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Drawing with Mark Kistler

Drawing with Mark Kistler
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How you can use Mark Kistler’s book, Draw Squad, to teach your students or children how to draw.

Drawing with Mark Kistler

by Dan Triplett

Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad has been an extremely valuable resource to me.

Especially for someone like myself, one with no formal art training, Kistler’s ideas and explanations can take you from a unskilled drawer to a successful drawer in a few months.

His ideas are simple but most of all, they are fun.

I’ve grown to love cartooning and have found that my students will do cartoon drawings without fear. This is because in cartooning, there are no set rules on where things go. The eyes can bulge out of the top of the head. The arms can be any length and features exaggerated. In my view, this is a great way to teach students three-dimensional drawing techniques and prepare them for more advanced drawing experiences in the future.

When I first started using Kistler’s ideas, he had 10 Key Words listed in his book. They have now been reduced to seven, with shading and shadows combined.

Foreshortening: Distorting objects or parts of an object to create the illusion that one edge is actually closer to your eye.

Draw Squad Forshortening

Shading (and shadows) Adding darkness to a surface that is opposite an imaginary light source adds depth to your drawing. Originally there was “shadows” as a separate category which covered the cast shadow, hover shadow and overhang shadow.

Draw Squad shading

Surface: Drawing objects or parts of an object lower on the surface of the paper makes them appear closer (with exception of objects in space i.e. birds, clouds).

Draw Squad surface

Size: Generally, objects drawn larger will look closer, except when overlapping.

Draw Squad size

Contour Lines: Lines wrapped around the contour of a round object adds volume and shape to the object.

Draw Squad contour
Overlapping: Objects drawn in front of others will make the front
objects appear closer.

Draw Squad overlapping

Density: Images drawn darker, and with more detail, will appear closer than images drawn lighter and with less detail. This adds “atmosphere” to the drawing.
Draw Squad density

Here are a few samples of my students’ work.

Draw Squad Draw Squad Draw Squad Draw Squad Draw Squad Draw Squad Draw Squad

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  1. Lisa Ng says:

    My kids and I were introduced to Mark Kistler during Covid, this man is amazing and I am always surprised by his work.

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