Permission to Draw February group Block 3

Replay Block 3.1

Extras Block 3.1

Extra easy

Practise sighting – all you need is your trusty pencil and a few spare minutes. Get used to holding your arm out straight, elbow locked and pivoting from the shoulder. Line up with something you know to be vertical then compare to other angles and note the difference. No drawing necessary – just get used to seeing this way and holding your pencil correctly.

Extra quick

Try propping up your sketch book so that it’s tilted up at an angle – this will reduce the chances of distortion. Standing up, do a bit of sighting as above and transfer some lines to your page. No need to draw a whole scene, just practise measuring an angle and moving it to the page to draw a corresponding line. Go back to sighting again to check whether what you’ve drawn looks right. Mentally note your mistakes, but don’t feel like you’re not doing it well – this is a very challenging thing to learn!

Extra focused

If you want to continue practising your angles using sighting, here’s a different view of that tricky chair to work from – it’s harder than it looks at first glance…

Grid drawing

Use your grid viewfinder to make another drawing on toned paper, this time try propping or taping it in front of a different object, or even on a window if it’s light, so you have a view outside.

Prepare your paper in the same way, with a rectangle of lightly smudged graphite and the cross hairs drawn on it. Then begin with line, particularly contour lines (over the form not just the outline) and use the negative spaces to help you see accurately. Once you have the drawing in line, start removing the graphite to make the light areas and gradually add more graphite for the deep shadows.


Lots more to read about the ‘sight-size’ method here» and a good video intro here»

Watch David Hockney uncovering some of the secrets of the masters here»

Replay Block 3.2

Extras Block 3.2

Extra easy

Look through your own photos for examples of 1 and 2 point perspective. Try using your photo editing or drawing app to add the construction lines that connect to vanishing points and also draw in where you think the horizon line is. When you’re outside, look around at buildings and streets and see if you can “see’ these lines at work – mentally draw them as you look at the scene. Notice where the horizon line is, work out where the vanishing points might be. This will sharpen your awareness of how we use perspective to make sense of visual information.

Extra quick

Use your sighting technique from last week’s class to help you do a quick sketch of this table and benches or look around your space for a similar rectangular object to draw, like a stack of books, food packets, storage boxes. Combine your understanding of perspective rules with what you can see in front of you to get the lines down as they appear – remember, draw what you see not what you know.

Extra focused

On an A4 piece of paper, set up your perspective drawing for 2 point perspective. Decide where you want the horizon line to be, add your two vanishing points, then start with a vertical and connect each end to the vanishing points. The rest is up to you – just let your imagination run free in your new virtual space, experiment within the rules and see what you can create!


More about the theory and some practise exercises here»

Lots of tutorial videos here»


Replay Block 3.3

Extras Block 3.3

Extra easy

Make yourself some larger cropping tools out of any card you have available. You want to end up with two L shaped pieces which aren’t fixed together – by overlapping them in different ways you have lots of options for sizes and formats. Then play with them!

Extra quick

Look through your photos and choose some which you think are unsatisfying compositions. Using cropping and being aware of placement of the image, see how you can improve it.

Here are a few examples for you to practise on from my photos:

Extra focused

Draw some small viewfinder rectangles in your sketchbook, of both portrait and landscape format. You could also add in some square and panoramic too if you like. Then find some examples of art that you like, that you have on your wall, in books, online, on gift cards – anything that appeals to you.

Make thumbnail copies of the compositions of this artwork. Study the structure of the image, the placement of the objects, be aware of the balance and visual weight of the elements, notice where the focal points are, observe how your eye moves around the picture. The more of these you do, the better you will get at seeing the compositional structure of art you like. Are there common elements you keep going back to? Do particular formats and structures appeal to you?

Replay Block 3.4

Extras Block 3.4

Extra easy

Enhance your visual memory while you relax and watch the telly. Sit with your sketchbook and pencil while watching TV (something fairly slow like a documentary rather than a thriller!) and choose something on the screen to draw. It will move on the screen and not be on for long, so try look at carefully as you can to see the essence or ‘thingness’ of it and then look down at you page to draw it. Don’t worry about what the drawings look like, just try to fill a page with lots of overlapping fragments of what you’ve been watching.

Extra quick

Continue the shape copying exercise, as regularly as you can manage it. Do a new shape every time and don’t spend more than 10 minutes on one, just be sure to note where your mistakes tend to be – do you often make them too wide, too narrow, are the curves inaccurate, are angles your weakness? The power in this exercise is in the repetition rather than the duration, so keep your sketchbook and pencil somewhere handy and challenge yourself with new shapes often. Gradually make the shapes more complicated – move up to level 2 (more curves, negative shapes, angles) when you feel ready.

Extra focused

Go through your camera roll, find photos online or in print that you like – these can be landscape, faces, buildings or anything else but this will work best with images that have some contrasts. Make small notan studies of them using only black and white. Practise grouping the values and deciding ‘is it light or dark?’. Notice which ones are still understandable even as a notan version and which ones look confused.

If you enjoy doing these, try making a larger study of another image, this time using three values – white, black and a mid tone.

Congratulations,  you’ve successfully completed Block 3!