This book evolved out of necessity. After exploring art catalogs and
libraries and wading through the “how to draw” section of book
stores, I found a few good resources but none that had all the qualities
I was looking for in a drawing book. Some ideas were too basic and often
insulting to my older, more artistic students. Other material seemed to
serve as a showcase for beautiful artwork but lacked any concrete
instruction. As a “travelling” art teacher with a limited budget and
limited preparation time, I need a single resource that is easy to
transport and can be used to teach all levels of students from middle
school to high school and beyond. This book was created to fill that
need and I want to share it with teachers and artists in similar
situations. These projects will allow you to bring interesting and
informative lessons that offer clear objectives and foster achievement
without the need for expensive/multi-dimensional supplies: a regular
pencil and eraser is all that is needed (sometimes a ruler or fine pen).
Fancy art pencils, costly paper or kneaded erasers are not required for
success. All pages have been student tested and approved.
The Book Details: Inside you will find specific exercises that offer
step-by-step guidelines for drawing a variety of subjects. Each lesson
starts with an easy-to-draw shape that will become the basic structure
of the drawing. From there, each step adds elements to that structure,
allowing the artist to build on their creation and make a more detailed
image. Each art project comes with a chart including information that
the artist should be able to KNOW (facts, basic skills), UNDERSTAND (big
ideas, concepts, essential questions), and therefore be able to DO
(final assessment, performance, measurements of objectives) by the end
of the lesson. This additional information gives these pages more power
than just ‘art for art’s sake’ - not that you need it - because
art is important enough on its own! Artists are learning about
themselves as expressive souls through the process of creating beautiful
and interesting work. The best part is, this is stuff that artists want
to draw. Information for Teachers using this Book: Teachers can feel
confident that they are using instructional time in ways that make a
difference for their students when using this guide. Each lesson
includes easy-to-follow instruction where the whole process is viewed
through a sequence of detailed illustrations that can be linked to
historical connections, your curriculum learning standards or adapted
into an arts integration lesson. You decide how intense to make each
project. The projects can be differentiated to respond to students’
diverse learning styles through a mixture of visuals and text.
For the best results, here are a few tips:
• Lessons are provided on mostly one-sided sheets for easy
reproduction. Copy them on the photo setting of your school’s copy
machine if possible. The shaded areas will retain their best value. •
Post the “Know, Understand, Do” sheet provided on the board so
students will clearly see the lesson objectives.
• Encourage your students not to skip any of the steps. Teachers may
find that many students want instant gratification and often try to skip
to the last step without following the process. There are a few art
students who have a “talent” for drawing or have prior experience
with drawing complex forms and do not need the steps, however, most do
need to follow the sequence in order to achieve their best result. For
greater success, they must follow the steps! By doing so, students are
training their brains to see shapes within an object instead of the
object as a whole. This will simplify the drawing process.
• Tell students to draw lightly. Once they have a basic outline and a
few details, then students can make their lines darker and more
permanent. Getting heavy-handed artists to draw lightly can be a
constant battle but the struggle is worth it once they see the benefits.
Erasing becomes easier and fewer papers are crumbled up and thrown away.
• Every student will find a different level of success with these
drawing guides. Encourage students to make their work different from the
exercises in the book by adding “extra’s” and more details. This
makes each work of art unique and personal.
• These simple steps can be adapted to any level - the student can put
as much or as little effort into their work as their comfort level
allows. NOTE: As a great art teacher, always push your students for more
- going beyond the comfort zone is how we learn!
• The techniques and processes presented in this book are well within
the reach of what your student can do. On occasion, some students may
get frustrated and want to give up. Sometimes a student will declare
defeat before even attempting the work. That is unacceptable! Remind
them that creating art is a process. In cases like this, encourage your
student to try just the first step. They will see that first step is
quite easy and may be encouraged to try the next step, etc.
• If all of attempts at drawing seem to be preventing your student
from achieving success, you may want to allow that student to trace. The
drawings on these pages are presented on a smaller scale in order to
discourage tracing, however, it is better to allow tracing as opposed to
your student doing nothing at all. Modifications for assignments can
include tracing if need be, just have the student add their own unique
twist by shading or adding “extra’s” that are not seen in the
examples provided. Tracing without even trying - NOT OK!
