Wake Up & Draw
‘Good drawing doesn’t have to be a work of art, just art that works’. That’s the motto of studio Scriberia, ‘the home of hardworking pictures’, founded by Dan Porter and Chris Wilson. They focus on ‘helping their clients to think, work and communicate in a visual world,’ by using drawing to convey ideas clearly. They also run a range of events and we were lucky enough to go to their ‘Wake Up and Draw’ workshop, hosted by YCN, to learn all about the power, and superpower, of drawing.
When we arrived we were handed A4 sketch books and thick felt tips pens, so it was clear that we weren’t going to be doing delicate pencil sketches that we could rub out and start again. Even though we were all a bit shy about our (lack of) drawing talents, our only option was to just dive right in.
First, we were asked to draw some squiggles on a page. Then, taking a different coloured pen, we had to find a way to turn the squiggles into birds. It became apparent how, armed with a little imagination, and by adding some simple beaks, wings and feet to the squiggles, they could be easily transformed into birds. Our ‘drawing brains’ had been woken up.
A whole range of clever and challenging drawing exercises followed, and here’s what we learned from them:
Keep it simple
Dan and Chris introduced us to their ‘drawing alphabet’, a series of twelve shapes consisting of squares, triangles, lines, dots and squiggles, that can be used to draw anything. They encouraged us to focus on the important visual cues needed to make a drawing recognisable. For example, when drawing an elephant, the main ingredients you need are ears, a trunk and tusks. Yes, you can then add further details like a thin tail or big feet, but these aren’t crucial to others for identifying the drawing as an elephant.
Context is key
After simplifying our images, the next main challenge was to make our simplified images recognisable. For example, if you draw a goldfish, how do you make it clear that it isn’t just any species of fish? Answer, perhaps draw it in a gold fish bowl. This way of thinking continued throughout a range of other objects, such as how do you draw a violin that doesn’t look like any stringed instrument? And how do you draw a duck that doesn’t look like any bird? We learnt how to use just enough contextual detail to achieve our aim.
Use your superpowers!
The drawing challenges became more complex as the workshop went on, but we were regularly given tips and tricks to make us able to tackle anything. The pair taught us about the many superpowers of drawing and how we should use them. We learnt how to use drawing to visualise the invisible, by using devices such as thought bubbles, directional arrows, and ‘x-ray vision’ to depict parts of the drawing you couldn’t normally see, by zooming in to certain areas and highlighting key parts. This allowed for a more detailed drawing whilst still being clear and precise.
Thank you very much to Scriberia and YCN for organising such an interesting and enjoyable morning. We left with tired hands, well-exercised brains (full of images and ideas), and a wider knowledge of how to use drawing to communicate effectively. We are looking forward to put this new way of thinking through drawing into practice.
Photograph by YCN