Drawing from Photographs

As I am just getting back into painting, and drawing, I have to work on it all the time.  The book I’m relearning from is “The Fundamentals of Drawing” by Barrington Barber.  I’m a firm believer in learning the basics, and building up from there.  I’m going with a book; and learning on Youtube, because I don’t have the money for classes.

In most classes, they place an object in front of the class, and tell you to draw it; at least that’s what I’ve been told.  In the book, she shows drawings of objects to draw, so you can learn shapes, and shading, but they are objects that don’t do much for my desire to draw.  What I like about the book is she gives you the basics of drawing, and uses the shapes as examples, but she says to find things you care about to practice with.  Two days ago, I found some sea shells, and had a ball doing it, and the other thing I use is photographs I took myself.  Some artists like to use a pencil in the field to make quick sketches in the field, to work on later, but being a photographer, the camera is my way of getting a quick sketch.

Someone had asked me if that was cheating, and if you’re wondering the same thing, my simple answer is “no”.  Just because I use a photograph, I’m still doing the work of drawing it by hand.  I’m not tracing it, or converting it to a drawing on Photoshop.  I am just choosing a subject that has some meaning for me, and making it easier for me to recall at home.

Here are two pictures from today’s practice.  The first image is the photograph I went from, and the second image is what I drew from the photograph.

Picture of my cat

Picture of my cat

pencil pet portrait


When you draw something that you’re interested in, it becomes fun, which is what drawing is supposed to be.

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2 Responses to “Drawing from Photographs”

  1. notes to the milkman Says:

    I’d be interested in seeing two of your drawings. 1) One drawn ‘from life’ such as the shells, and 2) one of the same subject, in a different arrangement, drawn from a photograph. I will accept that you are not cheating in terms of tracing or using Photoshop but the photograph does flatten the 3D object into a 2D form. Drawing from reality involves you having to do this yourself. You also have to choose where ‘the edges’ are. The camera has already done that for you.

    • apb148 Says:

      Of course, those are very valid points, and my using certain photographs is for practice only, right now. I will probably have put up another blog soon to show drawings I made from real objects. In the future, as I improve, my use of photos will be reduced to only when needed. I will never limit my drawing to what I see on the photograph. I will put the shells on my facebook page. The name is Allen Bradford and I live in Maine.

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