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Shape up


I jokingly tell people I am in shape, the shape is round, but a shape. Shapes are something we begin to learn before our first day of preschool. Thank you Sesame Street. Shapes are how we recognize and identify things. It is also essential to designing and building our everyday items we use. Remember Geometry class? Tangents, angles, radius, etc. all used everyday in the engineering world. Thank goodness in art all you need to know is just three basic shapes; the triangle, circle, and square. If you start with these three basic shapes, you can draw anything depending how you stretch and combined them together.

Lets do something simple like this doll. You can probably already see the shapes involved. But one of the important things about beginning your drawing with shapes, is that it will help keep everything in proportion and how it will be laid out on paper.

First lay out the primary shapes. I like to start off with the largest shape first then add on to it. In this case it would be a triangle for the dress. Then the head, arms and legs.

Second, Begin to what is called flesh out the drawing. Start adding a little bit of detail around the shapes to mold what the drawing will look like. Think of it as adding muscles to a skeleton.

Third, Add more detail and outline the drawing with ink or a think line. At this point you can erase any unwanted lines or use the methods shown in previous post using Grids and/or tracing paper.

Fourth, Finish the drawing as desired with color.

Then add more detail and background.

Very simple, I recommend taking photos from magazines and draw the shapes on top of them to kind of reverse the process. After a while it will become second nature to look at something and see what shapes it took to put it together.

Have fun getting into shape and check back here for more tips.


The Transfer


Ever do a great sketch on a scratch piece of paper and not be able to replicate it on a final drawing? Or maybe you spent hours getting a drawing correct only to sit back and notice all the eraser marks, smudges, and lines that didn't quite erase. Yes I have done that plenty of times, but the following steps has helped me start off with a clean outline of a drawing and an almost duplicate of the original work that was done.

This method is similar to what a seamstress will use to transfer a pattern onto fabric or what a tattoo artist does to lay down the outlines on the person before applying the ink. The only skill that is really required is the ability to trace.


The materials needed are: Tracing paper, 2b pencil, color pencil, and artist tape. And of course the picture your want to duplicate and the medium you want it to transfer to.

The drawing from my sketch book.
Step 1

Using the artist tape, tape the drawing you want to use with a piece of tracing paper on top onto your drawing table. You want to tape down the drawing so it does not move around during the tracing process. I recommend using artist tape because it is not very sticky and will not tear the drawings. Also it will not leave a sticky residue on the drawing or your wife's kitchen table. They hate that.

Step 2

Trace over the wanted lines of your drawing. This is a good time to make any corrections you might want to do. Also, no need to trace any shading, but you may want to do the outlines of the shadow and dark areas. Keep in mind this is just a guide to be used for the final product.

Step 3

You can remove the original art work and file it away for use on another project. Flip the tracing paper over and go over the image with at least a 2b pencil. If you use a pencil on the original side of the tracing paper, you may want to place a scrap piece of paper between the table and tracing paper, because it may leave an image on the table. Even though wives are your biggest fans of your art, the do not want to scrub it off their kitchen table.

FYI, this is also a good time to take a unique look at your art work. If it still looks good as a mirror image, that is a good indicator everything has been drawn very well.

Step 4

Flip the tracing paper back over to the original side and place it on top of the final medium it will be used on taping it using the artist tape. This can be canvas for a painting or a wall for a stencil or mural. I will be using a heavy stock Bristol paper because I plan on inking this drawing later.

Step 5

The final step is to lightly go over the lines on the tracing paper with a color pencil. This will transfer the pencil lines on the reverse side to you final medium. No need to press hard or go over lines more than once. Doing so may create indents in your finish product or cause lines to be to dark. I use a color pencil to keep track of which lines I already went over and the color pencil does not create a lot of pressure making the transferred lines light.

The final results may not look like much, but now there is foundation to work with that does not have a bunch of unwanted sketch lines and eraser marks. Now clean off the kitchen table before you get into any more trouble.

Check back here for more illustrations and graphic tips.

Please refer your friends to Jason-Miller-Design for their illustration and graphic needs.


Business cards, Graphic design, illustrator, brochures, t-shirts, invitations, corporate branding, logos, illustrations, cartoon