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Getting Started

How to improve your photos..


With current technology and limited costs the convenience of taking photos is at an all-time high.

Students should regularly explore the photographic options of their subject from various frame views, perspectives, lighting, and creative methods.  For a strong portfolio of primary references, students should photograph any new subject matter 20 times at minimum, with variation between each before settling on one image to draw. 

Let's start off with a few composition techniques.  Here is a more detailed look at composing your photo with the rule of thirds.

Smartphone cameras are only becoming more and more phenomenal with improvements to photo resolution, adding more lenses, and integrating photo storage options that keep you snapping without fear of filling your camera roll. Ask anyone with an Instagram account and will see how the camera is the feature on any smartphone.

However, it doesn't matter if you don't have the latest and greatest smartphone to take photos with.  Anyone can step up their photography game with a little practice. Here are some tips from professionals that will take your snapshot game from amateur to Ansel Adams.

Some interesting tips to creative photos with your phoneArtfully framing shots may require a more creative state of mind, but the extra time spent can make all the difference.

Lastly, 10 Ideas for setting up creative photo shoots at home.

*If you haven't yet selected something appropriate to draw, go back to theme development.

Advice for improving your drawings..

Observational drawing is an integral component of IGCSE Art.  At the core of the programs assessment objectives are the need for students to research, investigate, develop and communicate ideas - drawing is one tool students must use to demonstrate this. To successfully do this, students should be aware of the variety of line qualities and mark making methods. This document: A Student Guide to Line Drawing highlights a range of skills with examples and practice worksheets. Additionally, I urge my students to take a close look at the following 11 tips.  These tips are specifically for art students wanting to improve the realism in their observational drawings; understanding these tips and applying them to your work is invaluable..

11 tips for Observational Drawing

It will be advantageous for students to demonstrate competent and realistic observational drawing skills to the examiner. This is particularly necessary in the early stage of a project.  One approach to improve competency in drawing is with the grid methodBasically this method involves drawing a grid over your reference photo, and then drawing a grid of equal ratio on your work surface (paper, canvas, wood panel, etc). Then you draw the image on your canvas, focusing on one square at a time, until the entire image has been transferred. Here is a video demo for how to use the grid methodHere's another video for how to scale with the grid method.

There has been a strong interest with drawing photorealistic since the early 70's.  This approach can render a practical and impressive artwork. This method can be technically challenging.  It helps to have a strong understanding and ability to observe subtle tone and minute detail.  Here is a brief introduction to drawing photorealisticBe sure you have reviewed and understand the 11 tips before committing to a photorealistic approach.

In addition to choosing a theme, researching and gathering interesting photos, and understanding drawing fundamentals, it's important that we put consideration into the surfaces we use for our artwork, whether that be drawing or watercolor paper, canvas, board, or variety of other possibilities, each of which has its own unique qualities that can really add to what we put on them.  Student Guide to Media & Materials offers many excellent examples of student and professional artworks incorporating a broad range paper types and surfaces to create on.

How to Use Cross Contour Lines:

Gesture and Figure Drawing Tips:

Color Theory & Color Mixing:

Tips for Selecting Colors for Watercolor Palette:

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