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Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Drawing Imaginary Three-Dimensional Worlds- High School Foundations of Art

Now it's time to test out your 3-D fantasy drawing skills with a new assignment. 
Opera Mathematica ou Oeuvres Mathematiques Traictant de Geometrie, Perspective, Architecture, et Fortification, 1617 
Seattle, altered photograph by Rachel Wintemberg, The Helpful Art Teacher
You are going to be creating an imaginary city on large poster paper. It has to look three dimensional. Your finished picture must fill the page. Use at least three reference photos. Your picture must have an extreme foreground, a foreground, middle-ground and background. You must include overlapping. The buildings must have doors and windows that are in correct perspective. You must include at least one staircase. Please figure out how an imaginary character would move through the space of your artwork, from extreme foreground to background or back again. You may include things like roads, staircases, bridges, rocket ships, cars and paths. When I look at your picture I would like to be able to imagine a character being able to journey through your artwork. You are creating an imaginary three dimensional world.

In the video tutorial below, I demonstrate some helpful techniques for drawing fantasy cityscapes:

Here are some fantasy cityscapes that I have created and sold in art galleries over the years:

To help you to grasp the concept of using an extreme foreground in your landscape drawings, I have created a collection of my own photographs that utilize an extreme foreground.


When your sketch has been approved by the teacher, you may enlarge your drawing onto 18x24 poster paper. 

The next step is to ink in and color your drawing. 
We will be using permanent markers (not water based) and watercolor pencils. Please do not use water based markers. They will ruin your drawing when they become wet.

I am not done coloring or inking my sample drawing, but here is my work in progress.
I figured out where the light source would be off the edge of the paper (DO NOT PUT A CORNER SUN IN YOUR ARTWORK, IT WILL RUIN YOUR PICTURE AND RESULT IN A POOR GRADE) and outlined only the shadow side of each form. I added finer lines in the background and bolder lines in the foreground. Please see the video below for more detail on how to use line to ink in a drawing:

When you are done adding lines (with permanent marker), it will be time to add color. We will be using watercolor pencils for this project. You will need to be very careful not to rip or pill the paper. Once a section of the paper is wet, work on a different area of the drawing. Do not try to color over a wet section. Wait until it is completely dry. You can always come back to it the next day. The video below gives instructions on how to add color to your drawings using watercolor pencils:

The photograph above illustrates the concept of atmospheric perspective. The colors appear brightest in the extreme foreground. You can clearly see the texture of the grass and wildflowers. The colors appear more muted in the middle ground. They are faded and you cannot distinguish the textures of individual objects. The color is achieved, as illustrated in my video above, by mixing the color with a bit of its opposite (or complement). In this case, the color on the hillside is green and the complement is red, so in order to color the middle ground, you would use green watercolor pencil and then lightly add a small amount of red over it before brushing over it with water to blend the hues. Practice doing this on a separate piece of paper before you attempt this coloring technique on your final drawing.
It is easy to figure out color complements if you know that the three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. If a color is primary, its complement is always a secondary color. If a color is secondary, its complement is always a primary color. If a color is cool, its complement is a warm color. 
If you mix two primary colors to get a secondary color, the complement, or opposite, is always the primary color that you did not use. To find out the complement of a primary color, just mix the other two primaries; the resulting color is its complement.
If you have a color wheel handy, complementary colors are always directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance, notice that red is at the top of the color wheel and green is opposite, at the very bottom. 

Below is a short video of me beginning to ink in and color my fantasy cityscape using watercolor pencils. 

Useful worksheets and video tutorials for the truly lost and confused:

Below are some short cut worksheets that I developed when I was teaching middle school. If you are truly struggling to make your artwork look three-dimensional, you may use the worksheets below as a jumping off point. Remember, you are still required to use three reference photos in your picture and the worksheets below will not count towards that requirement.

You may refer to the final landscape drawing rubric below when self evaluating before submitting your artwork for a final grade.

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