Identifying basic shapes and accurately rendering their shape and shadows is absolutely crucial to drawing realistically. So many developing artists try to leapfrog this concept because it seems so basic and elementary, but then they find their compositions seem crooked, lopsided, too fat or too narrow, or just wrong. It is for this reason I have placed my Basic Shapes lesson early on in my 12-part Drawing Secrets Revealed course.
A student of mine sent me a drawing she did of a composition where she needed to identify the basic shapes. The images are below and my critique is below that. The first image is the photograph she worked from, the second is her rendering, and the third is my corrections in red. The final image is the basic shapes diagram the student used to work from.
Excellent work on the basic shapes diagram. Your shading is beautiful and you demonstrate good drawing skills and a good sense of proportions and values. This was a challenging exercise so you show a lot of talent.
The only thing I might suggest is that perhaps your core values on the shapes could be a little darker. The core value is the part of the rounded object that is farthest away from either the strong light source on the right or any reflected lights coming from the table surface or from other light objects. So that area is the darkest and is what makes an object look curved or rounded.
If you will check the diagram, you will notice the core value on the cone shape coming from the top is pretty dark; in fact it blurs with the background there so you can’t even see a line. The top cone shape is as dark in value as the shadow the cone casts on the table. Then as it travels down the cone it gradually starts to catch more reflected light coming from the table so lighten it gradually as you get closer to the table. Squinting will help you see this. Keep checking the original diagram to match your values.
The diagram shows the ball also having a darker core value as does the cylinder. If you will darken these core shapes a little more, your shapes will take on a more realistic three-dimensionality. Even the larger cube on it’s left side has a darker shadow on it.
Your background looks good and dark, which is why all the rest of your values are accurate. Just darken the core values and it will be perfect. Good job! Can’t wait to see more of your work.
Here is what a student of mine had to say about my Basic Shapes lesson:
I really appreciated the use of shapes in order to draw a dog. It was my first attempt since childhood! I surprised myself! How much easier it was to draw with that method in mind! I’m really enjoying the course because it requires me to take the time out of my life for art. As you stated, the more one practices, the better one becomes.
— Linda, Section 1
Professional critiques are so useful in improving your drawing skills. Read what one of my students wrote about the critiques I provided for her:
“Thank you so much for your course. The teaching and encouragement was great. I appreciated being able to download and print the lesson materials. I’m sure I will refer to my binders with these lessons in weeks to come. Watching the videos were very helpful in understanding the lesson. Your encouraging critiques were always inspiring and helped me continue even when I didn’t think I had done very well. I always want to do it better. You encouraged me to keep trying. I don’t know what you could do to improve this course. I learned well from your teaching style, and the content was excellent, especially the way each lesson built on the previous one. Thanks again for your excellent teaching.
— Marilyn Dueck