Drawing For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

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Table of Contents

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
What You’re Not to Read
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw
Part II: Developing the Basic Skills
Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw
Chapter 1: Gearing Up to Start (And Continue) Drawing
Testing the Waters: Do You Have What It Takes to Draw?
Debunking the talent myth
Embracing your individuality
Defining Drawing
Looking back at the first drawings
Surveying current drawing trends
Examining the Motivation behind Drawing
Finding uses for drawing
Considering the benefits of drawing
Outfitting Yourself for the Job
Discovering Your Artistic Style
Practicing Sustainable Drawing Habits
Acquiring essential skills
Implementing an effective order of operations
Adapting to ambiguity
Chapter 2: Gathering What You Need to Get Started
Exploring Your Drawing Preferences
Holding your drawing media
Making marks with your preferred medium
Deciding whether to leave your drawing loose and sketchy or to tighten it up
Finding Inspiration
Figuring out your interests
Getting ideas from other artists’ works (and yours, too!)
Drawing on your memories
Carving Out Space and Time to Draw
Making your drawing space comfy and effective
Finding time for drawing
Using Your Sketchbook
Sketching away from home
Playing with ideas
Choosing Your Drawing Supplies
The necessities
The wish-list items
Project: The Pupil of Iris
Chapter 3: Working through the Developmental Stages of Drawing
Stage 1: Looking for Lines
Stage 2: Moving from Lines to Shapes
Stage 3: Adding a Third Dimension with Volume
Using perspective to create depth
Building light and volume through shading
Stage 4: Rendering Textures
Stage 5: Arranging the Elements: Composition
Project: Taking Apart a Drawing to See How the Five Stages Work Together
Chapter 4: Drawing On Your Computer
Considering the Benefits of Drawing Digitally
Working with a digital canvas
Becoming more flexible in your drawing process
Checking the Hardware You Need to Draw Digitally
Exploring Digital Drawing Software
Free downloadable drawing tools
Entry-level and affordable art software
Professional-level software
Joining the World of Online Drawing
Building a gallery on art community Web sites
Creating a personal online portfolio
Experiencing interactive online drawing
Gaining insight from the Internet
Getting Started with Digital Drawing
Getting familiar with your digital tools
Creating rough sketches
Understanding layers
Project: Creating Your First Digital Drawing
Chapter 5: A New Kind of Seeing: Getting Familiar with the Artist’s Perspective
Dissecting Your Brain to See Which Side Affects Your Drawing Abilities
Waking Up the Right Side of Your Brain
Flipping between the left and right sides of your brain
Striking balance with symmetry
Controlling the left-to-right flip
Giving your left brain a vacation
Exploring the World as an Artist
Finding fun drawing subjects right in front of you
Seeing your home from a whole new perspective
From the fridge to your drawing paper
Surveying your neighborhood and beyond
Discovering the Inner Eye of the Artist
Comparing right- and left-brain perceptions
Doodling with doodles
Project: A Doodle of Your Own
Putting down the lines
Seeing beyond the lines
Creating drawings from doodles
Part II: Developing the Basic Skills
Chapter 6: Planning Your Drawings
Focusing on the Elements of Composition
Emphasizing the focal point
Overlapping for unity and depth
Taking advantage of negative shapes
Using lines to your advantage
Balancing subjects in a composition
Considering contrast: Balancing values and shapes
Delegating proportions to your subjects
Considering Basic Composition Formulas
The rule of thirds
Compositions with S-O-U-L
Using a Few Drawing Tools to Help You Plan Your Compositions
Choosing your composition by framing the subject
Planning a composition from a photograph
Project: Planning a Composition
Chapter 7: Seeing and Drawing Lines and Shapes
Getting Comfortable with Lines
Appreciating Diversity in Lines
Lining up straight lines
Cutting corners with angled lines
Following the flow of curved lines
Capturing Gesture
Focusing on Proportions and Shapes
Breaking objects into simple shapes
Fixing proportion problems
Project: Using Lines and Shapes as Tools for Investigation
Chapter 8: Exploring the Third Dimension
Seeing Light and Shadows and Using Values to Represent Them
Taking a closer look at light and shadows
Exploring contrast in a drawing
Squinting to translate vision into values
Taking Shapes into the Third Dimension
From squares to cubes
From rectangles and triangles to boxes, cylinders, and cones
