ve learned to a fresh composition without the benefit of a step-by-step demonstration to follow along with. This lesson is full of content, and you’ll learn a lot!
Lesson 4: Values
This lesson gives you a great toolkit for shading your drawings by teaching you different shading and drawing techniques, allowing you to experiment with both graphite and charcoal, and working from both grayscale and color subjects.
We’ll talk first about values and what they are, why they’re so tricky, and how you can evaluate them accurately. You’ll learn about a great tool, a value scale, and the benefits of both creating one of your own and buying a professional one from an art store.
Then you’ll practice using a value scale in three different demonstrations that take three of the block-ins you did in “Lesson 3 – The Block-In” that will cover a number of concepts. I’ll demonstrate line variation, lost and found lines, and subtraction to give you an idea of the fun you can have while you shade to get the effect you want.
I’ll pay particular attention to evaluating values in color subjects, since it can be challenging to translate color values when you’re working in grayscale. You’ll get a clear idea of the advantages and disadvantages of working in both graphite and charcoal so you can decide for yourself which medium to use in a particular drawing.
In all the demonstrations, you’ll see the best way to start laying in values to “get you off on the right foot” in accurately gauging the rest of your values throughout your drawing session.
Then I present a brief lesson recap to summarize everything I’ve taught in this lesson. You’ll then have the opportunity to apply everything you’ve learned in this lesson to a practice exercise that allows you to build on the block-in you created in Lesson 3’s practice exercise. You’ve been so diligent in getting through all the previous lessons before getting to this lesson. Now with a solid foundation beneath you, you’re ready for the fun of shading!
Lesson 5: Distances & Proportions
This lesson is an extension of Lesson 3 because these skills are needed for more complex compositions and more precise measurements. It’s intensive, comprehensive, and tremendously effective to create a really terrific block-in. As I’ve said before (and probably will say again), it’s impossible to fully erase mistakes once you begin shading, which is why a solid block-in is so important before moving on to shading.
You will learn how to accurately calculate distances in your composition, both when changing scale and not changing scale.
I’ll be teaching you two different approaches that will enable you to get a terrific likeness, no matter your subject.
These approaches, modeled in several demonstrations in this lesson, run the gamut of possible scenarios:
- changing scale
- not changing scale
- drawing from life
- drawing from a photograph
- drawing single objects, both complex and simple
- drawing multiple objects in a single composition
I’ll show you the tips to making sure all your measurements are consistent and correct – and how to incorporate my Top Drawing Secrets throughout your drawing sessions – so you don’t get to the end of your block-in and find you have to redo it!
I make sure to address negative space in this lesson so you know how to gauge the measurements of those as well.
When changing scale, you’ll learn not only how to take the various measurements of your composition, but how to relate them to each other so that even though your drawing is bigger or smaller than your subject, the ratio and proportions are the same.
These demonstrations pack a lot of punch and will enable you by the end of the lesson to accurately measure and render the measurements of any composition you attempt! They will also prepare you for the composition I’m providing for this lesson’s independent practice which will both challenge you and give you tremendous satisfaction in how well you are able to render it using the skills this lesson teaches you.
This lesson holds a special place in my heart because it’s at the root of my claim that you can draw ANYTHING you see. I promise you that if you follow along and put in the time and practice, you will see your drawings improve immediately!
Lesson 6: Gesture Drawing
In this lesson you’ll be training your eyes to see the essence of any figure. I’ll be showing you two different exercises to teach you what to look for and quickly render that on your paper. Gesture drawing is about speed and freedom.
Remember from Lesson 3 that the first step of a block-in is all about placement and size. You’ll be achieving that first step with figures in a fast and fun way. This lesson will loosen you up, reminding you of the fun and excitement of drawing, and injecting energy and vitality into your work.
I’ll be showing you how to find that energy in both human and animal subjects and how to find it not only in moving figures but even in stationary figures. You’ll get to practice rendering that core, basic movement even in complicated poses.
This lesson is a precursor to the next lesson on drawing the human form, and if you practice these concepts, you’ll find drawing the figures in the next lesson even easier and more fun!
