Drawing is one of humanity’s oldest forms of expression, with existing examples dating back an astonishing 80,000 years or more. Older than written language by tens of thousands of years, drawing developed across millennia, forming the base of many of the world’s artistic traditions.
Like reading and writing, drawing is a fundamental life skill. Once an integral part of a traditional education, knowledge of drawing deepens your understanding of the visual world that surrounds you and enhances your ability to interact meaningfully with it. In addition to the many pleasures of drawing, the ability to see as an artist sees brings a new dimension to self-expression and elevates your skill in countless other activities, from photography and design to the deeper appreciation of nature and art.
Professional artists in the West have traditionally studied drawing first, as a primary and foundational skill. And, as you’ll discover in How to Draw, the art of drawing is eminently learnable.
Contrary to what many people think, the ability to draw both accurately and expressively does not depend on innate talent or a unique gift. Think of it like this: Anyone can learn to play a musical instrument, though not everyone can be Mozart. Similarly, though not everyone can be Michelangelo or van Gogh, anyone can learn the skills of drawing and develop the ability to draw what they see from observation and invent whole worlds from their imagination.
In fact, you may be amazed at how well you can learn to draw, even if you believe you have no artistic talent. As this course demonstrates through clear examples, you can learn to apply the same fundamental principles that professional artists routinely use in their drawings. If you follow the professor’s guidance, by the end of the course you’ll understand how to faithfully represent what you see in front of you and in your mind’s eye.
The 36 video lessons of How to Draw offer you dynamic and comprehensive training in the art of drawing. Your teacher, David Brody, Professor of Painting and Drawing at of the University of Washington, brings more than forty years of study, studio work, and dedicated teaching to this course, demonstrating an inspiring teaching style and limitless insight into the learning process.
This brilliantly designed course takes you step by step through all of the key elements that, taken together, form the art of drawing. Through Professor Brody’s presentation and your own studio practice, you’ll study the core principles of drawing, such as line, proportion, composition, value, light and shadow, texture, color, and figure drawing. You’ll also study many of the groundbreaking Renaissance methods used for realistically depicting illusionistic space on a two dimensional surface, including empirical and linear perspective.
In the later lectures, you’ll explore the ways in which Renaissance spatial constructs evolved to include a broader understanding of pictorial space. You will study the essential connection between figuration and abstraction, and the ways in which this opened new possibilities for art that melded abstraction and representation.
Throughout the course, you’ll take lessons and inspiration from dozens of master drawings from history’s greatest draftsmen— artists like Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Thomas Eakins, and contemporary masters such as Richard Diebenkorn and Norman Lundin. The result is a richly enjoyable and effective system for learning this remarkable art.
You can use the course material in many ways. How to Draw is a rich and deep resource, offering a wide spectrum of lessons that make the skills of drawing directly accessible.
Learn the Language of Drawing
Start by tracing the fascinating history of drawing, and begin to experiment with the artist’s materials you’ll use throughout the course. From there, you’ll study the underlying “grammar” of drawing, and make drawings that explore elements such as:
- Line: Learn to use contour and construction line to draw objects and cross-contour line to create volume.
- Shape: Draw individual objects by constructing them from basic geometric shapes, and discover the elements of positive, negative, and aggregate shape.
- Composition: Study how to organize the parts of a drawing to create a unified whole within a specific rectangle, using techniques of compositional balance, spatial organization, and the use of focal areas and focal points.
- Proportion: Use the velo of Alberti, a gridded Renaissance device that allows you to understand how three-dimensional form can be accurately depicted on a flat surface, and learn to control proportion by using a standard unit of measure, level and plumb lines, and quantify difficult angles using the clock hand approach.
- Illusionistic Space: Study in detail how to create flatness, volume, and space, using such tools as receding diagonals and foreshortened shapes, the relative scale of objects, and atmospheric perspective.
With each new step in the process, you’ll apply your knowledge in drawing projects, which encompass individual objects, still lifes, interiors, and self-portraits.
Master the Principles of Linear Perspective
The Renaissance discovery of linear perspective radically changed the way future generations would draw, allowing artists to depict three-dimensional space with astonishing accuracy. In the course, you’ll devote five lectures and numerous drawing projects to a study of this powerful drawing tool.
- Investigate one-point perspective, and how diagonal lines recede to a “vanishing point” on the horizon, a principle that allows you to create three-dimensional form in space.
- Learn to draw perspectival grids—used for measuring depth of space in a drawing—and geometric patterns in perspective.
- Continue with the principles governing inclined planes, the principles of two-point perspective (which depicts planes angled differently from in one-point perspective), and the principles of three-point perspective (which describes what we see when we look up or down).
- Combine your knowledge of illusionistic space and perspective to draw architectural landscapes, buildings, and room interiors.
Explore the Uses of Value, Texture, and Color
Discover further elements that add depth and dimension to your art. As you go through the course, you’ll build your vocabulary of drawing terms and learn to apply a wide array of new techniques.
- Investigate the rich possibilities of visual texturein drawing. Practice textural techniques such as hatching, create your own textural marks, and learn to simulate the textures of objects.
- Study color theory, the spectrum of colors on the color wheel, and how colors function in nature.
- Choose palettes of colors for your drawings, and learn to use color to create mood, emotion, visual hierarchy, space, and light.
- Learn how to use value (the relative lightness or darkness of tones) in creating mood, volume, and as a compositional tool in directing the viewer’s attention.
- Develop the ability to portray light,both natural and artificial, and shadow; learn to draw cast shadows, both outdoors and within interiors.
You’ll also get in-depth instruction on how to draw realistic human figures.
- Study a canon of human proportions, and draw the figure by building it using measure and component geometric shapes.
- Delve into the underlying structure of the body, learning about human anatomy like Leonardo and Michelangelo: study the skeleton and muscles, their functions, and how to create naturalistic volume in figure drawing.
- Do a range of figure-drawing projects, including self-portraits, figures in perspective, and figures in narrative contexts.
Professor Brody’s presentation shows you that in order to portray the visual world naturalistically, you must learn to see analytically and abstractly, as artists see. Among many things, this means learning to understand the underlying architecture of form and developing the ability to visualize the whole before the details.
Forge A Vision for Your Own Work
In the course’s final section, Professor Brody guides you in applying what you’ve learned to discover your own personal creative vision. Here, you’ll encounter concepts and do advanced drawing projects aimed at developing individual source material and subject matter for your own drawings, and you’ll form a clearer idea of the kind of art you want to make.
Throughout the course, Professor Brody illustrates the subject matter with vivid animations, live demonstrations of key principles, and drawings by both celebrated masters and students whose work exemplifies and clarifies the learning process. In addition to the video lectures themselves, Professor Brody has crafted many exercises for you to practice your newly acquired skills.
These 36 in-depth lessons help you build a complete and integrated set of drawing skills in a step-by-step, clear, and detailed manner. How to Draw is your opportunity to understand and master the skills, concepts, and art of drawing, an ability with rewards you will treasure for a lifetime.