Fiscal Shrike: drawing with shapes and gouache

In most drawings, you will use both a structural understanding of your subject and simplifying three-dimensional forms to flat shapes to help you draw what you see. In this gouache illustration, I switch back and forth between these ways of seeing as the drawing progresses.

This step-by-step demonstration explores both how to get your subject on to paper and how to use gouache on toned paper. As you draw, let your mind flicker between positive shapes, negative shapes, and structural visualizations. In one moment, think of the bird anatomically, as a profile head, chest, and foreshortened wings and tail. In the next, see the bird as an assemblage of angular geometric shapes. Each of these ways of thinking informs the other. Some people thrive emphasizing the shapes. Others love the understanding that comes with the structural approach. Though you may prefer one approach more than the other, learn to use both. Find the balance that feels right for you.

Click on the first image to start an annotated side-show.