From circles to spheres
Project: Drawing a Sphere
Chapter 9: Adding Life to Your Drawings with Shading
Using Additive Drawing Techniques to Build Value
Creating continuous tone
Trying your hand at hatching and crosshatching
Scaling from light to dark
Rendering graduated values
Using Your Eraser to Build Value
Applying Shading to Your Drawings
Blocking in your basic values
Refining your values
Project: Drawing an Egg
Chapter 10: Identifying and Rendering Textures
Seeing — and Feeling — the Difference between Textures and Patterns
Identifying Textures
Smooth, matte, shiny, and glistening textures
Fuzzy and fluffy textures
Furry and hairy textures
Rough and grassy textures
Translating Textures into Drawings
Planning your textured drawing
Creating texture on paper
Combining three-dimensional form with patterns and textures
Project: Creating Two Fun Textures
Sketching with textural mark making
Drawing furry spots
Chapter 11: Investigating Perspective Drawing
Understanding Geometric Perspective
Looking to the horizon line
Finding vanishing points
Identifying Your Perspective on Depth
Expanding on Elements of Perspective
Incorporating atmospheric perspective into your drawings
Managing foreshortening
Project: Drawing One-Point Perspective
Project: Drawing Two-Point Perspective
Project: Drawing Three-Point Perspective
Project: Blasting into Space with Dynamic Perspective Drawing
Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter
Chapter 12: Making Meaningful Still-Life Drawings
Selecting Subjects for Still-Life Drawings
Choosing still-life subjects that are meaningful to you
Grouping still-life objects
Enjoying the challenge of transparent objects
Arranging Your Still Life
Lighting Your Still Life
Project: Drawing a Still Life
Chapter 13: Representing the Natural World in Your Drawings
Exploring Sky and Land
Capturing different skies and clouds on paper
Examining and drawing trees
Creating convincing flowers
Project: Using Your Eraser to Create a White Winter
Project: Lovely Lily
Chapter 14: Bringing Animals to Life on Paper
Rendering Furry and Feathered Textures
Identifying the long and short of fur
Drawing wings and feathers
Capturing Life in Animal Portraits
Project: Wings on the Water
Chapter 15: Drawing People
Drawing the Body
Examining superficial human anatomy
Measuring proportion
Capturing gesture
Building the body from simple shapes
Using contour lines to refine your drawing
Picking up Portraiture
Measuring proportions for the head and face
Drawing facial features
Drawing hair that actually appears to grow out of the head
Drawing Far-Off Figures and People in Motion
Drawing people and crowds in the distance
Drawing figures in motion
Project: Crowd at the Finish Line
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Chapter 16: Ten Tips for Drawing Cartoons
Coming Up with an Idea
Embracing Your Influences without Losing Yourself
Making Decisions with Your Idea in Mind
Choosing the Right Materials
Setting Up a Place to Draw
Sketching Your Idea
Evaluating Your Sketch
Planning Your Values
Cleaning Up Your Drawing
Inking Your Work
Chapter 17: Ten Ways to Grow as an Artist
Step into Art Appreciation
Experiment with Drawing Media
Figure Out Who You Are as an Artist
Investigate Different Drawing Styles
Work from Life and Photographs
Attend Art Classes, Lessons, and Workshops
Give Painting a Try
Ignite Your Sparks of Creativity
Put Your Drawings on the Internet
Look for Other Ways to Get Your Work Out There
Chapter 18: Answering Ten Common Copyright Questions
What Is Copyright?
What Kinds of Works Are Protected by Copyright?
When Is an Artwork Not Original?
Can I Draw from Copyrighted Images?
If I Make Changes to a Copyrighted Image, Can I Make It My Own?
Can I Draw from the Illustrations in This Book?
How Do I Claim Copyright to My Original Art?
How Can I Prove That I Own Copyright?
Can I Put a Copyright © Symbol on My Original Art?
How Do I Use the Copyright © Symbol?
Cheat Sheet

Drawing For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

by Jamie Combs and Brenda Hoddinott


About the Authors

Jamie Combs is an artist and educator who grew up and lived in the Midwest until making a recent relocation to the East Coast. She earned a BFA in painting from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an MFA in painting from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. For several years, she has been teaching courses in drawing, painting, color theory, and design at various schools, including the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana, DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana. Jamie’s work as an artist and teacher is heavily informed by her training in and love for drawing.

