Tag Archives: Drawing Techniques

How to draw skulls revealed and uncomplicated.

Learn how to draw skulls by first thinking about the caricaturists of a human skull, it is composed of bone that forms the overall shape and because of this it is an off white color making it great for practicing your shading and providing a good subject matter to encourage you to make more use of the paper tone. Even if you use colored paper with highlights to emphasize the lightest tones, your skull drawings will still look good, giving you plenty of practice with your drawing techniques and skills. Common features to a skull are the brain cavity with a nice curved area, eye sockets, nose cavity, jaw and teeth.  All of these can be exaggerated as features to easily create the skulls of monsters or sinister creatures but still recognizable as skulls because they have strong characteristics and features that are easily recognizable.

My advice for you would be to draw a human skull a few times so as to understand what a human skull looks like and how it is drawn but I don’t expect you to have one of your own so I have provided a few examples for you to draw if you want to use them. I would advise that you trace them first so you do not have to do the outline construction this will make it easier. If you want to learn more on the subject of tracing and its benefits then you could join my ezine and down load a free report on the right hand side of this page. When you have a few outlines drawn you can decide on which one you would like to continue by doing the shading on it.

How To Draw Skulls Three Quarter View
A skull example for how to draw skulls,

This will help you to see more detail in the subject matter, informing you as to how the shapes fit together and how the shadows help to create a more three dimensional shape to your skull drawings or any drawing.

It will also be good practice for helping you to better understand how to draw skulls of all kinds’ not just human skulls because it will put accurate information into your head to start with about skull drawings .

The video below will help you by showing you how I draw; it is always good to watch how others draw.

I suggest that after doing this you should try to draw some skulls free hand from memory.

The best way to draw skulls is to start off drawing real skulls then after drawing a few you will have the information written into your brain so as to be more able to draw them from memory. The good thing about learning how to draw skulls is s is that they are not like faces and do not have to look like a particular person in fact you can be quite creative with them because of this. The best way to start off is with the main outline which depending on which angle you are looking at is a circular shape with a rectangular bottom where the jaw would be when looking from the front.

How To Draw Skulls Fron tView
How To Draw Skulls A Front View Example To Use As An Information Source To Help You.

When looking from the side it would be an oval shape lying horizontally with a rectangular shape jutting off the front where the jaw would be again.

How To Draw Skulls Side View Profile To Help And Inform You About What Your Drawing.

From this basic shape you can then start putting in the detail, if you do these out line drawings with light pencil marks they can more easily be covered up as you put more detail into your drawing building it up as you go along. My best advice would be to use photographs to get your information and you can find many of these online but just in case you’re not able find any then you can use these that’s why they are here the help you learn how to draw skulls and you will find plenty of interesting angles that can be useful if wanting to add some other adornments like hats or head dress to you skull drawings when learning how to draw skulls.

Real Dead MF

Skulls are good for drawing as they are quite easy, once you have drawn a few, you can get a buzz out of drawing them because they look good without great effort, they can be used for horror art, fantasy art, tattoos or cartoons. They can be combined with many other elements of creature and character designs, they are good for adding drama as a visual dynamic, I enjoy drawing skulls and have drawn many.

Zeitgeist-spirit-of-the-times-pencil-drawing

Now you should try drawing some more skulls free hand by making simple line drawings of them trying out different versions quickly, try exaggerating features like cheek bones or teeth, try having some teeth missing. You could make one into a pirate skull by giving it an eye patch and a bandanna or an Indian with a head dress or a cowboy with a Stetson, the possibilities are endless. How to draw skulls will help you to make some great skull drawings but you should at the very least start by drawing your skull drawings from the photographs of real skulls.
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Easy pencil drawings.

This will explain about how to do easy pencil drawings.

Easy pencil drawings are achievable, if you break it down, into the two main components, of making a good pencil drawing, these are the construction or outline and the shading.

Most people find shading easier and more relaxing, than constructional or outline drawing but the problem is, you can’t do the shading unless, you have done the outline first. This makes drawing difficult, for most people and so they never get to enjoy, doing the shading because they give up, before they have completed the outline, and it’s a pity.

Easy pencil drawings, can be achieved, it dose not have to be difficult because you can trace outlines and get them right every time.

