How to draw a football – A Fun & painless football drawing tutorial for 2022!

How to draw a football

Welcome to how to draw a football!

Hello and welcome!

In this how-to-draw, we’ll be learning how to draw a football using shapes, forms, and lines.

American football uses a very differently shaped ball compared with other sports. It is more oblong and looks a bit like a short drum with cones attached to each end.

Its odd shape can make football drawing a little awkward, but I’ve come up with a couple of useful tricks to keep our football drawings from looking wobbly. I’ll go over the basic shapes and forms of footballs and show you the basic construction steps.

I’ll show you how to draw a football step-by-step, how to create a football drawing in perspective and talk about some of the ball surface details.

As always, let’s start by learning a little about what we’re drawing. The better we understand what we’re drawing, the better our football drawings will be.

Let’s learn about footballs!

American football is hugely popular in the United States and Canada. Cheering for your favorite team and tossing around a football with the kids is a lot of fun. And who doesn’t enjoy those creative Superbowl ads?

Where it’s most popular, a football is also known as a “pigskin” and used to play gridiron football. There are 32 teams in the American National Football League (NFL), with each team using 11-player teams. In the Canadian Football League (CFL), teams feature 12 players.

For the professional collegiate leagues, footballs are most often made of brown tanned cowhide leather and stamped with a pebble-grain texture for easier gripping. Balls for average recreation or youth leagues may also be made of composite rubber, plastic, or rubber.

Construction of each football requires four panels of leather or plastic, and two of the panels are laced together. Each ball weighs about 14 to 15 ounces.

If you’d like to see how footballs are made, check out this helpful Youtube video:

Drawing a football is almost as easy as watching it, so let’s explore its shapes and forms. This will help us learn how to get a football shape so we can draw an easy football (and learn how to draw a football for kids, too!)

Exploration and study: Football drawing focused on shape and form

When I’m learning how to draw something, I begin by looking for references. It’s always helpful to create your own reference board to help with creating your exploration and study sketches.

If you need some help learning how to create your own reference board, I made a video guide to show you how.

A good reference board is really important because it helps us learn how to understand and draw our subject. The ref board I created for this how to draw a football tutorial is below.

Feel free to use it for your sketches!

If you’d like some extra help with wrapping your mind around the fundamentals before “tackling” a football drawing, check out my article Top 5 Art Fundamentals for Beginners.

Once I have all my refs, I begin my study sketches.

During this phase, I use pencil, pen, and colored pencil on a sheet of paper to break down the major shapes and forms of a football. I observe the location of the curve lines, stripes, laces, and stitching along the middle and center of the ball.

I visually measure the length and size of the curved lines, middle circle shape, and all the other lines and elements to see which are the same length and where each lives on the ball’s surface. Each of these things serves as a marker that helps us with our football drawing.

This is my messy phase, and it’s a lot of fun! 😁

I encourage you to let yourself make a big ‘ole mess on your page as you learn how to draw a football. Here are my first wobbly, messy sketches:

One of the first things I noticed as I began sketching for this how to draw a football tutorial was how awkward the transition from the middle of the ball to its tip is. Visually, it looks normal. But when I started to connect my shapes and forms to create that area, it felt odd and wobbly my first several tries.

At first, it seems like a simple circle is enough to define the center shape of the ball. I started that way before going on to connect the ends, but more often than not it made my football drawing come out funky, bumpy, and wobbly–which is totally fine at first! This is the phase for making a messed up messy mess as you learn how to draw a football. Don’t despair at your wobbles and bobbles–It’s all good! This is all a normal part of the learning process, I promise!

When I run into this kind of thing at any point, I take some time to re-evaluate my shapes and forms and look for ways to improve my form construction process.

How to draw a football: form construction

After a bit more sketching exploration, I came up with a solution I like better. I added a cylindrical drum shape to help firm up my construction, which helped keep my football shape from turning wobbly.

After several more sketches, I found that using more construction lines, shapes and forms helped a lot when it came to getting my football drawing to have that recognizable football shape.

Adding more structure to a drawing you’re having a challenging time can go a long way toward helping you understand and draw your subject better.

Shape breakouts and variations

Normally, at this stage of my how-to-draw tutorials, I like to give examples of the natural shape variations that occur in the subject, but…that’s not really a thing with footballs 😜

Unless they are deflated, deformed, or damaged in some way, the overall shape of a football–and any sporting ball, really–remains the same. The variations we see with a football are found in the materials it’s made with and its surface designs with things like logos and coloring.

Other variations that might interest you as you learn how to draw a football can be found in how the ball has evolved over time and how it compares to other sports’ balls, such as a soccer ball (which the rest of the world calls a futbol).

There is some speculation that the ball of choice for America’s Game started out as an inflated pig bladder, but that is hard to verify–though I did a search and found some fun pictures from places like The Smithsonian Magazine and Scoutlife.org!

I don’t own these images, but I’ve credited their sources as best I can. For more information, and to see the source of each photo, just click on the images below.

how to draw a football_how footballs have changed over time
Evolution of the American football
how to draw a football_inflated pig bladder football
Inflated pig bladder football.
how to draw a football_football vs soccer ball
American football compared to World Futbol (soccer)
how to draw a football_ball from 1874
A football from 1874.
how to draw a football_american football vs rugby ball
American football vs Rugby

How to draw a football step by step tutorial

Now that we’ve found our references and done some sketching, let’s jump into how to draw a football step-by-step!

how to draw an easy football_how to draw a football for kids_step 1

How to draw an easy football, Step 1

First, draw a line guide on your page. This line represents the unseen middle of the ball from tip to tip. This kind of guiding or action line helps orient the rest of your curved lines, shapes, and forms.

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Step 2

Next, draw another line perpendicular to your first guiding line. This second line helps you start to place the round center area of the ball.

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Step 3

Now, connect each line point to create a diamond-shaped envelope. This establishes the basic area where your ball will “live” in your drawing.

Remember, these are construction lines. We won’t keep all of them, but they help us develop a solid drawing.

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Step 4

Begin rounding off the overall football shape inside your envelope by drawing curved lines near each corner as shown.

Here, I started with rounding the center area of the ball.

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Step 5

Next, I drew small circles on the ends of my first and longest guiding line. This helps with making the ball’s tips rounded instead of pointy, and gets us closer to a football shape.

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Step 6

Use more curved lines to start defining the shape of your football drawing.

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Step 7

Now, you have a football shape!

The line and shape guides helped keep it from going all wobbly 😉.

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Step 8

Add some stripes to help your drawing look more like a real football.

Be sure to use curve lines as you go around the surface. Making the stripe lines too straight will make your drawing feel flat.

These surface details help us identify our object. This is a good stage to add any other designs or personal touches you’d like for your drawing.

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Step 9

Some finishing touches with a marker or pen help the football drawing stand out.

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Final step

Erase your construction lines and, tada!

A completed football drawing!

So, how was it? Not too bad, huh? These steps came from my how to draw a football exploration and study phase. I came up with a couple more versions for this how to draw a football tutorial in case you could use some more structure help as I did.

Football drawing in Perspective

Knowing how to draw a football in perspective will be helpful if you’re drawing from a game you just saw played or from your imagination.

Here are some examples of how to draw a football in one and two-point perspectives.

The Details of footballs

Another part of learning how to draw a football is understanding how to construct the stitches and laces that make the ball so recognizable.

The next group of images will visually take you through the steps of how to draw a football’s lacing and stitching details.

Thank you & Farewell!

Hey, look! You made it to the end of this how to draw a football tutorial! There are a lot of choices out there, so even if you just took a few seconds to scroll through my article to find the bits you need, I appreciate you stopping by!

I’m always working to improve the quality of my content and to make sure I’m creating content that helps artists like you on their art journey. I’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, questions, or comments for me, please leave them in the comments section below! If there’s an art topic you’re looking for guidance on, please feel free to message me in the comments or email me at cecely@cecelyv.com.

If you liked this article, please share it! Sharing helps us all grow together as artists.

Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Drawing!


How to draw Scales (Coming soon!), 2022

Welcome All about Scales Making reference boards Exploration and study Observations Shapes, forms, and construction Natural variations How to draw Scales step by step Rendering scales Materials Light Colors Creatures with Scales In our world, there are a …
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How to draw wings (Coming soon) 2022

Welcome to my how to draw wings drawing tutorial! Let’s learn about wings! Exploration and study: Drawing wings focused on shape and form Shape breakouts and natural variations How …
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How to draw a Donut: Delicious donut drawing made easy for 2022

how to draw a donut

Welcome to my how to draw a donut tutorial!

Hello and welcome to how to draw a donut on cecelyv.com! In this how-to-draw tutorial, we’ll discuss and demonstrate how to make a tasty donut drawing and learn about the shapes, forms, and variations of a donut.

If you’re familiar with any of my other how-to-draw articles–like how to draw a snake or how to draw a mushroom–then you know I like to emphasize form and structure. I’ll cover the basic shapes and forms that help us create a donut drawing, and I’ll explain the distinction between the donut itself and its delicious topping details.

