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“Online Class “The Power of Line”

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My newest online drawing class for those who need to study at their own pace cover the foundation of drawing basic 2d and 3d shapes that then used with sighting, measuring, mirroring, and construction techniques are then used to create contour drawings of still life arrangements. 


Biggest Tip that Will Improve Your Drawing!

Portrait of Young Women by the artist Kevin McCain

Horizontal and Vertical Relationships 

When we start to draw many times we are so focused on the object’s smaller pieces and details and we miss the larger picture. Then our drawing pays the price. Whenever you draw or even paint at least half of the drawing or painting is double, and triple-checking the basic relationships of objects. One of the greatest tools in the artist’s arsenal is the use of “Horizontal and Vertical” relationships!

This is a portrait that I drew and I decided it would be good to break it down into the horizontal and vertical alignments to show how those helped create a better drawing of this person. Let’s get started!

1. The Person that I Drew

young woman I am drawing

Many times when we are drawing something especially complex like a portrait we can get overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s always best to simplify any object we are drawing by using measuring and construction techniques to take the guesswork out of it. Horizontal and Vertical alignments are just another step to this process. Using a pencil use level lines(horizontal) and plumb(vertical) lines to check what is in line with something else or where they are in relationship to the entire shape. In this case, that shape is the head or egg-like shape. The next picture shows these vertical and horizontal alignments imposed over the photo of the model.

2. The Alignments I Used

This shows all the alignments I was watching or recording while I was drawing. This was in addition to measurements and head construction. Without the measurements the alignments are worth very much so here is the process I used.  I would start with the basic head construction using a modified Loomis method or a modified egg shape. Then I would mark the basic eye, nose, and mouth lines measuring those for the person’s likeness. I then laid out the 3 eye spaces, since this is a 3/4 view I use the 3 spaces of the eyes and nose space and then use those eye spaces to measure the rest of the head. Then I use the alignments to check the drawing to make sure that everything is in the right place. Such as normally the cheekbone is in front of the brow but on her the brow is further out. Usually the ear is above the nose line but on her the ear is below the nose line. The chin aligns with the right side of the nose (my right not hers), The neck starts at the about where the left corner of the mouth is, this is where this technique shows it’s strength it helps you be more aware of where stuff is base on the location of other stuff.

*3. Extra Tip*

picture showing a middle line drawn down the model's face

Because this is a 3/4 view it’s super important to find the middle line of the face to check for symmetry. This shows a line running down the middle of her face I always draw this line in when doing portraits. It really helps!

4. The finished Drawing

Portrait of Young Women by the artist Kevin McCain

I hope when you are drawing you will start to look more at the vertical and horizontal alignments or relationships. It will help your drawing immensely. Give it a shot!

One or Two Point Perspective Some Insights

Art Tip
Seeing the Perspective In a Scene
 Is it One Point or
Two Point Perspective?
Last month we discussed how to find the horizon line in a scene. Being aware of the horizon line is the first part of understanding how to draw and paint a scene. Okay but then what!? The next part is to be able to identify if the scene is in One Point Perspective or Two Point Perspective. It is essential to understand that as parallel lines move away from us the lines converge at a vanishing point. Like a straight stretch of highway diminishing miles into the distance at a point on the distant horizon.

The point where the highway converges on the horizon is called a “Vanishing point.” Vanishing points are always on the “Horizon Line.”

This is why you can find a horizon line by following the converging lines in a scene to the “Vanishing point” because Vanishing Points are always on the Horizon Line.
Let’s discuss the difference between “One Point Perspective” or “Two Point Perspective.” We will start with cubes and the viewer’s “Line of Sight.”
We will Use a Cube to Discuss One Point Perspective
Why Use a Cube!?
Cubes can easily be modified into all kinds of cars, vehicles, and buildings. If you can see the box or cube and or the scene’s perspective it will be easier to draw and paint it.
All kinds of problems occur when we are unaware of the perspective we are viewing.
Line Of Sight
When you are looking at something or a scene envision a line stretching from your cornea straight ahead in front of you. This is called your Line of sight. The illustration below shows a man from above a bird’s eye view. He is looking straight ahead as indicated by his Line of Sight. One cube is perpendicular to the man’s line of sight and the other cube is turned so it’s corner is facing the man’s line of sight. The cube that is perpendicular to the line of sight is in “One Point Perspective.” The cube that is turned with its corner towards the man’s line sight is in Two Point Perspective.
One Point Perspective
One Point Perspective
Always Has
“Just One Vanishing Point”
With One Point Perspective, you are always making one of three lines. Either VerticalHorizontal, or a Line Drawn to a Vanishing Point. If you look at the depth lines. You can take the lines and draw them out until they converge and they converge on the Horizon Line at the One Point Vanishing Point.
One Point Perspective Diagram
This illustration shows the basic procedure for creating boxes in one-point perspective.
One Point Perspective Scenes
Sometimes we aren’t dealing with boxes at all but planes like this road that converges to a point on the distant horizon.
Note: The city scene below shows a corner that is at a 45-degree angle because of this the angle doesn’t conform to the vanishing point. The lines going to the vanishing point are 90 degrees to the horizontal lines. So a 45-degree angle won’t go to this vanishing point. We won’t discuss this now but I wanted to point it out either ignore it or ask me about it in one of my classes.
Cityscapes are Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes! 
The buildings are just varying sized boxes.
Looks For and Find
the Converging Lines
In the scene below follow the depth lines to the horizon line to find the One Point Perspective Vanishing Point. 
We Can Modify the Perspective
to Make it Easier
This scene below shows a barn that is close to One Point Perspective view though it is really a very soft Two Point Perspective view. As an artist you always want to simplify. So instead of trying to draw the barn in Two Point Perspective I straightened out the barn into One Point Perspective. One Point is far simpler than two-point so why not make it easier. below I show the barn drawn with either a Vertical Line, a Horizontal Lines, or a Line Receding to a vanishing point.

Note: For those of you who noticed the roof doesn’t conform to either a line that is vertical, horizontal or receding to a vanishing point you are correct. We will talk about drawing roofs next time.
Two Point Perspective
Two Point Perspective
“Has Two Sets of Vanishing Points”
With Two Point Perspective, you are always making one of three lines. Either a Vertical Line, a Line Receding to the Left Vanishing Point, or a Line Receding to the Right Vanishing Point. With the Depth lines you can take the lines and draw them out until they converge on the Horizon Line at vanishing points to the Left or to the Right.
Two Point Perspective Diagram
This illustration shows the basic procedure for creating boxes in two-point perspective.
Two Point Perspective Scene
These photos show scenes that are two-point perspective scenarios. 
Many times the vanishing points are outside the picture frame.
Painting of a Barn in Two-Point Perspective. Do you see the converging lines? They are very soft but they are there.
The Bottom Line
So when you are drawing or painting a scene. Identify if you are looking at one-point perspective or two-point perspective. With One-point perspective, everything converges to a single vanishing point. With Two-Point perspective, the objects in the scene have lines that recede to either a right or left vanishing point. If you have more questions about perspective join me for a drawing or painting class. More at

How to Draw in One Point and Two Point Perspective

Perspective Drawing Adds Depth

To create the illusion of the 3rd dimension we need to understand how we see depth so that we can recreate it convincingly. For more than 500 years artists have used a simple process for creating the illusion of depth. That is perspective drawing. 3d games and programs employ this method, but until the 1990s most of this was done by hand by artists, illustrators, architects and mechanical draftsman. It is the most important Key to understanding how to draw convincingly. Through understanding and training in perspective as an artist, your imagination is expanded and you have the knowledge to draw, distort and create anything you want, but I am getting ahead of myself so I will start with the most basic ideas of perspective. Perspective starts with an understanding of a few basic concepts. Let’s have a look at them.

Parallel Lines – In math, you may have been taught parallel lines never meet, but in perspective parallel lines do meet at a vanishing point. Like if you have been on a long stretch of straight road. Far in the distance, the road seems to come to a point. We call that a “vanishing point.”

Vanishing Point – A vanishing point is where parallel lines come together another word for that is “converge.” The vanishing point, for now, will always be on the “horizon line.”

The Horizon line or The Eye Line– This is “the eye line” or other words the height of our eyes off the ground. So if I was lying down looking at the horizon “the eye line” might be 6 inches off the ground. If I was kneeling on the ground my eye line might be around 36″ off the ground and if I was standing “the eye line” why do you keep saying “Eye Line” instead of the “Horizon Line”. Well if I am looking at the horizon where the sky meets the earth my Eye Line and the Horizon Line is the same, but if I was in a forest of tall trees and looked straight up. I wouldn’t see the horizon at all I would see the tops of the trees and the sky no horizon at all. This would be a situation where the Horizon Line and the Eye Line don’t meet up. So we always reference this as our Eye Line because it’s the relationship of our eyes to the object that decides the perspective. Not

Right Angles or Perpendicular Angles – Perspective is all about breaking things down into squares and boxes or cubes. That means we need nice straight corners. Those straight corners are 90 degrees we refer to these types of angles as “Right Angles” or “Perpendicular Angles”, so since we are using boxes or cubes we are always using 90-degree angles.

There are Different Kinds of Perspective

There are different types of perspective depending on how many vanishing points we are using. The most common perspective that is employed by most by the artist is “One Point Perspective” and “Two Point perspective.”

One Point Perspective– This is where all the parallel lines converge at One Point on the Horizon Line/EyeLine. With one point we are seeing most of the front of the cube or box sometimes called the “front face” of the cube. Below are the steps for creating boxes using One Point Perspective.

basic steps on one point perspective drawing.

How to Draw One Point Perspective Boxes

Two Point Perspective

Two Point Perspective – As the name implies this approach use 2 vanishing points on the Horizon/Eyeline. The reason for this perspective is we are now looking at our box or cube from it’s “corner” and not the ‘front face.” Instead of starting with a rectangle or square. We start with a “straight Line” the “straight line” is the corner’s edge that is facing us. Below is how you develop boxes in perspective.

step by step how to draw boxes in perspective

How To Draw Two-Point Perspective Boxes

This gets you familiar with the ideas on one an two-point perspective. If you would like to learn more about perspective visit my YouTube videos on perspective drawing Click Here To Watch More Perspective Videos.

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Use Basic Shapes to be a Better Artist

Basic Shapes Clafiy difficult problems

When I was young I had strange misconceptions and ideas of how to draw. I would pick up books and see artist describing things into basic shapes and I would think to myself that’s not how you draw. You just draw. Little did I know how much I was wrong!

After years of training and a twenty year professional career in illustration and fine art  I know it is “the key” to drawing and painting regardless of style. Whenever I am having troubles drawing I always use basic shapes to make my drawing better and more accurate. Whether I am drawing a portrait, wildlife or still life everything can be broken down into basic shapes. Here is a basic representation of the concept but I use this in much more complex to draw a pear

Dividing Lines the Holy Grail of Drawing

Proportion and Dividing Lines

Dividing a Line Equally without a Ruler

Anyone who has picked up a pencil and wanted to make an accurate drawing knows the most important thing is proportions. That means you need to divide things up. Sometimes into several pieces. Now you can eyeball it but if you want to get to a better level of accuracy then you want to use a few simple techniques that will take your drawing to the next level.

Dividing a Line Segment into 5 Equal Parts

Now I can use this method to divide it into any number of parts but for this exercise it will divide it into five.

1. First draw the line you need to divide using a straight edge.

2. Draw a line of “any angle”(it doesn’t matter the angle)  from point “A”. As pictured below.

3. Using a compass or a divider or even a ruler or even two random marks of any length. Mark off five equal spaces along your line.

4. Connect you last marked space to point “B.”(This is very important)  Then using parallel lines connect the marked points to the line “AB”.

5. Now you have a line that is divided equally into 5 parts.

Now the great part is you can do this by hand the same process and you will divide things much more accurately and quickly than you ever thought possible. Give it a try.

Also this is done with straight edges and such but do this by hand will give you much more accurate divisions even though your lines won’t be as straight. You will be far more accurate than if you “Eye Ball it”. 

Where this really becomes important is this can be used in perspective as well. That’s where the true power of this shines. It a variation but the process is essentially the same.

To Find Other Drawing Insights click Drawing Tips

How to Draw a Portrait- The Basics

The Fundamentals of a Head
Starting with the Classic method of Developing a
Portrait from the Egg shape.

Step 1 – We start with an oval or egg shape.

Generally the oval is about a 1/3 taller than it is wide. If you are having trouble with drawing ovals grab an egg from the refrigerator and quickly making some ovals. 20 to 40 will go a long way in helping you get more comfortable drawing the shape

Step 2 – Once we have drawn our oval we will cut the oval in half with a horizontal line.

This is the “eye line”. From the “eye line” to the bottom of the oval we will divide this space in half to mark where the “nose line” is located. From the “nose line” to the bottom of the oval we will divide this space in half once again to establish the “mouth line”. One very import note the mouth line is where the bottom lip will touch or close to it. View the illustration below to make this more clear.

Step 3 Head width

The width of the head is measured in “eye spaces”. The head width is generally 5 eye spaces wide along the “eye line” which should be the widest part of our oval. Let’s divide that into five eye spaces as seen below. Now using a center line will make things easier. For those who follow my newsletter I had an art tip on dividing a line of any length into five equal sections which you can use, but for the most part when I was a student we where taught to just eye ball it. Then using a ruler and or your thumb and pointed end of the pencil to measure and check each section to make sure the spaces were equal.

Step 4 – 3 Eye Spaces

If you remember one things please remember this. Eye spaces 2, 3, and 4 are always the same width. This is the two eyes and the space between your eyes sometimes referred to as the “third eye”. Eye spaces 1, 5 can vary depending on the person’s face how round or how thin they are and so forth.

Step 5 – The Eye Line Measurements are Key.

The five spaces help us locate all other measurement of the face.
Nose– drop straight lines from the side of eye space “3” to give you the width of the nose.
Corners of the Mouth. Drop line from approximately the middle of eye spaces “2” and “4” for the width of the mouth. Look at the illustration below. Remember the “Bottom of the Lip” touches the “Mouth Line”
Other Features
Ears – The Ears are in the space between the “nose line” and the “eye line”
Hair – Your hair grows off and from you skull so the illustration show the original oval or egg shape as a checked line and the hair line out and off the skull.
Neck – Use a cylinder for the neck. Now the neck can be dropped straight down from the ears if the person is a line backer or something. If it’s in too far from the jar it looks like a cartoon neck so somewhere between those extremes are where the neck will be.

Step 6 – Putting it all together.

This shows a very simple generic and simplified portrait using the proportions I talked about. Look where the simple nose falls or where the lips, ears and so forth are located. Next month will go through the steps of creating a portrait using these proportions we have discussed today.

How to Draw a Simple Eye

eye step 6 smallest

How to Draw a Simple Eye
Eyes are one of the most important things when drawing people. Many people struggle when drawing eyes. These easy steps will help you draw eyes more accurately. Lets start with the basic angle in the top lid.

Step 1 – The Top lid is comprised of 3 main angles. The innermost angle from the tear duct is usually the most extreme angle. Each person’s eye and therefore the angles are different. Practice looking for the 3 angles while drawing several different eyes.eye step 1 smallestStep 2 – The Tear duct is a trapezoid or modified triangle shape. Everyone’s tear duct shapes are different. So analyze the shape of the person’s tear duct. It’s an important feature of the eye.

eye step 2 smallest
Step 3– The top lid is comprised of two main angles. The first angle at the lid wraps around the eye ball is the most the second is softer at it connects to the tear duct.

eye step 3 smallest
Step 4 – Round your angles and make them soft arcs. Then there are just a few more things to remember. The lids have a thickness. This gives volume and depth to you eye. The how much of the thickness of the eye you see can indicate the angle you are viewing the eye at, this eye below is being seen from straight on. If I was looking down on someone I wouldn’t see the thickness of the top lid. If I was looking up at a person I would see more of the top lid thickness and less of or even none of the bottom lid.step 4 smallest
Step 5– The eye’s top and bottom lid have a thickness that shows the skin wrapping the eye ball. Again this gives shape and form to the eye. Look of the fold. The top lid fold is always darker than the lower one. If you are not careful the person will look like they haven’t slept in weeks.

eye step 5 smallest
Step 6 – Putting it all together. Next try putting in the values and you will have a very convincing eye. I will cover a more advanced explanation of drawing the eye in coming articles. The steps above are the most basic ideas to consider when drawing the eye.

eye step 6 smallestI will add posts on shading an eye, basic eye anatomy and drawing a more advanced eye.