Lesson 7: Drawing the Form
This lesson gives you the opportunity to integrate everything you’ve learned so far in this course! It’s a really exciting chance for you to see how far you’ve come since you began!
You’ll build on what you learned in the last lesson on gesture by learning ways to draw a human figure so its proportions, perspective, and shading are accurate. The last lesson taught you an essential understanding about the vitality of a living subject, but this lesson is where you take that raw energy and hone it down to a realistic figure.
I’ll teach you several approaches for measuring the human figure so no matter what position it’s in – and no matter what its size and shape – you’ll be able to render it on paper. I address the changing proportions of children and demonstrate drawing both a child and an adult.
This lesson will give you a good primer on human anatomy and muscle structure which will give you a basic understanding of how the human body is knit together and where bones and muscle come into play in the form.
I will show you how to see and shade the main planes of the human body which provide the foundation for the subtle, complex realistic shading you expect from a finished figure drawing. I also address drawing certain body parts like hands and feet which often challenge learning artists, and I give you plenty of opportunities to practice getting familiar with those.
There is a LOT of content in this lesson, including reference images and demonstrations, but I don’t want you to get overwhelmed! While I emphasize throughout this course to follow along with all the demonstrations, this particular lesson also includes a lot of practice images that you can do on your own.
So there are three main step-by-step demonstrations you are expected to follow along with, but for your continued growth, I also provide opportunities for tracing and shading to allow you to develop your figure drawing skills further.
Faces and figures are my particular passion, so naturally, I’ve labored over this lesson to give you the most useful, helpful instruction that really builds on previous lessons to allow you to blossom as an artist.
Lesson 8: Drawing the Face
This is one of the most content-packed lessons in this series. That’s probably because faces are my passion! And I’m not alone – a lot of artists are just as fascinated with faces and would love to know how to draw portraits. But even if you’re interested in other subjects, this lesson will give you the tools to do a portrait if you wish.
Often, people who say they aren’t interested in faces feel that way because deep down they are completely overwhelmed by the prospect of capturing a likeness. It’s a frequent habit of the human brain to react with boredom or disinterest when it’s faced with too daunting a task.
But you’ll probably finish this lesson with a big smile on your face, saying, “Wow! I can’t believe how much better I am at portraits!” You’ll feel more capable and empowered to take on any human subject in any given pose and create a portrait you can be proud of.
The thing about capturing a likeness is that it takes really great observation skills, which you’re fine-tuning throughout this entire program. This means that if you can capture a human likeness, you probably have the skills necessary to do well with any subject!
I’ve structured my entire “Drawing Secrets Revealed” program to be built from the ground up, basing all concepts on a solid foundation of previously taught concepts. This lesson is no exception. So I start by teaching you some guidelines that can help you deconstruct any given human head. I show you these guidelines with both frontal and profile views, and I include children’s head proportions as well! But I don’t stop there.
There’s enormous variety in human heads, and it wouldn’t do you much good to show you the proportions of the human head without also showing you, with a number of examples, how they can be adjusted for individual likenesses. An important component of this lesson is to not only teach you what to think, but how to think, so you can take what I teach you and extrapolate it to any subject you draw.
Then I take that information and show you how you would alter those guidelines and features when the head is at an angle. I cover both up-tilted and down-tilted angles, as well as a variety of three-quarter views, so you can feel confident that you can render the features accurately no matter what angle the head is held at.
I extend that basic understanding with instruction on both basic cranial anatomy and planes of the head. I explain in the lesson why each of these components is necessary to being able to render a human head. And again, I include children’s cranial anatomy and head planes as well.
Then I show you a variety of facial features (eyes, mouths, noses, and ears), from different angles and with different expressions so you can really study how these features can change. This continues to refine your observation skills. I don’t just show you these features, though. I also walk you through how to draw each one, pointing out how to take them from a few lines to three-dimensional, realistic drawings.
