Draw Anything: Basic Techniques for Realistic Proportions | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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Draw Anything: Basic Techniques for Realistic Proportions

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (57m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. What are Proportions?

    • 3. Four Simple Steps to Draw Anything

    • 4. Materials & Set Up

    • 5. Step 1: Basic Forms

    • 6. Step 2: Key Landmarks

    • 7. Step 3: Big Shapes

    • 8. Step 4: Details

    • 9. Step 4: Details, Part 2

    • 10. Final Thoughts

    • 11. Class Project and Closing

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About This Class

Have you ever wondered how to make your drawings look more realistic? Do you spend lots of time putting in details, but still struggle to give your subjects a sense of weight and reality? Do you want to improve your observational drawing skills overall?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this class is definitely for you!!

The truth is that the best way to draw anything realistically is to understand and create realistic proportions. 


In this class, I’ll talk through and demonstrate how to achieve realistic proportions in your drawings when working from a reference, using 4 simple steps:

  1. Capturing the basic form
  2. Putting down landmarks
  3. Carving out large shapes
  4. Describing details

The four steps are simple, but they aren't necessarily easy. They can be challenging especially if you're new to drawing, and will take you some time to master. But if you really apply yourself and practice, these techniques will enable you to draw whatever you want in as realistic a style as you like.

Class demo piece:


This class is best suited for beginners and people who want to draw in a realistic style. We’ll be working exclusively in pencil, so you really won’t need much in the way of supplies.

For the class project, you'll create your own line sketch with realistic proportions that you can go on to develop with shading, or turn into a painting.


One last thing to note: this class is technique focused, which means that I will be explaining and demonstrating the specific skills used to create realistic proportions via a demo drawing. This is a class about the process and skills needed to draw anything from observation, and it’s geared towards people who want to develop and grow in their drawing skills. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator

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My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hello, my name is Kendyll Hillegas and I'm a full-time illustrator and commercial artist. My work is pretty realistic in fairly detail, and I share a lot of it online, on Instagram and on YouTube, social media in general. Over the years, I have noticed I get a version of the same question over and over from you all and that is, can you tell me how to draw x realistically or can you tell me what the secret is to drawing y and making it look realistic? The simple truth is that there's no insider trick to making any particular subject look realistic. The reality is that the best way to make anything look realistic, anything you want to draw, whether it's a house or a tree, or an animal or a person or an object. The trick to making any of those things look realistic is to having a solid understanding of proportions. Being able to look at that subject, understand what the proportions are and then translate that to your paper or your canvas, whatever you're working on. In this class, we will learn both from the abstract conceptual level. I will explain a practice, a series of steps that I use to get accurate proportions and why those work and I'll also demonstrate those principles, those steps in the creation of the demo piece. You'll see me work from this reference image when I create my demo piece and I mentioned that because I want to be really clear that this is a technique focus class. This is not a class about how to draw tulips in a glass with a pear. This is a class about how to get accurate proportions. How to see accurate proportions in your subject and translate those onto your paper. If you want to learn to improve your drawing skills overall and be able to see and translate solid, realistic proportions in any subject that you choose, then this class would be a great fit for you. This class is also, as you might guess, probably overall best suited to beginners. Those could be beginners who haven't drawn at all, who've never picked up a pencil or those might be beginners who have drawn quite a bit, but who haven't ever really attempted to get realistic proportions in their work. If you find yourself in one of those buckets, then again, this class would be a good fit for you. The demo project will end with a mind sketch that has a realistic proportions and it's essentially a translation of the proportions that we see in that demo subject down onto our piece of paper. Likewise, the goal of the class project will be for you to produce your own line sketch that has really good, solid, realistic proportions. After taking this class, you'll have a good understanding of how to look at whatever it is that you want to draw, discern what the proportions are and translate those down onto your paper. That's really the key starting point, the foundation of realistic observational drawing. If you want to do that, if you want to learn to grow in that way, I really encourage you to take this class and I look forward to seeing you there. 2. What are Proportions?: Welcome back. A few quick foundational points before we dive into the demo. First, I want to give a little definition of proportion, and what proportion means in art. Proportions are essentially just a way of measuring different parts of your subject against one another, to make sure that when you lay them down on your paper, they accurately represent reality. When we talk about seeing proportions, we essentially are going to be creating our own little world, our own little universe of measurements, that all rely on the subject. We're not going to be measuring things with inches or centimeters or some other set unit of measurement. You're going to be measuring the parts of the whole subject against one another. That's a conceptual idea of what proportions are, and why they're important, we already really touched on in that intro? From my view, it is the foundational element to being able to create realistic observational work. If you're wanting to look at something, whether it be a real life, or a reference image, and create a drawing or painting based off of that and have it look realistic, in my view, the first thing you need to be able to understand is proportions. How to see them and how to translate them. Proportions are super important and something that sometimes gets discussed along with proportion; we're not going spend a ton of time on in this class, is perspective. And perspective is essentially the point of view that you see the subject from. There's a few different kinds of perspective. There's direct perspective, which means you're looking directly at your subject. There's a side perspective, which means you're looking at the side of your subject. There's top-down perspective, which means you're looking directly over your subject. Then there's three-quarter perspective. There are other views as well, but those four are the main ones. The three-quarter perspective is what we're going to focus on in this class. That's because it is a classic perspective for learning observational drawing, for learning proportions. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the other perspectives, but for the purposes of this class and in my view, for the purposes of helping to teach yourself how to best see and translate proportions, three-quarter view is the most helpful. 3. Four Simple Steps to Draw Anything: To translate realistic proportions from our subject to our drawing, we're going to walk through four steps. The first step is the basic form. The basic form is essentially just the most fundamental proportion in your whole subject. That's the relationship between the top to bottom and the side to side. How wide is your subject compared to how tall it is? From there, we're going to describe some key landmarks. We're going to pick some really important, easily identifiable moments in our subject that we can mark out within that larger proportion, within that big shape. Then we're going to use the combination of that basic form and those key landmarks to begin to carve out some of the bigger shapes, the larger components, the larger elements of our subject. Then after that, we're going to work our way down to the even smaller shapes, which I'm going to call details. I like to think of this almost as a sculptor wood. We're going to go from having the big block, the big shape, and we're going to mark out where some of our landmarks are. Then we're going to carve down to some of the more fundamental component shapes and then carve down even further and further to get to the levels of detail that will allow us to really represent our subject and have it look realistic. At each of these steps, we're going to use a method that I like to call the look, lay down, compare, adjust the cycle. In my mind, it's the basic framework that I use for approaching all realistic observational drawing, whether you're doing proportions, or form, or color, whatever it is. This method of looking at your subject, laying down what you think you see on your paper, and then measuring and comparing back to your subject, and then adjusting as necessary. We're going to start that cycle at a very big level, just comparing the looking at and laying down the big proportions. Then doing the same thing: looking, laying down, comparing, adjusting for the landmarks. Then again, the same thing for the big shapes and, then again, the same thing for the details. Having that in mind, those four steps that's the general direction that we're heading in and that look, lay down, compare, adjust cycle is a vehicle that's going to get us there. That's how we'll approach the demo. Then, at the end, once we finish the demo, I will talk you through choosing your own subject depending on where you are in your creative journey and getting ready to create your class project. 