Products in a Space

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Choose a space that includes several different, but related, products. It could be a small space, like a kitchen cabinet full of dishes, or a large one, like a parking lot full of cars.

For each of the first four days this week, draw a different product from this space. Depending on your product, you may need to adjust its complexity so it fills a 30-minute sketching session. If you’re drawing simple objects, like plates or drinking glasses, you may want to stack them up, or put a few of them into a group. If you’re drawing complex objects, like cars and trucks, you may want to ignore most of the surface details and focus on the major shapes. Read More

Sets of Identical Products

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Each day this week, sketch a set of identical (or nearly identical) products. Choose simple products, like a group of pushpins on a desk, a set of wrenches on a workbench, or a set of kitchen knives in a knife rack.

Arrange your products in an interesting way. For me, the easiest way to do this is to have most of the products doing the same thing, with 1 or 2 products doing something different. This will draw viewers’ attention to the differently-positioned products, so you might want to add a little extra detail there. Read More

Good Lines vs Bad Lines

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Line drawings are quick, and they communicate a lot of information. Make sure your linework is communicating the right information by following these guidelines.

Good lines are clear. The viewer knows exactly how your product looks in the real world. When they look at a line they can tell immediately whether it is the edge of a form, or something on its surface. They never have to guess what a line is showing.

Bad lines are vague. The viewer has trouble imagining your product in the real world. They can’t tell product edges from surface details. They may have to guess where the important lines are and what they are showing. Read More

Movie, TV, & Game Props

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Each day this week, sketch a prop (or some other manufactured object) from a movie, TV show or video game. You can do multiple views of the same object, or sketch a new one each day.

Each sketch should only take 20-30 minutes, so keep your sketches simple. Make sure the overall shapes are clear before you zoom in on the details. If you’re doing multiple views of the same product, try zooming in or out for some views, instead of just rotating around the product. Some views could even bleed off the page. Read More

Good Drawings vs Bad Drawings

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Drawing instructors like to encourage our students to practice. We teach in 3-hour studios instead of 1-hour lectures. We give sketchbook assignments. We write daily sketch prompts. We say things like, “Drawing is the best way to learn how to draw.”

Why are your instructors so keen on practice, especially daily practice? It has to do with three learning concepts: active learning, distributed practice, and critical thinking. Basically, people learn best when they use new skills regularly, and carefully evaluate their performance. Using your skills (instead of just reading about them or listening to a lecture) is the active learning. Using them every day (instead of just when class meets) is the distributed practice. And carefully evaluating your work (instead of walking away as soon as a project is done) is the critical thinking. Read More

Text in Perspective, Part 2

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Last week, you made observational sketches of text in perspective. You looked at products and packaging with text on the surface, you put them in 2-point or 3-point perspective views, and you sketched them. This week, you’re going to do something similar. But instead of drawing what you see, you’re going to put your own text onto the products.

Each day this week, sketch a simple product in 2-point or 3-point perspective. Then sketch some text onto the surface. This could be a brand name, instructive text (like the “Left” and “Right” text you see on some headphones), or ad copy. It should also be new text that you’re adding to the surface, rather than text that’s already there. Read More

Text in Perspective, Part 1

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Each day this week, pick a simple product with large, easy-to-see text on its surface. Sketch the product quickly in 2-point or 3-point perspective. Then add the surface text.

As you sketch, observe how the surface changes the text. Edges that are straight and parallel when you view them straight-on will look different in perspective. They may bend around a curved surface, or converge to a vanishing point (just like any other group of straight, parallel lines). Some parts of the text may also get narrower, while other parts stay the same. Read More

Site Notes

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Over the next 2-3 weeks, I’m going to make some changes to the posts on this site, so they’re easier to reference during the school year. I won’t delete any posts, but the titles, tags and categories will all be updated. If you’re looking for a specific post, you may need to do a little searching before you find it. Sorry about that. Fortunately, the new site is still fairly small, so you should find everything fairly quickly. Read More

Round Products & Parts

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Each day this week, sketch a round product: something that’s clearly based on a cylinder, a sphere, or a cone. The whole product doesn’t need to be round, but a large part of it should be.

As you sketch, pay special attention to how the round parts affect the rest of the product. Start with these questions: Read More


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For the first three days this week, choose a mass-produced, hi-tech product. Sketch it, but make it look like the product was made by hand out of lo-tech materials, like wood, or stone or riveted steel. If your product requires power, you might think about turning it into a clockwork-powered, steam-powered, or creature-powered device.

For the next three days, choose a hand-made, lo-tech product, and make it look like it was mass produced from hi-tech materials, like injection-molded plastic, carbon fiber, or advanced ceramics. You may also want to add modern features, like power-sources or displays. Read More

Parts of a Product

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Choose a product that has at least five visible parts. These parts can be just about anything: control panels, gauges, vents, battery packs, etc. But they should be large enough view and sketch clearly. They should also be visible without taking the product apart (taking products apart comes later).

For the first 5 days of this week, sketch one part of the product. Focus on how that part looks by itself, and how it fits into the whole product. On the 6th day, sketch the whole product, showing as many parts as possible. Read More