And that’s not even the full demonstrations! In addition to everything else I teach you in this lesson, I take you through three different portrait demonstrations, one of which teaches you a whole new way to block in a drawing that many professional artists use regularly! These demonstrations incorporate what I’ve taught you so far in this lesson about proportions and angles of the human head, planes of the head, cranial anatomy, and shading realistically. The demonstrations will give you practice in drawing with both graphite and charcoal, and incorporating color with what is known as a “limited palette.”
You’ll get detailed instruction with each demonstration to really hone your observation skills so you can see like an artist with any subject, and get the opportunity to practice those skills as you follow along with me.
That’s plenty of information and instruction, but just for a bonus, I also include a number of portraits I’ve done to show you more examples of successful portraits which I hope will give you inspiration for your own portrait work. You are getting a lot in this lesson because I truly care about your growth as an artist.
Lesson 9: Perspective
Many art instruction courses will place perspective at the beginning. I can understand that – after all, perspective is such a common principle that it makes sense to address that right off.
But you can learn about perspective and still not have a good enough foundation in your drawing skills to implement it effectively in your drawing. I’m all about foundation – I talk about it throughout this course. And perspective can seem like such a complicated area because of all the different types of perspective and the need for more precise measurements than many other drawing principles. I don’t want you to get caught up in obsessively measuring your drawing that you lose the joy and fun a pencil and a piece of paper can bring you!
So now that you’ve established and practiced a range of foundational drawing skills throughout this program, you’re ready to dive into perspective – both understanding it and implementing it.
I’ll teach you the basic observations of perspective that you have observed yourself in real life that you may not be consciously aware of. It’s important to be mindful about these observations because your viewer will be aware of them as well.
Then I’ll teach you the different types of perspective, from one-, two-, and three-point perspective to multiple point, zero-point, and atmospheric perspective. This lesson contains plenty of clear-cut diagrams so you can see at a glance how these types of perspective come into play in real life.
You’ll learn how perspective changes depending on a number of factors, including vantage point, viewing angle, and viewing distance, and you’ll learn how perspective can become distorted.
Then I’ll show you how to render proper perspective in a number of step-by-step demonstrations. You’ll practice several different examples of one-point perspective, from simple one-point perspective to progressively more complex scenarios of equally spaced objects and equally sized objects. I also include a step-by-step demonstration of two-point perspective which is common in many compositions.
My goal is to give you a strong foundation with perspective without overwhelming you or taking the fun of drawing away by chaining you to a ruler the entire time you draw. If you take the time to master the concepts and follow along with the demonstrations in this lesson, you’ll find your observation skills will become noticeably keener so you’ll be able to consciously recognize perspective in any situation and apply it successfully to your drawings.
You can master wonderful drawing techniques like shading, but if your perspective is off in a representational drawing (where your drawing is supposed to look like the subject in real life), your viewer will instantly recognize that disconnect, even if they aren’t consciously aware of it. They’ll just think it doesn’t “look right.” Fortunately, this lesson gives you the tools to ensure your drawing does “look right”!
Lesson 10: Landscapes
If you’ve ever wanted to draw or paint beautiful landscapes and just didn’t know where to start – or how to develop further as a landscape artist – this lesson is for you. Starting from the ground up – like all my lessons – this lesson will give you the tools you’ll need to see landscapes like a true artist and be able to translate what you see onto your paper. This lesson will give you important, valuable information for both landscape drawings and paintings.
I first teach you a terrific framework to be able to understand and interpret just about any landscape. This framework breaks down landscapes into easily recognizable value planes that provide a strong foundation for a realistic drawing or painting. I lay out this framework in clear, organized components, explain how those components are influenced by the type of sky at play, and present common exceptions and observations you’ll notice when using this framework. My entire course is underpinned by my mission to teach you not only what to see, but how to see. So the information I give in this lesson is not a simple set of dogmatic rules but a way of seeing all the amazing variety available in landscape scenes.
I address aerial (or atmospheric) perspective at length to really help you understand how to render depth of field in your landscapes as it appears in real life. You learn the science behind the play of the light as scenes recede in the distance and how that affects both the sky and the land in different ways.
Training your eyes to critically evaluate the sky, the sun, and the clouds in different weather conditions, in different seasons, and at different times of day will have such an impact on your landscapes, so I address that at length in this lesson.
