Creating Depth and Dimension in Your Designs | Jane Snedden Peever | Skillshare

Creating Depth and Dimension in Your Designs

Jane Snedden Peever, Creative Drawing for Fun and Relaxation

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9 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Overview

    • 3. Creating The Line Art

    • 4. Overlap

    • 5. Value

    • 6. Perspective

    • 7. Contrast

    • 8. Reinforcing The Principles

    • 9. Final thoughts


About This Class

Have you wondered what to do with your line art to give it that extra touch, to make it come alive and dance off the page?  

In my previous classes I have introduced you to creating basic shapes and arranging them into a mandala framework.  In this class we will go beyond our basic line drawings and learn some simple tricks to adding depth and dimension into our design.  First I will walk you through creating the line drawing and then I will take you step by step through applying design principles to each area of our line art to give the design the illusion of depth, and add dimension to the shapes. 

When we are done you will have created a beautiful design that appears to float on the page and you will have learned new skills you can take into your own drawings to create visually pleasing and interesting designs.

What you will need:

  • pencil
  • paper
  • eraser
  • pen - assortment of thick and thin sizes
  • download pdf framework and line art provided

The purpose of this class is to encourage you to take your line art to the next level and start to think about space in your drawings.

 If you would like to learn more about how I do my line art you can see more of that in my other classes on mandala drawing and basic shapes.