4. Materials & Set Up: Then in terms of your setup, this is going to be pretty simple, pretty straight forward. You really don't even need anything fancy for this class. All I'm going to be using is a number two pencil and an eraser. I'll be working on a piece of heavyweight cardstock, but you can use any paper you want. You can use your sketch book paper, you can use inexpensive printer paper. Usually I would opt for doing this rough sketch on very inexpensive paper, either from a sketchbook or just a scrap piece of paper. But I'm choosing to work on the heavier piece of paper, just so it will show up better on camera and I'll be able to share it with you all. But really all you need is a pencil, an eraser and any paper. Then of course, you have to have your reference. As we already talked about, working from life is preferable, but it's not always practical. If you're going to work from a photo, actually, whether you work from real life or from a photo, just make sure that you set up your subject at a distance that is far enough away, that you can fully extend your arm and lock your elbow. When we move on to the demo and we talk through how we're actually going to capture these proportions, how we're going to measure these relationships. We're going to be using a technique that is a tried-and-true art school method, of fully extending your arm, locking your elbow, and then using your pencil as a measuring stick. In order to be able to do that, you need to be able to consistently extend your arm and lock your elbow, so that you can get accurate measurements every time. Make sure to put your reference far enough away from yourself that you can do that whether it's a real life reference or a photo reference. I think that's it for our groundwork. Let's go ahead and start on the demo piece. 5. Step 1: Basic Forms: So first things first, we want to get down, the biggest overall proportion in our subject, which is the width to height proportion. I find it helpful to think of this as the basic form of the subject, and the way that I like to imagine that is that if I was a sculptor approaching this subject, and I was going to either carve it or build it out in some three-dimensional material, whether it be wood or marble or clay. What size and shape block or mostly what shape, what are the proportions of the block that I would need to start with? So is my subject overall an oval? Is it overall a square, or a triangle? What is the big shape that I would start with if I was going to be carving this three-dimensionally. It's really helpful to try to think about your subject as a three-dimensional object from the very beginning. It's just going to help make thinks perspective a lot easier and help you to really get down those accurate proportions that will enable it to read as realistic later on. So I've got my reference image pulled up on the iPad here, and I just want to show you guys what I mean visually in terms of the overall shape. So since this is our subject, we're going to just indicate really quickly the bottom of the subject, and the top of the subject, and then the left side and the right side. So we can see that overall this fits pretty nicely into a rectangle, and in terms of the basic proportion, the width, the height, we're going to be going for this, this is our height compared to our widths. So how do those two relate to each other? What is the proportion of the width to the height? So just looking at it in eyeballing, I can tell that it is taller than this wide. But what I need to do at this point is to get really clear on exactly how tall it is compared to how wide it is, and the best way to do that is to measure. So to measure, we're going to use a simple tried and true art school method, where we are going to look at our subject, and we're going to measure those proportions with a pencil. To do that, you want to first make sure that your subject is set far enough away from you, that you can fully extend your arm towards your subject. You're going to hold your pencil in your hand like this. You want to make sure you have a good stable grip on the pencil, and then you are able to move your thumb up and down to measure. So you've got your pencil, you're going to fully extend your arm and lock your elbow, and the reason it's important to do that is that, when it comes time to measure, you want to make sure you're able to have somewhat of a consistent measurement. If each time your arm is at a slightly different depth or distance from you, your measurements will be off. So make sure you can fully extend and lock your elbow, holding your pencil, and then extend your arm toward your subject, and look straight down your arm at the top of your pencil. Also, really helpful if you pick one eye to look out of. I tend to favor my left eyes. So I know that when I'm doing my measurements I'm going to have my right eye closed, and I'm always going to use my left eye. It doesn't matter which eye you use, it can be either one, but again, just try to keep it consistent. So I'm ready to take my first measurement, and when you're doing an initial width to height measurement, I find that it's the most helpful to do the smaller measurement first. So we know just from eyeballing this, that the smaller measurement is the width, the side-to-side measurement. So I'm going to capture that first. So I'm holding my pencil like we talked about, got my thumb in a good position where I can move it, and my arm is fully extended and my elbows locked, and I'm going to twist my hand. Again, you have to make sure, this is a little bit trickier because your wrist can move somebody. You want to try to make sure your wrist is going to be at a stable, consistent angle. So I try to have mine as straight as I can, and then we're going to line up the edge of the pencil with the edge of the subject, and I think that the lip of the glass here, that's the leftmost edge of the subject, and then I'm going to move my hand a little bit further down because I need some room to be able to move my thumb. So I've got the top of the pencil lined up with the lip there, and then I'm going to line up my thumb with the right edge of the subject, and I think the right edge is probably this stem here. So that's our basic first measurement here. Now, we want to stop and compare that to the top to bottom measurement. Again, my arm is fully extended, my wrist is straight. I'm going to line up the top of my pencil with the top two lip, and then I'm just going to scoot it over, so I can see how far I need to go for the bottom. So to me it looks like the top to bottom is about one and maybe one-eighth of the side to side, or one and one-fifth of the side-to-side. So that's my initial impression and that's what I'm going to lay down on the paper. So then when it comes time to actually lay it down on your paper, you can do it at whatever size you want. Since we're measuring the proportion, we're not copying over the exact measurements, you can make it much smaller than your subject, or you can make it much larger, whichever is easier for you, whichever one you feel like you want to do. I'm going to just block in an initial side-to-side measurement. I'm trying to keep it really light with my pencil here, since I want to be able to erase later on, and this measurement is just totally arbitrary. I've just picked what I want in terms of my paper, how wide I want the subject to be, this can be anything. The important thing is that we then make the height about one and a fifth of whatever this is. So I'm going to measure the same way, then I put the top of my pencil on the left line, and the edge of my thumb on the right line, and I'm going to twist my paper. You can either twist your paper or twist your arm, whichever one works better for you. I'm going to put my thumb up here to mark the edge. Do a quick little pencil line there. So one is right there. Then I think I'm going to aim for about one and an eighth to begin with, and then we'll see where we need to go from there. So there's quarters and there's about an eight. So I'm going to again measure that and that will mark the bottom of my piece. So there's the initial top to bottom, side to side measurement. Now, that I have that laid down, I'm going to go ahead and go back to my subject. I'm going to do the exact same