I also teach you how to frame and crop your landscapes because many landscapes can be overwhelming with all of the elements and features that they can make for unfocused, busy compositions. I show you several ways to hone in on your chosen focal point and plan out your drawing before investing all your time and energy drawing or painting a landscape that’s “dead in the water.”
I discuss how to make either graphite or charcoal work in a landscape and approaches that work best for each.
I present demonstrations that show you my step-by-step thought process in drawing landscapes using the concepts I teach in this lesson. It’s so helpful to actually see how to integrate the various concepts and techniques in your landscapes.
More than any other lesson in this series, I include so many reference photos that illustrate every point I make that can both teach you and inspire you in your own artwork! This lesson is a visual smorgasbord of examples and beautiful photography!
By the end of this lesson, you’ll probably be raring to draw or paint a landscape, now that you know how to break down a complex composition like a landscape into manageable components and translate it onto your paper. This lesson was designed to give you all the tools you need to begin exploring landscapes with confidence and enthusiasm and give you a launch pad for further study and practice. Landscapes have such dizzying variety and I want you to have fun with them!
Lesson 11: Surfaces & Textures
When you really consider all the subjects you could draw, the possibilities are dizzying. You may find that what makes a subject so compelling is the surface or texture of the subject that draws your eye. Whether the surface of the object is shiny and glossy, rough, angular, silky, or soft, capturing the particular texture of the object is key in truly communicating the spirit – the feel – of the subject.
With this lesson, you’ll be exploring all kinds of textures and surfaces, from reflective objects to fur to architecture to subjects from nature. While the range is by no means exhaustive, it will nonetheless give you a terrific primer to begin exploring all the different surfaces and textures in the world.
I begin with the fun – and challenging – topic of reflective surfaces. I cover water, metal, and glass, and finish with a fun surprise bonus! My demonstrations will show you how to take a basically shaded block-in to a finished drawing shimmering with reflections.
Then I move on to animals because drawing animals – and their fur – can be so fun! You’ll learn how to render the fur of a cat, a dog, and a horse with different mediums and paper.
Architectural subjects are also important to include in a lesson addressing surfaces and textures because architecture can encompass so many different types. As a sampler in this lesson, you’ll learn about roof tiles, wood slats like on a barn, stone, and windows.
I finish with common natural objects like trees and rocks. Because there’s such a variety of trees in the world, I try to address the main commonalities, to show you how to think about them in general because it would take far more than one lesson to cover everything about trees! You’ll learn how to draw deciduous and conifer trees with their unique shapes and leaf masses. As another natural subject, rocks provide incredible opportunities for you to refine your elements of lighting based on the types of rocks you’re viewing and the nature of the light.
All in all, this lesson is one of the longest in the “Drawing Secrets Revealed” program because I wanted to give you thorough instruction across a good variety of surfaces and textures. Again, there are so many more surfaces and textures out there in the world than I could ever fit into a lesson, but my aim is to get you started with a skill set of drawing techniques that can empower you to feel confident in tackling any subject, no matter the surface or texture.
By the end of this lesson, if you take your time and practice the various topics, your eyes will be opened both to the sheer variety of surfaces and textures ready for your sketchpad and to how possible it is to actually communicate those surfaces and textures through your pencil or charcoal. Although I focus on grayscale mediums to give you further practice to refine your observational skills with respect to values, I do address color in this lesson to help you bridge the gap between grayscale and color mediums for your own artistic ventures.
Lesson 12: Elements of Composition
This lesson on the elements of composition is such a terrific and valuable one to end the series on. That’s because you can have good drawing skills but if your composition is uninteresting, it all goes to waste. In this lesson, I delve into detail about a number of different compositional elements, from focal point to lighting to vantage point to cropping.
You’ll learn the different approaches to arranging a compelling focal point. You’ll also learn how to light your composition (different lighting setups lend themselves to different compositions) and how to approach both natural lighting and artificial lighting.
Along with lighting, I also include a brief section regarding camera use because, let’s face it, you don’t always have the luxury of painting from life and photographs provide a whole other level of compositional possibilities.
