"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind". - Henry James

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fast Sketching Techniques

One of my goals this year is to learn to draw faster.  I guess that implies sketching.  Which brings up a good question:  What is the difference between sketching and drawing?  I haven't really made a clear distinction in my mind yet.  They're sort of the same, except I think sketching implies speed and a less finished look.  Or maybe it conveys movement.  Definitely energy.

A book on my art-books shelf (one of many) is David Rankin's Fast Sketching Techniques:  Capture the Fundamental Essence of Elusive Subjects.  I think that is what I want to do.  I want to be able to go to a zoo or a farm or any place where animals gather and be able to come away with something recognizable.  Birds!  I'd love to be able to render birds in a way that somehow captures some of their "fundamental essence".  I think this is going to take a lot of time and practice.  I'd better start now.

I'm working my way through some of the exercises in Fast Sketching Techniques.  Here is a page of images I copied from the book as practice.  That blocked bit in the upper left corner is a test scribble that my scanner wanted to scan to the exclusion of all other images on the page.  I don't know why.  The idea is to get a general shape down quickly and then add some shading and blend with some sort of blending tool - a tortillon or stump or even one's finger.  I used a General's Woodless 9B pencil and a blending stump on bristol smooth paper.

More birds~
I tried some of his fast sketching techniques while watching CSpan2 Book TV.  It was sort of fun!  I took too much time with these drawings, but I found I could at least get somewhat of a likeness by drawing fast as the camera cut away and using the pencil as a shading tool and blending with the stump.  
And then I tried drawing from life, which I much prefer.  Of course drawing a sleeping dog doesn't require being able to draw fast, but dogs often shift position.  It turns out it is handy to be able to draw quickly.
Sadly, this book is out of print.  I think a search on amazon.com or Alibris would find you a nice copy at a reasonable price.


  1. Fun, Deb. Occasionally I've tried drawing caricatures/sketches of people on the news. Beats listening to them, and it's not too hard to get some kind of likeness.

  2. Wonderful idea, Rosey! I could turn the sound off ~

  3. I am giving a presentation at the Ohio TESOL Conference on Oct.31st at the Columbus, Ohio Convention Center The title is: "Fast Sketching for Teachers." Subtitle:" How to convey grammar quickly with fast sketching on the whiteboard". If you are around, you're welcome. It's free.