The following is an excerpt from Professional Storyboarding by Sergio Paez and Anson Jew. This book offers highly illustrative examples of basic storyboarding concepts, as well as sound, career-oriented advice for the new artist. Here, the authors discuss the common shapes of drawing.
Everything you draw can basically be broken down into drawing a few elements: S-curves, straight lines, C-curves, and ellipses. Once you master drawing these elements confidently and fluidly, the quality of your drawings will improve significantly. Practice these over and over with the kind of finesse you would if you were trying to master your golf stroke or your forehand in tennis. Ghost your stroke just above the surface of the paper several times and let the pencil tip lightly drop on to the paper as you try to master a single smooth, wobble-free line. Practice and master doing this from a single angle. If you want to draw your line or curve at a different angle, don’t change your stroke, spin the paper instead.
These exercises might seem basic and boring, but you have to learn how to skate before you can play hockey, right? Find the time to draw while chatting at dinner with a friend or while in front of the TV.1 Get into the habit of carrying a sketchbook everywhere you go and using it every opportunity you have. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere! If you’re in line at the movies you should be drawing. On the bus? That’s drawing time. Out with your girlfriend? DRAW HER! If you have nothing to draw you can always spend 10 minutes on these SICO exercises. The point is from now until your death bed, you will carry a sketchbook and use it. It makes no difference whether the drawings are good or bad. The idea is to move your hand and build the pencil mileage that will help you produce great work later on.
Mastering the S-curve will take you a long way in creating fluid, expressive drawings. Practice drawing them as described above, but especially practice drawing S-curves that have a subtle gentle curve to them. It may be so subtle that you’re almost drawing a straight line. Try to trace over an S-curve you’ve already drawn as smoothly as you can in as graceful a stroke as you can. Then practice drawing reverse S-curves.
Draw two dots on a page and practice your accuracy by trying to draw a straight, freehand line that passes through both dots in a single stroke. Practice drawing a series of straight parallel lines. Draw slowly at first, then build up your speed. Think of this exercise as Zen meditation, which is also good practice for the art of patience. With time, you will be amazed how close you can achieve near perfectly straight lines drawing freehand. The trick is to build up your hand and eye coordination so the drawing strokes react as you want them. Don’t believe me? Take my challenge—try drawing straight lines 10 minutes per day for a week. By the end of the week you will be like a robot drawing perfectly mechanical straight lines.
Practice drawing C-curves as you would S-curves, especially focusing on the subtle curves. You can practice the more severe curves by drawing three dots on a page and trying to draw a smooth, graceful line that passes through all three.
Practice drawing smooth, even ellipses at various sizes. Try to close the shape as cleanly as possible. An ellipse is a very difficult shape to master especially because of the different perspective views. Treat drawing ellipses, much like drawing straight lines above. Practice drawing the shapes a few minutes a day for a week and you will be amazed at your improvement.
Draw shapes with 3 to 5 sides using only S-curves, C-curves, and straight lines as the sides of your shapes. Combining these shape techniques will help greatly when you create your storyboard images.
Excerpt from Professional Storyboarding: Rules of Thumb by Sergio Paez and Anson Jew © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Professional Storyboarding can be bought on Amazon, BN.com, or your favorite online retailer.