Tips on getting proportions correct

Getting the proportions of each element of your artwork correct is vital to create a realistic looking drawing or painting. A successful illustration has each shape drawn in the correct size in proportion to every other shape in the drawing. Proportions can be one of the hardest skills for beginners to develop. Luckily there are a few tricks that you can use to help you to make those judgements about the size of your shapes.

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How to draw – Top 5 tips for Beginners

1. Draw the shape – not the duck

Duck? who mentioned a duck?

OK, I’m using a duck as an example, but it could be any object. If you are a beginner and you try and draw a duck, your brain starts by trying to simplify the duck to shapes that can be drawn easily and will be recognizable. Your brain will guide you to draw that simplified version of the duck so that others may recognize your drawing. The trouble is that the simplified version that your brain is telling you may not look anything like the real duck that you are trying to draw. It leads to confusion and frustration as you try and draw what your brain is telling you while comparing your drawing to the real duck.

Whether you are trying to draw a duck, a car, a persons face or a bowl of flowers, the principle is exactly the same. Your brain will try and draw the object in the simplest way it can, while also modifying the shapes so that your drawing will be recognizable.  The secret to drawing is to follow the real shapes that you are seeing rather than drawing what your brain tells you to draw.

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Following the real shapes that we are seeing

How do I learn to draw the real shapes that I am seeing?

When we try and draw a picture there is a part of brain that is always telling us how things should be. It tells us what shape we should be drawing so that the drawing is identifiable to other people, it always thinks that it knows best. This part of our brain is great for other things such as identifying objects and recognising our friends faces, but when it comes to drawing it is nearly always wrong. It is exactly this part of our brain that misleads us when we are trying to draw an object. Instead of following what we are seeing, it will lead us astray with made up shapes that don’t follow reality.

How do we ignore it? Read more