One of the most important goals in my 600-page Project Megasketch was to develop line quality, and move away from chicken-scratchy type sketches that destroy the flow of beautiful lines and graceful forms. It's difficult to place a line exactly where we want it as it curves around a form, or moves straight across the page. We compensate by trying again, and again, and again. What we end up with is a hatchet-job of a sketch, created with lots of small lines in an attempt to correct what we didn't do right in the first place. Even if one of those many lines is correct, the sum of the parts is not pleasing.
I searched online to find a process that would lead to an improvement in the quality of my line work, and came upon Draw A Box. I think it's one of the best free resources for drawing on the internet. Don't miss the opportunity to take advantage of it! If you've decided to take on Project Megasketch, I'd highly recommend that you make it part of your Megasketch journey.
You may get tired of drawing lines and ellipses after several days of it, but the eventual payoff is huge. Don't skip over it. I stopped counting the pages toward Project Megasketch that I spent on the lines and ellipses because there were so many of them. I found them invaluable as warm ups. A couple of months later, I pulled out some vases, pots, pitchers and bottles to sketch. I wanted to see if it helped as much as I hoped. I found that I could draw them directly with ink in just a couple of minutes, and even if they weren't perfect, the improvement in my ellipses when applied to drawings was dramatic.
The Draw A Box lessons lead you to understand first hand the role that ellipses and lines play in conveying roundness and form with cross contours. Below is a group of amoeba-like shapes on a page. Variations in the cross contours give different three dimensional forms to those shapes. This can be applied to everything from animals and tree branches, to abstract objects in developing 3D drawing skills.
The cross contour lines are akin to blowing up a balloon, or sculpting a piece of clay. As a painter who mainly used value to build form, it wasn't often that I got to experience the role that line alone can play. It made me realize how much brushwork and stroke direction could help shape an object's form.
But Draw A Box lessons don't stop there. They also go extensively into one, two and three point perspective. Although I knew the rules of perspective, I hadn't spent weeks and months actually doing it every single day. Practice makes such a huge difference in developing skill. It's like the difference between knowing how to read music, and actually being able to play the piece. Practice, practice, practice. You'll do a lot of it in those online exercises.
The lessons have you do both measured perspective using a ruler, and eyeballing the perspective like you'd often have to do out in the field, then checking your work with a ruler and making corrections. For the page below, I did the exercises in two point perspective with a green pen, eyeballing the angles, then went back with a red pen and a ruler to self-check and correct where needed.
So, are we done yet? No! You'll also work on form intersections, and then draw several pages of plants and flowers. Here's one of mine:
Then you go to the lessons for insects and other animals.
These are just a fraction of the drawings I did in Project Megasketch that were from the Draw A Box lessons. (I used other resources too, which I'm happy to share.) I wanted to show a number of them to convey the breadth of what's covered in the lessons on that website. You'll have some frustrating days, but if you go through all the lessons and trust the process, you will be well rewarded for your efforts in terms of improved skills and concepts.
If you missed the post that gave an overview of Project Megasketch and what it involves, here is a link to that post.