People will say, that tracings are no good, as drawings because they are uninteresting, if they are just tracings and boring. I will agree with this but if you are, then going to complete the drawing, by doing the shading, then this is different, very different. For a start, by learning how to do easy pencil drawings, you will enjoy, your drawing more. You will find it easier, you will find it more relaxing, you will create better drawings, you will not take as long, in doing it, plus you will still learn about construction and proportional representation, the easy way.

If you learn to draw, by doing easy pencil drawings, in this way, you will also improve, in all those more difficult areas, of construction drawing, that hamper everyone’s progress, when they try to draw freehand, by sight drawing, which is drawing, by just looking. Sight drawing is the most difficult way to draw, of all drawing techniques, so it is little wonder, most people say they can’t draw because everybody try’s to draw, by sight drawing, when they start out, it’s not a good idea really. The fact is that nobody draws, by just looking, even when sight drawing. Sight drawing is just, a more difficult way of tracing, all drawing is done by measuring, comparing and struggling to get it right, making mistakes, and trying to hide them or erasing them, making your drawings and pictures messy. Learn to draw by doing easy pencil drawings and you will find that, the results turn out to be much better and a lot less messy.

Let me tell you a fact, I used to spend hours, constructing outline drawings, of portraits for people and make a right mess, most of the time. Then I used to trace that drawing, to get the outline, onto a clean drawing area, to do my final drawing, I had no choice because people want copies of photographs, not drawings, that look like drawing, nowadays. Today people want, photo realistic drawings, they want them to look like photographs, not drawings and they do not want, to sit for you, either.

So I stopped doing it the hard way and started doing easy pencil drawings. I traced the outlines from photographs to save myself at least half of the work. I was told it was not good to do this but that was what I was doing anyway but taking twice as long. I was told, my other drawing skills, would diminish and I would become less able to draw, without tracing but do you know what, it is not true because it is more enjoyable, it is so much better but I still become aware, of important learning.

Below you will find a video, of me drawing Kurt Cobain, who was once the lead singer and guitarist, with the Grunge Rock band, Nirvana. Please notice that I am not tracing and it is here, just to prove, that tracing does not take away, from your ability to draw. Perhaps I am unique and it only works for me but I don’t think so, I am just like anybody else, who likes drawing, who got good at it, through finding ways to do so. I am sure you will also by doing easy pencil drawings.

The truth is this, I got better, much better because I enjoyed it, so much more, doing easy pencil drawings but I still became aware, of the important learning, as well.

A picture of a car, a frog and a girl.
Louie, found on the Stumble Upon, website and lightly traced from my monitor screen.

Do you know what, you need to do easy pencil drawings first, then as you get better, you can develop, the other ways, that improve your sight drawing, when you understand it better.

easy pencil drawings a progresive drawing of a frog.
Easy pencil drawings, progressive drawings of a frog, tracing taken, from an image found online, to show you, how to draw easy.

What are drawing techniques?

Drawing techniques, are the manor in which procedures and methods are applied, for accomplishing a desired result, everything we do, when making a drawing, is usually created by using, different drawing techniques. The different marks we make, when drawing pictures, is also part of our technique and the different combination’s, of marks we use, so already you can see that technique, is actually not one but different combination’s, of contributing factors.

There are many different techniques, for using, the many different tools, available to us, as artists, with some being conventional and others, being less conventional.

The manor in which we, use the tools available to us, eventually gives our drawings a look and feel that is unique, to us as artists because of the combined but differing techniques, we use to execute these drawing skills.

For example, there are many different ways, to hold a pencil and the way in which you hold, a pencil, has a direct influence upon your technique, when using it. I see many tutorials, that are aimed at teaching people how to draw, that insist on telling the learner, how to hold a pencil when practicing, these different techniques, giving them the idea, that the pencil, has to be held in this way or that.

The problem with doing this is, if everyone, did everything in exactly the same way, then it is very likely, they will all produce drawings, that would not necessarily be exactly the same but very similar and without variety.

The best way to hold a pencil, is the way that feels best to you.

Are drawing techniques important?

It seems, that those who experiment with using these tools, in different or less conventional ways, end up producing work that is fresh and unique, giving it an edge on other, similar work.

