I used a photograph of a diorama by Eve Dawnay which I saw in an auctioneer’s window. It had a lot of detail (and I chose a relatively simple one) with 5 little figures. Careful, observational drawing,  is not one of my strengths so I had to force myself to do this but was glad I had done it.

  1. my first drawing was a tracing, as this is how I would normally make an accurate drawing. Compared to the other drawings, I realised that it was a method that although allows accuracy, it was hard to distinguish which bits were important and which superfluous.
  2. the second drawing I didn’t enjoy, didn’t look good and I spent too long with the detail. I did however realise that I needed to establish the dimensions of the room first, then place the figures. I also stopped bothering with all the decorative detail which I realised could be easily drawn in at a later stage, and wasn’t important to the “feel” of the diorama.
  3. the third drawing was much faster and felt more comfortable for me. I quickly established the dimensions, further reduced the detail and established the figures’ postures as stick men first. I also realised as I did this that all their arms were too long.
  4. the fourth drawing was even more comfortable, working from my previous sketches rather than the reference photo.
  5. the final sketch was done with no references, I found it no problem to do by this stage, I followed the same steps as the previous drawings and felt able to make quite a free sketch. I found I could remember quite a lot of the detail, even if I didn’t want to put it in. It was the most successful of the 5.

The main point I learnt from this was how useful it was to make even a “bad” sketch. It really helped me identify the key important dimensions and fixed them well in my memory, without any conscious effort.



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