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Teach your Kids to Draw

Author: Angela Tonsin

Teach your Kids to Draw

Book Series: Teach Your Kids


You can cultivate your child's artistic talent at home. You can start by exposing your child to art at an early age. By showing your child different types of art, you can help them learn how to visually express themselves. You can begin to teach your child about art and different mediums as your child's interest grows.

Studies have shown that children exposed to art at an early age do better in school. Art can help childrenís intelligence by making them better thinkers and more focused, while increasing their problem-solving abilities. It can help children learn perseverance and dedication while building their confidence. Since making art is a form of self-expression, it can teach your children the importance of non-verbal communication. As others see their work they learn how to receive and accept constructive feedback.

Art can soothe the mind. Mental health professionals for people suffering from anxiety and depression recommend art. Because creating art forces people to focus on their world, their mind can settle. It can be an amazing way for a younger child to burn some mental energy, and it can help an older child to cope with stress and emotional pain.

While you may want your child to reap all of the benefits of art, you don't want to push him or her into structured art classes too soon. Art classes work best for those who are interested in art beforehand. The best way to get your child interested in art is to allow him or her to be creative.

Teaching children to draw begins with letting them explore their creativity. As they learn about lines and dots, you can teach them about shapes. A two-dimensional shape is the main component for three-dimensional shapes. Your child will be drawing a variety of objects after learning to draw shapes.

Teaching children to draw can be the catalyst to helping them explore other art mediums. They may consider painting or sculpture. As children become more creative the world opens up and they can begin to see that they have a new way to express themselves, and it's a way they enjoy.

Exposure to Art

Picture Books

Children learn about art by seeing it. Most children are exposed to art at a young age, in the form of picture books. Most children are just as fascinated by the images in a book as they are by the words. Picture books are drawn by professionals and are meant to capture the meaning of the words on the page.

When reading to your children, it's important to always let them see the pictures as you read. You don't need to explain what's happening in the picture, allow your child's imagination explore the world the author and illustrator created.

Art in School

Most schools teach children art. These classes will be the only formal art lessons some children receive. Art classes in school don't just expose kids to various art mediums and crafts. These lessons also show how diverse an artistic image can be. By seeing what other children are doing your child, is building a portfolio of ideas in his or her brain.

Maybe they like the way one of their friends drew their house. Or maybe they like the way purple grass looks in their friend's picture. These are ideas they may decide to explore the next time they do art. Children are also known to discuss their art with each other. Getting feedback or explaining why they did something is helpful in building their confidence.

When your children bring home their art, always show enthusiasm for their work. If you display their art, they'll be more likely to want to bring more home. They'll see it as valuable. The more value your children place on their work, the more pride they'll have in what they do and the more they'll want to do it.

Art Museums

A trip to an art museum may be a little overwhelming for a young child. However, there are a number of art museums that offer programs and displays geared towards children. Contact local museums to see if it's available in your local area.

As children get older, they may enjoy going to the museum. Once again, you're building up a portfolio of ideas in your child's brain. He or she can see how different artists use different tools and techniques to express themselves.

When going to the museum, don't try to explain the art to your children. Allow them to decide what it means. Let them determine whether it's good or bad. Let them figure out what they do and don't like about it.

If you give your input, your children are likely to lean towards your way of thinking. To build their interest in art, they need to explore their feelings, not yours. When you give feedback, you may be contradicting what they were thinking. You don't want your children to think that they're wrong about how they feel.

If your children ask for your feedback give an honest answer, but ask for theirs too, and make them explain why they feel that way. Then you can acknowledge that their reasoning was good. Don't say they're wrong.

Many museums sell books and cards that contain images of artwork. These are great gifts for your kids and another way to hold their interest.


Photography is an activity many children enjoy. There are a number of digital cameras on the market specifically designed for children. As they get older you can get them better quality cameras.

A camera can change the way a person sees the world. You can focus in on one spot, one object or one person. You can narrow your focus so that you can create a beautiful image. Photography is a skill that will serve your child well, when learning how to draw.


If you want to expose your children to more art, and possibly introduce them to artists, then take them to visit galleries. The art seen in galleries can range from acrylic painting by an unknown artist to images created by a world famous photographer.

Gallery viewings are best left for older kids. They would be better able to appreciate the opportunity to see new art or meet an artist, than a younger child would.

Starting Young

When children are young, they are fascinated by art. If you give small children crayons and a piece of paper you'll find that they're able to create all types of masterpieces. You may not know what the picture is, but when you ask a child to explain it, you get a small glimpse at his or her imagination and creativity.


