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Day 22: How to Avoid Flat Drawings, Flat Characters, & Flat Hair

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Day 22:  How to Avoid Flat Drawings, Flat Characters, & Flat Hair


1.  Draw something every day

2.  Learn about art

3. Read blogs and learn how to promote my own



I have taken a step towards maturity! Maturity in drawing, that is. The other day, I completed a realistic, 3-D drawing with shading and highlights, which is something I have never tried before.

It wasn’t too hard, thanks to the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I followed her step-by-step instructions to create a drawing of my hand.

First, I had to use a “picture plane,” which, in this case, is a piece of plexiglass. I balanced my hand underneath it and traced all the edges I saw with a dry-erase marker. This helped to “flatten out” my three-dimensional hand into a two-dimensional shape. If I had a bigger picture plane that was mounted vertically, I could place whatever I wanted behind it and trace the shape, thus reducing any three-dimensional object or scene into two-dimensions.

The picture plane is not a new concept. There are dozens of picture plane devices on record at the U.S. Patent office, and many famous artists have and do use them – Vincent Van Gogh, for one, but there are many other examples.

Edwards claims that once I have learned the process, I can get rid of the plexiglass and use an imaginary picture plane. This is a “transparent plane, like a framed window, that is always hanging in front of the artist’s eyes.” It helps the artist to see a scene “as through it were magically smashed flat on the back of the clear glass plane.”

So that was step one, which helped me understand the shape of my drawing. Step two was to “tone” my paper by shading it with a soft pencil and rubbing with a paper towel to achieve a pale, even gray. I drew the basic shape and looked at my own hand to add in all the wrinkles and details. I then darkened in the shadowy parts and used my eraser in places where I saw highlights.

The result wasn’t perfect, but it’s probably the most realistic drawing I’ve done so far. And it makes so much sense! How could I have ever done highlights if I started the drawing on white paper? Starting with a gray tone and being able to dial up or down the shade makes all the difference!

finished drawing, by Eva Langston

finished drawing, by Eva Langston


Of course, as always, I started to compare drawing to writing. (I compare everything to writing on this blog.)

In drawing, we take three-dimensional objects and represent them on a two-dimensional surface using nothing but pencils or pastels. In writing, we take a multidimensional world, a world of sights and smells and sounds, a world of emotions and relationships, and we represent it with nothing but words. How do we do that without flattening the experience?  How can we make sure our characters are fully realized?

I guess one trick has to do with what I learned using the picture plane: sometimes the things you know exist are not visible. In drawing my hand, I knew I had five fingers, but my ring finger was mostly hidden behind my thumb. In writing, you as the author know things about your characters that perhaps aren’t visible to other characters, or to the reader. Be subtle. Don’t show everything up front.

A second trick for three-dimensional characters also comes from my new-found drawing skills: use a gray scale. You can’t draw a character in black and white. Every person and every life has shadowy parts and bright spots, even the vilest villain and the saintliest hero, so decide where to darken your characters. Decide where to make them lighter.

My original hand drawing.  Not bad, but definitely not as 3-D.

My original hand drawing. Not bad, but definitely not as 3-D.


As many of you who read my blog know, I have a tumultuous relationship with my hair, and I’m afraid that learning to draw better has not really helped me solve these issues. Except this: drawing in gray scale was something new for me, and I have found that sometimes trying something new with my hair can lead to positive results. I fixed my bangs differently the other day and was pleasantly surprised (see below). Otherwise, these are the only recommendations I can think of:

1. Fancy volumizing shampoo doesn’t work. It just doesn’t, so don’t spend your money on it.

2. Don’t let your boyfriend fix your hair if you’re planning to go out in public. He has a shaved head. He doesn’t understand.

3. As much as it annoys you, use mousse and blow dry your hair with a round-brush. It does actually add body. Now I use a blow dryer with a round-brush attachment, which is much easier to manage.

4. Stick your head out the window of a car like a dog while going down the highway.

5. Don’t wear a hat unless you plan to wear it all day.

6. Time travel back to the 80’s and get some tips from pretty much anyone. On second thought, I think the 80’s was all about teasing your hair. Don’t do that. Gives you split ends.  Take it from one who knows…

7. Write a story or draw a picture in which you have huge, voluminous hair. That’s the great thing about writing and drawing – it can seem realistic but still be fiction.

Me and my hair.  You probably shouldn't take styling tips from me...

Me and my hair. You probably shouldn’t take styling tips from me…

Eva Langston is an aspiring writer.  Read more about her here.  


The Complete Bad Guy on Fictioner’s Net

The Best Hair Products for Maximum Volume on Beauty High


About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: #You’re FREE…To Do What You Want To Do..# | Bec Broomhall

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  3. Pingback: My 300th Post & Some Old Favorites, Chosen by Paul | In the Garden of Eva

  4. Pingback: Subplots and Hair Extensions | In the Garden of Eva

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