Task 2: Graphite Universal Forms

This task helps to understand a tonal scale which is needed for tonal drawing.

The resource will help you to get a tonal scale set up before taking on some practice shading.

Click here: Tonal Scale and Universal forms



Adding tonal shading is adding illusion to a 3D form and refers to the lightness or darkness of something. This could be a shade or how dark or light a colour appears. We create tones when shining light onto an object. The parts of the object on which the light is strongest are called highlights and the darker areas are called shadows. When first learning to draw, it is important to first see the contours of your form accurately (covered in Task 1). Then, you learn to see the highlights and the shadows.


The pencil shading exercise demonstrated in our Facebook group is ‘graduated tone’. This is a drawing technique which artists use to create a strong sense of space and form. To be able to draw in either graphite pencil or colour pencils, it is a crucial skill to develop.

  1. Use a range of grade pencils (2H to 6B for example) for your shading. Lighter, harder graded pencils (H, 2H etc.) will help blend the highlights, whilst the softer pencils will add real depth to your darkest tones.
  2. Start by shading the area you wish to be dark (the shadows) and slowly build up the tone. As you work towards the light, gradually ease the pressure, then switch to a harder grade pencil, until you can no longer see the mark each graphite pencil is making-it will blend the tones without the need to get smudging!
  3. You then patiently repeat this process several times, building up a depth to the shading, adjusting any irregular areas and trying to keep the tonal changes as smooth as possible until you achieve the variation and intensity of tone that you desire. Ideally, all forms you are shading will showcase the full tonal scale to give it the illusion of being 3D.

Join me for a live demonstration soon on our facebook group 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


OCAD Studio: Landscape Sketching 4

Landscape sketching is a great way to begin working directly from the landscape. It will help you to understand general principle about landscapes before attempting to work in paint (which can be a bit daunting!).

With the major masses of tone established in your drawing, you can begin finding detail in specific areas. We will try to add detail in such a way that it complements the overall composition of the piece.

Points of Focus

The nature of the composition in terms of the value relationships, shapes and level of detail will affect how the viewer’s eyes travel around the image.

  • The viewer’s eyes are initially drawn to the point of highest contrast, usually where a dark shape is placed on a lighter background or when a light shape and a dark shape are next to one another.
  • The eye will then follow lines that flow from this point into the rest of the image. So if lots of long lines lead to the left from the point of highest contrast, then the viewer’s gaze will also travel left.
  • After this, the eye will find lines or shapes that flow in a particular direction and follow them. So you should avoid lots of lines that lead straight to the edge of the drawing, and instead try to get the lines to loop back towards the centre point, thus keeping the viewer’s eyes within the bounds of the drawing.
  • The viewers eyes are also attracted to the parts of the drawing with more detail. So it’s worth making the point of focus more detailed than the rest of the image. Usually this means making the foreground or near middleground more detailed than the background.


When toning in the masses during the previous lesson, we made the values flat, as we were focused on general value relationship between large masses. However, most of these large masses will have subtle transitions or gradients within them.

  • So a tree is often darker at the top and lighter near the bottom.
  • Or the sky has a gradient that gets lighter near the horizon.
  • The ground plane will usually get lighter as it gets nearer the foreground

These are just a few examples of transitions that often occur in nature, but the more you observe your scene the more you will notice subtle shifts in value. Searching for these shifts and rendering them in your sketch will help it to feel more atmospheric and alive.


You can also add detail by looking for different textures – here a few examples:

  • Tree bark is rough and patchy.
  • Long grass is made up from lots of long lines.
  • Clouds are smooth and voluminous
  • Dry rocks are very flat without highlights.
  • Wet rocks are darker and have bright white highlights
  • Large bodies of still water will reflect the scene above them.
  • Rough water will be less shiny and reflective than still water.

Once again, this is just a short list of examples. You will need to observe lots of scenes yourself to start noticing all the difference between different textures.


