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As a part of my teaching practice, through the blog Drawing Connections, I share with my students a variety of references from the field. Creativity, communication, invention, and design innovation are the broad thematic blog categories.

Entries in experimental drawing techniques (3)


Hand-Drawn Lettering and Experimental Typography

This beautifully hand drawn alphabet is by Blake E. Marquis.

Graphic designers take note, there is an interesting traveling exhibition, titled Alphabet: An Exhibition of Hand-Drawn Lettering and Experimental Typography, which can be viewed now in Orlando, coinciding with the AIGA Conference.

“Focusing on an ordinary subject that we see each day, often in the hundreds of thousands, Alphabet presents 26 letters as more than just shapes for conveying information. The 48 artists and designers in this show conceive and interpret the alphabet in surprising and inventive ways, ranging from graceful and polished to witty and unconventional. The 60 alphabets featured in Alphabet were created by artists in North America, Europe, and Asia, and represent work from well-known typographers and designers as well as rising artists and design students.” – excerpt from the exhibition website.

Below are selected samples of some of the alphabets shown in the exhibition. Complete character sets (A-Z) of each alphabet in the show can be seen in the exhibition catalog or at one of the exhibition venues.

A set of 26 table and chair frames built from steel tubing, Interiors forms a lowercase alphabet when viewed from certain angles. While some of the letters such as the h, m, and b look like basic chairs or tables, others like the e, t, and x become abstract, rather than functional, furniture.
Fabrication: Joel Wolter

Representing the pair's first collaboration, Hyper Type's obsessively detailed letterforms were created by Ramsey and Purdy in two marathon, ten-hour days.

Constructed with Chinese Tangram puzzle tiles, Seven Board of Cunning takes the concept of Tangrams--that the tiles may be arranged into a variety of shapes--and applies it to typography, creating multiple versions of each letter.

Pushing the limits of legibility, Imageability is a series of five fonts based on ideas from the book of the same title by Kevin Lynch. By reducing each letter to a minimal set of forms, Imageability explores the identifiers we use to navigate our landscape and language.

Exhibition info:

Travel information
Alphabet will be traveling through 2008. Upcoming and past shows include:
October-November 2008 / Southern Illinois University / Edwardsville, IL
December 2007 / Ohio Northern University / Ada, OH
October 2007 / Cooper Union / New York, NY
July 2007 / AIGA Orlando / Orlando, FL
February-March 2007 / Minneapolis College of Art & Design / Minneapolis, MN
January 2007 / Pennsylvania College of Art & Design / Lancaster, PA
November 2006 / Northern Illinois University / DeKalb, IL
March 2006 / Workhorse Gallery / Los Angeles, CA
January-February 2006 / M-80 / Milwaukee, WI
November 2005 / Heaven Gallery / Chicago, IL
August 2005 / Lump Gallery / Raleigh, NC
July 2005 / Maryland Institute College of Art / Baltimore, MD

Select list of artists, designers and students, who are featured in the exhibit:
Andrew Byrom
Danielle Foushee
Arjen Noordeman
Paul Nudd
C.W. Roelle


30 Drawing Reference Books for Artists, Designers and Anyone Who Wants to Learn How-To Draw

Not so long ago, in Victorian times (1837-1901), the “drawing room” referred to a place for comfortable, relaxed entertaining. The expression is still used in Britain, and in France, the term is “salon,” in the U.S., the equivalent is “living room.” For artists, the drawing room is not confined to one environment, although the studio may be where much of the work is accomplished, it is everywhere the artist is. Drawing happens anywhere, anytime.

Drawing is an empowering life tool accessible to anyone who cares to use it. Perception, communication, persuasion, innovation and invention – drawing develops these skills, which are transferable to any profession or subject.

“If you can draw, even a little bit, you can express all kinds of ideas that might otherwise be lost - delights, frustrations, whatever torments you or pleases you.” – David Hockney

“In the design process, drawing is the act of thought.” – Richard MacCormac

“Drawings are an invaluable aid to my mathematical thinking and an essential ingredient of most of my mathematical expositions.” – Sir Roger Penrose

“I use drawing as an extension of my brain. It is the ones done with spontaneity that give me most pleasure and help crystalise an idea.” – Terence Conran

Learning to draw can be likened to learning a language. It requires exposure, observation, exploration and practice. Learn to draw. Expose your mind to the variety of methods, tools, techniques and forms of drawing. Visit an art museum and observe how artists use drawing. Read books about drawing. Experiment with drawing by trying it out, emulating different styles, using a variety of drawing materials. Make drawing a part of your routine. Make room for drawing.

A German proverb says, “Whoever cares to learn will always find a teacher.” Books are a great place to start. The following is an alphabetical list of recommended books relating to drawing for architecture, animation, exhibit design, fine art, industrial design, and interior design.

