Curved shapes are important in many paintings, not only in paintings with figures in them, but also if you are trying to capture the gesture of a particular tree, an archway on a bridge, or a vase.
Many drawing books concentrate on teaching you to draw by following the outline of a curved shape as accurately as you can. This technique is called contour drawing. However there is a major a major problem with this technique — it is impossible for most people to do this accurately.
Even after many years of practice drawing accurate curves directly and getting them in the correct proportion at the same time is extremely difficult. For most people, including me, it is an impossible task.
But luckily there is a much easier way for how to draw curves accurately. It is called the straight line approximation technique.
In this technique, you approximate every curve by a series of straight line segments. It is much easier to get the proportions of these straight lines accurate. Once you have drawn these straight lines accurately, you can then easily convert them into curves as shown here. This is what you do:
How to draw curves accurately
The great classical master draftsmen, such as Pierre Paul Prudhon, used this technique to draw the complex curves of the human figure. Follow these steps for how to draw curves accurately
Step 1: Draw the straight lines
Simplify each curve and turn it into a straight line. Start a new line every time the curve changes direction by a lot.
Step 2: Smooth the lines into curves
Round off the transitions between the small lines to turn it back into a curve.
If you don’t know how to draw straight lines accurately, see triangulation.
To learn more drawing techniques that will help to improve your paintings, see the Drawing Lessons in our year one online painting class.
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In the last couple of years, I took online painting courses and in-studio classes adding to my university courses from many years ago. After researching Anders Ericsson learning systems and Ultralearning, I was struggling to design my own painting learning plan. Then I discovered the VAA and with the endorsement from Richard Robinson, I jumped in… and it has completely exceeded my expectations. You’ve management to include first quality education, materials, layered learning systems, feedback loop and social support and lifelong learning – amazing.
Thank you again for such an amazing program and opportunity. I wish you continued and even greater success. You have contributed to many many people… thank you from all of us.