First things first, let’s make sure we understand what we’re drawing a bit more.

Let’s learn about donuts!

A donut (also spelled “doughnut”) is a sweet treat food made from leavened fried dough. Donuts are popular, yummy to taste, and have a world full of variety, with just about every country and culture, from A to Z, having its version.

Donuts are most often deep-fried from a flour dough, with the two most common types of donuts being the ring donut and the filled donut. The ring donut has a circle shape with a hole cut out of the center, and filled donuts are injected with fruit jelly, cream, custard, or other delectable fillings.

Donut toppings vary wildly, from icing and glaze to sprinkles, frosting, chocolate, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and fruit. The hole from the center of a ring donut is often cooked as a donut hole.

Other shapes include twists, balls, buns, and thick and flattened small loaves. Donuts are also divided into cake and yeast-risen types and can be purchased everywhere, from grocery stores to cafes to donut shops and gas station convenience stores.

The History of Donuts

A cookbook published in 1485 gives us the first mention of fried dough cakes (as far as we know), so donuts have been around for quite some time. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the donut, here are a few sources to check out:

How Donuts are made

We like to eat them, and we’re making donut drawings, so we might as well look at how donuts are made, right? It’ll give us another good visual and insight for our drawings, and that’s always a good thing 👍🏽.

Time to make some donut drawings!

Okay! You’re probably like, “Finally, she gets to the point!” 😜😁

I know it can seem like a lot of extra stuff, but how can we draw what we don’t understand?

Now, let’s learn how to draw a donut and have some fun!

Exploration and study: Donut drawing shapes and forms

We know enough about donuts and their variations to make some drawings, so let’s start with reference boards and sketches!

If you need help making your reference board, I have an article and a video to help.

Donut reference boards help us sketch!

By studying references, we can develop a good idea of the basic shapes and forms as we begin making sketches and drawings. I like to do this for each of my drawing tutorials. Shapes and forms give us structure, and structure is vital.

How to draw a donut – My exploration and study sketches

It’s essential to do all the study sketches you feel necessary to be comfortable with your subject.

Donuts have relatively simple structures, so most of the drawing work is in the details of toppings like coloring, glaze, icing, sprinkles, shadows, and light, whether you put it on a drawing of a plate or with fruit in the middle, etc.

Here are my study sketches from my how to draw a donut explorations:

Compared with study sketches in my other tutorials, this one is pretty light on drawings–and that’s okay. If the subject is simple, it is easier to understand and draw.

Shape breakouts and variations

By studying my reference boards, I delivered the outlines and edges of an entire list of common donut varieties for us to draw. These outlines and shapes give us the basis for the forms we need as we learn how to draw a donut, and the form provides us with the structure we need so the delicious icing, glaze, and coloring have something to live on top of in our donut drawing.

Next, let’s have some fun with forms by tackling the form construction for each of these shape outlines.

How to draw a donut: basic form construction

To learn how to draw a donut, I started with the most common and recognizable type–the ring donut.

For beginners, I recommend starting with the most basic shapes and forms. Starting from simple shapes will help you grasp each edge, oval, circle, and line as you make your sketch.

This approach works for everyone from kids to hobbyists and professionals and can be applied to any medium from pencil and paper to crayons, colored pencils, or a digital format. Of course, if you need to trace at first to get started, that’s okay too!

Let’s have fun with donut forms!

How to draw a donut – more form construction!

I mentioned earlier that I identified more than one example of common donut shapes. Whether there’s a wavy line, curved lines, or straight lines, each shape gives us an example of how to start building our donut drawing forms.

It’s essential to my mission to emphasize form and structure in all of my drawing tutorials, so I created visual form construction examples for several of the common donut types to help you learn how to draw a donut of any style you choose.

To practice these form construction steps and learn how to draw a donut in different ways, follow the visual form construction steps below!

When in doubt, remember to lead by drawing an entire shape, like an ellipse, circle, oval, etc. It serves us better than individual lines or edges when we have a whole shape.

The twist type is less round than a basic/traditional donut, so I start with a box shape to capture its overall soft boxy form.

The churro is very tubular in its construction, essentially made of one long cylinder.

Learning how to draw a donut that is a cake type is a little more complex, but we can handle it! The cake types tend to be the ones with more complex top forms and toppings, so it makes sense that their form construction is a little more involved.

How to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial (from my sketches & Imagination!)

Next up in how to draw a donut, I will go through the “official” step-by-step tutorial for drawing a basic ring-type donut.

What you saw earlier with all the form construction was essentially a collection of visual step-by-step tutorials. I wanted to make sure I shared multiple ways of how to draw a donut with you so you can choose for yourself which type of donut you want to create.

Follow along with me, and you’ll have a realistic donut picture, complete with a slight indication of shadows. I won’t delve too deeply into the shadows and light or details in this tutorial because that crosses into the realm of painting and rendering, and we need a solid drawing to paint on top of first 😉.

This step-by-step should work for kids, too. So let’s get to it!

how to draw a donut_step-by-step tutorial 01

How to draw a donut, Step 1

Start with a horizontal oval, also called an ellipse. Extend two lines straight down from each end of your oval.

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Step 2

Connect the straight lines you extended with another oval/ellipse.

You’ve created the form for your donut hole!

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Step 3

Now that we have the empty middle of the donut, it’s time to construct the ring donut itself.

Add two large circles on the horizontal ends of the donut hole form you finished in step 2. Make the circles as large and as round as you’d like.

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Step 4

Connect the outside bottom edges of the circles with a large ellipse as shown.

This creates the bottom plane of your donut.

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Step 5

Draw another ellipse to connect the outside top edges of the circles. This creates the top plane of your donut where all the toppings will live.

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Step 6

Now, it’s time to erase some of your construction lines to prepare for the next stage of drawing some tasty toppings.

It helps to emphasize the inside edge closest to you in your drawing. When drawn next to your donut hole, it adds a sense of depth and three-dimensionality.

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Step 7

Sketch in some ellipses around the ring of your donut to help you visualize how the form turns.

This will give you a guide to help make your toppings look more realistic.

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Step 8

Sketch in the basic shape, size, and directionality of your toppings.

I chose a simple icing with light sprinkles, so here I blocked that in here with a different colored pencil.

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Step 9

To make room for the detail shapes and forms, I took some time to erase my construction lines more carefully.

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Step 10

I continued the detail phase’s block-in step here by adding the shapes and forms of each sprinkle.

I made the sprinkles out of tiny circles, 3D curls, and itty bitty cylinders. They may be small, but they still have form and mass!

I also added a little bit of color to the bottom of the donut. Using brown, I decided to make this a chocolate donut with icing and sprinkles on top!

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Step 11

To make the drawing clear, and to keep from accidentally erasing my work during clean-up of my construction lines, I went ahead and did a trace of everything in black marker.

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Step 12

The last step is color, shadow, and light!

I didn’t want this how to draw a donut tutorial to turn into a painting tutorial, so I didn’t do much with the light or shadows.

Still a slight indication of shadows under the icing is enough for our purposes here.

Congratulations! You’ve completed my how to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial!

The Details and coloring of donuts

Now you know all about how to draw a donut!

I want to offer a little more clarity on what constitutes “details,” so I created a short video to explain (COMING SOON!)

A warm farewell with encouragement

Thank you for visiting my site!

I hope you enjoyed my how to draw a donut tutorial, and I hope you had fun making donut drawings with me!

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times you need to erase, or whether you need to trace or start again on a new piece of paper several times. It doesn’t matter if your donut drawing is round or if the donut hole you drew is a little wobbly. Learn the process, find your way of drawing. Keep at it! Art isn’t about being “good”, it’s about how making art makes you feel.

Try this with crayons and other media, try it with kids–or other kids if you are a kid!

Have fun and keep drawing! The rest will come.

If you enjoyed my how to draw a donut tutorial, please share it! I’d love to hear your feedback, so if you have a comment or question for me please leave it in the comments section below! If you didn’t like my how to draw a donut tutorial, please tell me that, too! Part of my site mission is to help as many other artists as I can with my content, so I’m open to feedback that helps my content improve.

How to draw a snake – Draw dynamic snakes with this easy-to-use tutorial! 2022

How to draw a snake

Welcome to how to draw a snake drawing tutorial!

Thanks for being here!

In this how-to-draw, we’re talking about how to draw a snake!

At first glance, snakes look pretty simple. They don’t have the most complex shapes and forms in their anatomy, but there’s plenty of drawing excitement within the snake species’ natural variations.

To learn how to draw a snake, I’ll share some image references and go through my exploration and study sketching process to demonstrate how studying snake shapes, forms, and anatomy helps you create your own awesome snake drawings.

Next, I’ll cover how to draw a snake step by step, followed by drawing snakes in perspective. Then, we’ll use our references to explore the color and detail varieties in the snake species before sketching some snakes from imagination.

This will be a lot of fun, so I hope you’ll follow along and enjoy learning how to draw a snake with me!

Let’s learn about snakes!

