Stepping Up to Composition

Studying composition is where the serious fun begins for Level 3 Drawing Lab students. We’re learning to arrange objects on the page, measure accurate proportions, and depict tonal value masses.

After blocking in several basic shapes, then sketching contour edges, Scout (above pic) used a brush to blend lighter and darker tonal values in charcoal.

Sill life composition starts with blocking dominant shapes and angles. Zak holds a viewfinder to position elements within the frame and in her composition. The viewfinder also helps to spot positive and negative shapes and how they interact with one another.

In his book Mastering Composition, Ian Roberts writes, “The important point is to create a structure that will establish the placement of the major masses of your composition and the eye’s movement through them.”

Inspired by Fiona’s watercolor composition studies in urban sketching (shown in foreground) Casey began exploring architectural styles and sketching techniques from various urban sketcher books.

Similar to music composers, sketchers can use rhythm and repetition of lines and shapes to fill the page in a pleasing way. A page from Casey’s  sketchbook shows an illustration idea that invites your eye to climb along dominant curves to find the picture’s focal point, a figure reading a book…

Look closely and you’ll see lightly drawn, fluid construction lines for Casey’s initial block-in shapes for the figure.

We’re Always Hunting For Composition…

Indoors or outdoors, our youngest sketcher, Naomi, is on the prowl for compositions. Her next assignment is to do a ‘sneaky sketch’ of someone eating in a restaurant. Maybe you can try it too! 😀
For this warmup study, Naomi had to sketch the food before eating it. Her impatience grew as she was adding the final shading and texture marks to the crackers. Chomp! The cheese bread stick suddenly disappeared from the plate.
Just a deliciously honest composition of the day’s snacks.

The week’s efforts by students inspired me to go out and capture this composition of angled wires while strolling near the studio…

Experimenting with Faber Castell brush nib combined with Micron 03 pen
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Rob Court

Founder and drawing coach at the Scribbles Institute, Rob helps adults and kids learn basic drawing skills for work, school, and enjoyment. He is the author of a number of how-to-draw books.