5 more drawing exercises

on the difference between seeing and knowing

Ralph Ammer
3 min readMay 2, 2018

The following exercises are a bit more advanced than the ones in the “Quick beginner’s guide to drawing”, and I hope you find them equally fun!

We are going to focus on different aspects of observation to strengthen our visual thinking.

Exercise 1: Negative Space — see what is NOT there

Draw the spaces in between things!

See the “hole” in the handle of your mug? Those weird shapes between your fingers? Look around and find empty spaces in between things. Simply collect and arrange them on your paper anywhere you like.

We tend to see — and draw — what we already know. There’s a car, there’s a house, this is my cat, etc. Our effort to recognise things makes us blind to their shapes. When we focus on what is between the objects we trick our perception to actually see the shape of the objects.

Tip: Type designers know about the importance of negative space. Pay attention to the spaces between the letters to see the characteristics of a typeface!

Exercise 2: Dynamic drawing— see movements

Draw the dynamics of something static!

In this exercise we capture the movements of the things in a quick line drawing:

The contour drawing on the left is about “What is there?”, the dynamic drawing on the right is about “What is it doing?”.

When you draw people — even while they are keeping still —it is of particular importance to give the viewers a sense of movement, of the forces that affect the body.

To see and draw the characteristic movements within a scene will make your drawings come to life. They are the melody of the picture.

Tip: Execute the dynamic drawings quickly but not carelessly! They are short bursts of utmost concentration.

Note: Some refer to these kinds of drawings as “gesture drawings”. I prefer the term “dynamic” because this is all about the dynamics of the subject.

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Ralph Ammer

I love to draw and write about art, design, and the rest. http://ralphammer.com Munich, Germany