OCAD Studio: Landscape Sketching Part 3


Landscape sketching is a great way to begin working directly from the landscape. It will help you to understand general principle about landscapes before attempting to work in paint (which can be a bit daunting!).

This lesson will explain how to progressively add masses of tone to your drawing. The aim will be to roughly block in the full range of value present in your sketch. Don’t worry about finding lots of details, we’ll be doing that in the following lesson.

Finding Masses of Tone

Using the major landmarks that you found at the end of the previous lesson, you can lightly sketch in the shapes of the major tonal masses. Don’t focus on what things are specifically, just group together any values in the images that are next to one another and similar. So, trees will usually group together in a mass (like in the video), the ground will and the sky will etc.

Once these shapes/masses have been lightly sketched in you can begin adding tone to them.

Building a Range of Values

Decide whether any part of the image will be entirely white and make sure to leave this blank for now. If you start to add tone to the whitest part of the image, your drawing will look too dim or grey and lose its luminosity.

I recommend that you start adding tone to the darkest parts of the image, in a general fashion, so slowly add tone to areas that will definitely be quite dark. In the video I added tone to the trees and ground at the same time. Don’t darken things too quickly, it is easier (and better for the paper) to progressively add tone until it gets dark enough, rather than make it really dark and then have to erase it. Try to look at the drawing as a whole compared to your reference, blur your eyes and flick them back and forth between the reference and your drawing to check whether or not the arrangement of tones seems to match.

Once you have shaded in the full range of tones and adjusted them so that they relate to one another correctly you have finished this stage of the drawing. The next lesson will cover neatening, and adding detail to the drawing.


OCAD Studio: Landscape Sketching Part 2

Landscape sketching is a great way to begin working directly from the landscape. It will help you to understand general principle about landscapes before attempting to work in paint (which can be a bit daunting!).

This lesson will help you to select a part of the landscape to focus on, compose the scene and begin blocking in the major masses and establish value relationships. It is important that you remember the two principles explained  in last week’s lesson – the Theory of Angles and Aerial Perspective – while establishing your drawing.


Cropping the Scene

When working outdoors from life, the first thing you need to do is decide which parts of the landscape you want to include in your drawing. For many students starting out, this is much harder than it sounds.

When you are working from a photo or 2D reference it’s easy to crop the image down as it’s just a case of drawing a rectangle around the part of scene you want to focus on. In theory, when working from life you just do the same thing, except you are cropping a part of a 3D scene full of infinite depth so it can be tricky.

To begin with I recommend selecting the horizontal boundaries of you drawing from the scene in front of you. It’s best to pick obvious landmarks that will remain static; a lone tree, a building or a fence line etc.

After you have established the horizontal boundaries you can the same for the vertical boundaries, this can be a bit trickier as the sky will not have any static landmarks, however you should be able to find a part of the foreground at the bottom image which will serve as the lower boundary.


Once all of these limits have been chosen, you will have a rectangle that contains all the parts of your subject. I’ll demonstrate the process a couple of times using a complex panoramic photo below:

The scene has many elements so you may find it more manageable and easier to compose by isolating a section of it.

Begin by choosing your left-hand boundary – in this case it’s the edge of the rocks on the shore that are just catching the light.

Now choose a right-hand boundary – this time it’s the edge of the near shore in light.

After deciding the horizontal boundaries, decide where you want the bottom of your sketch to be. In this case I’ve chosen the bottom of the rocks.

Finally choose the top of your image, I’ve used the top of the tree line (which is slightly out of frame).


I’m going to repeat the process with another frame on a different part of the image; Left-hand side, the dip between the hills in the distance.

Right-hand side; the edge of the reeds.

Bottom; the large rock resting on the sand.

Top; level with the top of the highest point in the distant hills.


Hopefully that is clear – now that you’ve decided how to frame the scene, you sketch a rectangle on your page that matches the proportions. In the examples above, the height of the first rectangle is just about half the width, whereas the second shape is pretty much square.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to draw a complete rectangle, you can sketch an aspect at each edge of the scene. This will also establish the boundaries without looking too contrived. If you’re doing a drawing that takes up your whole page, you will need to frame your scene to match the dimensions of your page (the opposite of what we’ve just done).