Young children should be allowed to explore a number of art mediums. For most, this will begin with crayons. A pack of crayons and a ream of copy paper is enough to get your child started. If your child is very young, washable crayons are your best bet. Washable crayons are the easiest to remove from walls and floors.

When your child is drawing with crayons don't give negative feedback or try to correct him or her. If he/she wants all of the people to be blue, or the dogs to have human legs, so be it. It's more important at this stage that your child learns to enjoy creating, than it is for the child to get the image correct.

Coloring Books

After your children know how to use crayons properly, you can begin to buy coloring books. If you buy the coloring books before the child knows how to handle the crayon, then they will just scribble across the page. When they understand how to draw with the crayon, they'll have better control. Once again, avoid negative feedback. They're allowed to draw outside of the lines.

Over time, they'll learn, but right now it's more important for them to enjoy what they're doing.


By introducing children to chalk, you're showing them another way to express themselves. Chalk works well on colored paper and driveways or sidewalks. Allow your child to create images when outside. You can buy an indoor chalkboard where your children can make temporary creations. In order to help them see their progress, you can ask them to call you when their masterpieces are complete and you can take a photo.

Big Paper

Most children are limited to standard sized paper. One way to give them room to make larger works and explore their creativity in a new way is to buy bigger paper. Art rolls are long rolls of paper and are available at many art stores. You can pin a piece of the art paper, to the wall or spread it out on the driveway, and let your child create art.

Colored Paper

With colored paper, your children are able to use colors that may not have been noticeable on white paper. They can also see the effect a colored background has on their drawing.


Finger-paint is a medium most children are introduced to in school. You can give your children finger paint to use for painting or you can use it to teach your child the beginning of drawing shapes. It's easier for some children to draw shapes with their finger, than with a crayon or pencil.

Colored Pencils

Colored pencils help to guide your children towards eventually using pencils for their drawings. It still incorporates color, but your child will be learning how to hold a pencil correctly, as well as how to use an eraser for mistakes.

The time it takes to get your child from crayon to color pencils varies. Some children take longer than others. The amount of time needed does not correlate to the child's level of artistic ability or interest. Just give your child the time needed to explore and discover.

Making Shapes

Drawings all start with a dot or a line.

The dot and line when combined together can create shapes. There are some standard shapes children need to know which will help them with their drawing in the future. Luckily most of these shapes are taught in the early years of school.

The shapes are

As your child explore their art with crayons and colored pencils you want to make sure you point out any shapes they create. You want your child to understand that these shapes are special, however you don't want to force them to create them over and over again.

As your child creates his or her art, these shapes will naturally form because these shapes are all around your child. They see them every day in your home, at school and outdoors. Their exploration through art will lead them to these shapes.

When you point these shapes out to them, they will of course start working more with them. Your praise means a lot to your child. When they show you their work, be excited for them. Ask them questions about what they created and be genuinely interested in their response.

By doing this, you are cultivating a love of art and confidence in their artistic abilities. You want your child to feel capable of producing something you'll be proud of. Make sure they never feel like they've disappointed you with their creations.

Drawing Supplies

When your child is ready to begin learning how to draw you'll need to pick up some supplies. While your child may already have a myriad of art supplies, these products are specifically designed for drawing.

Drawing Paper

Drawing paper is a heavyweight paper that is 80 to 90 lb. weights, versus the 20 lb. weight of most copy paper. This paper is the standard used for drawing.

Sketch Paper

Sketch paper is a lightweight paper that is specifically used for creating sketches. This paper generally has a 50 to 70 lb. weight.

Sketch Pad or Drawing Pad

Your child's sketchpad or drawing pad will be a book that should be at least 50 sheets. To start, get a book that is about 9" x 12". This size book is easy to carry and won't be too heavy.

Drawing Pencils

Your child will need a small assortment of pencils to start. The most basic pencil is a #2(HB) pencil. The other pencils include the #2H, #2B, #4B and #6B. To begin to draw you only need one type of pencil, you can add to your child's collection as he or she advances in drawing skills.

Pencil Sharpener

This is a standard mechanical, electric or non-electric pencil sharpener. All you need is something that can sharpen the pencils.


The three erasers you should buy are the standard pink pearl eraser, a vinyl eraser and a kneaded eraser.

A Quiet Place to Draw

When children are learning to draw, they need a place that's free from distractions. If they have their own room, they can do their art in there. If they share their room, then this may be an issue. It's important to help your child find a quiet place to draw, even if that place is only quiet for an hour or two.