We’ve all seen a snake at some point, right? They’re long, limbless, and covered in scales. They come in a staggering number of color and pattern combinations, and there are about 3,000 species of snakes! Snakes can eat prey much larger than their heads, allowing them to swallow their food whole–unless they’re venomous, in which case it’s fangs out first!

Snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and sea snakes are a real thing. 😳 Yikes!

Thankfully, most snakes possessing venom use it to kill or subdue prey rather than for biting us when we unwittingly scare them, and most snakes aren’t venomous, which is a relief. The nonvenomous snakes swallow their prey alive or squeeze it to death. 😱

We’re bigger than snakes…mostly…so, I think we’re okay. I hope 😅.

Snakes generally have a negative reputation, but they are wild animals with very sharp fangs and dangerous venom, sooo…I’m gonna say their reputation is deserved.

Still, there is a lot more we can learn about snakes, but for learning how to draw a snake we need to study its shapes, forms, and variations.

Regardless of their hunting and eating habits, snakes are pretty cool and gnarly looking, which makes them fun to draw! Let’s get into our references and start exploring how to draw a snake.

Image reference boards

Each curved line, point, shape, and form we practice in our exploration and study phase adds to our own personal tutorial for learning how to make snake drawings. So, our first step must be to gather references.

I created several reference boards to deliver the information needed to complete your snake drawing. Below you’ll find visual information that will inform you of each step, line, and curve that we need and where they all go proportionally.

You’re welcome to use the reference boards I made, but I encourage you to practice making your own as well. Out of respect, and due to copyright protection, all the references I create for my tutorials are limited to what I can find for free commercial & creative use, create myself, or purchase (which isn’t really a thing on a shoestring budget 😂).

For guidance on making your own reference boards, please check out my Art Reference board tutorial.

Snake body reference images

In keeping with best practices, let’s begin with the largest shapes and forms, which, in most cases, means studying the main body of our subject first.

Here in how to draw a snake, we begin with the snake’s body:

Looking at each reference image of a snake body, what are the first things you notice?

The first things I observe are the curved lines of the body, the forked tongue, the mouth and jaw, the body forms and lines, and the extremely wide variation in coloring, patterns, and head shapes.

A snake’s body is a simple, tapering cylinder. The way the width, length, and scales vary from head to tail and across snake species is what adds interest, variation, and complexity to the body design.

If you’d like a deeper dive into forms and forms and shapes, check out my Form in Art article. This variation linking across the world of snakes gives us lots of fun shapes to use in snake drawing.

Next, let’s continue learning how to draw a snake by taking a look at the second-largest shape/form on a snake: its head.

Snake head reference images

The head shape, scales, and patterning of a snake hold nearly all the creature’s design interest and variation. In this how to draw a snake tutorial, I’ve intentionally focused more on the head because a snake’s head offers more room to play and invent than its body.

Knowing where most of a subject’s interest lies helps our design. When you make a snake drawing, you’ll know from your study that the head is where you ought to put most of your shape and form details to draw your audience’s attention.

Snake skeleton

A snake’s head and skull give us clues about how its mouth opens and closes, the shape and direction of its scales, and its size. A snake skeleton reference image is useful and necessary in this area.

Even a brief study of snake anatomy is very useful for constructing realistic, chilling snake head designs. Understanding a bit about a snake’s bone structure helps us ground our snake drawing in reality by connecting the dots between design and believability–and the same can be said about snake fangs, underbelly, and tails.

More snake shapes and forms: fangs, belly, and tail

If we look closely, we can see that snakes often have a completely different look and feel to their belly scales. The departure from the look of the rest of the scales is important to note before you work out the scales part of your design.

It might seem like I’m trying to spam you with each reference image, but studying and exploring from reference and from life will ultimately benefit your snake drawing immensely.

Exploration and study: Snake drawing focused on shape and form

Once you’ve gathered all your references, it’s time to draw from them.

Eventually, you’ll establish your own version of this study and exploration process. I will take you through mine to offer a springboard, so to speak.

Snake head studies

As I mentioned earlier, the head of the snake holds most of the shape and form information. So, for this how to draw a snake tutorial, I decided to focus my studies on the head–especially since the body of a snake is quite easy in comparison (at least, until you get to the scales 😅).

Notice that each study includes not only a sketch of the snake head I was referring to on my boards, but also a rough sketch of the overall shape/form envelope. By understanding the larger forms that create and support the head, it becomes much easier to build smaller forms like eyes, horns, scales, etc on top.

Shape breakouts and natural variations

Once I felt comfortable with my understanding of the basic anatomical forms of a snake, I was able to break out the most common natural variations. I complete this step in each tutorial because when we understand what we’re drawing we can draw it much better, and invent from imagination more easily.

How to draw a snake: body form construction

Even though a snake’s body is a simple tapering cylinder, it’s important to practice all the basic forms of our subject and try to understand its variations.

As shown in my shapes breakout sketches, there are some slight natural variations in the cylindrical form of snakes. As I was working out how to draw a snake body, I kept those variations in mind and tried to have some fun with it as well.

Here are a few of my sketches for the snake’s body forms:

The example above should help clarify the process of how to draw a snake body. Even though it’s a simple form, clarification on construction always helps.

The process for both of these examples was exactly the same. The only difference was my use of different shape language. This second example of how to draw a snake body offers more of a sense of design and detail, and I achieved that simply by tweaking the overall shape used to create the body’s form.

This is something you can do in your design as well, so have fun with it! Try some sharper shapes for a more aggressive-looking snake, or softer ones for a cute-looking snake.

It helps to put your sketches side-by-side for comparison to see how the altered shape language changes your design.

How to draw a snake step-by-step tutorial

Now that we’ve explored each shape and visual bit, we’re snake ready to draw! A bit of an odd turn of phrase, I know, but I had to give it a try. Okay, next up here in how to draw a snake we’ll dive into drawing a snake step by step.

To be clear, this is my own imagination and it’s a finished sketch not a rendered image. I encourage you to follow the process explained within each step. It is not necessary for your snake step by step drawing to look like mine. This how to draw a snake tutorial is for you, so draw your way. Do you and enjoy!

how to draw a snake_step 1

Drawing a snake step 1

I started with a gesture line to define the snake’s pose.

A gesture line gives us a starting-off point by essentially offering us two dots or points for the start and end/top and bottom of our subject.

It’s also a long curve, with a second curve at the end for the tapering tail.

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Drawing a snake step 2

After placing the gesture line to indicate the pose, I began building the shapes and forms for the head.

My selection for each line, form, and curve of the head is informed by the lines I remember from my study sketches.

Before you start roughing in the head, decide on its basic shape. It will be most helpful if you drew from your studies and reference boards.

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Drawing a snake step 3

In this step, I began filling out the body form.

My goal in this step was to roughly match the thickness and length of the body to the head forms I’d created.

It’s okay if it’s not quite right immediately. Remember, it’s a sketch to get your ideas out. As you’ll see, I made some adjustments further along in my process.

how to draw a snake_step 4

Drawing a snake step 4

In this step, I decided I need to elongate the main body. The length and detail in the head I’d created needed balancing, so I made adjustments to the body.

I decided not to show the tongue, but I had fun giving my snake a ridge-like nose.

I also continued refining the head forms in this step.

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Drawing a snake step 5

This step is about continuing to develop all the forms we drew.

As you can see, there are plenty of places where I erased and redrew my lines to make adjustments and changes.

Remember, it’s a sketch which is basically like a workout–you’re working out the design, the shapes, forms, lines, curves, etc. If you’re not happy with it, start another sketch and keep going!

how to draw a snake_step 6

Drawing a snake step 6

When I reached the point that I was happy with how I’d developed all my forms, I completed my sketch by darkening my final line work.

I do this last step to help make the sketch more readable online, but it’s not a necessary part of the how to draw a snake process.

Snake drawing in Perspective

When we learn how to draw a snake, we need to know how to put it into any perspective our image or story needs.

Next, you’ll find a video covering the process of how to draw a snake in one-point perspective.

The most commonly used perspectives for drawing are one and two-point perspectives, so up next in how to draw a snake I’ll go over the two-point perspective process.

The Details and colors of snakes

While each line and curve helps us define our forms, the world of snakes is very well known for several other features–especially their scales, forked tongue, and patterns.

The scales and patterns are designs unto themselves and so a bit too much to add to this how to draw a snake article (we’re almost done, I promise!). I’ll create a separate article all about drawing scales and designing patterns, but we can still talk a bit about the commonalities in these areas.

Snake scales

Collectively, snake scales are known as snakeskin. Scales serve a variety of functions, which I explore in my article How to draw scales.

The range of variety in scales is amazing, going from these:

…all the way to this:

The image above is from a Dragon Snake. Isn’t that one of the most gnarly things you’ve ever seen?! It impressed me anyway 😂. This volume of possibility, and the fact that far more creatures than snakes have scales, means I need to treat How to draw Scales as its own thing.

As I was learning how to draw a snake, I did a research overview of their patterning, and, oh boy! Lots of variation, but without any particular rhyme or reason beyond identifying snake species. This is helpful for us because it means you can design your snake’s skin any way you want 👍🏽.

