Visual Tricks to Improve Your Drawing

Mackenzie Swenson
Duration:   40  mins

You’ve done the initial hard work of setting up your drawing with a beautiful gesture and a solid scaffolding of measurements and proportions. How do you then add more detail and information without losing track of the big look? Mackenzie takes you through her five favorite Visual Tricks that help you advance your drawing or painting without sacrificing the unity of the image. The information in this lesson is best applied after starting with the videos “Finding the Abstract Gesture to Start Any Drawing,” and by “How to Use Comparative Measurement.” However, it will help anyone looking to add layers and detail to their artwork!

Mackenzie begins by identifying the solid “anchor points” that should stay in place while adding detail and information to the drawing. It’s important to have a few reliable elements that you can come back to and trust if things start to go awry! Then, Mackenzie get into finding angles. She shows you how to translate angles from your subject to your drawing using your measuring tool, as well as a few other mental tricks. For example, asking the question “how quickly would a ball roll down the slope of this angle, and is it the same as in my drawing?” You’ll then learn how to use cross-referencing and triangulation by placing new marks in relationship to the anchor points you’ve established in your drawing, as well as using vertical plumblines and horizontal relationships. Mackenzie will show you how you can use your eye to assess spatial relationships once they get smaller than the initial half and quarter measurements, and then finally how to use your imagination to find animal shapes to capture the unique character of the various abstract shapes that are instrumental in capturing naturalism and a likeness.

Mackenzie is working from part of an image titled, “The Cardinal de Birague” from a popular 19th Century drawing manual by artist Charles Bargue. She is drawing on Strathmore Series 400 paper using a Staedtler HB graphite pencil, a Tombow Mono eraser, a kneaded eraser, and a measuring tool.