1. Intro: Hi there, my name is Jane Snedden Peever, and I'm a Designer and Illustrator. In this class, I want to show you how to bring your designs to the next level. I want to show you how to create depth and dimension by creating space within your design. When you draw your designs, it's a lot more than just putting the elements on the paper. It's where you place them and how they interact with each other. As with my other classes, will start with a line work. I'll show you how to draw the mandala from scratch given the framework I provide you. Then will step it up a notch, and explore some design techniques that will give you a design that wow factor. We're going to try to use some of the tricks of the trade to get that two-dimensional flat piece of paper to pop up into a three-dimensional space. I will show you the tricks and techniques that will create space in your design. We will work together from creating the line art right through to the finished piece. Join me now as we take the next step in creating beautiful designs. Hit and roll, and I'll see you there. 2. Overview: In this class, I want to move beyond basic line art and bring our designs to the next level by exploring the use of depth, dimension, and the use of space. I'm referring to both the use of positive space, which is the design shapes, and negative space, which is the space in between. Both are very important part of the design and the proper balance between the two and how they interact with each other and will give the eye a visually interesting design that's both pleasing and compelling. We're looking to take that two-dimensional line art and make it pop off the page like a three-dimensional object floating in space. We're going to accomplish this today by visiting some of the design principles that will help us do this. We're going to first start with overlap, which will help us create objects that lie in front of other objects and create the illusion of depth, then we're going to move on to value, and we're going to use stippling to help us create the value which is a gradual movement from dark into light and that will create volume on our objects. Then we're going to move on to perspective, and by using perspective, we're going to create the illusion of a 3D object with space underneath it. Then we're going to move on to contrast, which is very easy in pen and ink because you've got black and white, and it'll make the images pop off the page. Then we're going to continue on by revisiting these design principles as we move further out in the design, and that's going to reinforce the principles with us, and it's also going to carry the design out to the edge of the page with some continuity. So the materials that you can any today are only going to be a piece of paper, pen of course, and pencil as well, and probably an eraser would be handy. So really simple stuff, pencil eraser and pen and I actually have a real assortment of pens because once you get into creating the depth in the design, you're going to want to use different thicknesses and you're going to want to use, some pens, you want to have a fine point, some pens you want to be able to shade in really well with. So that's all going to be stuff that you can experiment with as you go. Myself, I really like to use the microns when I'm trying to get definition, and then I also have this pit pen, by Faber-Castelle and I use that for coloring in sometimes. There's a really nice assortment of pens out there, you just have to give them a try. Buy a few and see how they work for you. The other thing that I'm providing for you is two downloads. One is the framework that we're going to work on the line drawing. So I am going to show you how to do the line drawing itself based on the framework that I give you, and as well, I'm going to provide you with a line drawing because my focus on this class is depth and dimension. So I want you to be able to know what the line drawn looks like without having to worry about that, if that's something you'd prefer. So print out you download, grab your supplies, and let's start creating some depth and dimension in our art. 3. Creating The Line Art: So we're going to start to build our designs. So we start with a blank piece of paper over our framework. This is the best way to work as some of the framework lines won't be used and we don't want them on our page. I want these petals to overlap each other. So I will draw these lines in to remind me of back. Now I'm going to start adding circles into one of my petals. I want to create an overlap effects. So I will overlap the circles as I draw them. Make sure you add different sizes and scatter them around the space. I draw the initial design in pencil because I can work design elements in as whole units and then I can erase parts of them out that I don't want later. They're going to work this design into every second petal and leave every other second petal blank for now because we're going to do something different in them when we ink them. In the next section, we're going to play with perspective. So when you're drawing in a circular frame like a Mandela, your points of perspective will come from the center and radiate outwards like the degree lines, and they'll also run around the circumference of the circle that the elements are lying on. So in this next element, I want to create the illusion of a peaked roofs. So the line that runs down the center would be the peak. Then in the side, I'm going to create a window as if you're looking down into the window, now the design beside it, I am going to mirror the same elements. So it's going to create sets. These two sets will be done the same all the way around the circle. So then on the opposite side, I want to create a slanted roof that solid so the lines give you that illusion and you just mirror them on the other side in the same fashion. Then to reinforce the fact that there's space underneath that, I'm going to create this ring of circles that looks like it's coming in and out of the windows and it'll go all the way around like that. The next design we're going to do, we're going to create two different designs. There going to be mirrored reflections of themselves. So the first one we're going to do simple petals. I've done this in other classes before. One of my favorite designs, just mirroring the petals on either side of the division line, and then one petal right up the center. Then on the next design, just draw a free hand circle with an S curve, and you're going to create petals all the way around. So you have a starburst look or a flower with floating petals. Again, the petals will be mirrored, balanced on either side of the design. We're going to use this design to explore contrast in the next section. Now we're going to take the next section and divide it in half with an S curve, and then I'm going to mirror this S curve three more times, always ending in the center at the bottom. Then I'm going to create three petals on the other side and just outline them a bit. Then in our last section, I am going to create just a free-form floating flower. So my circle center and then my petals. I'm going to try to do about the same number on each side. They don't have to look identical. I'm also going to keep that grid line in the background as well and you'll see what we do with that when we get inking. 4. Overlap: Now we're going to start the inking process and start adding some depth and dimension into our design. Our first element we're going to create is the illusion of overlap. We start by inking a few full circles randomly around the space, and then we ink the rest, being careful not to cross over any lines that we've already inked. You're going to try to do this randomly in different areas as you go so that you don't end up with a stack, like a tower from bottom to top. Then, we're going to erase out the pencil lines once we're finished. What we end up with is a bunch of overlapping circles. One method of tricking the eye into seeing depth is to create objects that appear to overlap each other. Now the circles can be perceived as spheres with volume, lying on top of each other. 