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Teach kids how to draw by showing them the basic shapes in a subject, then allow the kids to draw creatively on their own by drawing a background for their picture.
1. Draw the Subject
Focus on the subject. Point out the shapes and lines as the kids draw with you. The subject can be something concrete, like a bicycle propped against a wall. It can be displayed in a drawing, such as the poppy picture, shown below. It can be a simple, clean photograph. For more direction in how to teach drawing, see our sample lessons. Also, see the suggestions at the bottom of this page.
The goal is to help the kids realize that they don't need a book or a teacher to help them draw -- they can look at an object and break it into smaller, more manageable pieces.
2. Draw the Background
Encourage the kids to draw a background. Suggest places or circumstances where they may have seen the subject: "Where do you ride a bike? Is there an insect that might like your yellow flower?
Introduce animal habitats as the kids draw animals. If you are drawing a walrus, introduce the kids to the Antarctic and help them understand what this icy part of the world looks like. See walrus.
In the beginning, some kids prefer to copy the background examples they see, which is fine. Within a few lessons, they gain the confidence to begin using their own ideas.
3. Choosing a Subject to Draw
1) Choose a subject that has concrete shapes and lines, such as a bicycle.
The wheels on the bike are circles; the frame is made up of straight lines.
2) Show the side or front view.
It is easier to draw the front of a face, than it is to draw a face that is partially turned to the left or the right. The front view of the face is symmetrical and has fewer abstract shapes. It is easier to draw a bike that is leaning flat against a wall, than a bike that is standing on the kick-stand.
3) Keep the images clean -- don't have overlapping subjects or objects.
Show a boy with a dog at his side, rather than a boy with a dog sitting on his lap when working with young kids.
Show the complete subject.
4) Draw the complete dog -- head, four legs, tail -- when drawing with young kids. Seeing only the dog's head can be confusing to them. It's a developemental issue -- see the comments under "Batter Up". Think of this when you pick out picture books, too. Beautiful illustrations are important and enjoyable for kids to experience, but kids also need (and enjoy) concrete images.
Basic drawing tips
I know, you hate all those 'drawing basics' sections, and tend to skip right over them. BUT HUMOUR ME. It took me years to figure out these simple rules on my own. Save yourself years by taking a few minutes to read down through them.
1. Define your space, then divide it. Let me say that again. DEFINE YOUR SPACE, THEN DIVIDE IT. What this means in practice is that you draw from the outside in. The first lines you sketch should define the outer edges of your subject. Then you delineate the various surfaces and features within this form. For example, never start a drawing of a face by drawing one eye, then the other, then the nose, hairline, mouth ect. (sound familiar to anyone? Textbook margin doodles!) Instead, you draw the basic form of the head, then set the forms and features within that context.
2. SKETCH YOUR SUBJECT USING SIMPLE SHAPES. Anything can be drawn using only blocks, cylinders, and spheres. This is particularly true of figure drawing, but it applies no matter what your subject. Whether you're drawing a Ferrari, a face, or a hand wielding a plasma pistol, break it down into parts and sketch them as simple shapes first.
3. ALWAYS USE A RUBBER. Eraser, that is. I used to think that erasing lines was like cheating. Ha! That delusion held me back for years. Sketching and erasing guide lines is an integral part of drawing. Even the pros do it. In fact, the pros do it a lot.