A lot of scientific pigmentation language is involved with explaining snake coloring, and you can find one source for that here. For our how to draw a snake tutorial, we don’t need the science. Snakes present with just about every color there is along with iridescence, so choose whatever color scheme suits you.

How to draw a snake from Imagination!

Process: Curved lines, shape, form, and drawing through

I mentioned earlier that I chose to focus on snake heads for my demos, so what I have next is a video showing the entire process of me drawing a snake’s head from my imagination. It’s not a cute snake or a particularly good design, but that wasn’t the point 😉. The point was to share my thought, creative, and imaginative process with you.

A warm farewell and finishing touches

Congratulations! You drew some fun snakes today! I hope you feel good about the new knowledge and practice you drew from this article.

Snakes really are pretty simple to draw in a basic sense, and I hope this how to draw a snake tutorial helped you with your snake-drawing goals.

I’m always happy to hear from my readers, so pretty please leave your questions and comments for me below. I’d love to hear what you think about this article and answer any questions that may have come up for you.

Stay safe and Happy Drawing!

How to draw a palm tree: Awesome easy-to-use drawing tutorial 2022

How to draw a palm tree_featured image

Welcome to my how to draw a palm tree tutorial!

Hi!

Welcome to another article in my how-to-draw series. This article is all about palm trees and how to draw them! If you want to add more beach and “fun in the sun” feel to the ocean and sand of your art, draw palm trees! A simple palm tree, coconuts, and some tropical fruit can create moods for your drawing that say “vacation and Mai Tais” or “building sandcastles with the kids.”

As you go through this article, you may notice that I’ve changed my format a little bit this time by leaving out the lighting (shadow and light) part. I’ll clarify that choice toward the end here, but, first, let’s focus on learning how to draw a palm tree!

Once you learn to draw a palm tree with all its parts and detail–from the silhouette to the curved lines of the tree trunk, and the round crown to a palm tree’s leaves–you can render your finished drawing however you choose: realistic, cartoon, anime. You’ll be covered by what you learn how to draw here!

First, we explore and study all the shapes and forms that make a palm tree look like a palm tree. Then, we’ll start constructing the basic shapes and forms, move into practicing with palm tree silhouettes, dig into some step-by-step palm tree drawing tutorials, and draw a palm tree in perspective.

I’ll cover the basic shapes, forms, & silhouettes of palm trees and all their parts, including the palm tree trunk and palm tree leaf. Our first step is the same as always: references!

Let’s learn about palm trees!

Palms, including palm trees, are from the family Arecaceae. They are a family of flowering plants with several growth forms, all commonly known as palms.

Most palm species, characterized by large evergreen leaves called fronds, are found in tropical and subtropical environments.

As one of the best known and most cultivated plant families, palms show extensive diversity in physical characteristics that allow them to inhabit nearly every kind of habitat. Being so well cultivated means palms, from their wood to their fruits, have several uses in human society, including palm wood, carnauba wax, palm syrup, dates, oils, jelly, and coconut products.

Exploration and study: Discovering a palm tree’s basic shape

Study sketches help us build our design process. In this step, we must take the time to understand the “thing” we’re drawing. Without this step–or without spending enough time with this step–drawings and designs will likely fall flat.

Since we’re not interested in polishing turds, let’s learn about the shapes and forms that make a palm tree!

Shape breakouts and natural variations

Palm trees have fairly basic overall shapes. To begin an amazing palm tree drawing, choose a few simple shapes and forms.

I started outlining the basic shape breakdowns first because it communicates our goal in this step more clearly. However, it’s important to note that exploration doesn’t start with the shape breakdown sketch you see above; it starts with a messy and thorough exploration of your subject with all its parts and variations.

Here are my exploration study sketches:

First, I explored all the parts of the palm tree: palm leaves, the palm tree trunk, the different directions of the fronds, and individual leaf construction information for several types of palm leaves.

The challenge and complexity arise when it’s time to draw all the details and textures–a lot of small and irregular shape details– that give palm trees that recognizable feel and character.

My hope and encouragement for you are that you don’t forget or skip the exploration drawings stage before jumping straight into the palm tree step by step tutorials coming up.

Trust me, your step-by-step practice will level up much further the more you study palm trees through sketching exploration.

How to draw a palm tree: form construction

Completing our palm tree exploration sketches gave us a decent grasp of the parts of the palm tree. We have a solid idea of the lines, outline, silhouette, and edges that we need to create our own palm tree drawing.

Our study into how to draw a palm tree allowed us to wrap our minds around where we need to be drawing curved lines vs. horizontal lines or a straight line and showed us which basic shapes and forms we have to work with.

As we continue to learn how to draw a palm tree, let’s jump into practicing the tree’s form construction.

The bulk of form construction on a palm tree lies in drawing the trunk while drawing a palm leaf–called a frond–calls for drawing slightly curved planes without much volume apart from the palm frond base.

Most of the trunk is a simple long cylinder, but the portion at the top that resembles a fat cylindrical drum (and sits between the leaves and the trunk) has much more volume and thickness from the forms of dozens and dozens of pruned/shaved fronds.

If you could use more help with drawing forms, please check out my Form in Art and Art Fundamentals for Beginners articles.

A word about research…

Looking up palm tree drawings or palm trees on Google images gives the impression that most palm trees are just long and skinny with a few floppy fronds and a sprinkling of coconuts. This impression is mostly true of young palm trees or palm trees that have been more heavily pruned through shaving.

To learn how to draw a palm tree, I took a look at how trees get that shaved, skinnier look:

Here’s what I see around my neighborhood:

The point I’m trying to make here is: Always do your research and then find the best references you can because a basic search will only get you what everyone else has drawn, and that’s never the whole story of all that’s available for your designs.

Palm tree silhouette

I mentioned at beginning of this tutorial that I’d changed my format a bit for this article, and here’s why:

When you start exploring palm tree drawing (or any tree…or hair…or fur…really any highly textured thing, you get the idea 😅🙃🤯), it quickly becomes clear that drawing the leaves of a palm tree one at a time is a huge pain in the butt!

The studies alone that I drew showed me the last thing I wanted to do was draw the fronds one at a time. So, when the shapes are small or many and squished or layered, what tip can we use to save us pulling out our hair? Introducing, Silhouettes!

How to draw a palm tree with silhouette, step-by-step tutorial

There isn’t one right way to draw silhouettes. What I’m showing below is only one way to approach it. Please approach this in the most intuitive way for your drawing process.

Here are a few I drew by hand during my exploration stage.

Drawing with silhouettes helps us visualize our overall subject and its gesture without allowing us to get bogged down in details.

Since most of what we see of trees is their general silhouette and light effects on their shapes and forms (small shapes make textures!), using silhouettes to draw palm trees gets us further along without all the hair-pulling 😉.

Once we’ve experimented with a few silhouettes (they should totally be messy, not precious at this stage!) and chosen what we like, we can flesh out the internal shape and form information by drawing over our palm tree silhouette.

Palm tree silhouette draw over, step by step

To do this digitally as I have:

  1. Create a new layer over your silhouette and fill it completely with white, and then lower its opacity until you can clearly see your palm tree drawing silhouette enough to draw and trace over it.
  2. Create another new layer on top of your white trace layer and begin sketching the internal shape information over the top of your silhouette, including texture information.
  3. Use as many layers as you’d like to experiment with as many interior shape designs as you can. Simply hide the layers of your other design iterations to help you focus on the current layer’s work.

If you started traditionally on paper, you can also complete this step by photographing/scanning your drawing for your base palm tree drawing layer and then follow the steps above.

To do this traditionally:

  1. Get some tracing paper and overlay it onto your drawing.
  2. Begin sketching the internal shape information over your drawing onto the tracing paper. I recommend using pencils for this so you can easily make changes as you sketch. It’s also fun and useful to have multiple pieces of tracing paper for trying different interior shape designs.

A light box, if you have one available, is also a useful tool for this step when you’re working traditionally. Here are a couple of options from Blick & Amazon.

I found this to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable steps for how to draw a palm tree, and I encourage you to work loosely and have a blast with it.

Easy steps palm tree drawing

Now, we come to the how to draw a palm tree step by step parts of this tutorial. This is the easiest version of this tutorial. I plan to create a more advanced and involved version in the future.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step-thumbnails

Step 1

Since the planes and lines of a palm tree can get overwhelming quickly, I break the drawing process down into lots of digestible steps.

First, choose the simple shapes you want for your leaves and trunk and create a simple silhouette as shown here.

If you want to add some fruits, like coconuts, now is a good time to add their shapes as well.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 01

Step 2

Next, we begin to construct the forms from our thumbnail.