Composing the Scene

Once you’ve decided how to frame your scene, you can begin composing. Landscapes are much more forgiving than other subjects in terms of moving features around. You can’t move a nose to edge of the face for the sake of a composition (unless you’re Picasso) but you can happily shift the position of a tree or rock (within reason, trees floating in the sky may be somewhat unrealistic).

You may find that your scene has more features on one side than the other. So it could help to move one of these features across to balance the composition.


The Steelard

A good principle to follow when you’re first beginning to compose pictures is to seek asymmetrical balance. This means that, while you shouldn’t just make everything on one side the same as the other, a picture should feel like there is an equal amount of interest on both side of the image.

A useful concept taught by many traditional instructors is based on the idea of a steelyard – a steel yard looks like this:

It is made from a bar hanging from a fulcrum, a heavy weight on one side and sliding scale with a lighter weight on the other side. In order to balance the scale, it is necessary to slide the smaller weight further from the fulcrum (or centre). Somewhat surprisingly, this concept, when applied to drawings and paintings, is very useful when developing balanced and dynamic compositions.

The images below come from a book called ‘Pictorial Composition’ written by American artist and instructor – Henry Rankin Poore – in 1903. The full text is available to download free in PDF format here.

You can see that the steelyard concept has been applied in the sequence of compositions above. The two images on the left and the image at the top right feel as though they are tilting to the left because all the interest in the image is found at that side. Whereas the image at the bottom right includes a small dark ship on the right-hand horizon which acts to balance the larger mass on the left.

As a general rule a small high-contrast subject in a empty space will command as much interest as a larger more complicated mass, this is because our eye is drawn to contrast and aberration.

It is also possible to find similar balance vertically across the image but this is not as important as the right left balance because we tend to read images horizontally.


Initial Measurements

Now that you have decided how to crop your scene, you can begin placing the major landmarks, by taking some quick measurements. You needn’t measure everything in the scene, but it’s worthwhile figuring out where some of the major features lie before going into more detail. If you have watched or read some of my guides on measuring, this approach should be fairly familiar to you.

Given that your drawing is likely a different size compared to the part of the scene that you’re drawing, you are going to need to use comparative measurement. This approach requires you to figure out where points in the scene lie as a proportion of the whole width or height. Then you can then use the same ratio/proportions when marking your drawing.

I recommend watching the video for this part of lesson, as it will be much clearer than me trying to explain in writing.


Hopefully this helps to give you some direction when composing your scene, the most important thing to do is feel for the composition, if something feels wrong or unbalanced move things around until the composition feels right. Use the tips above as a guide to help problem solve why the composition feels wrong but it is ultimately up to your personal judgement and taste.

Task 1: How to Observe

One day students were asked to copy a Picasso drawing upside down.
That small experiment, more than anything else, showed that something
very different is going on during the act of drawing. To everyone’s surprise the
finished drawings were so extremely well done that the class were asked, “How
come you can draw upside down when you can’t draw right-side up?”


The students responded,
“Upside down, we didn’t know what we
were drawing.”


You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words…
Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.


Drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem, or, to be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing. You may not believe me at this moment. You may feel that you are seeing things just fine and that it’s the drawing that is hard. But the opposite is true.

Broadly speaking, except for the degree of complexity, all drawing is the same. One drawing task is no harder than any other. The same skills and ways of seeing are involved in drawing still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. It’s all the same thing: You see what’s out there (imaginary subjects are “seen” in the mind’s eye) and you draw what you see.


What is the purpose of Upside Down Drawing?

The purpose of this kind of practice is to force your left (thinking) side of the brain to give up identifying what you draw. So, even if you have a little voice that tells you the name of features or things, – ignore it! Instead, focus on a specific line and concentrate on its direction and where it lies in relation to the lines
around it.
If you do have trouble with matching things up as you come to the end of the drawing, this is because it is out of proportion. That doesn’t matter, just connect it all as best as you can because the benefit remains.

