Toward a Foolproof Drawing Lesson (1.0)

To learn to draw, one must consider only two things, shape and color. Shape is perceived form. For example, an orange generally has a round shape. Color also gives a perception of form and one might say that every shape has a color, making shape more basic than color.

Line is often regarded as a primary component of drawing, but line only serves to delineate shape and, so, can be reduced to a secondary component, that of a shape’s boundary.

Tone is another component often associated with drawing, but this can also be considered secondary to color, since tone is defined as the perceived quality of color, whether dark or light, warm or cool, and implies kinds of differentiation between color.

To draw an object is to recreate its shapes and colors, for simplicity, on a flat surface. This entails an accurate representation of these facets.


Now, the easiest way to solve a problem is usually to break it down into smaller and more easily understandable parts. With drawing, this means first drawing a light grid. Start with a 3x3 grid for simplicity.

Once a grid is drawn, look at the object being drawn and affix its placement in space. Notice and remember its position relative to its environment. Imagine the same grid in front of you.


Start with the object’s biggest shapes. This makes it easier to capture perspective. Starting in one section of the grid, lightly draw the biggest shape first, followed by smaller ones. Each time you draw a shape, notice its position relative to other shapes, either within the object or outside of it. All shapes in space are positioned relative to others. This is key to drawing accurate perspective.

Don’t worry about understanding what each shape is. That doesn’t matter. You can draw a puddle just as accurately as a poodle. It’s all about shapes.


Once enough lines have been drawn to cover the drawing surface, start with the darkest color. If drawing in grayscale, start with the darkest tone.

As with line, fill in a section of color, always paying attention to its relative position in space. To create soft gradations, you can lighten and soften the edges. Fill in the darkest shapes or areas of shapes.

Then, color the next darkest shapes or areas. Do this until you have used your lightest color.

At this point, the drawing can be considered either finished or partially so, depending on how much detail you wish to include. To add more detail, start with the lightest shapes and look for slightly darker shapes within. Color in those.

And you’re done! If this is your first drawing, it might not look very much like what you see. You might draw a face with one eye bigger than the other or a coffee cup with a tiny handle. But each time you practice, you will improve, so don’t give up!

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