Then we move on to compositional theories like Rule of Thirds, Asymmetry and Symmetry, and Rule of Odds with plenty of examples so you can see the different effect each of these concepts has on a composition. You’ll come away with a whole new range of options for any given composition to get it just right!
I teach you ways to create depth in your two-dimensional drawing or painting, as well as how to simplify where needed so your composition isn’t cluttered or unfocused. Negative space, as I’ve shown throughout the course, is another important compositional principle to understand and effectively incorporate.
Leading lines guide your viewers’ eye through the main areas of interest in a drawing or painting. I teach you a variety of leading lines that illustrate all the ways you can arrange or hone a composition.
One of the main motivations for creating good compositions is to inspire emotion in your viewer, and I show you two distinct methods for doing this that can transform your drawing to one that lures the viewer and keeps them interested.
I teach at length about cropping which helps you incorporate a number of the elements of composition you’ll have learned in this lesson. You’ll understand how to determine if a composition works best in color or if it also translates well into grayscale for mediums like graphite and charcoal.
Rather than just showing a number of disparate elements of composition, I show you how to think about these elements so you know how to combine several of them in any given composition. The best drawings and paintings are balanced: not every element of composition will be present in a single drawing, but if you know how to intentionally choose a number of them to create a compelling composition, it will in turn lead (along with all the drawing techniques I’ve taught you in “Drawing Secrets Revealed”) to a great drawing or painting.
By the end of Lesson 12, you will have all the drawing instruction you need to finish a drawing of anything you choose!
I loved the course! I found the videos, and especially the demonstrations invaluable because I could watch them as many times as I needed to understand how to do the drawings. Your support and critiques were fantastic and very helpful. It shows you really care about your course and students, and your encouragement helped me to continue to move forward and improve. The tools [shown in the lessons] were outstanding . . . I just wish that other instructors had introduced me to them before. You totally opened my eyes to possibilities in drawing and art . . . helped me look at the world in a very different way (especially art . . . I now go into museums and galleries with a whole new appreciation of how a drawing or painting looks and feels) — I see light, shadow, and negative space everywhere I turn — and even find I’m staring at people’s faces (and have to be careful about that!) looking at the different features, shading, and shapes, wondering how I would draw it.
Courses like this are life changing . . . and your course has made a major positive impact on my life.
Thanks so much!
— Rich McLafferty
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Try my Coaching Program!
There’s nothing quite like having an instructor right there with you, helping you along with way with insights, tips, and individualized instruction. If “Drawing Secrets Revealed” sounds like just the ticket for you but you’re still a little hesitant about going it alone, consider taking the course with me online. Registration is open now!
The tremendous advantage of taking the course through my coaching program is that an individualized critique of your work for each week’s lesson is included in the price. Students have said time and again how helpful it is to get immediate feedback after completing the practice activities for each lesson to see exactly how they as individual artists can improve. It’s a tremendous value. Find out more (including prices) at my Coaching website, coaching.drawingsecretsrevealed.com! All 12 DSR 2.0 lessons will be divided up into three classes, one per section:
- Section 1 = Lessons 1 – 4
- Section 2 = Lessons 5 – 8
- Section 3 = Lessons 9 – 12
This Coaching program provides you the opportunity to go through each lesson at your own pace and receive your personalized critique for that lesson, and have access to me with any questions or insights you have along the way. I will be right here with you, supporting you personally in your journey! I taught my course with Artists Network University from 2012 to 2015, and I have truly enjoyed how I have been able to personally help and support my students through that coaching format. Not only that, but you’ll have exclusive access to my DSR 2.0 Coaching Facebook page where you will get to share your work both from the course and in your own drawing and painting sessions with other Coaching students, get feedback, ideas, and insights from them, share great art resources with other like-minded individuals, and maintain that terrific sense of community that passionate art students often miss when they’re “done” with a course in school. This feature is an indispensable and valuable aspect of my Coaching program! Just head on over to coaching.drawingsecretsrevealed.com to find out more and register for your first Section of my new DSR 2.0 Coaching Program!
“Sincerity” by Sarah Parks
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