Using Photography to Practice your Drawing Skills and Experiment with Different Techniques

Most, if not all of the great drawing, painting and sculpting masters of the past centuries learned by first copying other artists work as well as studying from life itself.

Today we have so much more equipment available to help us learn and develop as artists. I say use it!

Especially make use your camera – don’t be scared, don’t feel like you’re cheating!

When studying how to draw the human figure, and especially portraits, a camera is almost essential unless you have a very, very cheap model with lots of patience.

The main reason being the cost associated with employing models to sit for hours on end whilst you practice your techniques and gradually develop your understanding of light, shadow, anatomy, expression, texture…

However, it is of prime importance that you also study from life itself.

Otherwise you are likely to miss that which captures life’s essence in a particular work of art. For example, the feeling of emotion, or a glimpse of something mysterious, or the technical fact that real-life will present your eyes with a larger dynamic range of value (colours that range from light to dark) than photographs are currently capable of representing.

Not to say that you should neglect study of drawings and paintings by Old Masters, and casts or original statues, for one, this will assist you in solving some of the problems you come across when attempting to represent or convey certain things.

Photography is simply another way that can be used to assist in the study of expression, light and shade, anatomy and focus.

There are some great black and white photos of arts movers and shakers from the sixties on the BBC website which could be a good place to start. Or even better, why not take your own photos of friends and family, and use these as practise images to copy drawings from (they also make great presents!).

In a couple of days time I’ll be adding a detailed drawing tutorial which takes you explicitly through the steps of copying a photo using photorealistic drawing techniques.

Until then, try experimenting with your own techniques or at least try on of the other drawing tutorials »

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