What is a Sketch?

In art terms, it can be:

  • a way of practising and refining your skills in drawing and mark marking
  • an exploratory drawing – exploring how something works/might work
  • a quick drawing – e.g. sketching in public tends to be time-limited rather than open-ended
  • a rough description – it’s OK if they lack detail; don’t fill the page or are not even completed
  • a record of something you’ve seen
  • a record of one or more aspects of something you want to develop into a painting e.g. a colour study
  • a preliminary study – for a later painting (done before you start to check how your painting will work rather than as an underdrawing on your final support)

A sketch may be an imaginative or a creative interpretation of reference material – but it does not involve meticulous copying of a reference photo.  Very often a sketch is a study of a subject that the artist can see – and consequently involves working and drawing from life.

Once you start to sketch and compare your sketch with photos you took at the same time, you will learn very quickly just how poor photographs are at capturing the true range of tonal values that you have seen. In addition, because you learn to look more carefully at colours, you will also begin to understand how most photographs can distort both contrast and colour, particularly on very bright days.

Developing the ability to see ‘picture’ – ‐ Once you start to sketch and practice looking at your environment more, you will start to “see pictures” everywhere you go. That marks the point when they know they are beginning to think like an artist.

  1. What does the subject look like?
  2. How is the subject balanced?
  3. How does the light fall on the subject?
  4. Lighting is an important factor that one should pay attention to, when adding texture in a sketch.
  5. Look for the highlights (brightest spots) and shadows formed on the subject.

Getting the Right Form

In still life get the shape, size and symmetry of the object right. The shading and texturing of the drawing is secondary and comes later on. When sketching for perspective drawings, get the form perfect and then proceed to shading. If you get the form right, instead of shading you can also do painting these drawings.

What is thumbnail?

Thumbnail sketches are used by artist to visualize the final painting. Also, to record the essence of a scene, artwork, etc. and to work out an interesting composition.

A thumbnail is not a fully rendered pencil drawing. It is not a working drawing the same size as the final painting where the artist has worked out many questions about value, shape, edges, etc., what used to be called a ‘cartoon’. It is not a full color mini-version of the final painting such as is done for important commissioned work.

Why not just take a picture?

The camera records everything without discrimination.

Going from real world profusion to 2D design is a major transformation. Hold in your mind the initial flash of excitement that caused you to get out your sketch book. Might help to jot down a word or two first about that feeling. Depict your idea in a very simple sketch. Outline the major shapes. Ignore smaller shapes and details.

In a thumbnail you must decide what is most important and eliminate the rest.

This is the first step in the creation of a work of art…Simplification.

Sketching from life is a very, very different experience from drawing from reference photos.  What you can achieve in your own personal ‘comfort zone’ and what you might produce ‘in the field’ are always going to be two very different results – for every artist, not just those learning how to sketch.

via this blog: Making a mark


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