Brenda Hoddinott is a self-educated visual artist, forensic artist, and illustrator. Her favorite drawing subjects are people, and her styles include hyperrealism, surrealism, and fantasy.


For my mom – JC

Author’s Acknowledgments

Jamie Combs: I would like to thank Michael Lewis, Sarah Faulkner, and Amanda Langferman from Wiley Publishing for their help and expertise in making this project possible. To Mick Gow of, your expertise has made this book so much more valuable.

I would also like to thank the authors of Pastels For Dummies and Painting For Dummies and my friends and colleagues at the Herron School of Art and Design, Anita Giddings and Sherry Stone, for the opportunity they pointed me to, their advice, and their kind, constant encouragement.

I wish to express my gratitude to all my teachers, especially Perin Mahler, Deborah Rockman, Barry Gealt, Tim Kennedy, and Bonnie Sklarski. I would also like to express my undying gratitude to my students, who have taught me so many surprising things about what it’s like to learn to draw.

Finally, to my friends and family: Thank you for being there for me. I can’t imagine trying to do this without you.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editors: Sarah Faulkner, Kelly Ewing (Previous Edition: Mary Goodwin)

Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Copy Editor: Amanda M. Langferman

Assistant Editor: David Lutton

Technical Editor: Joe Forkan

Editorial Manager: Christine Meloy Beck

Editorial Assistants: Rachelle S. Amick, Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: Leandra Young

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Claudia Bell, Samantha Cherolis, Lavonne Roberts, Christin Swinford

Proofreader: Betty Kish

Indexer: Sharon Shock

Illustrators: Jamie Combs, Brenda Hoddinott, Kensuke Okabayashi, Barbara Frake, Mick Gow, Rosemary Sidaway

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Welcome to Drawing For Dummies, 2nd Edition, a book that focuses on the basics of drawing for beginning artists but also includes plenty of challenges for more experienced artists.

Most people begin to draw as soon as they can hold a crayon and then continue drawing enthusiastically throughout childhood. Some people keep drawing right into adulthood, while others wander off in different directions for a while and then rediscover drawing later in life. Because we’ve designed this book to be a helpful, user-friendly resource that assumes nothing about your experience, Drawing For Dummies, 2nd Edition, meets you wherever you are.

Our philosophy is simple: If you know how to see and make comparisons, you have what it takes to draw. Throughout this book, we show you a solid, manageable approach to drawing that works no matter what you’re drawing. As you make your way through the book, you may be surprised to discover that after you figure out how to draw one subject, you can apply the same concepts to draw just about anything.

About This Book

Within this book, you discover everything you need to know to get started with drawing, including what supplies, techniques, and processes you need to use to create different types of drawings. The most valuable parts of this book are the numerous exercises and projects we include for you to try, so be sure to keep your drawing supplies handy while you read! Along the way to each exercise and project, you find ideas, tips, and strategies that will help you finish it.

We cover a variety of subjects that all aim to reinforce the notion that good drawing comes from good seeing and to help you develop your drawing skills in a fun and efficient way. But don’t feel like you have to read it cover to cover. You can pick and choose what you read without missing the central ideas of the book. In most chapters, you find issues that are covered more fully in other chapters, but don’t fret; we provide plenty of cross-references to take you where you need to go to find the information you need.

The hundreds of illustrations you find in this book are there to show you what a solution to an idea or exercise may look like. They’re meant to illuminate and inspire, not to be exact replicas of your own drawings. When you work through the exercises and projects in this book, don’t worry if your drawings look different than the illustrations. The point is to master the concepts, not to adopt a particular drawing style. Your drawings will be unique creations — even if you follow the instructions exactly.

