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Lines and masses

You have in mind a particular drawing you decided to work on. You might not have anything specific in mind but you want to draw what’s in front of you. Being lucky, you happen to have your pencil and sketch board. What can you do? Start drawing, of course! But how? Do you start drawing lines or would you rather go with the masses? Do you outline right away or do you apply shades and fill up blanks? Maybe both at the same time? So there are two approaches about drawing, LINES and MASSES. Unless you feel at ease with both ways, it is

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better to be good at one of them at least. Don’t get me wrong, my purpose is not only to allow you to figure out what is your favourite style but also to favour one style or the other according to what you are looking for. That’s the first question you have to ask yourself if you want to make an accomplished drawing. In his class, Piet Herzeel gives us thinking paths all necessary to the construction of a deep and inspired drawing:

  • What do you want to show or outline in particular?
  • What tool to use? Which pencil to use and how hard?
  • What would be the proper base? In what way can this influence your work?
  • How to choose the best angle?

In the “workshop” tab you can practice with a concrete example and understand why, according to the subject you picked, you should choose lines or masses and how you can define and reproduce the right intensity of your masses. Piet Herzeel shows us, step by step, how to build a scale with different shades of grey and how to sort them out in order to avoid having too many tones. You can try out both styles in the exercises that Piet Herzeel suggests at the end of this module. You can, for example, make out a drawing according to the chart that you just created. Pencils ready! Squint your eyes! Start drawing!


The study of drapery is happily one that can be carried on at almost any place, time, and season, and perhaps it is because of this very ease of access that it is so often neglected and many an otherwise satisfactory picture will be marred by the poor drawing of drapery and clothing. When the weather is unsuitable for sketching, when there is no person available as a model, time may well be spent on a little practice in drawing drapery. Take any piece of material, a handkerchief for lack of anything better. Pin it up on the wall or to a curtain—anywhere so long as it falls in natural folds—and make a sketch of it. Notice the tendency to trian­gular forms, the way in which the folds radiate from the pin, and the foreshortening of the curves which form the bottom edge of the handkerchief. Having satisfied yourself with that sketch, take the handkerchief down and throw it over some object such as a book standing on edge or an inverted flower vase, and make another sketch. Notice the arrangement of the folds; they will end abruptly at the top if falling from a sharp edge, and will

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fade away gradually from a rounded shape. Something of the underlying object should be obvious from your drawing of the handkerchief in the same way that clothes should suggest the limbs and body they cover. Then make a sketch of it, knotted, or tied around something. As you tie the knot (which makes the best study if not tied too tightly), notice which fold passes behind and where it reappears, and be on the lookout for this continuity when you come to draw it. Fig. 117 to 123 show outline studies of drapery. Fig. 117 shows it loosely looped around the figure in natural folds. Long, sweeping lines predominate. In Fig.118 it is more bunched, and the long lines are disturbed and irregular. In Fig. 119 the fluted line of the edge of the material is noticeable. Fig. 120 shows the abrupt change of line where the drapery trails on the floor. In Fig. 123 the triangular form of the folds is again plain, and also the fluted edge. Fig. 122 emphasizes the under­lying human form even though the drapery is voluminous.Fig. 121 shows the flowing lines and repetition of form in material blown by the wind. The usual tendency in drawing drapery is to shun straight lines and make the folds too rounded. The angularity in Figs. 120 and 123 should be noted. Figs. 124 and 129 show how the lines of material, in one case loosely and in the other more closely draped, follow and suggest the form they cover. Fig. 126, a sketch of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, shows the charm of simply interpreted drapery; Fig. 125, the elaborate arrange­ment of a bygone fashion. Fig. 127 is given to show that the ragged, careless effect of old clothes may be accentuated by ragged and somewhat carefree lines. Fig. 128 gives folds of a thick, rich material. The broad folds show the thick, com­parative stiffness of the drapery and the reflected light in the shadows suggests the sheen of brocade. Thick material will not fall into narrow folds unless artificially arranged, and will tend to straight lines and angles. Thin material falls in narrower, less clearly defined folds with more flowing lines and rounder corners. drapery loosely looped around the figure in natural foldsdrapery118drapery119drapery120drapery121drapery122drapery123drapery124drapery125drapery126drapery127drapery128drapery129

How to draw water

Water, Running water, Reflections, River water movements, Ripples and waves, The seaside, Underwater, Rocks


Water always gives an aesthetic touch to a landscape drawing or painting. But, just like the clouds in the sky, water can assume so many different forms and we really need to start by putting our thoughts in order. Remember, water is a fluid: it runs, flows, jumps, gushes and spurts.

