All images shown are copyright Dan D'Amico and may not be used for any purpose without his written permission.
Basic techniques used in representational realism:
Layering and overlapping shapes to give a feeling of distance
Establishing a center of interest
Creating movement within your composition
Proportions – Ways to judge the relative size of the elements in your drawing
Use your pencil or brush as a measuring stick
Distorting proportions for effect
How to create a feeling of space using values
How to use values to create a mood or feeling
How to use modulation of values to create movement
How contrast is used to define shapes, direct the eye and establish a mood
How light changes when working outdoors
How to capture you shadow structure quickly and maintain it as the light changes
How the use of edge variations can direct the viewers eye
The difference between a study, a sketch and a finished drawing or painting.
Using a drawing pad as a journal – draw whenever you can
People often ask my advice on improving their art, or getting started in drawing or painting. I have taught art for over 30 years and while there is no substitute for one-on-one art lessons, I would like to offer these tips. They are not meant to be a complete art course, but to help those interested in art see what is involved in creating artwork. This is a work in progress and I will add to it as time allows. Please feel free to contact me if you have a specific question, and I will try to address it.
My approach to teaching is to build a solid foundation of classical technique to give you the tools you need to express yourself effectively. I consider these basic techniques as essential to developing your skills.
When I was starting out, I would often ask for advice from artists whose work I admired. Usually, their answers were given from a perspective that was beyond my comprehension at the moment, and I was left wondering what they meant and how to apply it to my art. Over the years I have found that when teaching, it helps to illustrate concepts by pointing out how they are used in pieces of art and why they are effective. In the list of techniques below, you will find links you can click on that will show how I use these techniques to express my ideas in art.
Few representational artists work entirely from their imagination. Most gather reference material to use as inspiration and information in their art. The key to using reference is to pick and choose what is most important to convey your idea to the viewer and express yourself creatively.
Working from life has many advantages over photography, and I would encourage you to work from life whenever possible. However, many times it is not possible to gather all of your reference from life, and photography can be a very useful tool if used judiciously.
Using photography as reference
Limitations of photography and how to compensate for them
Working out your composition in the camera
Using the photo to capture the value structure and shadow patterns
Using exposure settings to make sure you have the information you need
How to make changes from the photograph to make a stronger drawing
Don't be a slave to the photograph
How to edit information in a photograph
Reflections on Art Technique