Category Archives: Quick Tips

Your first drawing – an apple

This is a a test page to show the first video demonstration for my up-coming book

“Get Drawing”.  You will be able to link to this page from the book by using a QR code small_qr  or by clicking a link in the e-book.

If You’d like to be invited to the book launch (early 2019) or be told when the book is published, or very any other info, I’d be delighted to have you on-board for the ride.

Please email me on



Outliners Anonymous

I never cease to be amazed at how many ingrained habits surface during my drawing classes.  No doubt some of you have them too.  The habit I’m on about today is putting a strong outline on a drawing once you have finished adjusting a sketch to your liking.  I can imagine the automatic thought process-  “Yep, that’s right.  Now to firm it up and make it proper!”

In class this morning Lee-Anne, my longest standing student, asked “Do you think they have an outliners anonymous?”

Which one looks more three dimensional?

Outlining automatically, because you think it’s the right thing to do, is NOT a great idea.  If you are after a stylized, decorative drawing then that’s wonderful.  Then outline deliberately, because you want to emphasise the lines and not out of habit.  However, if you wish to render your subject in traditional 3D then strong outlines are not your friend.

The quality of your lines should vary depending on whether you wish to show a light or dark edge, or make things come forward or recede.  Tones that change depending on shadow and light do not need outlines.  The change between one tone and another does not need a line to emphasise it.  Strong lines tend to make your drawings look flat instead of three dimensional.

Which one looks more three dimensional?


Oh yes. Strong lines are also really difficult to erase.  Even if you’re sure that you’ve made all the adjustments you need to, chances are you’ll need to change something.

Get Drawing!

Quick Tip#7 – Coffee Anyone?


Cafe style coffee is delivered to the studio every day by Gabriel of Kiss Cafe.  He is usually met with gasping relieved sounds of creative types waiting for their espresso coffee fix.  Donald’s is double strength in half a cup of water!  It tastes perfect, smells wonderful and looks good too.

Donald is a regular  student to the studio and his beautiful pen and wash drawings continue to improve and charm us all.  Most of his work is done with a black waterproof ink pen with a wash of vibrant colour from a palette of Derwent Inktense blocks….. and the recently discovered perfect background colour – coffee!

  • Drink the coffee until there is about one cm (half an inch) in the bottom of the cup.
  • Lay down a wash of clear water to dampen the page where you want to the colour to go.  (watercolour paper works best)
  • Dry the brush off slightly on a sponge and then load with coffee. (This time it’s not an accidental dipping in the wrong liquid)
  • Wash the golden brown into the damp areas creating a gentle wet in wet background.
  • Let the piece dry naturally.
  • Don’t use coffee with milk.  It’s not the correct colour, isn’t gloriously translucent and the milk will probably turn sour before you can brew your next cup.
  • In a pinch you can make up some black coffee with instant coffee and boiling water but it doesn’t quite have the same style.

Get Drawing






Quick Tip # 4 – Warm and cool colours

Warm and Cool colours

Put very simply

  • Cool colours have a bit of blue in them.
  • Warm colours have a bit of red in them.
  • A cool red has a bit of blue – a purply red
  • If red doesn’t have blue in it then it’s a warm orangy red.
  • A warm blue has a bit of red in it – a purply blue.
  • If blue doesn’t have any red in then it’s cool – a greeny blue.
  • So then orangy yellow is warm and greeny yellow is cool.
  • 🙂

Why do we need to know?

The use of cool and warm colours helps in aerial perspective.  Warm colours tend to come forward and cool colours  recede into the distance.

Get Drawing

Quick Tip #3 – The Creative Negative


Creatively, negative space is any space or shape that’s next to, but not, the thing you are drawing.  Like yin and yang they have to exist together.  One of my favourite examples is the word ‘skyline’.  It exactly describes the negative shape when we look at a city scape.  Instead of drawing the ‘building line’ focus on the sky and draw the skyline.  That will make your life much easier 🙂


Oh and while I was playing with Gimp (a free version of photoshop) I did this cool thing 🙂