This is not to say, that using tools in the conventional way, does not produce good work or that everyone, has to use these tools in less conventional ways, to be different but that the best way, to do anything, is the way you feel most comfortable doing it.

By all means, experiment with every drawing technique, you can possibly think of or learn, so as to at least have, the ability at your finger tips because of the importance, of the next point.

The point is this; if you practice your drawing skills often, then you will also develop your own drawing techniques and styles, that will eventually make, your overall style unique to you.

Picture of a hand of hand showing bone structure in some detail.
Picture of a hand showing bone structure in some detail, Phalanges, Metacarpals and Carpals, that make up the different bones in the hand, and the wrist.

Yorkshire Terrier Hatching Drawing

Outline drawing.

In the process of drawing images, we often start out with a basic outline drawing, as the foundation, for learning where everything else goes, in relation to the outline and each other. The problem I find with many beginners and well practiced people alike, is they do not always, understand outlines very well, also as in the case of beginners, they do not understand at all, in many instances.

The easiest way to draw and understand outlines, is by using tracing methods of drawing because when you trace an image, you can only, realistically make an outline, as tracing doesn’t lend it’s self to shading. Tracing also gives you a better understanding, of how pictures work, especially when trying to understand, construction drawing.

Wheel images showing perspective distortion.
Car wheel images showing distortion when seen in perspective.
Wheel images showing perspective distortion line drawing.
Car wheel images showing perspective distortion in a line drawing format.

Let me explain, by using a car wheel as an example, we all know that wheels are round but they are only round, when we look at them directly face on, because when we turn them, at an angle, they become, more and more oval, in shape.

The correct term to call this oval shape, is an ellipse and is something many people have problems with, when trying to draw them accurately, to find out more about this, please take look at single point perspective and two point perspective, you will find the both helpful.

Get yourself some pictures that you might like to draw and trace them, so as to be able, to take a look at these images, as only line drawings, you will notice when tracing these outlines, that they are most often, not as you might have thought they are.

Doing this, will help you to understand, that shapes are not often, the shapes we think we see and that wheels, are most often not circular but oval, along with many other shapes we see but actually, only think we see. This is because our brains tell us that wheels are round or that a shape is this shape or that shape, when in actual fact, many shapes are not what we think they are because our brains are telling us what we see, rather than actually, seeing what we see.

To find cool drawings.

Cool drawings are not as easy to find, as you might think because your version of cool, is almost certainly not my version of what is cool, anymore than the next person because it is a matter of taste and you might find that, some of the people can be pleased, some of the time but not all of them, all of the time, labels such as cool are subjective, so they are as individual as the individuals themselves.

I have already established, that it is highly unlikely that, what I find cool, you will also but I can still help you find cool pictures, by giving you some ideas about the ways that I use.

If I know what I am looking for I do searches on Google Images, this is the quickest way I know for finding a picture or drawing, I am looking for because in case you did not know, you can search using key words, the same way you do when you are searching for anything else online, there is one down side to this and that is, although it is much easier nowadays, than it would have been ten years ago, it is still time consuming and laborious. Sometimes you have to literally look through hundreds and hundreds of them, because there are so many.

The pretty pink pain killer image.

You can also do searches on other sites, like Flickr or Flixya but there are too many photo management sites to mention them all, these sites store millions of indexed images, belonging to other people, pictures they have submitted. Some of these types of sites, actually pay you a small fee if others, want to use the ones that you have submitted. They all have rules about this but these are usually quite liberal and open minded, yet still quite tasteful or respectable because they have to try to please all.

One of the best ways to find cool drawings or pictures, that I especially like because of the way it works is a free online tool, called Stumble Upon.

It works like this, you join Stumble Upon by submitting your details, to become a member, then you select topics of interest, the more you pick the more variety you will see but these will not all be pictures, unless you clicked on the tool bar to select just images. The great part about it is this, you click a button to be presented with random pages of interest, if you set it to images then you will just Stumble Upon random pictures, covering any topic.

Now because the best usually climb to the top, through popularity in this program, then you get presented with the most popular, so they are usually very good but also besides this, they are random, so you do not have control and are presented with images, that also surprise you, giving you some great random subjects, that often stimulate your own ideas, for creations to work on.