A Place to Store the Supplies

You need to make sure your children have a place to store all of their art supplies. It can be a container or a drawer. It's important from the beginning to teach your children how to take care of their art tools.

A Place to Display Their Work

As your child's skill level increases he or she will want to display whatís been created. Make sure you have a place to hang the work and show your pride in these accomplishments. This may be the most important thing you can do for your childís artistic endeavors. Make sure he or she knows you appreciate the work and that you're proud to show it.

Now that you have all the supplies together you can start teaching your child how to draw.

Making Shapes 2D and 3D


A line and a dot are one-dimensional shapes. Together, they are the building block of all other shapes.


Two-dimensional (2D) shapes only have two-dimensions. A flat surface is called a plane. A plane is one example of a 2D surface. A sheet of paper is a plane.

When you draw a shape such as a square, circle or triangle on a piece of paper, you are creating a 2D image. When children start drawing most of their work is a collection of 2D images. A house is a square with a triangle and a rectangle for a chimney. People are circles, triangles and lines.

When you look at a 2D image it looks flat. When you begin to teach your child to draw it's important to help them recognize 2D images. This is as simple as pointing out that the bottom of a cup is a circle or that a book, when viewed from the top looking at the cover, is a square or rectangle.

Doing this will help your children not only recognize shapes in the real world, it will also help to explain perspective. They'll begin to notice that holding the object at a different angle changes the shape they see. For example, a can when viewed from the top is a circle; from the side it is a rectangle. Later they'll be able to understand that a can is a cylinder. And that a cylinder is a combination of these two shapes.


Three-dimension (3D) shapes are the way we see things in the real world. 3D shapes are not flat. They have a length, width and depth. When you see objects in the world you're looking at 3D objects.

After your children understand 2D, you can start showing them 3D objects. This is simple because they're exposed to 3D images every day. A can is a cylinder, a cone is a birthday hat and a sphere is a ball.

Help your children to recognize shapes and the variations of shapes. For instance, a can may taper at the top of the cylinder. They'll also begin to see that some objects are made up of a combination of shapes.

The difficult part of teaching a child about 3D is showing how to translate this into objects that contain multiple shapes. For example, a shampoo bottle may be a cylinder, with a smaller cylinder on top. When looking in nature there are a number of shapes that seem to combine lines, 2D, and 3D shapes.

As your children become more advanced with their drawing, you'll need to determine if you'll let them continue to learn on their own or pay for them to take formal lessons.

Preparing To Draw

If possible collect images of the basic shapes and find some objects that represent the true 3D shapes of cylinders, spheres, cubes, pyramids and cones. These objects and images will help your child understand the shapes and will also come in handy when your child is learning and practicing how to draw them.

Making Shapes - Cubes

A cube is a six-sided square. This shape is three-dimensional, so when drawing none of the sides look the same and not all sides will be visible. This shape will have length, width and depth.

By learning how to draw this versatile shape your children will be able to draw boxes, buildings, and houses. It will also help later when they draw vehicles, flowers and people.

Drawing cubes is a natural progression for most children. When children are young they may draw a house in two-dimensions. Over time, they may realize on their own that when they look at a house, sometimes they can see the side. When you notice this change in perspective, it's a good time to start to teach them about how to draw cubes.

Drawing a cube:

1. Start by drawing a square.

2. The first angle will determine the tilt of the cube. Draw a line from the top right edge of the square at the angles you want the cube to tilt. This is the reference line.

3. Draw the bottom left side that is at the same angle as the reference line.

4. Now, draw a line extending from the top left side that is at the same angle as the reference line.

5. Using the top of the square as a guide draw the top of the cube. This line will determine the depth of the cube.

6. Using the left edge of the square as a guide. Draw a line from the top corner to the lower angled line.

Don't worry if you overshoot your lines. After the cube is complete, clean up the drawing by erasing extra lines or marks.

Advanced Cube Drawing:

Creating Shadows

Find an object with a cubed shape and place it on a table.

Have your child use a flashlight or other light source to cast a shadow on the cube.

For the drawing, determine the source of light.

Shade the surface opposite the light source on the drawing to create shadow.

Your child can use the light source, on the real cube object, to check to make sure their positioning is correct.

Finding Cubes

Have your child look for cubed shapes in the real world. Not just the shape in its true form, have them look for the shape within or connected to objects. For example, most houses are composed of multiple shapes.


The smaller the square, the more precise the square and cube will be. Start with a small cube until you become comfortable with the process. Then over time, enlarge the cube.

