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Learn to Draw
Whatever You Want

You want to learn to draw, but don't know where to start? Well look no further!

This tutorial will show you that just by using a few simple shapes that anyone can manage, you can learn to draw literally anything you want to, with increasing confidence and enjoyment. Every object you look at around you - a house, animal, a face, boat, mountain, tree and so on can easily be constructed by using one or a combination of just five basic shapes. All you need is a square, circle, triangle, oblong and oval - just like these below :

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Learn to Draw - the 5 basic shapesLearn to Draw - the 5 Basic Shapes

Now read on to see how easy it is to learn to draw using these shapes to start you off ...

Learn to Draw Whatever You Want - Step 1

The beauty of this method of learning how to draw is that you choose the shape or shapes.

You might see a drawing of a flower starting off as an oval. Someone else learning how to draw could see the same flower as a circle. It doesn't matter. It's what works for you that's important.

On a piece of scrap paper, lightly and quickly sketch these shapes a few times.

Allow yourself only about 5 or 10 seconds at most to sketch each shape. Do different sizes and proportions of each one.

The shapes don't have to be exact. You are only using them as guidelines so your circles can be less than perfect, your squares not quite square.

Just concentrate on doing them quickly and lightly. You may need to go over the circle two or three times before it looks right to you. Fine!

After a little practice you'll be amazed at how confident your later efforts will be compared to your first attempts.

Let these basic shapes be your slave not your master! Don't forget that oblongs and ovals can be longer or fatter than those shown, whilst triangles can be stretched in several directions.

But how do you learn to draw more complex objects? Easy.

Break them down into several of the basic shapes. Draw these in lightly at first to get the general outline of what you want.

Below I've created a bird from a few triangles, ovals and circles. You can see it's just a rough little sketch and I've made no attempt to tidy the image up or otherwise 'sanitise' for the web page.

Learn to draw a bird - step 1

I want you to see that all these practice sketches are less than perfect because that's what they are - practice!

It's tempting for me to clean up these lines - maybe even go over them in ink and get rid of all the unwanted marks so it looks somehow more 'professional' to the viewer.

However, I hope that by seeing my 'warts'n all' sketches it'll inspire you to learn to draw.

Trust me, it's OK to have all those little smudges and roughly drawn guidelines to start with. I promise you'll get better and more confident the more you practice.

Then you can think about producing a tidier, more refined image. As it should be. However, by doing these rough practice sketches without constraints, you'll learn to draw the finished piece so much better.

That's how you learn!

What using these basic shapes does is show you at once if you've got the overall proportions correct.

If you're not happy, it's a simple process to adjust the size and outline of one or more of the shapes until it looks right.

What often happens is that people who are trying to learn how  to draw spend loads of time laboriously drawing part of the object in minute detail.

Then they find that it becomes progressively less like what they intended so frustration and fatigue sets in.

A typical problem is that they're going OK then realise that they've not allowed enough room for the completed image to fit on their paper.

They don't want to start again, so they try and 'manipulate' the rest of the picture into the remaining space on the paper.

It never works ...

Been there, done that! Loads!

The only way to avoid this is to get your  broad shapes down on the paper to start with so you know everything fits!

Getting the main shapes down quickly also means you save time and retain your enthusiasm as you see what you're drawing start to look like how you imagine it should do.

Learn to draw a bird - step 2

The whole thing including the more detailed bird sketch below took me about two minutes - but then I've had a bit of practice!

You could easily do this in under ten minutes.

In fact, set yourself a time limit. You'll be amazed how your drawing improves under pressure!

The clock ticking away forces you to avoid fiddling and trying to get things absolutely perfect. (Perfection rarely happens anyway).

Instead, the brain instinctively picks out the important lines that give you the broad shape.

Try it. It's a great way to learn to draw - and quick too...!


Learn to Draw Whatever You Want - Step 2

Next we have a simple wine bottle and glass.

If you look carefully at the lines on the basic 'construction' sketch, you'll just be able to see some which were initially drawn in the wrong place.

I've partially erased them but left enough to show how easy it is to adjust the image this way 'till you're satisfied with it.

Learn to draw a bottle and glass - step 1

Notice that the bottom half of the circle used for the rounded top section of the bottle has been discarded in the developed drawing.

Also note that it is quite easy to round off the flat base of  the bottle in the final drawing as well as the bottle label helping to promote a rounder, more 3D effect.

By the way, don't throw these first efforts away when you've finished them. In the tutorial on how to draw solid, three-dimensional objects, you'll learn to use these examples incorporating light and shade.

At this stage, I'm keeping things simple for you, to build your confidence in getting familiar objects looking right.

You'll therefore be able to progress very easily from sketching a flat simple, framework and learn to draw great-looking three-dimensional items that really come to life with highlights and shadows!

Learn to draw a bottle and glass - step 2

Right! Let's move on to a subject many students avoid at all costs!

People doing learn to draw courses invariably panic when first asked to do a sketch of an animal - especially a four-legged one!

The head ends up as big as the body - which has been drawn too small anyway and they can never get all four legs the same  length or width.

Oh yes! And they can't fit them in anyway because they've drawn the body too close to the bottom of the paper ...

Or, having drawn in detail one bit of the animal to a standard they're happy with, they then rub out the rest and then try to marry up the new bits up with what's left.

Result - disaster, frustration and a lot of wasted time and effort.


How To Draw Anything You Want -Step 3

Let's take the slightly complex outline of a cow using the basic shapes ...

Yet see how it already looks in proportion with just the basic shapes. All we have used is an oblong and a series of triangles, which give the cow its distinctive squat, angular appearance.

Learn to draw a cow - step 1

It's now not too difficult to round off some of these construction lines to create a more realistic beast as below.

Learn to Draw Shapes - Cow Stage 2

It's because you learn to draw it armed with the confidence that you've got the basic shape right at the outset.

And look how easy it is to draw the head in a different position, just by moving some triangles around!

Summary

Now, having practised these simple exercises, don't worry if it takes several attempts before you start to get it right.

That's quite normal.

However, you'll learn to draw in a different way now.

More and more, you'll see subjects as one or more simple shapes instead of a jumble of lines and colors that put you off before you start.

Look at the two images below. This is a painting I did a while back of a typical English village cricket scene.

Now if you're starting to learn to draw, where would you begin on the outlines for this? Never mind having to paint it as well!

Well, using the system I've just gone through, it's a lot easier than you might think.

In the second image I've marked in red some basic shapes that replicate some of the elements in the picture. I haven't marked everything otherwise it would get too confusing.

You can see that they're not a perfect match but they don't need to be - they're a guideline, not a straitjacket!

Notice how you can have triangular clouds and square trees if you want... and oblong lakes! You choose the shapes..

Learn to draw by putting shapes into a picture - step 2

You can of course copy these pictures I've done or pick up a magazine or have a look at any photo.

Better still, look at some object around you - anything at all. Decide which of the basic shapes would best fit it.

By doing this you're starting a process that will really help you learn to draw - that of observation.

The more you practise this the more your brain will store up these images for you to pull out and sketch in the future.

So go on. Get your pencil and paper and start right now!


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