I find Stumble Upon a great tool for giving me new ideas, when I don’t have any but also very entertaining, with it’s rich variety of cool drawings and pictures, also a great place to put your own work on too.

Easy drawing an illusion of depth.

As can be seen in the previous post, (“Miki Falls”) manga creator Mark Crilley in his video (How to draw Manga backgrounds) shows, how it can be easy drawing the illusion of depth, by defining the fore ground objects with greater detail and color, than the background objects.

This technique is widely used by most artists to convey the impression of distance but is most often combined, with objects drawn in perspective, which is also covered in earlier posts. This is most often conveyed by putting objects into pictures, as triggers to convey this illusion and help lead the viewers eye, off into the distance along a line of ever decreasing reference points. Photographers use these very same techniques when taking landscape photographs by again placing larger or close up objects in the foreground to create the illusion of depth.

Below is a classic example of this, the photo image shows many parallel lines going off into the distance, with lines between the paving slabs on the ground, the lampposts decreasing in size as they go further into the distance. Then there is the railing along the edge of the water and also the bridges, with first one filling more than half of the picture, with the second only filling about one sixth and the third, being only about one tenth. All this information draws the eye along the lines towards the point, where they converge creating the illusion of distance because remember that this is really, only a flat 2 dimensional image.

Image of bridges in Newcastle, England, UK.
Image of bridges in Newcastle, England, UK, shown as an example of elements that create distance.

Also you should notice how the objects and bridges in the distance are only vague, as they are far less defined than the foreground railing posts, paving slabs and lampposts.

Photographs are a good example of how, these same easy drawing techniques, when applied to constructing backgrounds, create a sense of distance, this can be used to trick the eye into seeing the illusion of depth, without it really being there.

The image below shows how pictures can be changed by moving the order of objects, you will see what I mean by looking at the picture.

Image of bridges in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, UK that has been edited.
Image of bridges in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, UK that has been edited to show how moving things around can change their perceived distance and size. Do you think that the concrete bridge that was in the fore ground now actually looks bigger because the upright pillar has been pushed back in the distance?

Hatching, cross hatching and tonal modeling basics.

Hatching, cross hatching and tonal modeling basics, will help you understand shading techniques, this understanding I am going present will further enable you to develop your drawing skills, by using these simple methods.

A very basic explanation of tonal modeling is as follows.

If you draw on a piece of paper with a soft, 3B or 6B graphite pencil and make a dark line by pressing hard, then rub over the top of the pencil line, with your finger or with a piece of paper under your finger, you will see that line you made has now been smudged. Now the line that you made, will not be as well defined with the edges of it being softer and less definite or hard. This is known as a tonal modeling technique, one method of creating this tonal modeling technique is by smudging the pencil marks used for shading, to help create a more realistic three dimensional form. This is not the only way to do your tonal modeling or shading, as it can also be achieved by rubbing the pencil lightly over the paper to create a soft blended tone also.

There is also another shading method called hatching and cross hatching as well that we will explain a little later in this article.

Tonal modeling is when the pencil marks are modeled or smudged, so instead of them having hard edges, they have soft blended edges, this smudging can be done using your fingers, a paper stump, soft tissue or cotton wool. Using your fingers is not recommended because of the oils from your skin, that contain acids being left on the paper, these oils with time can cause discoloring and rotting of the paper, ruining the finished drawing, over a period of time.

When a sculptor models with clay, he creates the shape and form of the sculpture by modeling the clay with his hands, tonal modeling is when you model the pencil marks to create soft blended tones of graduated shading with a pencil, charcoal, pastel or paint, it is a process of blending tones or colors, so there is a soft graduated transition from one tone or color to another.

Tonal modeling in a drawing or painting context, is when the pencil, charcoal, pastel or paints are blended to create soft shadows, to produce the form and shape of the object, being drawn on a 2 dimensional surface creating the illusion, of a 3 dimensional form or shape.

The blending of the drawing materials, into graduated tones to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional form or shape, on a 2 dimensional drawing surface is what’s usually referred to as tonal modeling.

Below you will find an image of two pencil drawings.

1.    This first image has been drawn with a 5B graphite pencil, using a hatching and cross hatching method.

2.    This other second image, has been drawn with a 5B graphite pencil, using a tonal modeling method.

Example of hatching and tonal modeling.
The two methods as example, cross hatching and tonal modeling.

