Video games are not a revolution
Video games are not a revolution in art history, but an evolution. Whether you are drawing on paper, canvas, or a computer screen, the medium you draw is always an inanimate, flat surface that challenges you to make something without depth feel like a window onto a living, breathing world.
The technology powering today’s games influences the way we experience visual art in a new way—with the gentle push of a player’s thumb, we can now interact with these visual worlds. But take away that interaction, and what remains is the static visual artwork itself. And the success of that artwork relies on the same visual grammar (lines, shapes, volumes, value, color) and classical art techniques that have evolved over two thousand years.
Team Fortress 2 (Artwork courtesy of Value Corporation)
The fundamental techniques we’ll cover in this level learning to use drawing media and tools; basic concepts like perspective, volume, light, shadow; and the basic drawing process provide the foundation for all subsequent lessons in this book. The fundamental techniques—along with Levels 2 and 3 represent the base mesh stage. Practice them until you have some proficiency before moving on to subsequent chapters where increasingly complex subjects will be simplified using the techniques learned at this level.
The best tools for practicing classical art techniques are pencil on paper because these straightforward media allow you to focus on the fundamentals of the drawing process: position, direction, and pressure. In addition, you’ll need just a few supplies for all the drawing exercises in the book—pencils, erasers, a ruler, and paper. (For research and development, which we’ll cover in Level 6, you will also need a computer with Internet access and a scanner.)
Most artists find inspiration and ideas when they’re away from their studio or drawing space, so it’s helpful to have a portable sketchbook on hand at all times as a visual diary for daily experiences and ideas. The above examples from Master artists’ sketchbooks illustrate these myriad uses, ranging from Darer’s proportion studies to Sargent’s gesture drawings.
Basic pensile techniques
Even if you’re an experienced artist, it’s worth working through these fundamentals, which will improve processes that you may otherwise take for granted—like how you hold a drawing pencil. Most of us instinctively assume the exact grip for drawing that we use when writing; fingers and thumb near the tip with the heel of the hand resting on the paper for stability. But, unlike writing letters, drawing requires sensitivity and freedom of movement, which necessitates a different style of grip and motion. Your eraser is your pencil’s companion, and using it with skill entails a lot of
Practice and experimentation
Here are some basic pencil, eraser, and shading exercises that will help you develop and perfect your skills. A great activity to perfect your pencil technique is to practice drawing ovals and squares, filling them in with an actual value of shading. This exercise helps develop hand-eye coordination and control, essential to getting your ideas down clearly and quickly. Lift the pencil off the page at the end of each pencil stroke so that you have more control over the shape and direction of each line, giving your shading a more robust, descriptive quality. Shading with a zigzagging motion and scratchy lines will make your drawings undefined and accuracy challenging to achieve.
The Seven Basic Pencil Marks or Strokes
Seven essential marks or strokes form the fundamentals of drawing and visual communication. You’ll learn that a single line, a single stroke, can communicate any of them. These are the ABCs of drawing: know them well, as you’ll be using them repeatedly for the rest of your artistic life!
The diagonal lines that go with a 2-point perspective more accurately represent how we view objects in reality. The predominance of diagonal lines gives the scene a dynamic effect, which serves most general purposes. A 3-point perspective should only be used if you want to communicate a sense of grand scale because each additional vanishing point increases the complexity of the drawing. Drawing is complex enough, so keep things simple whenever possible.