measurements again, I'm just going to measure the side to side, and then I am going to measure the top to bottom, and I'm going to see how they compare to what I've laid down. So lining up the edge of my pencil with the edge of the subject, and then my thumbnail with the other edge. So there's one measurement, and then lining up the top of my pencil with the top of the taller tulip, keeping my thumbnail consistent, and I'm just imagining that bottom line running right across from the edge of this stem here, and I think it's actually a little bit more than one and one eighth, I think it's maybe like one and one sixth through one and one fifth. So we're going to scoot the bottom edge down a little bit on our initial measurement here. So that's going to be my bottom edge there. Double-checking again, see one, two. That looks like about one and a fifth to me, which is I think what I'm seeing in my overall subject. So at this point I feel pretty confident with that. But if you are brand new to drawing, if you're a beginner or if you really wanted to sharpen up your skills, in terms of realism and capturing realistic proportions, feel free to spend longer at this phase, it may feel like it's a waste, because it's so simple and all you're doing is getting the width to the height, but you're building yourself a foundation, and everything that comes after this is going to rely on these initial proportions. So when you sometimes end up partway through drawing, halfway or three quarters away through drawing and you feel like something just doesn't look right, it just feels off. It may be because that very initial proportion wasn't set correctly, just the same way as if you were building a house and had a really faulty foundation, you'd have a hard time getting nice straight walls if your foundation was all over the place. So take whatever time you need here, get that good foundation laid, and then when you're ready you can move on to the next lesson. 6. Step 2: Key Landmarks: Welcome back. At this point we have laid down the proportion of the basic form. Again, thinking of this like a sculpture, like you're working on a block of marble or something. We already have the overall shape of the block down and now we want to indicate where we'll start carving out some of those larger shapes. You could just go right into marking out the larger shapes but I find that getting down some landmarks first especially if you're a beginner, can be really helpful in double-checking your proportions and making sure that everything is going to work in a way that feels natural and realistic in the end. The first thing I'm doing is I'm just giving myself a few other little hand holds. I'm blocking out the edge of my rectangle here just so I can have some points of reference when it comes time to put in those landmarks and you don't have to be exact, you can see I'm keeping it super loose. We want to try to keep it as loose as possible through this whole phase and at least the next phase as well. You want to try to avoid getting really precise in tight with your lines that may feel like it's giving you more control but actually in the end, it's going to be quite a lot harder to get accurate proportions with working that way. Just let yourself be really loose, get down those edges. By loose you can see I'm holding my pencil pretty far back on the end of it and I'm just going back and forth on these lines, I'm not doing a really, really tight control line. Just nice and loose. Then I'm also going to add in a center axis. I'm just going to go right down the middle of my rectangle, lightly, lightly marking off what I think the center point is, and then I'm going to do the same thing with the horizontal axis. Just picking basically a visual center here for the subject, a visual center going side to side and a visual center going top to bottom. We have our overall proportions, we have our center axis here and then looking at our subject, we're going to try to pick out some key landmarks. I think probably the top of this cup is a key landmark. We know that we already have the bottom edge, basically the bottom corner is described by this pair stem, so we already know where that is, but we don't really know where this is, where the bottom edge of the cup is. That would be another landmark to me, top edge of the cup, bottom edge of the cup and then we know that this is the side of our rectangle, but we don't know where this is. I think these two measurements would be some other landmarks as with this. I think the top of the pair's and other landmark, side of the pair is another one, and probably here and here as well. Then I think the edge of the tulip here, the four edges, just thinking of this like an oval. The red marks indicate the edges of our rectangle our basic form which I've already laid down, so I can just use that to indicate where those are but the blue marks indicate elements that I want to go ahead and mark out on the sketch. Do the same exact measuring technique, fully extend your arm, locked elbow, holding the pencil, putting the top edge near a reference point in your subject and then moving your thumbnail to get the bottom edge, and we're also going to be doing the same cycle, the look, lay down, compare, adjust, we did when we got down the basic form. That's going to follow us through the whole process, look, lay down, compare, adjusts, so just really internalize that. We've already done our initial looking and figuring out which landmarks we want to get down. Now I'm going to go ahead and do some more looking and try to get some measurements and some proportions so I can have a sense for where those landmarks actually are in my subject. I think I want to first grab these two landmarks, and let's go ahead and align the top edge of our pencil up with the edge of the cup there, and then move our thumb to mark the center axis. There's our initial measurement and then we're going to move across the subject counting how many of those initial measurements there are from this point to the edge. To me it looks like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I'm just going to do it again, 1, 2, 3, 4 and a little. This distance is somewhere between one-quarter and one-fifth of the way across. I'm going to go ahead and mark that down, so that's about a half, so this would be a quarter, so I'll make it a little bit less than that. I think that this is one edge of the cup, the other edge of the cup is right there. Now I want to grab this upper lip of the cup right here. We want to measure how far this is above that center axis. I have a feeling it's going to be pretty similar to this measurement, so I'm just going to recapture that measurement and then compare it to this one. It looks like this measurement is about two-thirds of this measurement. I'm going to go ahead and transfer that down onto my paper. Let's finish getting the other key measurements of the cup, so how about from the bottom edge of the cup to bottom edge of the basic form? We have the two sides of the cup, the top of the lip, bottom of the lip, and the bottom edge of the cup. Now I want to grab these two little landmarks right here and remember, we need to figure out where they are on the side to side axis and where they are on the top to bottom axis. I'm going to start with this same measurement because we've used that a few times and it's worked well. I think this measurement is the same as this measurement. I'm going to transfer that to the paper. I'm going to do the same thing again, get that measurement from the lip of the cup to the center axis, and then I think it takes about 1.5 right here. I think these are the bottom two corners and now we need to figure out where those are on the up and down axis. I'm going to Zoom in a little bit here. Again, I'm just imagining a line coming across here, as if the bottom of the cup are continuous visual line, I'm going to try to measure from this corner of the cup to that imaginary line. I'm grabbing my same measurement that I've been using from the top of the cup to the center axis of the basic form and I'm measuring