Drawing organic shapes- help!

hey i’ve been practicing my sketching, and some of them almost look like the work of someone who knows what he’s doing (yay!)

I’ve been using 3 point perspective, with vanishing points off the page ( i just aim all my parallel lines at an imaginary point)
one thing i have been having problems with is amorphous, organic shapes.

let me show you what i mean.

prismatic shapes are easy, where you just extend a shape along some lines.

a little more difficult are shapes where you have to project curves onto other curved surfaces

However, i am completely stumped on how to sketch something with a complex organic shape, like these sun glasses. there is no way to use my perspective lines as a point of reference, and no way to project curves onto planes or other curves. It simply seems too complex. I can. of course, draw them from direct observation with the more “artistic” life drawing techniques by drawing areas of light and shadow. but this will not help me if i am trying to design a pair of my own.

You can just avoid doing dynamic 3 point perspective or just botch the perspective. It just has to be close enough/read clearly. And you can set up a sort of template with perspective lines if you really want. Just draw a box in space that fits the proportions of it, and shave away at it. I dunno. Sunglasses are pretty hard to draw.

There are a few approaches for organics. You can pen in a gesture and then start filling in appropriate details and surfaces. If your shape is wedge shaped, pen in an approx. triangle and then start filling in

However this also means that you need to have a strong understanding of cross-sections and drawthrough.
Try and find flat planes on your design that you can use to create reference curves. Usually this includes the center plane and the ground plane. Draw profiles in perspective and then start filling in cross sections.

Newbie error is to pick a far too strong perspective because it is convenient to locate all vanishing points on the page. Usually this will not be the case and you will have vanishing points that are located off the page.

You can sometimes simplify organic shapes by using easy to draw primitive shapes to get the proportions right, then use trace paper to clean up the drawing and refine the shape

For example, the sunglasses - build it up with the primitive shapes that make up the shapes, like a big squat cube for the outside perimeter of the sunglasses, then subdivide to make the lenses and arms of the glasses, down to smaller and smaller details.

Then use that as an underlay… then you’ll get the perspective right and you can smooth out the organic shape with successive sheets of trance paper. Kind of old school, but it’s helpful in a pinch

I’ve been drawing a lot of glasses lately, I’ve found the best method for me is to use two ellipses to roughly represent the lenses and serve as perspective references (kind of like the wheels in a car sketch), then use that to build up your structure around it like Travisimo said.

as has been mentioned, the trick to drawing organic shapes is to find primitives that fit roughly into the shape. In your glasses example, it’s basically a cylindrical shape. The rest of the parts are primitives too. Here’s a quick progression of how to build up the shape of sunglasses. Everything can be broken down into primitives. The degree to which you have to “bridge the gap” varies but that’s part of the magic!

sweet sketch bennybtl

Benny is showing a great way to do it, there is always a macro geometric volume that obeys the guidelines of perspective. Once you have a sense of this volume, you can begin to sculpt away on the page. You are thinking in a 3d way through a 2d medium. The key is to not try to do it one sketch. Draw an underlay, put a clean sheet on top and hack out the form, put a clean sheet on top and clean it all up.

the other way to do it is more intuitive, and takes more skill and experience and that it to build off quick gesture sketches. Afer years of underlays, you start to have more of an intuitive grasp of it. Typically I’ll throw down a few lines in my sketch book, enlarge it 400-500% on a photocopier, and go from there…

It takes time, practice, and getting others input.

I was trying to draw some new things today and some thoughts popped in my head that relate back to this subject. They kind of build off of the ‘understand the underlying geometry’ idea.

Proportions: How well do you really know them? How many nose widths are in the lens of the glasses you want to draw? How many wheel diameters are there between the front and rear of the car? Take time to figure out the real proportions of what it is your trying to draw.

Forget what you think you know, draw what you see: Can you actually see both headlights of a car when you view it in perspective? Can you see both lenses of the glasses completely? Take the object and put it at different distances and see how the perspective changes, you may find that having it closer (ie more perspective) or further away (ie less perspective) lends itself to certain objects better than others.

Use a skeleton: If it is something like glasses that are wearable, or something that attaches or interacts with something else, draw whatever it interacts with. When I started drawing glasses I started by sketching heads, it is a great way to get a double whammy of understanding your product and understanding some anatomy and human proportion.

Don’t just draw what you’re trying to draw: I was having a hard time a while ago drawing something, so I decided to start sketching lizards instead. I think it was all the various angles and plane-faces in their heads that attracted me. This was a great way to learn about how much of a round or semi-round object is visible and how much is occluded by perpective. Try drawing different species of the same family; geckos and iguanas, tigers and house cats, etc. This may seem like a waste of time but, the more different stuff you draw, the easier it will be to draw even more different stuff. If you get pigeon-holed and desperately focused on one thing you’re really holding back your progress.

great stuff! thanks guys

I remember hearing some interesting art theories about traditional portraiture where someone sits for an artist vs modern portraits from photos the artist had taken for reference. It pointed out how cameras use just one viewpoint and the human head has our two viewpoints, our eyes, that are spread somewhat apart so you can see more of the the sides of peoples heads and around the head, and that this would produce a different image and perspective. It’s a little off topic, but what you wrote reminded me of it and I thought you might be interested… maybe a human head could see a vehicle (headlights, form, etc,) differently than a camera

Not to mention focal length distortions, albeit very slight. Unless you use something square as a reference and use a large format camera with Tilt-Shift capabilities.