Here I drew the middle “drum-like” part that sits between the fronds and the trunk.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 04

Step 3

Draw the long trunk attached to the “drum-like” part.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 05

Step 4

Draw the overall container or “envelope” shape you want for the palm tree leaves. This step helps you begin blocking in the gesture and direction of your leaves.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 06

Step 5

Overlay the palm leaf gesture lines onto your envelope shape. This gesture line step helps you place the tree’s leaves in the position and direction you want them.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 07

Step 6

On top of the gesture lines from the last step, draw your leaf shapes.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 08

Step 7

Begin adding texture details to your leaves by using lines to “cut” into the edges/contours of each leaf.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 09

Step 8

Next, I added simplified oval shapes to represent the shaved/pruned fronds on the “drum-like” part of the tree.

More texture adds to the palm tree feel of the drawing.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step 10

Step 9

Almost done!

Before cleanup, add some texture to the trunk.

The highly textured feel of a palm tree trunk comes from lots of frond leaves that were pruned/shaved as the tree grew.

how to draw a palm tree_step by step - Final

Final Step

Once you clean up your lines and edges, erasing where there is some overlap of shapes and lines you don’t need, you’ll be all done!

Palm tree drawing in Perspective

Knowing how to draw a palm tree in perspective is useful for placing your trees in any scene you want. Below is a quick visual demo for drawing palm trees in two-point perspective.

Color and light and palm trees

I know there’s a lot more to cover to help you understand how to add color and light to a palm tree, but that’s a whole other discussion trust me. I will write another article to cover the color and light area on its own so it’s not confusing 😉.

In the meantime, if you’d like to add some light to your tree, please try out my Fundamentals of Light article. It will help you get started with the basics of light and shadow in art.

More details and coloring of palm trees

Without getting into the weeds too much, I thought it would be useful to do a quick visual once over of the textural details palm trees possess.

Here you’ll get an idea of the other textures and some very useful references for your drawing! For quick color experiments, I recommend using colored pencils or pastels.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not own these images! I found them on Google Images under the “Creative and Commons” usage rights filter.

Palm tree trunk dissection reference

Palm tree trunk texture reference

Palm fruit reference

Fond wishes and a warm farewell until next time!

I hope you found this to be one of those easy drawing tutorials, and I hope the art and explanations here have helped you digest the more difficult aspects of how to draw palm trees.

Thank you for spending part of your day with me learning how to draw a palm tree! I appreciate you stopping by, and I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or ideas for improving this article, please leave them for me in the comments below.

Stay safe, and Happy Drawing!


How to draw a basketball: Fantastically fun step-by-step tutorials, 2022

How to draw a basketball

Welcome to my how to draw a basketball tutorial!

Two teams meet with one ball in the middle, and today our focus is on basketball. In this basketball how to draw tutorial, we’ll focus on the ball itself. Its current design is quickly and easily recognizable, with its view of four lines that join at each end of the ball.

First, I’ll go over a little bit of the ball’s evolution because a bit of history is always helpful to our process. Then I’ll show you how to draw a basketball by breaking down its design to demonstrate that those lines we see are three shapes.

I’ll cover how to construct a sphere, the form of a basketball, and then take you one easy step at a time through drawing the shape, form, and curved lines to create your basketball drawing.

Let’s learn about basketballs!

Basketball was invented in 1891 and began with a soccer-like ball, which wasn’t dribbled. Basketball didn’t receive its ball design until 1894, getting a brown four leather-paneled ball with stitching similar to a football. The dribbling technique was introduced into the game in 1897, and by 1937 basketball was popular enough to have its own league, which began as the NBL–The National Basketball League.

With its growing popularity as a sport, basketball needed a redesigned ball because fans had difficulty following a brown ball on a brown court. So, around 1950, the ball was redesigned to be the orange color we’re all familiar with today. Then, in 1971, the NBA redesigned the basketball again, evolving it from four leather panels to eight leather panels which improved players’ ability to grip and dribble the ball.

I’ve included a helpful video I found below. If you’d like to see how the basketball design has changed over the years, and if you’d like to learn more about basketball’s history, click here.

In this drawing tutorial, we’ll focus on how to draw a basketball with its current design.

Exploration and study: Basketball drawing sketching

Whenever I draw something new, I start with study sketches to help me understand my subject’s shapes, forms, lines, and other features. Since this is how to draw a basketball, I did a few sketches to learn what makes a basketball look like it does, and as always, we start with a few references to help us get familiar with basketballs.

Typical basketball features: Curved line and horizontal line

Each curved line on a basketball is part of three shapes. First, it appears to have a vertical and horizontal line bisecting its middle, but they’re vertical and horizontal circular bands around the ball.

How to draw a basketball: form construction

A basketball is a hollow sphere made of eight leather panels. To learn how to draw a basketball, first, we must understand how to draw circles and spheres.

Help with drawing a circle or a sphere can be found here: how to draw a circle and a sphere article.

Here are a couple of videos for a quick recap:

How to draw a circle
How to draw a sphere

Now that we understand the basketball’s sphere form let’s briefly look at its insides with form dissection.

How to draw a basketball: Form dissection

I mentioned earlier that basketballs are hollow. So if you need to draw a deflated or cut open basketball, it helps to practice dissecting a sphere.

Here are some step-by-step images for sphere dissection. In addition, I have more on how to draw a sphere, and here is an example I created for a hollowed-out sphere half.

How to draw a basketball step by step instructions

Now that we’ve covered the essential part of how to draw a basketball, its form, we can move on to the other most recognizable feature: the lines, pattern, and texture.

As mentioned earlier, what appears to be a curved line or a set of lines is three shapes: one verticle circle, one horizontal circle, and one that resembles insect wings or a band-aid.

Drawing a realistic basketball

A simple circle is clear enough to draw, and we covered that in a previous step. Keep in mind that the circles needed for the pattern must go all the way around the ball, create thickness, add depth, and take on much darker shades. The other shape that wraps around the ball and resembles a wing takes more effort and concentration.

I’ve created a video to demonstrate how I draw each from two simple views to clarify this shape.

Basketball drawing step-by-step

Next, I’ve created a set of step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball. It helps to remember that the curved lines that create the shapes and patterns have depth. They are not level with the rest of the ball’s surface but instead make a slight depression. It’s important to indicate this for a realistic basketball drawing.

Drawing a cartoon basketball

Cartoon basketball drawings need to emphasize lines and shapes more because they are the opposite in their execution to a realistic drawing in that they don’t focus on three-dimensional form. Of course, some form will still be indicated because of the way the line will curve around the body of the ball, but overall it will still have the “flat” cartoon look.

For cartoon basketball drawings, it’s also helpful to include an outlining contour and emphasize the orange color and cel-shading method of applying light and shadow. Here are some examples of cartoon basketballs on Google Images and a few step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball in a cartoony way.

The significant difference between how to draw basketball realistically vs. as a cartoon mostly comes down to depth, texture, and handling of light and shadow. The cartoon style starts with a circle, is fun, quick, and purposefully simplifies realism. It lends itself very well to exaggeration and stylization and can be appealing to all ages.

The texture and colors of basketballs

I’m not gonna lie; drawing the texture on basketballs with pencil and paper, even if it’s just a sketch, is a tedious pain in the butt. However, digitally, it’s easy-peasy. If you prefer to learn how to draw a basketball in a hyper-realistic way, you’ll need some texture reference. I’ve included some below and a trace (more imprinting) image to offer a clearer idea of the small shapes that create the ball’s texture.

How to light a basketball

I made a basic lighting example for how to draw a basketball for light and shadow reference with a pencil (graphite) and paper. The ball is drawn the same as in the earlier steps, I just added basic lighting.

Lighting a cartoon basketball with Cel shading

The steps for lighting a cartoon basketball are simple as there’s no need to blend with cel-shading. Using a curved line or two helps create a guide for placing the flat tones that create the cel-shaded look.

Basketball drawing in perspective – start with a sphere!

To learn how to draw a basketball in perspective is the same as drawing a sphere in perspective. As long as you make sure you have a cube rather than a rectangular box in perspective, you’ll get a nice round sphere to start creating your basketball from. After that it’s just a matter of practice, practice, repeat!

Thanks for joining me to learn how to draw a basketball!

Thank you so much for stopping by my how to draw a basketball article! I hope you found this helpful and fun. I’m always happy to hear from my visitors and readers, so if you have any comments, questions, or feedback for me please leave them in the comments section below.

Take care, stay safe, and happy drawing!


Top 5 Art Fundamentals for Beginners

Top 5 Art Fundamentals for Beginners

Welcome fellow artists! Thank you for sharing part of your day with me to talk about art fundamentals 😊.

Since you’re here it means you are looking for answers regarding the fundamentals of art and other art concepts like painting, color, composition, anatomy, value, and many others I’m sure. When we start our art journey, we have tons of questions about art and its elements. I’m happy to share everything I have learned as an artist because I remember the struggle of becoming.

There are almost always pre-established paths, curriculum, video courses, books, and other avenues for getting whatever knowledge we seek. These avenues lay out what the essential or fundamental parts are for any discipline and stress the importance of learning those fundamentals to achieve success—and for good reason, as our work and understanding tend to fall flat without them. Everything there is to learn has fundamentals intended to serve as our foundation.