• This book is great for substitutes. Copy a bunch of these lessons,
put them in your sub folder and take your sick day without worry. With
enough practice, eventually students won’t need a “how-to” book. A
shift in the brain will occur and your students will be able to mentally
break down the simpler image behind the complex one without assistance.
That is when they will become Super Smart Artists! Information for
Artists using this Book: Following these exercises is a great way to
practice your craft and start seeing things in terms of simple shapes
within a complex object. Professional art pencils and paper can offer a
variety of results, however, the techniques discussed in this book can
be successful by using everyday supplies. This book is intuitive but
you may come across a few challenging steps. Follow the tips below for
• Try blocking out the information you don’t need. When you begin
drawing one of the artworks in this book, cover all of the steps shown
with a blank piece of paper except for the first one. Draw just the
first step that is exposed. After that step is finished, uncover the
next step and work on it. By blocking out the steps you are not working
on, the artwork becomes less challenging to attempt. Continue uncovering
each step one by one and adding to your artwork until it is complete. It
is a simple tactic but it works by getting you to focus on just one
action at a time.
• Patience is necessary. Don’t rush, take your time and practice
patience. Don’t crumble up your paper in frustration every time you
make a mistake. Look at your artwork and figure out the lines that work
and the lines that don’t. Change them as needed. This is easier when
• Draw lightly. Start with a light, sketchy outline and add more
detail as the drawing progresses. Once all the lines look good to you,
then they can be drawn darker and more permanent.
• Don’t be too concerned with trying to make your drawing look just
like the one in the book or spend a lot of time trying to get both sides
of a supposed symmetrical object the same. Even our faces are not
perfectly symmetrical. Your unique (and sometimes imperfect) approach is
what will make the artwork engaging and beautiful. If your drawing
doesn’t look “perfect,” that’s OK!
• Want your artwork to look even more professional? Draw your object
large then shrink it on the copier using the photo setting. The details
and lines appear finer and your work looks more detailed. A great trick
• Finally, don’t worry about what your neighbor’s artwork looks
like. Remember: everyone can draw but no one can draw just like you.
That is what makes art so special. If we all drew exactly the same way,
art would be boring and there would be no point to it. Look at the way
your art work comes out after you finish and compare it to your own
previous work. You will probably be impressed with yourself!
Tips for Shading:
• “The Basics” chapter displays several different shading
techniques. Using heavy pressure with your pencil will leave dark lines
as light pressure will leave light marks. A combination of both with a
gradual transition from one to the other is one approach to realistic
shading. Practice using different pencil pressures to create a variety
• Be careful if you choose to smudge your artwork to create shading
effects. The technique of smudging an artwork with a finger to create
shadows can blur some intricately drawn lines and ruin a beautiful
drawing. However, when done properly, smudging can be a quick and
effective way to add depth to an artwork. This can be an acceptable
practice, just beware of making mud! Rubbing too much will cause all of
those fine lines and contrasting shades to become the same muddled, flat
gray tone. This takes the depth away from a drawing and makes the work
appear less detailed. For best results when shading with the finger rub
technique, just smudge a little.
• You will see some examples in this book where hatching and
cross-hatching are used. This is another shading technique which can be
a unique alternative to smudging or pencil pressure when creating
shading effects. Try them all and see which one works best for you.
Why We Need Art Drawing makes you smarter! Believe it or not, artists
are not just mindlessly copying what they see when following the
activities in this book. By completing these projects, artists enhance
their creativity and artistic confidence while gaining powerful tools
for understanding what goes in to creating visual works. Students are
actually re-training their brains to see in a different way. This allows
them to express themselves and become competent, savvy, literate,
imaginative, creative and perceptive in art and in life. Let your
students, coworkers and the world know that ART IS IMPORTANT!
Excerpted from "How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students" by Catherine V Holmes. Copyright © 2014 by Catherine V Holmes. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.