Had a go a shell inspired by Rembrandt’s shell.
This was very good for cones and cylinders… it also helped me to look as when I compared it to Rembrandt’s I found I’d angled my shell forward instead of back!
This made me experiment with how you see less of a circle as it turns towards you (foreshortening)… which is relatively straight forward if you’re looking at the circle face on but is much more difficult if the circle is tilted over.
I then realised that the end of the shell had a bump on it and I wasn’t actually seeing the far side of the circle but the top of the bump. This was one reason I couldn’t get it right, I’d been drawing what I knew to be there (the far side of the circle) rather than what I was actually seeing (the bump).
I then tried a more detailed drawing.
Without realising I’d swivelled the shell round.
I used architects pencil as I thought it would be a finer medium and I could use a putty rubber to help highlights. This would give me some leeway whereas the ink drawing had to be right first time.
I used my knowledge about the bump to help but couldn’t get the fat end of the cone right. So I held a straight edge against the shell and closed one eye. I found that I’d been taking the curve the wrong way!
As the shell had been swivelled the curve now went back not forward – because it had gone forward on the last drawing I’d assumed it went forward on this shell and was drawing what I ‘knew’ instead of what I saw.
This taught me an important lesson.
Draw what you see not what you understand… understanding how 3D shapes operate in space helps you understand what you see but looking should always come first… look… look… and look again.
(1) Looking comes before drawing.
(2) Draw what you see not what you assume is there – use your understanding to help you interpret unusual shapes – but always be driven by your eye.
(3) The putty rubber is a great drawing tool to give yourself a lighter shade of grey than you can achieve with the pencil alone, this gives you more subtlety. It’s like getting another colour in your palette.
(4) The putty rubber is good for highlights too.
(5) An architects pencil is very soft but a light grey. It is extremely flexible and a bit like drawing with butter.
(6) A good understanding of 3D objects in space and what happens as you move them around helps you draw organic shapes, like a shell.