A foundation is our primary source of essential knowledge and skills, and once completely established it supports us as we grow from it and built on it. Have you ever heard the phrase “We stand on the shoulders of giants”? The artists that came before us, from masters to hobbyists, have already laid the groundwork for us. We don’t need to reinvent anything, all we must do is learn the basics, each art concept, and do the work to make our art.

Yes, it is a process. Yes, it does take years. That’s okay! It’s worth it, and so is your art dream.

What are the Fundamentals of Art?

Search for “art fundamentals” or “what are the fundamentals of art?” online and you quickly get a cornucopia of mish-mashed information about art and design.

There is a difference between a fundamental, a principle, and an element. A fundamental is something you start with and then build on. A principal is similar to a fundamental, but it can also be a set or list of things that make up one encompassing fundamental. I think about it this way: if there are multiple principles, then whatever heading they’re all listed under is the actual fundamental.

Take the Principles of Design, for example. There are at least seven of those, but Design is the fundamental. Make sense? An element is literally a component, one part, of a whole. All fundamentals have elements, but no single element is a fundamental on its own.

Why Learn the Fundamentals of Art?

Because you want to draw and paint awesome stuff without tearing out your hair, that’s why.

Making quality art requires us to understand all the fundamentals of art as well as their elements, including painting, color theory, composition, color mixing, anatomy, perspective, design, etc. Understanding each of the fundamentals, each concept, in depth is a process and an investment in ourselves as artists. You have goals as an artist that you dream of meeting, and your journey is about equipping yourself to get where you want to be and rocking it when you arrive. So let’s gear up by going over this list.

My Top 5 Art Fundamentals for Beginners

To be completely honest and transparent, this list represents the top 5 art fundamentals according to me. Others may disagree, but I have been working at this long enough—and I have classically trained enough—to present this list with confidence. The order I list them in is based off years of study, practice, and wall smacking.

  1. Forms
    • Line
    • Shapes
    • Structure (Construction)
    • Proportion (Illusion of Mass and Dimension)
  2. The Fundamentals of Light (Tones/Values, includes basic Color Theory & Mixing)
  3. Drawing from Life
  4. Gesture Drawing & Anatomy
  5. Perspective

My key reasoning for the order of this art fundamentals list is quite simple: Historically and to this day, most times when I hit a wall it’s in one or more of these five areas that I find the solutions I need. Had I built a stronger background in these earlier on, I would’ve hit fewer snags. The strength of our foundation plays an important role in how we navigate our way through any challenge, and no matter how experienced we become, problem solving and corrections will always be part of our creation process.

It’s good to get different perspectives on things, so here’s the awesome Bobby Chiu on what the fundamentals of art are:

With all that in mind, let’s start digging into these top five fundamentals and help you on your way.

1. Form

When we talk about Form in art, we’re referring to an object’s overall shape, volume, and contours which include line, depth, and mass. Seeing and constructing Forms are the first and most vital skills we must develop as artists.  Practicing the analysis, understanding, and building of Forms creates a strong foundation for developing and growing all other fundamental art skills. Line, shape, structure, and proportion are essential building blocks for anything you draw or paint.

The process of practicing each of these skills builds our visual library and the muscle memory needed to allow us to create whatever artwork we want. As artists we are in the business of communicating feelings, thoughts, impressions, messages, and stories, so let’s look at how developing our skill with Forms helps us.

Benefits of developing skill with Forms

1. We Learn to See

Practicing seeing and creating Forms helps us become familiar with the physical make-up of all the things that surround us and how all their parts come together to shape part of our experience.

2. We Learn to Analyze, Explore, and Take Risks

We begin to see connections, relationships, repetition, and similarities between and across forms and objects. This readies us to look more closely at each subject and better understand the fundamentals beyond the basics.

When you feel ready for more on Forms, I take a deeper dive into the topic in my Understanding Form post.

2.   The Fundamentals of Light: A Few Words on a Massive Topic

The study and practice of The Fundamentals of Light allows us to create Tones/Values in our work. Where Forms add the illusion of volume and dimension, light and shadow give objects a sense of mass, help further clarify surface texture and plane changes, explain the objects’ local tone and color, indicate mood, and show objects’ context within the picture plane.

Studying Light teaches us how it interacts with everything in the real world and helps us reproduce an illusion of its effects in two-dimensions. This practice helps us illustrate the properties, mood, and the character of the objects and people we draw and paint. With these two art fundamentals in our toolbox, we can create the illusion of any type of material, choose any level of detail, and guide the story to wherever it needs to be.

The process of practicing with light and shadow in art begins to bring us into other areas, such as color theory, color mixing, color key, light key, and painting. During this learning process, I recommend you to try to keep color simple. While color theory is relatively simple, a deft use of color takes years of practice and there are several elements involved when dealing with it. I also recommend using digital painting tools in addition to traditional painting to help with the study of color.

Digital tools are much more forgiving and are great for practicing and experimenting with value and color. My favorite thing about playing with color and value in a digital painting app, like ProCreate or Photoshop, is that they allow you to learn all the elements of color without having to mix color.

Mixing is its own thing–not a big thing, but still. Painting traditionally involves understanding the characteristics of each product (whether those are painting colors or mediums) and paint colors can vary wildly within a single color range and from brand to brand. Since traditional color mixing is so involved, it is best practiced separately from these five fundamentals.

Practicing each of these art fundamentals requires us to also practice Drawing from Life, which is the next area of fundamental practice I recommend for beginning artists.

3.   Drawing from Life: Growing Your Skills & Visual Library

Every time we make art from life, we are doing something very important for our art and for ourselves as artists. We are taking into ourselves the life around us and engaging with it. Sketching and Drawing from Life are how we have a dialogue with the object we are re-creating. The relationship we have with the world through this process develops and maintains our visual libraries.

To begin, I suggest starting small and simple.

Think of the different types of shapes and find objects from your daily life, and from nature, that include many of those shapes. Then, draw them a lot. Start with the basic shapes you see—i.e., circles, squares, triangles, etc.—to practice seeing the elements that come together to construct the forms, such as cylinders, spheres, cubes, boxes, pyramids, cones. Leave out details like the surface designs, textures, and colors for now, focusing only on the forms, local tone, and basic light and shadows.

Draw the objects from different viewpoints, at different times of day, in different positions, under different lighting conditions, on their own, and grouped with other objects. Some printer paper or a simple sketchbook and pencil are really all you need to get started.

Once you feel comfortable with the simple forms, take yourself to the next level of form complexity and alternate between organic and inorganic forms to help to keep things varied, fun, and to keep expanding your visual library. As you become comfortable with more and more complex forms, you will find yourself ready to begin tackling the most challenging ones: Humans and animals.

4.   Gesture Drawing & Anatomy: Massively Challenging, Awesomely Rewarding

For an artist, gesture drawing is essential for infusing a sense of motion, energy, and life into our artwork. As artists, we want to share art that feels alive, and gesture drawing and anatomy help achieve that. Gesture helps us add to the observation skills we build when creating from life by teaching us to see, accentuate, and exaggerate the motion in the poses of our subjects.

Every subject has gesture and motion; they are not exclusive only to humans and animals. Even when an object is static, like the trunk of a tree, it still has a gesture—it just doesn’t convey motion because it is not moving. Gesture is an area of study unto itself because creating the illusion of dynamic motion has its own set of terminology and guiding principles.

However, as with the other art fundamentals, gesture drawing builds on the other skills that were listed before it. Just as we construct our objects from lines and shapes, so too do we build our gestures. In a traditional gesture class (usually called Figure Drawing), we learn to identify the line of action for each pose and then build the forms around it. This also involves much practice in seeing, and accurately placing, the angles, proportions and distances between shapes and forms.

It is another form of drawing from life, with the specific life form being a human model.

Figure Drawing for Gesture Practice

At first, working with the figure feels quite daunting and challenging (and hilarious cuz there’s a naked stranger in front of you). I put it this far down on my list because it is a much more demanding skill. Even so, when you feel ready, I strongly encourage you begin adding gesture/figure drawing to your practice routine. It’s as fun as it is challenging, and it will help your hand and eye mature.

When I first started waaaay, back in 2001—OMG I’m totally aging myself—I was like all the rest of my first-time figure drawing artist classmates: giggly and terrible at drawing naked humans. I had no idea what I was doing, and that was fine. At first it’s quite humbling, but with a good instructor (Thank you, Professor Tacang!) I improved. If I can do it, so can you—with all the art fundamentals.

Remember, this is your journey so make it work for you and your art. I am here to act as a helpful guide and faithfully pass on what I learn.

The last skill in this first round of art fundamentals is one that helps pull everything together and adds an extra kick of believability to our creations.

5.   Perspective: Exciting and Technical…mostly.

The first four art fundamentals are all about building the solid drawing foundation we need to support us as we work to communicate through our art. Perspective is another powerful tool for our visual storytelling, and it is a bit different from the others. Whereas the other areas of fundamental study are focused on constructing, lighting and enlivening objects, Perspective focuses on the space the objects occupy.

It deals with how the orientation of each object changes depending on its position within that space, and where our point of view is set (POV). Perspective allows us to understand the spaces our objects and stories occupy, and to examine each from different points of view.

