Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Drawing with Mark Kistler

Mark Kistler's Draw Squad has been an extremely valuable resource to me. Especially for someone like myself, one with no formal art training, Kistler's ideas and explanations can take you from a unskilled drawer to a successful drawer in a few months. His ideas are simple but most of all, they are fun. I've grown to love cartooning and have found that my students will do cartoon drawings without fear. This is because in cartooning, there are no set rules on where things go. The eyes can bulge out of the top of the head. The arms can be any length and features exaggerated. In my view, this is a great way to teach students three-dimensional drawing techniques and prepare them for more advanced drawing experiences in the future.

When I first started using Kistler's ideas, he had 10 Key Words listed in his book. They have now been reduced to seven, with shading and shadows combined. Forshortening: Distorting objects or parts of an object to create the illusion that one edge is actually closer to your eye.

Shading (and shadows)
Adding darkness to a surface that is opposite an imaginary light source adds depth to your drawing. Originally there was "shadows" as a separate category which covered the cast shadow, hover shadow and overhang shadow.

Surface: Drawing objects or parts of an object lower on the surface of the paper makes them appear closer (with exception of objects in space i.e. birds, clouds).

Size: Generally, objects drawn larger will look closer, except when overlapping.

Contour Lines: Lines wrapped around the contour of a round object adds volume and shape to the object.

Overlapping: Objects drawn in front of others will make the front
objects appear closer.

Density: Images drawn darker, and with more detail, will appear closer than images drawn lighter and with less detail. This adds "atmosphere" to the drawing.

Here are a few samples of my students' work. I'm working on a website where I hope to include many more examples of student art work. Stay tuned:

And here are a few of mine. I love to draw with the kids.

For more information see:
Mark Kistler dot Com
Draw Squad dot Com
Mark Kistler's Art Gallery


  1. This is an amazing resource! Since I've moved here in Jacksonville, I've been into drawing and art since I have a lot of free time in my hands now. I'm looking for drawing tips all over the web, may they be complicated or as simple as this. I actually started drawing because I wanted to design my own website. I hope I can find a hosting company with good offers. Thanks for sharing this, Dan!

  2. Thanks for your comment. It's one of my favorite drawing resources. Kistler covers all the basics in drawing in a fun and kid-friendly way. My students especially love Pickle man!