1. Drawing in Early Renaissance Italy: Revised Edition
2. Drawing Now: Eight Propositions
3. The Art of Robots
4. Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice
5. Art of Drawing

6. Design Drawing
7. Drawing: A Creative Process
8. Drawing and Perceiving: Life Drawing for Students of Architecture and Design
9. Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing
10. Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Your Creativity

11. Color Drawing: Design Drawing Skills and Techniques for Architects, Landscape Architects, and Interior Designers
12. Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined
13. Rapid Viz : A New Method for the Rapid Visualization of Ideas
14. Drawing From The Modern
15. Experimental Drawing

16. Drawing Shortcuts: Developing Quick Drawing Skills Using Today's Technology
17. Drawing and Designing with Confidence: A Step-by-Step Guide
18. Freehand Perspective for Designers: Including Shadow-Casting and Entourage
19. Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators
20. Syd Mead's Sentury

21. Basic Perspective Drawing: A Visual Approach
22. Perspective Drawing and Applications
23. Perspective for Interior Designers
24. Drawing: A Contemporary Approach
25. Rendering in Mixed Media

26. From Ordinary To Extraordinary: Art & Design Problem Solving
27. Basic Visual Concepts And Principles For Artists, Architects And Designers
28. The Animator's Workbook: Step-By-Step Techniques of Drawn Animation
29. Life Drawing: A Journey to Self-Expression
30. Design Principles and Problems

Do you have a recommendation? Please share!

Image Reference: "Inconveniences of a Crowded Drawing Room", famous caricature by George Cruikshank, May 6th 1818.


Types of Drawing: Making Marks for Good Reason

As the written word is essential to the poet and writer, and the algorithmic formula is imperative to the mathematician, drawing is the essence of the artist and designer’s expression.

As an effective means of communication and thinking, drawing operates on many levels, and it is important for the artist and designer to not only comprehend these differences, but to also achieve a certain level of skill in the discipline of drawing. Drawing can be a tremendously empowering tool for communication and thinking. This article will briefly explore and loosely define the many different approaches, or types, of drawing.

In thinking about drawing methodologies and their respective purposes, apparent are at least eight distinct categories, including:
1. Life Drawing: drawing as a means of expression; drawing from direct observation, as in still-life or figure drawing
2. Emotive Drawing: drawing, like painting, as an expressive way to explore and put forth feeling, mood, self, time, and so on; drawing as a sensitive expression of personality
3. Sketching: drawing in order to explain or actively think through a problem; drawing through the act of visualizing; drawing actively and loosely
4. Analytic Drawing: drawing as a way to dissect, understand and represent; drawing from observation
5. Perspective Drawing: drawing as a way to represent volume, space, light, eye-level (horizon), surface planes, and scale
6. Geometric Drawing: drawing as a means to precisely represent all aspects of construction; drawing that shows measured scale, true sides, sections, and a variety of descriptive views.
7. Diagrammatic Drawing: drawing in order to investigate, explore, and document concepts and ideas; drawing as an active design process where ideas evolve due to adjacencies and happenstance
8. Illustration Drawing: drawing in order to document; drawing to clearly state and render intent, style, size, color, character, effect, and so on

The marks made for each of these drawing categories vary greatly, as do the materials, tools, techniques, and even substrates on which the drawing is produced. A graphite pencil makes a different mark than a marker, than a vine charcoal stick, than a ballpoint pen, and on and on. Newsprint paper is appropriate for some drawing materials, such as pencil, charcoal and crayon, whereas more wet mediums, such as markers or India ink may prove problematic.

Concurrently, the purpose for each of these drawings categories vary, as do the end result. A sketch can quickly document an idea upon first conception, whereas a geometric drawing requires a much longer gestational period. The sketch is of the moment and the geometric drawing is more labored. The sketch contains possibility and potential, whereas the geometric drawing is more like the ending chapter to a novel, final. The person who makes the drawing must weigh the truth and consequences of the effort, choose the method of drawing that is appropriate, that which will provides the best result.

This is not to say that the act of drawing should not be experimental in nature. To the contrary, investigation is paramount to the creative process and the educational process. Practice drawing, experience using drawing, and exposure to comparative examples of drawing provide one with a greater ability to make choices regarding the appropriate drawing technique, material, surface, tool and approach to utilize when beginning a drawing.

Where words and formulas cannot quite describe the creative intent, drawing succeeds in being a tremendously empowering tool for communication and thinking. The artist and designer is much stronger in her ability to create with this skill mastered.

(Note: For the purposes of this article, computer-aided drawing techniques were not addressed specifically, though the author admires the inherent benefits of computer technology.)

Explore the many drawingreference materials available.