The fundamentals of art are the basic knowledge an artist need to understand and grasp no matter the type of art style they have or art mediums they use. Anime art, portraiture, hyperrealism, digital art, traditional art, etc all have these basic fundamentals applied to them. Therefore, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of them before you move on to more complicated techniques. As the saying goes, you must first learn the rules before you can bend them. By learning the fundamentals of art, you can then apply them to any kind of style and artwork as you wish.
In this post, I will go through some of the fundamentals of art that are important to master for beginners.
The value of colour represents the darkness or brightness of the colour.
Values are more important than colour for depth. It is better to get the values of an artwork right and have the colours slightly off then vice versa.
Values are like the foundations of an artwork, get them right and even if the artwork is monochrome it will still look good. If the values are wrong, no matter how good your colours look or how well you’ve planned out the colour harmonies, the artwork will still look off.
Contrast in values separate objects from one another and also shows a sense of depth. A slow change in value may represent contours. Value is also important in conveying the light and shadows on an object.
On digital drawing software, you can simply check the values of your artwork by turning your coloured image into a black and white image and see if your drawing still looks good. Another way is to draw in black and white first to make sure the values are right and then add in the colours, this should be possible on digital drawing software and in oil painting.
Colour in a drawing can evoke emotion and attract attention, different colours can mean different things and send different messages to the viewers. It can play a crucial role in telling a story in a drawing.
First, you’ll need to understand the different terminologies in colour theory. For example: saturation, value, hue etc.
Apart from that, the colour wheel is also important to learn. It will help show you the difference between warm and cool colours, colour harmonies/ schemes etc. these will help to make your artwork look and feel more composed.
It may also be useful to understand the difference between additive and subtractive colour modes. Especially if you are doing both traditional and digital artworks. I’ve made a post about it here.
Perspective and Depth
Artwork done in proper perspectives are more realistic looking and has a better sense of 3-dimensional depth and space. It tricks the brain to see depth on a 2-dimensional surface. They can be commonly seen in interior drawings, building drawings etc. It can show objects’ location in relation to each other and provide more information in your drawings.
The main types of perspectives are one point, two points and three points perspectives. Some key terms you need to know for drawing proper perspectives are horizon line, eye level, vanishing point. It is usually best to learn one point perspectives first before moving on to more points of perspectives.
Cubist painters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque use perspective creatively to produce interesting masterpieces.
There are other ways to show perspective and depths. You can use values, colours, effects etc.
Shapes and Form
Before you start drawing complicated things like a human face or a pineapple, it is important to familiarise yourself with the basic shaps and form.
A shape is 2Dimensional, created using lines on a flat surface, it only has length and width. A form is 3Dimensional, it has volume, length, width and depth.
Everything you draw can be simplified into basic geometric shapes and forms. Knowing them will allow you to construct your objects better, it will make complicated objects easier to draw and also give proper shapes and forms, this will make your drawings look more realistic too if that’s what you’re going for.
Proportion is important especially if you want to draw things realistically. Imagine a person with a big head, small body and extra long limbs! Wrong proportions will make an object look weird and deviate from what it’s supposed to look like. Once you’ve mastered proportion, you can start being creative and exaggerate certain parts of your objects to attract attention, give a message or just for comedic purposes.
There are art styles that exaggerate proportions creatively. One such style is caricature where someone’s facial features are exaggerated according to their personality or characteristics.
Composition is the placement and layout of objects/ elements in an artwork that guides the viewer’s eyes and attract their attention.
Some things you will need to learn are elements of design and some compositional rules and techniques.
Elements of design are: Line, shape, colour, texture, value, form and space. These are what makes up an artwork and make an artwork visually attractive. These elements may interact with and relate to each other to produce interesting effects and create a sence of unity. They are also widely used in graphic design.
Some simple composition techniques are: The golden ratio, the rule of thirds, framing, use of perspectives, use of shapes etc.
However, the rules are just guides. You can always experiment around and create your own exciting composition.
So now we know that some of the art fundamentals are: values, colour theory, perspective and depth, shapes and form, proportion and composition. By mastering these fundamentals of art, you will be able to produce eye-catching and interesting artworks with whatever medium of your choice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed and learnt something new from this post. I will be individual posts on each element in more details in the future!
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