Designing and Drawing Tips

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Why should I trace a pattern out?

Tracing designs - Why?

Tracing designs out is a great way to preserve books, and patterns, get a feel for the pattern and to learn to draw. For those of us who believe we can't draw when we begin this is the only way to gain access to the designs we love. After tracing 1000's of patterns I can now draw patterns freehand. You get a feel for the shapes of flowers and leaves for example. At the same time, you should also be aware that tracings are only a guideline. If your brush and hand do something different, don't worry about this too much. You are not the same artist that created the design in the first place. So...IMHO yes trace out designs till your get a sense of freedom and confidence for sketching your own with a pencil on the surface.

Waht is perspective?


Perspective is essentially about having the vision lines in a drawing or painting right. It is about having horizon lines and vanishing points in the right places and it can be quite complicated. I won't pretend to know a lot about this because I don't. I probably would avoid even focussing too much on perspective in most of my paintings too.

For the moment all I would like to do is help you to ‘see' what perspective is. Head outside to a quiet straight flat country road sketchbook and a ruler. Stand in the middle of the road and look dead ahead. Notice as you do the road gets narrow. In fact, it narrows to a point at which it meets the horizon. Now look to the side of the road. Is it tree lined? Are there power poles? Is there a fence? Notice now the visual size of the trees, poles and or fence posts near you. Look ahead. Notice the VISUAL size of them further away. They are smaller, and if we could draw a series of lines across the top of them they would all meet at the same place the road does…the vanishing point. Thus, the vanishing point is central to the lines and establishing the perspective of an image.

Ok…let's try and draw this. Draw a rectangle. Place vertical and a horizontal line through the middle. The place where they meet is in this case the vanishing point…the point where all lines meet. Your horizontal line is your horizon. Above it is sky and below it is the ground. Now mark a line that travels from the vanishing point to one inch on the left and on inch on the right of the centre line over the ground area. You have now marked a triangle that is long and narrow. Shade this in. This is the road. Add another line to either side of the road. This line could be marking the top height of the trees, power poles or fences. It must intersect with the same point in the middle – the vanishing point. When you look at a painting that is mindful of perspective, you should be able to ‘see' these lines.

How can I do my own designs?

Designing Basics

For the beginning designer, here is a little thing to keep in mind. It can be applied to still lifes, floral designs etc.

If all the pieces are similar in size and shape - the design is less interesting than if you use different sizes and shapes of objects.

If all the pieces are large the painting will have a bulky feel.

If all the pieces are small - the painting will have a diminutive feel.

What if the pattern doesn´t fit?

Fitting Patterns

Sometimes it is easy to discard a pattern because it doesn't fit. Aside from the enlarge and reduce functions you MAY be allaowed to use in copying a pattern, (Please respect copyright statements from patterns and books), you may find the shape is not quite right for the piece you want to put the pattern on. Trace it out, cut it into segment and play around with the segments on your surface. When you are happy with the layout, tape the bits together and trace the whole design on. I often do this and decide to do things like leave out a flower, place in an extra leaf or bud there, flip the tracing over so I am using a mirror image of the original. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you are pleased with the result. Patterns are guidelines are allowed to deviate from them and use only the bits that suit you.

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Guru Spotlight
Jerry Mayo