Access to any point of view in the story is the gift we gain by developing our skills with Perspective, and the impact of a story can change dramatically depending on the viewpoint from which it is told.

As with the other fundamentals of art, Perspective is an area of study unto itself and has its own set of terminology, rules, and ways of practicing. It is certainly one of the more technical areas of study in art.

Creating objects in perspective is a more guided way of working that calls for a lot of lines and points: horizon line, vanishing points, and construction lines. I think it can be exciting when it helps an idea come to life—but it can also feel dry and ass numbingly dull (or painfully frustrating) depending on where you are with it. Perspective is important to learn, important to understand, and, unfortunately, is also a skill many artists avoid early on. I know I did.

It made my head hurt, so I said “no, thank you”…to the detriment of my artwork. Eventually, I sucked it up and learned better (plus it really, really helps with composition!).

So…What About the Other Art Fundamentals? 

Believe me, there is no rush and the five we’ve just gone over will do the vital work of helping you build the foundation all your work rests on. The other art fundamentals: Color & Light, Principles of Design, Composition, and Line & Brushwork…they’re not going anywhere, and I’ll be here to help you make sense of them.

Thank you for hanging in there with me! I hope you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feedback, or if I have confused you at all, please let me know in the comments so I can help.

Confident Understanding of Form in Art 2022 (Clear & Easy)

form in art

Greetings!

Thank you for visiting me at CecelyV.com! 😊

I appreciate the opportunity to share what I know with you and contribute to your art journey! Since you’re here it means you want to understand more about form in art, so let’s dig in.

Line, shape, silhouette, and form are just a few elements of The Fundamentals of Art. A firm understanding of how to use and express form in art is essential. The use of form in art is primarily a tool of representational art.

For visual storytelling, our forms need to be on point so the story is felt and understood. Nearly all our sensory experiences connect us to forms and light, and heavily inform our understanding of people and the world around us. Visually expressing form in art helps us connect our stories with our audience.

What is Form in Art?

Simply stated, form is anything whose physical nature includes length, width and depth. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, vehicles, our tech, tools, nature, and more all have a physical form.

Not all of our sensory experiences are visual things, like scent and sound. We don’t “see” the way a pizza smells or the way a bell sounds, but we can draw the source of these sounds and use form in art to connect with our audience’s experiences.

Lines, shapes, and silhouettes help us build and “sculpt” form in art and visually connect us to our audience.

Drawing Comparisons: How I Like to Explain the Elements of Art vs. YouTube or Other Websites You See

In the searches I have done throughout the years, I have encountered a lot of frustration with surface-level information. A general, top-down overview may be enough to get started, but as we dive deeper into our craft, we need more.

Sometimes we need the nuances of our discipline to help us grow past the walls and challenges we encounter. Some of these reveal themselves to us in the doing, which is awesome. Other times, we could use a little more help. Finding awesome-looking YouTube videos that explain nothing, while showing off nice painting skills with pleasant background music, has not been something I’ve ever found terribly helpful.

It’s most helpful to have a window into the process. Understanding aids our practice and helps us build our own processes—which is one of the most challenging aspects of being an artist.

My goal is to share what I have learned with a good balance of the academic and scientific, the practical, the nuanced, and the fun. I want to share the knowledge you can actually use.

Shape and Form in Art

 To understand form in art, it’s important to grasp its building blocks: lines, shape, and silhouette.

Silhouettes are combined solid, monotone shapes (most often in black) whose edges match the outline (outside contour) of the form(s) they represent.

Shapes are simplified, flat versions of form that are created using lines. Shapes are created when lines connect to enclose space. Often the space contained within the line(s) is referred to as “positive” space, while the space outside the shape itself is called “negative” space. “Negative” space can also create shapes and interesting contours.

Lines define the edges. Contour and cross contour lines are useful for giving additional information about the surface volume and plane changes of an object, which guides us when adding light and shadow. Variations of line type and line quality can be used to describe texture and weight.

For our purposes, a line is generally defined as a discernible, one-dimensional path created by a point moving in space. Lines vary in length, width, direction, and texture (smooth, rough, broken, dotted, etc.). They can be solid and visible or implied and invisible. If you can “see” or discern a connection/progression between points or objects, then a line is present.

The Five Main Types of Lines in Art

There are five main types of lines in art:

  • Horizontal Lines
  • Vertical Lines
  • Diagonal Lines
  • Curved Lines
  • Zigzag Lines

A line’s directionality affects the “feel,” impact, and energy of a composition, as well as the language of the shapes you use. Lines are a powerful tool for guiding our viewer’s eye through the story of our image and infusing a sense of movement within our work. I spoke of the versatility of lines earlier, and there are tons of different ways to draw lines and combine line types. It is a fun doodle adventure to see how many combinations you can come up with. Here are a few of my own continuous line doodles:

In these examples, I use a continuous two-dimensional line to see how far I can push the organic and geometric possibilities of a line. I used black on a toned background and focused on creating as many variations of line direction and weight as I could think of at the moment.

As you can see, the variety of the directionality and weight of the lines makes the “feeling” of the lines change: Some feel heavier or darker than others, and some feel more dynamic and energetic. Line quality affects mood and form in art.

Line Type in Art Direction and Weight Shift Shape Examples

Drawing with constant direction changes, as in the zigzagging and wavy lines you can see here, makes these patterns and open shapes feel more energetic and chaotic, or like they are “buzzing.”

By combining the five main types of lines in continuous line drawing, you will see how far you can use lines to explore two-dimensional geometric and organic shapes and patterns in your work. Practice like this also gives you a sense of the kind of shape language and line quality you like, which will inform how you create forms and objects in your drawings.

For another viewpoint on Line in art, here is a video from KQED Art School:

Exploring Shapes: An Important Element of Art

Let’s talk more about shapes. By my count, there are at least 21 distinct basic shapes and dozens of shape combinations classified as mathematical 2D shapes. I didn’t think there were that many until I started researching it, but, helpfully, they each fall into two categories: Polygonal or Curved.

I compiled my own list into the table below and added a sketch of each for visual reference. Having a robust shape library helps us define form in art.

Polygonal ShapesCurved ShapesOther
TriangleCircleMagatama
SquareSemi-circleAsteroid
RectangleOvalSpiral
RhombusHeartFigure eight (lemniscates)
ParallelogramCrescent 
Trapezoid  
Kite  
Pentagon (5 sides)  
Hexagon (6 sides)  
Heptagon (7 sides)  
Octagon (8 sides)  
Star polygons  
2D shapes

Most, if not all, of the shapes above are likely familiar to you. Lines help us make these shapes, and adding depth to each helps us create forms in art. When not being used to construct form in art, shapes are often used for patterns, details, and/or to add or imply texture.

In this next video, KQED Art School does a good job of further illustrating what shape in art is:

I have some visual examples coming up later in this post that should help clarify everything I’ve been discussing, so now let’s dig into a bit of the nuance of form in art.

The Five Basic Forms in Art

There are 5 Basic Forms: The Cube, Sphere, Cylinder, Cone & Pyramid.

 Shapes become forms when depth is added.

  • A circle can become a sphere or a cylinder.
  • A square can become a cube or a pyramid.
  • A triangle can become a cone or a prism.
  • A rectangle can become a cube or a cylinder.

Which form each shape becomes depends on your intent, and its proportions will depend on which perspective you use and where the form sits concerning the horizon line.

Here are a few examples I created in one- and two-point perspective:

Shapes and Forms in Perspective 01

   In two-point perspective, all the forms you create begin with cubes/boxes. In one-point perspective, you can begin with any shape you like.

Shapes and Forms in Perspective 02
Shapes and Forms in Perspective 03-Cylinders

Here’s one more video from KQED Art School that has more great examples of what form in art can look like:

The Five Basic Forms in Nature

The five basic forms are geometric and mathematical, and geometric forms are frequently described as “man-made.” Regarding objects we typically draw as artists, this is probably accurate. However, I don’t want to leave it because it limits our thinking as makers and creators. Geometric forms are found in nature in a variety of areas. So far, I have found that all but one of the five basic forms, the pyramid, frequently occur in nature.

I have only found one example of the pyramid in mineral/gem/crystal formations, and even then, it’s rare. Shapes, silhouettes, and forms are all naturally occurring things observed every day in our world.

Let’s take a look at some examples of the five basic forms as they occur in nature.

Basic Forms in Nature-Grapes
Grapes are naturally occurring spheres.
Basic Forms in Nature-Grapes
Many plants have cone shapes as part of their “fruit” structures.
Basic Forms in Nature-Cubes
Minerals, rocks, and crystals will have cubes, prisms and pyramids as part of their natural structures.
Basic Forms in Nature-Prism & Pyramid
A natural geode can have several prism and pyramid-ish forms.
Basic Forms in Nature-Cylinder
Tree trunks and branches are common examples of cylinders in nature.