this distance here, and I'm going to compare it to this distance right here, the bottom corner of the cup to the imaginary bottom line coming out from the bottom of the cup. I think those are about the same as well. There's one corner right here, this little t, and there's the other corner, and then this is the bottom lip of the cup. You can see that we basically blocked out a rectangle with some key points in it and this is going to make it easier for us and we have to draw our ellipses and makes sure that we're getting it at the right perspective. At this point I'm just going to work my way through the rest of the subject, I'm going to do the same process where I looked at my landmark and I tried to figure out where it is on the up and down axis and where it is on the side to side axis. You need both of those measurements in order to get it in the right spot. At this point I have all of my key landmarks laid down. I have eyeballed quite a bit of this and if you are a very, very beginner, you want to make the measuring process part of you're looking process. Within that look lay down compare, adjusts cycle, you're measuring when you look and then you're measuring again after you lay down when you compare, but the more comfortable you get with things the look part of the cycle may become more intuitive and something that you do actually it will become more intuitive with quite a lot of practice and it will become something that you do have more mentally and in your mind's eye without necessarily having to measure initially. That's what I've done here, I've just looked and I've laid them down and then I've gone back and I've measured. I've just done that same process all the way through the sketch, so I have my key landmarks laid down. I feel pretty confident about their placement in the proportions of the shapes that they make, and at this next phase, we are going to use those landmarks to help us divide our subject to finally, really start carving away some of that overall basic form, the big block of clay. Start carving that away to reveal the bigger shapes that are underneath. 7. Step 3: Big Shapes: At this point we have our overall basic form. The width, the height proportion, and we've placed several key landmarks throughout our sketch that are going to help give us a hand-hold. In addition to that really basic grade that you may or may not be using. Now it's time for us to begin carving away some of the extra material that's in the basic form to reveal the big subjects, the larger subjects, the larger shapes rather within our subject. We have done a lot of the work already here in laying down these key landmarks. What I'm going to begin doing is just essentially connecting some of them to form the really basic shapes. We know that this is the bottom corner of the cup. This is the top-edge of the lip of the cup. I'm going to go right down, and I'm going to really lightly connect those. I'm going to do the same thing over here, and then this is the bottom edge of the cup, so I'm going to draw an ellipse. Again, I'm keeping this super loose and messy. This is the top-edge of the lip of our cup, so I'm going to do another ellipse up there from that corner all the way up. This is the bottom edge of our ellipse. Getting an ellipse just right can be very tricky and it can be something that trips up a lot of beginning artists and maybe even some more intermediate artists as well. That's part of why it's so important to be relatively confident in those initial measurements that you made and those key landmarks, because that really gives you a sense of what you can rely on in terms of structuring your ellipse. If you know that these are in the right spot, try to avoid going much further up here, or further down here, or further to the side in either direction, and really constrain yourself to be within that rectangle that's created by those four key landmarks. Take your time trying to get the curve of the ellipse just right. Another thing that we can do here, another trick that we can do here that can be really helpful, especially when you're working with a manufactured object something that has hard edges, is to actually measure angles. So it is same thing that we did with capturing measurements and distances. We're going to fully extend our arm, but this time, instead of using our thumb to measure you're going to be using the pencil itself, and angling it back and forth to get a sense for how sharp an angle is. I'm going to use this technique right now to double check a measurement. I've got my illustration right here, my sketch right here, and I'm going to capture an angle really quick. It's the angle of this side of the cup here. I'm going to go ahead and capture that, and then I'm going to pick my arm up and move it over, I'm going to line that up with the subject and it looks like it matches pretty well. Let me just double-check. I'll check the angle now this time first on the subject and then move it to my drawing and it looks like it matches up. All right, I'll do same thing on the other side just to double-check. Since it's a really asymmetrical shape and asymmetrical form, it should be the same, but I could have gotten it wrong in my drawing. I'm going to check and recheck. Pretty confident about those angles at this point. Now I'm going to walk my way through the rest of the subject. I'm going to continue to mark out, curve out these bigger shapes that make up the subject. Again, depending on your process and the most comfortable way of working for you and how much of a beginner you are, you may want to do more or less measuring more or less measuring and eyeballing, and that's especially true when you're working on a more organic subject. With the cup, it was a manufacturer subjects, so we knew we just to boom-boom, connect the angles, and route our ellipse. That would more or less get things where they need to be. Now, it's going to be a little bit different with a pear and the tulips because these are organic shapes. The way that I will approach that is to sketch out. Again, look at my subject, look at the shape that I see there, and then using my landmarks as guides. I'm going to sketch out what I see as the overall large shape of that element. All right, so I have my four hand holds and my four markers of the pear here, so I know that this is the curve going to the leftmost edge of the pair, and then this is the bottom. I need to have that swing back to meet the bottom. Measuring some angles here as well. This tulip I know is an oval shape. Again, you can see I'm still keeping my pencil stroke nice and loose. I'm not getting too tight with anything. I'm not trying to do any of the individual petals. I'm just doing this egg shape. This one, when I actually measure the side-to-side to the top-to-bottom, it's actually pretty close to a square. I'm just really relying here on my landmarks; so the side-to-side edges and the top-to-bottom edges, making sure I try to stay within those. I just realized, I forgot to add a landmark for my fifth large shape, which is this leaf that's coming up out of the tulip here. I'm going to backtrack a little bit and add those landmarks, and then block in that fifth large shape. Now, I'm just going to go ahead and double-check my proportions. I'm going to do that a few different ways. I'm going to check the proportions of each of these individual components, each of these large shapes as we've been calling them. I'm going to do that the same way that we got down our foundational proportions for our basic form. I'm going to check the side-to-side measurement to the top-to-bottom measurement. Again what you have to do is there is imagine that there's a little rectangle superimposed over each of these different elements in order to give yourself an accurate side-to-side to top-to-bottom. So I'm just going to go through and double-check all of those fully extending my arm. So I've double and triple checked all of my proportions here. I've also double-checked some of the placement proportions, as landmark proportions, so where things fall within the overall composition, and I have double-checked some of the angles as well, using my pencil to measure those angles. So overall, I felt pretty confident in the placement and the proportions of the bigger shapes in my subjects, so at this point we are ready to move on to some of the smaller shapes and details. 8. Step 4: Details: We have arrived at the final stage of our drawing process, which is smaller shapes or details. At this point we already have laid down the foundational proportion, the width, the height proportion of our basic form, we have marked out key landmarks, and we have divided this subject into larger shapes. You may have already guessed it, but we're just going to keep doing that same process. We're going to do the look, lay down, compare, adjust that we had been doing through the other phases and it's going to continue to serve us here as well. Looking over at my subject, I can see that we still have some big elements like this stem and this leaf. This stem here, all of the interior of what's going on on the inside of the cup, and then the stem of the pear. Those are some pretty significant details that I want to get down first, and then after that I think I will maybe start dividing things a little bit. So trying to indicate some of the petals of the tulips and potentially the lip of the cup and this little dip, this little angle on the side. That's kind of overall where I am heading in terms of the details that I want to get down. I am going to keep working fairly loose initially and then as we get to the smaller details, I'll tighten up and start doing some more erasing and cleanup work. Again, if you're a very beginner and you want to incorporate measuring into the looking phase of the process, by all means do so. I am going to look and eyeball when I lay down and then measure as a part of the comparison process as I was doing in the last two stages. I'm really relying on some of these landmarks that I already put down and I've remeasured and double-checked and know that those are accurate. As I start to add in some additional shapes here, I'm treating those like the anchor points that they are and using them to give myself a sense of where I should block in some of these initial details. I am just going to try doing this stem of the tulip here. Also, a great time to measure angles and compare angles. Keep your strokes nice and loose. Now an interesting thing when you're drawing something that's inside of glass is that the glass and the water, both will distort the subject a little bit. You can see here that this does kind of form a continuous line, but it bumps in a little bit right here and a little bit right here in the lip of the cup. But right now since I am just getting still the overall shape, I am going to do a nice straight curve and we'll take care of that later. All the more reason that you want to keep things nice and loose and light at this phase. Again, if you need to measure, stop and measure. Just adding in what I see is the water here. Now in terms of how realistic I personally want to get. Some of my work is very tight and is very realistic. Usually if that's the case, it's quite large to allow me to incorporate all that detail. But for most subjects and for a subject like this where it's not a person, it's not a portrait, I'm not trying to get a likeness, I tend to feel like as long as it makes sense within its own world, as long as the perspective and proportions look pretty realistic within its own context, I am happy with that. It doesn't have to be complete photorealism for me. That being said, if you're maybe more intermediate and your piece that you're working on for this class is a portrait or maybe even a drawing of an animal of some kind, detailed accurate proportions tend to be even more important in those subjects. This phase may take longer. It will take longer definitely, and you may want to do more measuring as a part of that. When it comes to something like drawing a portrait or capturing the human face, you do often hear people say how drawing it, the human face, is the hardest thing to draw or hands are the hardest thing to draw. It's not necessarily true. They certainly are harder to draw, they are more detailed, they have more elements to them. But the thing that I think makes them difficult is that everybody in the world knows just from looking at it, how accurate it is or not. Whereas if you are working on something like this, most people aren't really attuned to the exact proportions of a tulip or the exact proportions of a pear. As long as it makes sense within its own world and their proportion seem realistic within the world that you created, most people will accept it as realistic. Whereas if you're painting a person and especially if you're trying to get a likeness, you really do have to have a pretty high level of accuracy in terms of the proportions of all of the little details, much more so than you would just for a subject like this. It's not as though it's actually objectively harder to do, you still do the same thing. You still do the look, lay down, compare, adjust cycle. But what makes it harder is that you have every single person who is looking at it is an expert in that subject matter because we are all just so attuned to the human face and the finer proportions of the human face and what looks realistic or not. You can see as I work my way through here, I am starting to erase a little bit for certain elements that I don't need. Phase 1 of the details is complete. Depending on how you like to work, if you're transferring this and you're turning this into a more refined drawing or a painting on another piece of paper or canvas, something like that, this might be enough for you. This might be a good amount of information. You know that you have the overall proportions if both the big and the small shapes are accurate. You're essentially in that respect, you're good to go. But I usually like a little bit more detail. I'm going to add some of the petals of the tulips like I talked about and I'm going to work on getting some of what's happening down here where the stems go into the water. I'm going to work on getting that right. I'm going to add in the lip of the cup. I'm also going to erase some of the lines that I don't need anymore since they're going to become extraneous information in the drawing. One of the more difficult elements of this subject is where the stems enter the water in the glass. There's not a ton of distortion on this first stem. But the ones in the background, there's quite a bit. There's really no trick to getting this sort of thing right. All you do is again, kind of pick out those key landmarks. For this, it might be this little edge here, this bottom edge here, this edge right here, and for this you want to notice this has like a little bit of a S-shape. Actually, it's kind of like a wonky W. Again, taking note of those landmarks and then just really carefully translating them to your subject, to your sketch. Now if you really like detail, you'll love this part of the process. You can really lose yourself in tracking all of these little details and you don't have to worry too much about the big measurements because you've already gotten all those down. If you like detail, this part will feel really satisfying. If you're someone who doesn't like details so much it can feel tedious. But just try to find a good balance and remember that there's no right or wrong answer in terms of how much detail to include. Really famous painters like the Impressionists wouldn't necessarily include a lot of detail, but they still had overall really good proportions. Having good proportions doesn't mean you have to be hyperrealistic. You can have good proportions and still have a really loose style. Just follow your interests and don't try to force yourself to get really, really hyperrealistic and into the details if you don't enjoy that. Then rely more on the larger proportions and emphasize color and texture and those other things that can make a piece of art really interesting. There's just a tiny bit of distortion on this stem here. I'm allowing myself at this point to get a little bit darker with some of the lines simply because my plan would be to transfer this onto either a different piece of paper or onto some canvas. I know I'm going to need some darker lines in order to do the transfer well. But I've really saved those tidier, smoother, darker lines until this end phase in the process. Even then, I'm still keeping it fairly loose. You can see it just helps in terms of describing realistic edges to not get too, too tight. I do want to indicate this bit here. This back edge of what would be the ellipse. An ellipse would be this oval shape, but we have some distortion because of the water in the glass. I'm going to try to indicate that. You can see that the water is not coming right up to the edge of the cup and it's not doing that in the reference either. That's because the cup obviously has thickness and dimension to it, so we want to leave space for that. I'm cutting this in slightly here because there's actually a tiny little lip, a little bump on the glass there. 9. Step 4: Details, Part 2: I want to mark out, there's a small little refracted light area right here that I want to mark out. Just going to clean this up a little bit more here. Now I want to get the little lip that's at the top of the cup. I'm confident in the edge to edge measurements. That's going to be the stopping point. I'm not going to draw it beyond that. But I think what I am going to need to do is maybe bring this edge in a little bit here, so adjust that angle. All I'm going to do is measure the angle of the cup, and then bring it over here. Excuse me, measure the angle of the cup and the reference, and then compare it to this. I can see that it's actually a little bit of a steeper angle in the reference. You also could measure this key point here, where the lip meets the side of the cup here. But for my purposes, measuring the angle is going to work great. It just feels a little bit easier to me. I'm just following along the curve of that ellipse. The lip actually has two sections to it. I am going to indicate both, give myself a sharper edge up there. I'm going to clean up this little corner right here. Get rid of the edge marks. Get rid of the little X I think the ellipse should actually be a little bit thicker. I'm going to bring it down this measurement too, how thick the lips should be. You can make some aesthetic judgments about that yourself and determine that you want it to look thicker or thinner than it is in the reference. That creative reinterpretation or guesswork or whatever you want to call it, that is possible while we're still having a realistic looking subject overall because we have those big proportions down. If you start doing guesswork and tweaking things when you don't have a good foundation, it's going to make it look much less realistic but if you do that when you have a good foundation already, most people aren't going to notice those little tweaks or changes, unless they have your reference image or your reference whatever you're working from right in front of them. Even if that's the case, it won't make your piece look less realistic in another self. That would just make it look less like the reference. That is something that you have some creative freedom with, provided you get these big proportions right. That looks overall pretty good to me. I want to make sure those two curves are roughly in the same spot. You can see I'm still tweaking my ellipses right up until the very end, to make sure they look consistent and realistic. Here I'm going to try to get down some of the distortion that's happening on the lip when you see through to the stem that's behind it. I'm going to pull my reference back over so that you guys can see. Mainly, I'm talking about this bit right here. This is a continuous line, but it dips in the hole bit right here, and then gets a little uneven right there. That is more distorted on this side. All I'm going to do is the same thing I did before. I just look carefully, try to get clear on what those shapes are, and translate them to the drawing. There's no particular trick, just paying attention, looking, laying down, comparing, adjusting, and then this all gets soft and blurry in there. This would be captured if you did do a painting, you get those little nuances of color there. But I'm not going to lay anything down, in terms of line work. I'm just cleaning up my edges, getting things nice and clear, getting rid of extra marks and information that I don't need it this phase. At this point you can see I'm not doing nearly as much measuring. That's because, I feel so confident about those measurements that we laid down earlier on. I'm able to just focus on looking at the reference and I'm still doing that a time by the way, even though you're not necessarily seeing it. The whole time that I'm working here I'm continually looking back at my reference, checking my reference, so that looking down compare, adjust, cycle is happening in shorter and shorter intervals. You can think of it like it's a big wide spiral on the beginning. Then as they get closer and closer to the end, it gets tighter and tighter and tighter, until you're just doing that process on a constant loop. If you're a beginner, it may still feel you're very aware of, "Okay, now I'm looking, now I'm laying down, now I'm adjusting." But the more experienced you get and the more comfortable you began to feel with the process, it will feel less and less self-conscious. You won't feel you're switching gears between different parts of your brain. It will just feel you're almost doing them all at the same time or in a continuous cycle. Every time you switch to a new phase in the process, it can make it clear that there was a problem with an earlier phase or you can become aware if something just doesn't quite seem right, it's just not looking right and you're not exactly sure what it is, and you can't find it in the measurements for the current phase. It may mean that you need to go back a step and adjust one of the larger measurements. Don't be surprised if that happens, especially if you're a beginner and that's why I say so many times at the beginning of the class that you want to just spend as much time as needed to get really confident, accurate proportions for the larger measurements. Because it will just make your life so much easier down the road. Again, even with a little detail like this small little petal here, I am still simplifying the forms, simplifying the shape when I initially lay it down. If we looked at it, it has this little dip in here. There's this little more pointy part right here. But all I'm trying to get down initially is that basic swoop just to get that shape down. Then if I want to, I'll curve even further down and get those all details. If you try to just draw it exactly the first time right along in your subject, it's going to be hard to get the proportions of that little shape right. Just go for the overall shape, and then try to get that down, check those proportions if you need to, and then get in those little tiny details. As you may be able to tell, I am mostly eyeballing at this phase because I just want it to be pretty much right. I don't need to go for a total photo realism here. I'm just aiming for the overall shape and proportions. That being said, if I see something that's a really off, I am still spending the time to fix it. Closing in on the end here. Just going to get down a few more details, and refine some of these lines, and we're done. 10. Final Thoughts: I think we're about finished here. Now, obviously this piece could use a lot more development before it starts to look really realistic.The things that it needs right now are some indication of form, light and shadow or shading and obviously the additional little details that come with that. Those little nuances of dark areas and light areas and if you're going to be working in color, then of course color. But since what we're aiming for in this class is just a good foundational proportion sketch, this hits all those notes, so we're pretty much ready to go. This piece could go a couple of different directions now. It could either be transferred to some other drawing paper and refined further by adding that shading that we talked about, or it could be transferred to watercolor paper or a canvas and turned into a painting. One final thing I want to note here is that if something doesn't quite look right to you at this phase, once again, I would recommend you go back and do some of those measurements.Compare your drawing to what you have in your reference image, cycle back through that look, lay down, compare, adjust process again if you need to. However, do keep in mind that a large part of what makes something look right or look realistic is dimension, is shading and form. So right now all we have is the line drawing which is indicating are proportions, the proportions of our subject,but there's no form, there's no dimensionality. If you double-check your proportions and everything looks right to you and you still just have this sense that it doesn't quite feel right or doesn't quite look right, it may just be because you are looking at a line drawing and what you really want to see is a finished piece. So Stick around for a few more minutes, we're going to talk through the class project and a few points of wrap-up. 11. Class Project and Closing: Congratulations, you made it through the class. We're just going to wrap up a few things and talk over the class project. As we've discussed, you can use the process of going from the big proportions to the smaller and smaller proportions in details. You can use this to draw literally anything you want from food to animals to buildings, objects, people, places, anything you want to draw, you can use this process to capture accurate proportions, and draw it in a way that reflects the reality of those proportions in your subject. Now that being said, the more complicated the subject, the more elements that are involved, and we talked about with something like the human face, the more familiar most people are with that subject the more challenging it's going to be to get a good, strong sense of realism. If you're brand new to realistic observational drawing, I would recommend starting with a simpler subject. I'm going to go ahead and pop a list up here on the screen of what I think some good approachable beginner subjects are for working on your proportions, and then a few intermediate subjects as well. I'm also going to flash through a few visual examples of these, and then a few intermediate subjects and visual examples as well. So don't feel like you need to copy down that list, I will have that in the class materials section, so you can go ahead and look there for that. I'll also have links to some resources that you can use for gathering reference images to work from. Overall, as I said in the beginning, I do recommend working from life, especially for beginners. I know we didn't do that in this class for logistical reasons, having to do with filming and me being a one-person shop and filming all this on my own, however, I do still really recommend that if you can work from life, especially for those initial things that would definitely be a great learning experience. But if you can't work from life use a photo, and try to use a photo that is at a three-quarter perspective like we talked about at the beginning. Again, later on you may try other perspectives, experiment with other perspectives, but three-quarter view is just a really great view for learning, and so challenging yourself to understand perspective and proportions. Now you're going to go ahead and use the techniques we talked about in this class, the overarching technique of looking, laying down, comparing, and adjusting, and then the specific technique of starting from the big proportions, the basic form, the top-to-bottom compared to the side to side, going in with the landmarks, and then with the larger shapes, and then refining down to the smaller shapes or details. The end goal is to produce something like I did, which is just a finished line drawing that has relatively realistic proportions. If you're able to take pictures at each of these four stages so that we can see your progress, and post those to the class project section. Also, if you're able to please do include your reference image, since the goal of this class is learning how to get realistic proportions, having a reference image side-by-side to compare to can be really helpful and really instructive. When you share your class project, if you are open to constructive feedback, please do indicate that in your notes on your project. So you need to talk a little bit about what you're drawing? Why you're drawing that? I also mention if you are open to receiving that feedback that might suggest things that you could improve on or things that you could do better the next time. If you're not open to that feedback that is totally okay, unless you specifically indicate that you want constructive feedback, I will just give you a pat on the back and a big thumbs up and encourage you and tutor you on for working to get better at your drawing, and I would encourage your classmates to do the same and for you to do the same to your classmates for your classmates. The reason I mentioned the thing about being open to constructive feedback is, it personally for me that was one of the ways that I grew the most when I was initially drawing and learning how to draw and learning how to get accurate proportions, having other people look at my work and say, hey, you know what? I think this part here might be a little bit off or that part here might need to be tweaked slightly, was really helpful and instructive and helped me grow enormously as an artist. So, if you are at the point where you feel comfortable with that and you're looking for that, just let us know, and if you are going to get that feedback to your classmates, please make sure that they have indicated that they're open to it, and always please be sure to be kind in your feedback especially if it's constructive feedback, please be kind and consider it, and speak to other people the way that you would want them to speak to you. If you decide to share your class project on social media, please do tag me, I'm @kendall Hilligus on Instagram and Kendall Hilligus on Twitter. I regularly share student work on my Insta stories and I just love seeing what you guys make for the class. If you found this class helpful and you want to take this drawing that you've worked on, this proportional sketch that you've worked on. Take it to the next level. I would recommend when you take a look at some of the other classes that I've published, there are two that specifically apply to this piece that we've just worked on. One is transfer methods, so if you want to take this proportion sketch and transfer it to another piece of paper or to a canvas, I have a really short simple class that outlines some methods for transferring your sketch to another substrate, so you can turn it into either a more finished drawing or a painting. The other one is basic form and values. So if you want to take this sketch that you've worked on and just continue working on it, not transfer it to something else, but continue working on it and develop that sense of dimentionality so that the form, the roundness, the mass of the subject and shadow, light and dark or values, if you want to develop those in this proportion sketch that we have worked on, should takes my drawing basics 2 course. Both of these will be linked in the class description. If you also click on my name, you can just find a whole list of all of the classes that I've made and a recommended order in which to take those classes. Of course, if you have any questions about observational drawing basics or proportions specifically, please do leave those in the class discussion section, and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you again for taking this class. I hope it was educational. I hope you took away something valuable. I really can't wait to see what you make for your class project.