So begin by trialling this technique and drawing this horse, upside down:

You will find the horse, and the more challenging Picasso line drawing, on this following resource so you can print them and then copy what you see. To make things even easier, draw a grid over your image and also onto your page- then you can copy each square in turn…but remember, upside down.

Click here: upside down

I’m sure when you are more aware of using the right side of your brain, you will find your observation skills significantly improve. Remember that everything you need to know in order to draw the image is right in front of your eyes. All of the information is right there, making it easy for you. Don’t make it complicated. It really is as simple as that.


If you feel confused by a large picture, try placing paper over the picture and just reveal one portion at a time. You’ll only need to do this once or twice. When your confidence builds, you won’t even notice the whole picture, you will
only be seeing the lines you are copying. This may not work for everyone… do what feels right for you to ‘simplify’ what you are seeing.

At some point, the drawing may begin to seem like an interesting, even fascinating, puzzle. When this happens, you will be “really drawing,” meaning that you have successfully shifted to R-mode and you are seeing clearly. This state is easily broken. For example, if someone were to come into the room and ask, “How are you doing?” your verbal system would be reactivated and your focus and concentration would be over. This is also true if you have the TV on in the background or music playing with recognisable lyrics.

Copy the picture just as you see it and don’t be tempted to turn it the right side up at any time. You can start anywhere on your page that you
feel comfortable with. It’s fine if you wish to erase. Sometimes our judgment is a little bit out


Simple isn’t it? This technique helps to set you on the path of seeing the way an artist sees! That, in turn, helps you properly illustrate whatever you want. Upside down drawing develops your ability to see only lines and shapes and their relation to each other which is the ultimate aim for all artists 🙂



Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART



Task 17: Sculpture

To do a sculpture and explore this genre of art, students should begin with researching a sculptor. This way you can learn a lot more and discover the process to uncovering your own unique idea. Some students will also use a photograph they have taken to produce a 3D response to it. So it is up to you… but for this article I will provide some inspiration for the task using Andy Goldsworthy.


Andy Goldsworthy is a brilliant British artist who collaborates with nature to make his creations. Besides England and Scotland, his work has been created at the North Pole, in Japan, the Australian Outback, in the U.S. and many others.

The underlying tension of a lot of my art is to try and look through the surface appearance of things. Inevitably, one way of getting beneath the surface is to introduce a hole, a window into what lies below. I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools–a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn

Andy Goldsworthy

He is known for his site-specific installations involving natural materials and the passage of time. Working as both sculptor and photographer, Goldsworthy crafts his installations out of rocks, ice, leaves, or branches, knowing that the landscape will change. He then carefully documents the ephemeral collaborations with nature through photography.

Goldsworthy regards his creations as transient, or ephemeral. He photographs each piece once right after he makes it. His goal is to understand nature by directly participating in nature as intimately as he can.

All of his pieces are designed to disappear as nature takes its course: Ice melts, wind blows, and rain falls. These factors shape how viewers experience Goldsworthy’s constructions over the course of their temporary life spans.




Here is an example of student sketchbook work. You should begin by creating pages of inspirational researching, annotating what has been learned and analysing the artist you are studying. Then you can move on to formulating your own ideas and responses.


You need to be able to research an artist and present your findings in a creative way. This can be done digitally but don’t just cut and paste text and add images. Make your work interesting and in-keeping with the artist you are studying.

I think Goldsworthy is a great starting point for sculpture, and you can discover something amazing very local to you! Work with the environment you have to create great art.


Here is a resource to follow to produce a creative process for this task:

Andy Goldsworthy


Enjoy exploring sculpture to complete a rounded experience and introduction to ‘learning to draw a paint’.

We will return to task 1 and continue to build on our drawing and painting skills very soon!


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART