Drawing How To: Process

Armand Cabrera

When I’m drawing it’s important to have the simple value plan. I like three or four values at the most depending on the image. I start with placement. After observing the scene and getting the sense of the light and shadow patterns I come up with an arrangement that I think will convey the sense of this place. I want to incorporate the cloud patterns across the landscape and use them to help my center of interest and create a feeling of depth.

When I draw initially I like to keep my lines flowing and not too broken and scribbly. This establishes a sense of rhythm for my shapes.

I fill in the values for the sky and big hill and lay down some strong darks around the house. All the time I am working I’m watching the cloud patterns and thinking about how I will integrate them into the final scene.

Next I work on the foreground and decide on the lights and darks placement there.

After laying in the tones I clean up with a kneaded eraser and add a few more details and I’m done. Total drawing time is about 40 minutes on an 8x 11 pad.
These exercises help in a number of ways. It helps you to reduce shapes to contour lines first. This requires organization on your part. You learn to simplify the scene to a black and white image and to design the elements not just copy. The more you work at it the more you can take it to a high degree of finish and control. Learning to control the pencil and the strokes will help your painting. You will break a lot of pencil lead but I think it is worth the extra trouble in the long run.

If you work in concept or production art this type of sketching will help you build a mental library of real life experience to help in construction and design of environment drawing. I always felt one of the advantages I had getting work in those industries was the amount of drawing and painting from life I did and how it affected my work in the studio..

7 thoughts on “Drawing How To: Process

  1. Thanks for breaking down the steps; I find for large drawing my lines are indeed broken and scribbly. I think I'm trying to get the mass down while creating the composition. Maybe some people can do that well, but I get 'lost' while drawing that way.
    I've run into articles comparing 'mass' drawing vs. 'line' drawing- do you think they are very different, and have different purposes?

  2. Judy,

    I do, I like to mix them when I draw but mass drawing relies less on line and more on volume and edge variation. I don't think one is better than the other really just different.
    You don't see a lot of purely mass drawing for landscape, especially outdoors. Its more for portrait and figure drawing where developing the volumes of the body work well for that type of rendering. Ted Kautzky and John Pike come to mind for landscape but even they don't work from life completely ignoring line.

  3. Thanks again, Armand, for answering my question above. I have to say I thought it was the opposite; that line drawing would be used more for portrait and figure drawing, because the little angles and details would be crucial for accuracy of likeness or gesture. Whereas a lumpy mountainside could be massed in efficiently. It's another thing for me to dwell on.

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