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June 30th 2001
YouCanDraw.com's Insider Communiqué
In today's issue:
1) Question about using media other than pencil from member John Beales of
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
2) Very brief look at breaking down the face into primitive forms: starting with
3) Reviewing the very user-friendly usage rights
1) Member John Beales writes:
"I have noticed different caricature artists using markers, pastels, pens etc. I am
interested in using pastels as well as others...In any of the course do you teach
working in different mediums?"
ANS: Great question John Getting a firm idea for the basic elements - like line,
light and shadow, angles, proportion, perspective - learning those is job number
one - but you can experiment in whatever medium you wish (my favorite is
Once you get a feel for what the basics are, color becomes an immediate
offshoot. An offshoot of what you might ask? An offshoot most specifically of
recognizing shadows, shadow shapes and tones/values/shades within those
shadows and shadow shapes. Shadow tones and values are just different "colors"
of gray. It's all a matter of observation. With that under your belt - that is,
learning to differentiate different shades of gray - it's easiest to start working
into color using or pastels or pens or paints (but again - you can and ought
to experiment any time you get the whim:-) .
Lesson 9 is gives you a pretty thorough walk through of using shadows, highlights
and recognizing shadows as shapes. See lesson 9 (even though it says "lesson
10") on-line at:
So to really answer your question John, I don't get too deep into color - but by
learning the basics, you can make the leap.
Please feel free to throw any questions you might have at me as you go John. I'll
do my best to answer them (if you want to mail something for evaluation - feel free
to do that too :-) emailing a copy is ok too as long as it's under 100 kb. (that's
pretty small - but big enough to see what you're doing).
So dive on in and don't be afraid! - thanks again for your question.
2) Primitive forms and constructing the face and head in three dimensions
We were just talking about shadows and colors and shadow shapes above, and
that's a great lead in to the next section here. When you're drawing, you're generally
reducing the three dimensional world "out there" to the two dimensions of the paper.
How does the mind recognize three dimensions on two dimensional paper? The short
answer? Three different ways, through: 1) proportion, 2) perspective and
In June 5th's Communiqué we talked about geometric forms (not to worry new
members, the archives will be updated this month and you'll have access to all the
old e-zines and caricatures). When constructing a face or head, the ability to see
it and reduce it to geometric forms is a great technique. For instance, seeing the
face as a construct of five different 3-d shapes helps you to instantly perceive a
person's underlying bone structure (yep, just like x-ray vision!)
[See lesson 14, section 7 for an in-depth exploration of these five building blocks
of the face: http://ycdinsiders.digitalchainsaw.com/InsidersArtistLoft/section7a.htm ]
Five main building blocks of the face
Those five main building blocks of the face: the forehead, cheekbones, nose, maxilla,
and jaw can be reduced further to some combination of the "primitive forms". What
are the main three dimensional primitive forms? They're the sphere, the cube, the
cone, and the cylinder.
What's the use of that?
The beauty of recognizing these forms within the features and parts of the face
is at least two-fold. First, when you know how to draw the different primitive
geometric shapes, you instantly have a built-in template in your brain to build from.
(If you're just beginning it's this referencing you want to avoid - if you're just beginning learning to see what is in front of you is always your first task.)
Seeing these forms in your subject helps speed up your drawing because you
know for instance, an elliptical shape can be derived from a sphere, a cone from
combining a triangle and a cylinder - and again, the face can be reduced to all
Light, geometric shapes and your drawings
More importantly, if you understand how light responds and behaves on the different
geometric forms and you know the source the light hitting your subject is coming
from, it's a slam dunk: you can recognize instantly where on a face the shadows
ought to be falling. That way you can look for them, you'll know where to find them and thus correctly place them in your drawing - adding tremendously to it's three
See the attached illustration
In the attached illustration check out the shape of the cone on the left and see if
you can't visualize it within the caricatured nose on the right. Squint - this will
help to collapse the detail into identifiable shapes.
Jeffrey O. Kasbohm