Archive for January, 2011

Using the Basic Shapes.

It seems to me that every time I teach this idea of constructing the figure using basic shapes, there are many who think it too elementary and are anxious to zip ahead to more advanced levels of thinking and drawing.  Yet even after drawing as I have for the last 25-30 years, I find myself benefitting form these basic techniques.  There doesn’t seem to be a drawing problem that I have ever encountered that can’t be solved by resorting to the basic shapes.

Just as the veteran concert musician never outgrows the basic rudimentary scales and warm-up exercises, the artist never outgrows the need for these rudiments.  The more time we spend with them, the more they become second nature.  The more they become part of our reflexive nature, the more we can draw with facility.

This is the kind of stuff that should fill your sketchbooks.

Practice and practice. The possibilities are endless.

Download these pages and copy them (by drawing, not xerox).

When you're sick of copying them, make up your own.

You can modify the figure's proportions to anything you'd like. Short, tall, skinny, fat, young, old.

Some may turn out better than others, but always try to do better the net time.

Again, this is what your sketchbooks should be FILLED with!

Study this.

I can assure you of one thing.  If by the fifth or sixth week you are still struggling to draw a good looking figure, I will assign you to copy these drawings 400 times.  I have never had a student fail to improve with that kind of drilling.  Do yourself a favor and start doing it now.  You’ll see the progress.

Drawing for Animation, Basic Shapes

The first thing we will practice is the idea of constructing the figure from basic shapes.  This begins with the basic shapes.

The Circle, the Square, and the Triangle are our basic shapes.

From a design standpoint we must realize that we can create many complex pictures by simply combining these basic shapes.  They start out very basic, but become complex and varied as we assemble them together.

Very rough, very quick, and very easy. Simply combine basic shapes.

We can also construct the human form.

The Basic Shape Figure, or mannequin. As simple as this is, it is far better than the stick figure.

Stick figure man.

Although this is very basic, we must not get impatient.  WE must practice these basic shapes so that we improve our fine motor skills and develop our eye.  Use these as exercises to warm up.  In fact, a good exercise is to draw successive shapes that overlap each other and connect to form secondary shapes.  Just keep adding more and more.  Practice the motion, practice in different sizes and practice seeing them as 3 dimensional forms.

Warm up and practice using one shape at a time and fill the page. See what you can come up with.

Once we have the basic shapes down we need to start thinking about them as FORMS, or shapes that have three dimensions.  Of course, our drawings will always be two-dimensional, but we want to learn how to make them look as if they were three-dimensional.

Our basic shapes become FOUR basic FORMS. CUBE, SPHERE, CONE, and CYLINDER.


Two new classes have begun as of January 5th.  Drawing for Animation, ART 2250, and Drawing for Illustration, ART 2210.  I will post material for both classes here at this site.  In class I will give directions to specific posts that pertain to each class, but feel free to browse through any of the postings at will.

The two classes will cover some material that is similar, if not identical, but each has its own focus.

Go to Top