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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- the fourth drawing was even more comfortable, working from my previous sketches rather than the reference photo.
- 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.