Both depict the shape and form of the image but the second example, is modeled, using the tonal modeling method, notice that the shadows and tones are soft, with few hard edges, unlike the first cross hatching example, with many hard edges/lines.

Essentially there are hatch marks and smudge marks, with both these types of marks having attributes, also associated with the use of charcoal, that enable you to learn to understand tonal variation better.

•    Both types of marks are good and effective in their own right, as well as when used together.

•    Both make excellent drawings, in their own right and when mixed.

•    Both can have specific, common and preferred uses.

•    Both are also used when painting.

•    Both can be used effectively, with other types of drawing tools, especially the hatching marks.

Modern mark making revealed again.

Crosshatching and tonal modelling.

Pencil drawing photo image of a thumb and finger.

The above is a combination of hatching, cross hatching, line drawing and tonal modelling with only a HB pencil being used to do this.

Crosshatching and tonal modelling.

Example of two different mark making techniques, cross hatching, tonal modeling.

  1. Cross hatching style drawing, of a dolls leg but although very messy looking in the detail, it is a fine example of how, even soft flowing shapes can be created with crosshatching.
  2. Tonal modelling or blended style, with very hard edges, although you can see some of the hatching marks showing through as well.

Hatching and tonal modelling revisited.

Example sheet showing different types of mark making.

  1. Example of a loose tonal modelling or blending style drawing, of a face that is really somewhere between, hatching and tonal modelling because of the even marks, slanting downward to the right.
  2. A Yorkshire terrier dog, which happily lends it’s self well to this loose but flowing hatching technique, which is highly appropriate for drawing fur or hair, as can be seen a little in image 3 as well.
  3. A soft blending of tones creates this portrait, this is mostly achieved by smudging the graphite pencil marks, with a paper torchon or drawing stump, this is just a hard paper pencil type tool, that can be used to smudge the pencil marks.
  4. Although some like to call this a squiggle or squrkle technique, it is actually just another form of cross hatching, this image has been drawn with a permanent ink pen.

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Modern mark making, in the context of drawing, a point of view.

I took the charcoal drawing of a 1967, Austin Healey, 3000 Mk III, sports car and super imposed it into another image of a thumb and finger, using GIMP photo editing software, I fused them together to compose the image below, about understanding perspectives and using mark making, as a visual dynamic for tricking the eye.

Pencil drawing photo image of a thumb and finger.In the drawing above you will see two different pencil techniques, one is called hatching and the other is called tonal modeling, both are used often, as drawing techniques for different reasons mostly. The hatching or also called cross hatching technique, is often used to draw subjects, that lend themselves to that type of mark making, like hair, grass and other textures, that can be described with lots of little lines or dashes going all in one direction or differing directions, and is a natural way to use a pencil.

The other technique is tonal modeling, which is where the pencil is smudged or modeled using graded tones, to create soft edges and shadows, most often seen in the drawing of skin tone, and clouds but in the drawing above, you will notice that both are being used in the same drawing.

The finger and thumb of the hand is drawn using hatching and cross hatching, whereas the back of the hand is drawn using a tonal modeling technique. The example is used to show how these techniques, can be used in this way and although they lend themselves to best describe textures that have been mentioned, they can also be used effectively to describe textures, that would not really lend themselves to these techniques, like with the finger and thumb.

This is also an example of how you can take already existing drawings and with photo editing software, fuse them together as a means of generating new ideas, bringing very different tools together to aid the creative process.

The image below, is almost completely created using tonal modeling and is a example of use, where it would accurately describe the fleshy textures of the baby’s skin tones, as well as, the bone textures of the skull, with the only hatching type marks, being around the word zeitgeist, which are again smudged pencil lines, with slightly modeled edges, that are not sharp or well defined. Mark making is also found in painting as well as drawing and is an important part of all kinds of art, where sometimes they are not lines, dashes or modeled areas but can be splashes, scribbles or pointillist type marks.

Zeitgeist, spirit of the times, pencil drawing.
The Zeitgeist, is the spirit of the times, this is a pencil drawing of life and death, called Zeitgeist .

A hand and the artificial creations, born from its great ability, to manipulate the world around it, isn’t all intelligence artificial because we only think we know, when we recognize the mark making?