Studying Planes in Rock Forms – Useful Drawing Tips:
This exercise will teach you some really useful tips for approaching your drawings and paintings. Being able to break objects down into simple shapes is a fundamental part of creating realistic drawings and sketching block rock forms is the perfect way to learn how planes work.
You just need a picture of rocks, some paper, a pencil and an eraser for this exercise.
I recommend trying the process out using a variety of different photos of rocks (or go sketching outdoors if you’re feeling adventurous).
Start by lightly sketching the outside shapes of the rocks that you are drawing.
Keep your lines straight and use as few as you possibly can to capture your subject.
Divide the rock into side planes, top planes and bottom planes (flat surfaces of the rocks) using straight lines.
Planes that face more away from the light will be dark and the ones that face more towards the light will be lightest.
How dark or light the plane is will depend on how much it does or doesn’t face towards the light.
Shade in each plane according to how dark or light it is.
If you keep following this simple process, and gradually add all the planes, eventually your drawing will start to look 3D and resemble the subject.
Once you’re done with one drawing – find a new reference to work from and start another. The more you practise the easier you will find it to use planes when drawing other subjects like portrait, figures and still lifes.
Blocking in Basic Head Shapes – Portrait Drawing Tips:
This short lesson will show you how to simplify seemingly complex portrait drawings into just three planes; light mid and dark. Making these copies of portrait paintings is a great way to understand how you can apply the principle of planes to your own portrait work and make more convincing artworks.
Start with a really simple outline of the portrait using as few straight lines as possible (ideally just 4-6 in total).
Figure out which direction the light is coming from (you can see that in my example the light is coming from the right-hand side).
Using this info, add lines that divide the portrait into the three value planes; light, mid and dark.
Start by shading in the darkest plane.
Then shade in the mid plane (the value will be between the dark tone and the light tone of the paper).
Once the planes are shaded in you can add some embellishments to the outside of the portrait. In my example I made his profile more detailed and added some of his body.
Once you’ve got the hang of it you can keep making more simple studies from different paintings.
Drawing portraits in profile can often be tricky so his quick guide will show you some useful tips for improving your work!
Start by using very simple straight lines to determine the approximate proportions of the whole head – ignoring any details for the time being.
Pay close attention to the overall height of the head vs. the width in particular.
Once the general proportions are in place, you can start to use smaller lines to break the portrait down into smaller forms.
The nose is a good place to start as it divides the forehead from the mouth and jaw.
If you get the nose place correctly, it will be easier to fit in the eyes above and the mouth below.
Once all the major features are in place, you can start softening the straight lines into curves where necessary.
You can also start to place features within the face. Notice how deep the eye is set back in the head – make sure you don’t put the eye too close to the front of the face as this is a common mistake when drawing portraits in profile.
Finally, lightly shade in the shadows and add a few halftones to give a sense of form to the drawing.
Hopefully these tips are useful when you draw your next portrait in profile!