Structure and Form Pencil Sketch Art Lesson

Lack of structure is one of the most common drawing problems of pencil sketch art. It’s easy to see – sometimes you don’t even know why, but there’s something that ‘just feels wrong. You can see it when a bottle or cup looks ugly, or someone’s arms and legs don’t ‘seem to quite belong to them. The face may look familiar but the expression is strange. When this happens, it’s usually because the artist dives too quickly into the detail of the drawing ideas.

The surface looks nice, but the structure underneath is weak. All the features are there, but they don’t meet. It’s like a house with a nice door that won’t close because the frame isn’t straight.

How to Draw a Structure of Pencil Sketch Art

Drawing the structure means ignoring all the details of the surface and looking for large shapes. This approach is similar to the ‘step-by-step’ method of circles and ovals you often see in cool drawing idea lessons, where the picture is broken down into simple squares and ovals. But instead of flat, two-dimensional shapes, you now need to look for three-dimensional objects that you’ll take into perspective.

Start with simple things. You can try to imagine that the object is made of glass – like a fish tank – so that you can visualize the edges that you can’t see, pencil sketch art the main parts. Have you always produced toys out of cardboard cases? Imagine a camera made of a box and a plastic cover, or a rocket made from a paper tube and cone, or a robot made of a collection of small boxes.

This is the sort of integrity, to start with.

The Two Structure Drawing Approaches

There are two main techniques in drawing structure. The first is to start with a basic skeleton and add detail, showing the basic shapes that are intricate of a complex surface, such as the sculptor working with clay and adding pieces.

The second technique involves an imaginary box, working from the outside in, figuring out the basic shapes that the form will fit inside, like a sculptor starting with a block of marble and chipping bits away. Often you will find yourself using a combination of the two techniques. Give them both a try!

The Purpose: To carry out the establishment of the basic structure of objects.

What You Require: Sketchbook or paper, HB or B pencils, ordinary objects.

What to do:

Choose something simple. It doesn’t have to be ‘artistic’, though something like a sewing machine or electric vacuum cleaner is ideal.

Now, imagine that you are going to blow it from a piece of rock. What rough shape will you form first? Note the very simple cylinder shape used for the first pencil sketch art in the example above. Draw perspective as correctly as possible, for free. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Now you can begin to indicate basic shapes within the form, such as lines through a set of details, or large indentations. Show where the details are going, but don’t escape them. Focus on getting overall proportion and placement.

Finally, finish the drawing if you wish, or leave it as an exercise in structure.

Going Beyond: Try drawing more complex objects, always looking for simple part shapes.

Try looking for shapes inside objects, such as an outline, and looking for ones that contain shapes, such as boxes, to establish your structure. You can also practice observation without a pencil sketch art, just observing your surroundings wherever you are.

Takeaway Tips:

  • Start with the largest section of a complex form.
  • Don’t worry about mistakes, they are part of the learning.
  • Don’t accept a ruler – raise your hand.
  • You don’t have to ‘end the designs.
  • Practice!

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