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San Diego Jewish Academy

Maimonides Arts Collective


Look, Hold, and Draw

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Look, Hold, and Draw

Learning to draw requires training your eye, your mind, and your hand to work together. When you realize that almost anything you want to draw starts with basic points and lines: straight line, angle line, and curved line; basic shapes: circle, ellipse, triangle, square, and rectangle;

and 3-dimensional shapes: sphere, cube, pyramid, cylinder, and cone drawing becomes much easier.


Start with the outside lines and shapes and then work inward.

  • Look at and recognize the basic line or shape from which the object forms.
  • Hold onto that line or shape in your mind.
  • Draw that line or shape very lightly and loosely.

Focus only on one line or shape at a time.

After you have drawn your basic shapes, go in and refine the lines, undulations, and nuances of the object.

Depending on your intent, add value, color, texture, and details.

Because drawing can lead to frustration, I've found that drawing trees, leaves, plants, flowers, and other objects that use the repetition of basic shapes a great way to develop my eye, mind, and hand.



Crossed feet

Make a drawing of your own crossed feet, stressing accurate contour and detail. Sit comfortably with your crossed feet propped up in front of you and place your sketch book on your lap so that you have a clear view of your feet. Look at your feet. Don't start until a line or shape jump out at you. When it does, take note of the contour and shape. Hold that contour or shape in your mind for a moment and Draw while it's still fresh in your memory. Go through the process again with the next line or shape. Make sure you check to see if the proportions look correct, in other words, is the shoe lace in proper position relative to the tip of the shoe? Be aware of looking at the subject more than at the drawing. Spend at least half and hour on the drawing.

Tip: Use a unit of measure. Once you draw your first element every other element may be measured relative to that first unit. For instance, if you select the width of the shoe first, everything else can be measured using the width of the shoe, e.g., equal to the width, half the width, one and half times the width, etc.

crossed feet

crossed feet drawing

Shape puzzle

This puzzle reinforces the concept of "Look, hold, and draw".

  • Look at the shapes, white and black, within each numbered rectangle to decide which is more pronounced and easier to identify.
  • Find reference points within the rectangle that help you draw the shapes accurately.
    • Where does the shape start?
      Try to determine if the shape starts half way down, one-quarter of the way across, etc.

    • Where does it end?
    • Does the shape have a straight or arched line?
    • Does the line go up or down?
    • What is the angle of the line?
    • Where is the line/shape relative to other lines or shapes within the rectangle?
  • Hold one shape, line at a time in your mind until you can draw it from memory.
    This step is the most important. Too often we get impatient and draw before we really know what we want to draw. Make sure you can see the shape, one line at a time, in your mind, then and only then draw the line.
  • Draw the line you see in your mind.
    Use a very light thin line when you first draw the shapes. If you make a mistake you can easily correct it if made a light line.
  • Check to make sure what you drew matches what you see.
  • Make any corrections accordingly.
  • Continue with the next shape, line.

Have fun and you will find out that you really can draw.



Links to drawing tutorials:

Drawing Figures -

Drawing Figures - Converting a Profile Drawing Into a Three-Quarter Drawing -

Standard Visual Human Body Proportions -

Contour and Blind Contour Drawing -

Cartooning -

Site Map | Rules of Thumb and Principles and Elements of Art and Design | Quotes | Glossary | Top | Co-Teachers - Doug and Melissa | Gallery
E-Mail Doug at or Melissa at

Melissa and I would like to
znet for
making a commitment to
education and WriteDesign.