Your development as an artist is personal. Expect it to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen or known. Of course, you don’t have to navigate the journey by yourself. This book is here to help you understand key ideas about drawing and master important techniques and skills that artists throughout time have discovered again and again. All you need is an open, curious mind and a little patience and persistence.

Conventions Used in This Book

We’ve established the following conventions to make it easier for you to navigate this book:

check.png New terms are in italics, and we define them for you.

check.png Bold text highlights key words in bulleted lists and action parts in numbered lists.

check.png Monofont sets off Web addresses. When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that we haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So, when using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, pretending as though the line break doesn’t exist.

check.png Before each project or exercise, you find a list of recommended supplies. If you don’t have exactly those supplies, don’t worry; you can do all the projects in this book with whatever supplies you do have. The results may be a little different, but not having the “right” supplies shouldn’t be a barrier to drawing.

What You’re Not to Read

It’s not every day you’re told to skip part of a book, and, in all honesty, we certainly won’t mind if you read every page of this one. But if you’re strapped for time or just in a hurry to get to what interests you most, feel free to skip the following:

check.png Any text marked with a Technical Stuff icon: Although these paragraphs are interesting and may give you more insight into the world of drawing, they aren’t essential to your growth as an artist.

check.png Sidebars: These gray-shaded boxes of text house information that’s often fun and interesting (at least to us!) but slightly off topic.

If you’re serious about learning to draw, don’t skip over the stuff that looks more like work than fun. If you do skip over it initially, go back to it later because the work-oriented sections contain a lot of info about skills you need to have to kick-start your artistic growth. Art is work, but, as you may already know, the work is totally worth it and, in some cases, is actually the fun part!

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, we’ve made some assumptions about you:

check.png You’ve drawn a little but not in a serious way, and you’d really like to find out how to do it well.

check.png You may be afraid that drawing well depends on obvious natural ability.

check.png You may think drawing well means being able to draw realistically from your imagination.

check.png You may think drawing is only good if you create a good product.

We’ve used these assumptions to help us explain a whole new way of looking at drawing. As you make your way through this book, you find that our philosophy of drawing allows you to believe the following: that drawing is more than making a good product, that the act of drawing is a healthy and fulfilling experience in itself, that talent alone isn’t enough to lead to good drawings, and that you can learn to be excellent at drawing no matter where you’re starting from.

How This Book Is Organized

This book begins by helping you feel comfortable with drawing. From there, you discover the basics, from buying supplies to holding a pencil and from drawing lines to rendering shading. The rest of the book is loaded with various drawing subjects and topics; feel free to skip around in no particular order. Read a little, then draw a little, and then read and draw some more.

Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw

The title of this part says it all. If you’re not totally convinced that drawing is for you, read through this part chapter by chapter and do the exercises and projects we include here. By the time you finish, you may be surprised by how many of your concerns about taking up drawing are gone.

Here, you find information about what you need to know to start drawing from a list of drawing supplies to use to different ways to find inspiration to a summary of the steps you go through to make a drawing. You also discover what it means to look at the world around you as an artist.

As an added bonus, you find everything you need to know about the world of digital drawing (drawing with your computer and other similar devices) in case you’re curious about how that type of drawing compares to traditional pencil and paper.

Drawing is a perfectly natural human ability. As with anything new, taking the first step is the most difficult part. But once you start working through this part, you’ll likely discover a whole new, exciting, enjoyable, and productive activity.

Part II: Developing the Basic Skills

If you’re a beginner to drawing, you won’t want to miss the six chapters in this part. The basic skills we present here offer answers to many of the perplexing drawing questions you’ve probably been wondering about, like how to get started on a drawing, how to create dimension on a flat piece of paper, and many more. Even if you’re a pro at drawing, you don’t want to skip this part because you may find some new slants on old skills.

Here, you discover strategies you can use to transform three-dimensional objects into believable two-dimensional illusions. You find out how to use shading to render light and shadow as they move across objects and through space. You also figure out how to arrange and draw your subjects to create a complete and balanced drawing with a convincing sense of depth.