Depending on its movement, its own or its reflected colour can change completely. You will doubtless have noticed how a stretch of water which appears dark blue one morning may become green or grey as the day wears on. The influence of the sky is often at work here.buy commercial wrecking ball inflatable

As you know, of course, you cannot rely on the pencil to reproduce colours, so once again you will need to think and observe in terms of values.

Stretches of water. This category will include the sea, lakes, ponds, canals (not strictly speaking running water), puddles and all other forms of static water. In the absence of wind, these waters are nothing more nor less than mirrors forcing you to draw he same subject twice, once the right way up and once “upside down”. That is actually not strictly speaking true since, as you know, the reflection of an object is never entirely identical to the object – or rather, it is the same thing but seen from a different angle.

The module on how to construct reflections in perspectives deals, I hope, with this question fairly clearly so I suggest that we confine ourselves here to the shapes and tones which water can take.

Running water

Streams, rivers, all kinds of waterfall large and small, all natural or artificial spillways fall into the category of running water. Whenever their shape alters their reflections change as well. When you learn to observe a stream, you notice how the water flowing against a rock winds itself in a continuous movement giving the illusion of an unchanging aspect.

We learn that the particles of water making up this border and then a series of wavelets going round an obstacle are in fact in constant movement. And yet we look upon the whole as something more solid, like a sort of vitreous paste left to cool. A photograph which fixes or freezes running water sometimes gives this unreal look to a mass of undulating water.

But in your drawing are you going to emphasise or downplay this special effect?

The photographer’s choice

An accomplished photographer can easily lengthen or reduce the camera’s shutter speed, and when he takes a photo of a waterfall he can choose his exposure time. The result is a different photograph each time. If the exposure time is short the waterfall will be “frozen”, showing thousands of clearly defined drops of water separated from each other like glass marbles rendered elongated by their movement. But in the case of a longer exposure time, several successive positions of each drop will be superimposed on the role of film, thereby creating a plethora of light marks indicating the direction of their movement. The result is a certain blur due to the speed at which the drops move. This result will undoubtedly be more realistic and close to what is perceived by the naked eye.

If you opt for this second approach you will render the effect of blur and movement through lines running parallel to the movement of the water. Don’t overdo this effect or else you run the risk of lapsing into convention. Remember, you are not trying to emulate the cartoon approach where movement is indicated by the lines situated behind the objects. This convention which works very well in comic strip drawings would be entirely out of place in a landscape drawing.

Tonality of reflections in still water In rendering the reflection of an object, you will be at pains to observe the general tonality of what is reflected compared to the original. In many instances, the whole is a little darker and a little less contrasted, but this not always the case. With water, there is sometimes a light mist serving to “bleach” the entire range of tones of the reflected part.

This observation is important for getting you on the right track, but once you have decided whether the reflection is lighter or darker, stick to your guns and be consistent in your range of tones.

Learn how to draw a face

How to draw a face

A step by step guide in drawing faces which look like people.

You can begin by just drawing circles then add the main features such as the nose, eyes, ears and mouth. To progress to a higher quality in shape and emotion you’ll have to learn that the human head is not just an oval stuck on top of a rigid body. The head has an inclination, the eyes are looking in a certain direction and the mouth has an expression. The person may be laughing, crying or speaking to someone and you’ll want to give life and character to the sketch.

With the Signus art course, even a novice will rapidly learn the steps and techniques required in drawing a realistic human face or cartoon style characters.

Drawing facesCartoon sketch

Lessons to teaching you to draw faces

The Signus lessons will guide you progressively through all the phases.

Start drawing basic shapes and searching for recognisable forms
Draw step by step

You’ll learn to understand the structure of the human skull, proportions.
Parts of a face

  • Facial expressions
  • Proportions
  • Volume & shape
  • Position of eyes, ears, mouth and lips
  • Emotions
  • Shading and light on the face

Drawing facial expressions

People will always show their emmotions with expressions on their faces, from laughter to anger, smiles to crying, surprise to fear.

expressions on faces facial
Each type of expression changes the shape of the face, the eyes, nose and mouth will be in different positions, wrinkles can be more or less pronounced. The eyebrows are raised or lowered…
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