Everything Begins As Simple Shapes

When I say everything begins as simple shapes, I mean that even complex subjects can be seen as a few basic drawing forms.

And you are already familiar with these forms.

The simple shapes I'm talking about are rectangles, triangles, circles and ellipses.

These are the basic building blocks of almost every subject.

And your art should begin as simple shapes first, so you keep the art creation process as simple as possible.

One of the core art skills that will help you become an artist is to begin to see these simple shapes in everything you draw and paint.

Why Everything Begins As Simple Shapes

Because too often your mind makes art harder than it needs to be.

It often pushes you to jump into the details of your subject before you've established its correct size and shape.

Then you get part way through your drawing or painting and wonder why it doesn't look quite right.

That path leads to continual frustration.

It doesn't matter whether your subject is your great aunt Mabel, Alphonse, your pet canary, or Yogi the Bear.

Whether you are drawing or painting, you want to start your art in the easiest way possible.

And the easiest way possible is when every subject you do begins as simple shapes first.

Once you get the simple shapes drawn the right size and in the right places you've built a solid foundation for the rest of the art.

Take Smokey here. Seen from this angle the overall shape of his body is a very simple ellipse.

Now, you may be thinking my ellipse doesn't exactly follow every little dip and curve of his body.

So what?

Remember, we are simplifying here. Neither of us are graded on how absolutely exact we are.

What Is Most Important?

All a viewer of your work cares about is: Is it interesting?

And your main concern should be: How can I make this fun to do?

Just like his body, the bear's head also begins as simple shapes. The overall form of his head is a circle.

For simplicity sake his nose and mouth can be thought of as kind of a boxy shape. More about why in a moment.

Understanding and using these basic drawing forms can aid you in other ways.

They can help you get your proportions correct.

Look at the circle that is Smokey's head. Measure the width of that circle.

Then compare that measurement to the distance between the edge of the circle and Smokey's rump.

It may surprise you to discover that both distances are the same.

I'm willing to bet that initially your eyes told you those distances were different.

Believe me; even after more than 40 years in art, every piece of work I do begins as simple shapes.

This is one of the best drawing or painting art tips I can give you.

Large simple shapes first. Check the size. Check the shape.

Everything okay? Then you are on the path to a winner.

Best Wishes,
Gary Gumble
Founder of BeginningArtist.com
Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. I mentioned earlier that thinking of Smokey's nose and mouth as a simple boxy shape can aid you in other ways.

When you begin to put in tone or paint, simple shapes can aid you in changing how the light appears on your subject.

In the photograph Smokey is lying in the shade, and the light on him is not very interesting.

I can begin to change that light to something more dramatic just by knowing about these basic drawing forms.

I'll tell you more about them later.

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