Whether you work your way through this part of the book in a few days or a few months doesn’t matter. Just stick with it, and give yourself the gift of a solid foundation for drawing. By taking your time to develop the basic skills you need in drawing, you’ll save yourself a ton of frustration down the road.

Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter

In this part, you find a handful of chapters focused on the four major categories of drawing subjects: still life, landscape, animals, and people. Each chapter presents the drawing issues that come up when you’re drawing its particular subject of focus. You find out how to start your drawings in a simple way for both maximum control and maximum flexibility, and you get several opportunities to practice creating finished drawings of each type of subject.

By working through all or even two or three of the chapters in Part III, you discover that you really do have the tools you need to draw anything, because the act of drawing is essentially the same no matter what your subject is.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

This part of the book includes a buffet of tips to help make the drawing process a little easier for you, as well as ideas for drawing cartoons. If you’ve never thought about cartooning, perhaps this part will inspire you.

In case you finish all the projects we include in this book and still want more, we also include ten ways for you to grow as an artist. Finally, we answer some copyright questions to help you keep your work secure and to keep you from infringing on the rights of other artists.

Icons Used in This Book

In the margins of almost every page of this book, you find little circular drawings called icons. The icons are there to alert you to different types of information. Here’s what they mean:

tip.eps This icon saves you time and energy by showing you a helpful method for doing something.

remember.eps This icon points out important information you need to know as you develop your drawing skills. Sometimes it’s a reminder of something covered elsewhere in the book, and other times it lets you know that you need to remember this particular tidbit later.

warning_bomb.eps This icon points out potential problems and positive solutions. Heed the warning so you don’t make the same mistakes we’ve made.

technicalstuff.eps Feel free to skip over (and come back to) the highly technical information marked by this icon. We expect that our more advanced readers will be interested in knowing a little more about the technical aspects of drawing.

sketchbook.eps When you see this icon, dig out your drawing materials, open your sketchbook, put the cat out, feed the dog, and get ready to spend some quality time drawing. Plan on doing lots of exercises and projects marked with this icon because your drawing skills improve every time you draw.

Where to Go from Here

You don’t have to go through this book in sequence. You can poke through the table of contents and jump right into the topics that excite you. To make sure you don’t miss out on something important while you’re skipping around the book, we provide lots of references to pertinent material so you know where to go to find what you need. For example, you may be asked to apply shading to your drawing on many occasions throughout this book. Because it would take forever to go over everything you need to know about shading (and all the techniques you can use) every time an exercise or project calls for it, we don’t explain shading every time we ask you to do it. Instead, we tell you to go to Chapter 9 (the chapter on shading) to find what you need to know.

If you’re a beginner to drawing, you may prefer to start at the very beginning with Part I and work your way through each chapter in sequence. When you finish that part, we strongly recommend that you read over all the information and work through each project and exercise in Part II before you move on.

After you have the basics under your belt, you can randomly wander through the rest of this book and read and enjoy whichever chapters and sections you prefer. Even though this is a reference book, it’s also designed for those of you who like to work from beginning to end. As you make your way through it, you discover that the level of difficulty increases the closer you get to the end of the book.

If you can already draw well, feel free to pop around this book any way you want. Take a quick flip through the pages, notice which illustrations catch your eye, and start reading wherever you feel inspired. Read some sections, draw a little, read a little while longer, and then do more drawings.

Part I

Discovering What It Takes to Draw


In this part . . .

Think of the first five chapters of this book as an artist’s version of Clark Kent’s telephone booth. Imagine yourself, mild mannered and curious, walking into Part I . . . and a little later, walking out armed with everything you need to know to begin drawing.

The chapters in this part describe the tools, mindset, and processes you need to be familiar with before you start putting pencil to paper. Here, you find an overview of all the subjects you can explore in this book as well as a full chapter on the tips and tricks to keep in mind when choosing your first drawing supplies. To give you a quick glance into the future of your drawing career, this part also includes a chapter that summarizes each of the common steps in the drawing process. And because it’s the digital age, you find a whole chapter devoted to using hi-tech drawing materials, like your computer. Finally, you find out what it means to see the world and its inhabitants like an artist sees them.