Lines to Things

Basic Shapes Become Complex Objects


One of the core principles of drawing is to see something complex and break it down into basic shapes, such as circle, square and a triangle, which are much easier to draw. In the next activity we are going to practice breaking complex things down into simple shapes, this is one of the core principles of drawing. The details, such as feathers, eyes and shading, can be added on top of your basic shape drawing but are not really needed, it is recognizable as a bird, as it is.   However, looking at a bird (or any object) and seeing the basic shapes takes practice. Practice this with anything you really wished you could draw. Most people have difficulty with drawing as they start with the details, rather than the larger shapes. If you are struggling, don’t add any details to your drawings just keep working breaking things into simple forms.

Materials: Reference image (or magazines) 8½ x 11” paper, black markers
• Print a reference image on 8½ x 11” paper.
• Try to break the shape down into circles, squares and triangles. These shapes can be stretched and squished to fit, but try to not get any more detailed or complex.
• Take another sheet of paper and practice copying these shapes by eye.
• Add some details and shading. Consider shading with a single black tone, such as we did in the previous activity.  It doesn’t need to get more complex than that.
• Hint, don’t try to draw too quickly, only move your marker at the speed you can control.



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Drawing in Class by Jason Toal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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