5. Value: At this point I've gone ahead and inked all the pencil lines in the liner. The only place that you need to watch for is these circular beads that run in and out of the windows. They're supposed to lie in front of everything else like an overlap and there can't be any lines that run through them, but everything else is just inking the pencil lines. I've included the liner in a PDF, so that you can see the completed liner and get a good idea of what it's supposed to look like before we start adding the depth and dimension. The next method we're going to explore is value. I'm going to divide this petal into three sections that follow the curve of the outer edge. I'm going to use stippling to create a gradual gradient from dark to light. Stippling is just making small dots with the tip of your pen, to fill an area it's a form of shading used with pen and ink, it's a slow process and requires patience, but it's very useful for creating value as well as texture. So I've spread this up just a little bit so that you get to see a lot of the stippling. So I don't actually stipple this fast. Illusion we're going to go for here is to give the petals some dimension or shape, by creating a rounded look to it. Dark values recede away from you into the shadows and light values move towards you into the light. So by creating the stripes, from dark to light on this petal we're creating the look, that the right side is closer to us and the left side is further away in the shadows. Creating values using stippling lets this effect happen gradually, and is more believable to the eye than using hard or clean lines. Hard edges or the clean lines make an object pop out. It's used to make an object looks like it's overlapping another object, and that's why on the left-hand side I have a dark line to indicate the overlap of the spherical petal, and on the right side there's also a clean line because these petals themselves, are going to stand out in front of the rest of the design. So you'll stipple more on the left side to merge with that black line and recede into the shadow, and also more near the bottom where the spherical petal will overlap it, and near the top where the beaded ring also overlaps that petal. When I design it's very geometric in nature. So it's really fun to use these design principles to add some realism into the shapes that I create, and it also helps me add space and depth into the design itself. Stippling is a really great technique to use to achieve this. 6. Perspective: When you're drawing with perspective, you're trying to use what we call vanishing points to create a three-dimensional object. Vanishing points is when you're looking off into the horizon. As things get closer to the horizon, they tend to appear like they're vanishing away. When you're drawing on a circle, your horizon will be curved around the circumference of the circle and your vanishing points will fall somewhere on that circumference. In this case, making the peaked roofs, the vanishing points fall down to the sides of the object on a curve. That's enough for the theory, let's get into the practical. I've created the look of a roof with windows on either side. We did this in the line art section and now I'm going to add elements to reinforce the illusion. By adding lines into this section, I'm creating the look of a cutaway window on an angle into my roof like design. Now I'm going to add small lines to reinforce the idea of a peaked sloped roof. This is reinforcing the idea that it's casting a shadow as you look at the roof sloping down the side. Then once I'm done these little lines, I'm also going to emphasize the peak of the roof by making it a thicker line. This makes the peak itself pop and it also reinforces the shadow that'll fall down one side of the peak. As we look around our own environment, we start to pay attention to where light and dark values fall, that make us perceive items from a distance as being three-dimensional. This helps us in our drawing to use these ideas to trick the eye on a flat piece of paper. I'm going to color in the back of my windows here, this is going to make the background drop away and help us create the depth in the Windows. We remember that dark recedes away from us, and by making it a strong contrast, it creates even more depth and I want to make sure also that the rings that lie in front, that are coming out of these windows, I want them to stand out as if they're overlapping at the front, so I'm going to take a nice contrast line and go around them so that they pop out as well. A lot of this will come with trial and error as you draw things, experiment, and your eye will tell you whether it's believable or not. Keep an eye in your environment because there's a lot of clues in real life as to how to make things look three-dimensional. 7. Contrast: The next element we'll explore is contrast and design principle called figure-ground. When we look at a design, we have a tendency to separate the figures or objects in the foreground from their background, hence figure-ground. One way of achieving this is through the use of contrast. This is one of my favorite ways to create interests in a pen and ink because the black and white create a very distinct contrast. What I've done with this design is I've drawn a line right down the center, even right through the top pedal, and on the left-hand side, all the pedals are black, leaving the background white, and on the right-hand side, all the petals are white, leaving the background black, and that means the pedal at the top is split in half. With figure-ground there is three different types that you can do. The first one is called stable, where your figure as a distinct color and your background is a distinct color, and it's very obvious. There is also ambiguous, which is you can't tell the difference. There is black and there is white hither thither and you can't tell what's foreground and what's the background. The one that I'm using here is called reversible, where my design is literally split in half or balanced in some form, and half of it is one version and the other half is reversed. Again, on the design I'm working on now, I've again split it in half except the center creates an S-curve, and on the left-hand side again, the pedals are black and the background is white, and on the right-hand side that background is black and the pedals are white, and I've also worked that into the center design as well. This creates a lot of visual interest in the design because your eye is switching back and forth trying to determine which is the foreground and which is the background. But because it's balanced, it's very visually pleasing and really draws the eye to that spot and keeps it interesting. 8. Reinforcing The Principles: In these final two sections, I'm going to reinforce the design principles that I've used earlier on in this design. In the petals, I'm going to use perspective and create little windows out of them. I'll use the same design elements as I did below in the roof section. I will draw my little lines to make them appear like they have been cut out of the petals, and then I'm going to eat in the background to create the depth and the illusion of looking into the darkness when the background falls away from you. On the left-hand side of the design, I'm going to use my pencil to create S-curve guidelines dividing each of the petals in half, and then I'm going to use stippling to create a rounded look to these petals. The top of each petal will be bright white, and then as they recede towards the left, they're going to be darker. So that each petal is overlapping the petal behind it, and then gradually getting lighter to give a rounded look towards the middle of the petal. Finally, in the last section, I will ink in the grid circle where it lies behind the petals that I drew in. Then I'll color in the semicircle with ink, leaving the petals white. This gives a distinct contrast where the petals are the figure and the semicircle is the ground. It also creates an overlap and the petals reach into the next section, which makes them appear to shoot out of the edge of the design. This is a neat design trick as well because you're making your design reach out into its background and it keeps the eye moving out into the space surrounding your actual design. We add a few more details to create some volume to the petals. By adding a little center vein into these petals, I create a little more realism as if they are crease down the center, and then if I add an irregular shape to this circle, it's going to give it more of a spherical look, a little more believable to the eye. Then I can mimic this on the spheres that I created down below as well. 9. Final thoughts: Now, you've learned some techniques on how to add a little bit more into that line drawing and bring it up to the next level so keep exploring and keep experimenting and you will learn as you go. It is trial and error and trust your eye because when you add something to the page, your eye will tell you whether it's believable or not and that ultimately is how you learn. Keep an eye on your surroundings, all the clues to adding dimension to your drawings are in your surroundings in real life. Good luck with that and I'm really looking forward to seeing your projects and ask me any questions you want to. I'm here to encourage you and to help you grow in your art as well.