Organic Forms and Geometric Forms

Forms in nature are organic and tend to be curvy, free-flowing, and have much more variation in their forms, patterns, and textures. They are also less easily measurable than geometric forms. My own preference is for organic forms. I find organic forms to be the most unique, dynamic, and extremely fun and challenging to draw. Geometric forms can be just as fun and interesting, though I think their mathematically defined natures lend them more to stabilizing and structural uses than dynamism.

Form in art: Breakdowns

First, we need something to draw! I have tried to go about this in an orderly way–going from quite simple to complex forms from one example to the next. I have tried to use easy to find everyday objects for each. For this type of demonstration, I’ve included the unedited reference, then the silhouette, a breakdown of the basic flat shapes, and finally, a form drawing with contour lines.

Form Breakdown-Leaf
A simple leave with its silhouette, basic shapes and contour versions. Most of the leaf’s volume is in its stem. This one of the easiest examples of form in art.
Form Breakdown-Teacup and Saucer
A teacup is a slightly more complex form than a leaf. By breaking out the silhouette, basic shapes, and form shapes, we begin to understand the volume of each part of the cup and saucer. Adding complexity helps us practice form in art.
Form Breakdown-Boots
Breaking out the visual elements works from any angle. Understanding the placement and function of each part of a form helps us to more easily draw the object from any angle.
Form Breakdown-Train
Breaking down forms into simple shapes for the start of your drawing helps you get a better handle on how to draw form in art. Trains have a lot of parts, and each is a form. For the sake of time, I haven’t broken down every single form visible in the reference, but there should be enough be clear.
Form Breakdown-Human Head
It doesn’t get much more complex than the human head. Even so, breaking out the basic shapes first helps give you a foundation to build on. As a complex organic form, the human head has forms on top of forms, and plenty of cross contouring, so it’s a good subject for practicing form in art.

Subjects Without Form: Those Tricky Elements and their Form Changes

Things like water, air, smoke, and fire are not your standard forms. Due to their varied and shifting natures, all the elements are a little more challenging to depict. Being without solid, static forms, they change depending on circumstances and external influences and conditions.

Water, for example, conforms to whatever container it’s in—whether that’s an inorganic glass or a natural container like the Earth (like a lake or a pond). It’s also somewhat self-containing in that it sticks to itself—which is how we get water drops and puddles.

Smoke and gases have volume, but their most defining features are scent and motion. The forms smoke and gases take also depend on what their origins are. Smoke from an explosion or a fireplace has a completely different look compared with smoke from a cigarette or a candle.

Fire also has no static form. The shapes and forms of fire depend very much on whatever is being burned. A wildfire has a much larger, more energetic form than a campfire or a fire from a lighter. All of these are types of fires, but drawing each form in art would require varied handling.

Finally, we have Air. We cannot draw or paint air—it is an invisible messenger. We can only draw its effects and some of what it carries. Air affects how we draw all the other elements and objects present in a scene. For example, we can draw the dust, leaves, and other debris that can be carried on the wind.

How we draw the things carried in the air determines the quality and mood of the atmosphere we are depicting. A scene with a gentle spring breeze has quite a different impact than a howling storm.

Water Splash and Droplets
Water
Without Set Form-Smoke
Smoke
Without Set Form-Fire
Fire
Without Set Form-Air
Air/Wind
Without Set Form-Earth
Earth/Dust

Adding Depth to Create Form in art: A Brief Word on Light & Perspective

Since I just mentioned it, now is a good time to go over some basics of The Fundamentals of Light.

When it comes to the physical world, the only reason our eyes see anything at all is because of light. Until we add the elements of space and light to shapes, they appear flat on our page.

Light and shadow help objects feel “grounded” in the picture plane, so they don’t appear to be “floating in space.”

Adding Depth with Light & Shadow

Lines and shapes serve as early starting points to begin drawing and orienting form in art. In the following step-by-step examples, I show the process of going from a “flat” circle to the illusion of a three-dimensional sphere using light and shadow.

Light and shadow demo
Final lit sphere

This is a completed basic light demo with a sphere. Sometimes it helps to begin at the end, so you know where you want to end up. Next, I’ll break out the steps I used to arrive here.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 01-plain circle

Step One:

Create a solid circle shape.

I used a toned background because it helps me see the contrasts of light and shadow much more easily than a white background.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 02-add light source and light guide

Step Two:

Decide on your light’s source, direction, and angle.

There are several properties involved with light, but I recommend keeping it simple for this exercise.

I’ve chosen a light source similar to the sun but with a more white hue and much less intense.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 03-add center light

Step Three:

Add light to the shape’s surface.

This begins to give the first indication of depth by putting one side in light and the other in the darker mid-tone of the shape’s local tone.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 04-add form shadow-terminus-core shadow

Step Four:

Begin adding the half tone and form shadows.

Form shadows include the terminus/terminator and core shadow. The characteristics of form shadows depend on the number of light sources and their properties.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 05-add cast shadow-occlusion shadow

Step Five:

Add the cast and occlusion shadows.

The cast shadow is the shadow created by the object blocking the light, and the occlusion shadow is the darkest area of shadow where no light can reach.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 06-add highlight-reflected light

Step Six:

Add the highlight and reflected light to your object.

The highlight is a small area on the object that receives the most direct light from the light source, and the reflected light is an area that is receiving a small amount of illumination from the reflection of the light source when it bounces off the ground plane and/or other objects that may be present in your scene.

Basic Light and Shadow Demo 07-Sequential

Laid out next to each other, it is easier to see the progression from a flat 2D shape to a 3D sphere with light and depth.

Adding Depth with Space

Another way to begin adding depth to your shapes is to use space and perspective. Drawing into space can add depth to a shape without using “proper” perspective. How you choose to add a sense of depth to your drawings really depends on your goals. For representational art, accurate perspective is a must for your finished product—but not when you’re just sketching to get ideas out.

When you are sketching for fun, or just trying to flesh out your understanding of an object’s forms, perspective is not necessary. These are simple, quick, and sketchy examples.

For these form in art exercises, I focused on turning each shape into a form by extending them out in space, adding planes and contour lines, and adding some simple values.

Shape to Form Using Space-lock and key shape
I started with a random lock and key sort of shape and then extended it down into space. Next, I added some contour lines.
Shape to Form Using Space-lock and key shape-with values
In the last step, I added basic values.
Shape to Form Using Space-Oraganic Land shape-space-planes
Here I went for a random shape with a more organic feel. First, I drew down from its outer contour lines to begin adding depth. Then, I defined the space within the shape by adding some planes. This breaks up the larger space into smaller pieces.
Shape to Form Using Space-Oraganic Land-contour lines-value block in
After defining the planes I added some contour lines and a basic block-in of values.
Shape to Form Using Space-Oraganic Land-contour lines-value range-cast shadows
Lastly, I firmed up the values by including the full range of tones and then added cast shadows.
Ceramic tile shape inspiration
This shape in a ceramic bathroom tile was my inspiration for the next shape. I see a woman’s figure in it, so I tried to recreate that for this next example.
Shape to Form Using Space-Female form-shape-space-planes
Once again I started with a flat shape, then I began adding depth by extending the shape’s contours out into space. Next, I added some simple indications of planes.
Shape to Form Using Space-Female form-shapes-forms-contour lines
The human figure is one of the most complex forms–containing many smaller forms that make up the body–so it was necessary to add additional shapes to create the smaller forms within the body. Each new form adds to the sense of depth. After cleaning up, I added some contour lines to help indicate volume for each form area.

A quick note here: While I kept this simple, dealing with the human figure requires a little familiarity with human anatomy. I included it here to demonstrate that the level of complexity does not really matter because the process remains consistent.

Shape to Form Using Space-Female form-value block-in-value range-cast shadows
After the contour lines were added, I blocked in the values, firmed up the value range, and included the cast shadows.

Adding Depth with Perspective

To turn shapes into forms using perspective, I started with a horizon line, one vanishing point (for 1-Point Perspective), and a few basic shapes. The next steps are essentially the same as in the earlier examples, except that when I extend the corners or contours of the shapes back in space, I am extending them toward the vanishing point.

Shape to Form Using Perspective-Basic Shapes in One Point Perspective
Once the forms are defined, I added some basic lighting.

The process does change a little for 2-Point Perspective in that you do not start with shapes but with simple lines. To achieve depth in perspective, you extend lines from each vertice to each of the two vanishing points.

Shape to Form Using Perspective-Forms in Two-point perspective-Line to Form-Two-Point Perspective
Basic form in art with perspective

Show Yourself Some Love! You Made it!

Okay, so do me a favor, would you? Kiss your hand and touch your forehead. It will feel silly but try it anyway. That is how you kiss your brain! Congratulations, you made it through all that information! It was a lot! I learned the “kiss your brain” thing from my kiddo’s teacher. Isn’t it cute?

In all seriousness, when you hang in there and gain new knowledge, it is super important to acknowledge your effort, work, and growth. It helps boost your morale and confidence. You are awesome, and I am glad you hung in there with me 😊

Treat yourself for being awesome!

I hope you found this clear as well as thorough and helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions—or need help if I have confused you—in the comments section below.

Take care and Happy drawing!