Making Shapes - Spheres

A sphere is a three-dimensional circle. The shape is round. There are no sides. When drawing a sphere it looks the same from all sides. The difference between a sphere and a circle is the shading and the shadow.

Learning how to draw a sphere will help your children draw balls and sketch the tops of trees. It will also help them later on as they begin to draw flowers, people and animals.

Since the process of drawing a circle and sphere are the same this is a natural progression for most children. When young, children will draw a ball as a circle. Over time, they may begin to see that a white ball has different shades of gray in its coloring, when looking at it directly. They'll also notice that these shades and shadows move as they move and as the light source changes.

Drawing a Sphere

1. Start by drawing a circle. The circle doesn't need to be perfect. It can be an oval or egg shape, as long as it doesn't have any angles.

2. Think about where the light source would be for the image.

3. The sphere would cast a shadow on the opposite side of the light source. The shadow would be in a circular shape matching the side of the sphere opposite the light source.

4. Now, shade in the side of the sphere that is opposite the light source. The edge closest to the shadow would be darkest and the shading would blend up into the sphere.

5. Use your finger to smudge blend the pencil shading toward the light source.

Don't worry if you blend too far into the sphere. After the image is complete you can clean it up by erasing and re-smudging the area.

Advanced Sphere Drawing:

Creating Shadows

Find an object with a sphere shape and place it on a table.

Have your child use a flashlight or other light source to cast a shadow on the sphere.

For the drawing, determine the source of light.

Shade the surface and create the shadow as before.

Your child can use the light source, on the real sphere object, to check to make sure their positioning is correct.

Use this method to create images of a sphere with the light source at various angles.

Changing Shapes

Find objects that have no angles and a sphere shape, such as an egg and place it on the table.

Have your child draw an egg shape.

Change the angle of the egg and draw the way it looks now.

Show your child how the shape of the egg changes, unlike the ball.

Now use Creating Shadows method to show how the change in shape affects the shading and shadow.

Finding Spheres

Have your child look for cubed shapes in the real world. Not just the shape in its true form, have them look for the shape within or connected to objects. For example, most incandescent light bulbs are composed of multiple shapes.


The smaller the circle, the more precise your circle and sphere will be. Start with a small circle until you become comfortable with the process. Then over time, enlarge the circle. It is difficult to draw a perfect circle freehand.

Making Shapes - Pyramids

A pyramid is a five-sided shape, composed of 4 triangles and one square. This is a three-dimensional shape so when viewing it, not all of the sides will be visible. This shape has a width, length and depth.

By learning how to draw a pyramid your child will be able to draw pyramids. It will help your child later when they want to draw houses and buildings.

Drawing pyramids is a natural progression from drawing triangles. When most children are young the roofs they draw on houses are triangles. The pyramid shape becomes apparent when the child realizes that houses have more than one side visible from a specific angle.

Drawing a Pyramid

1. Draw a straight vertical line.

2. Then draw two slanted lines like an upside down V. Make sure the middle line stays the longest

3. Draw a line connecting the slanted line to the middle line

4. Now, do the same for the other side

5. Find your light source and draw your cast shadow on the opposite side

6. Now shade in the side of the pyramid thatís opposite the light source

Advanced Pyramid Drawing:

Creating Shadows

Find an object with a pyramid shape and place it on a table.

Have your child use a flashlight or other light source to cast a shadow on the cube.

For the drawing, determine the source of light.

Shade the surface and create the shadow as before.

Your child can use the light source, on the real pyramid object, to check to make sure their positioning is correct.

Finding Pyramids

Have your child look for pyramid shapes in the real world. Not just the shape in its true form, have them look for the shape within or connected to objects. For example, most houses are composed of multiple shapes.


The smaller the triangles, the more precise the pyramid will be. Start with a small pyramid until you become comfortable with the process. Then over time, enlarge the pyramid.

Making Shapes - Cylinders

A cylinder is the combination of two circles or ovals connected by two straight lines. In order to see a cylinder as a 3D image you must use shade and shadow, similar to the sphere. Without shading and shadow a cylinder looks like a 2D image.

By learning how to draw a cylinder your child will be able to draw cylinders. It will help your child later when he or she wants to draw cans or tubes.

Drawing cylinders is a natural progression from drawing ovals. The cylinder shape becomes apparent when the child realizes that cans have more than one side visible from a specific angle.

Drawing a Cylinder

1. Start by drawing an oval.

2. Draw two lines going down from the sides of the oval

3. Curve the bottom line to complete the cylinder

4. Using an imaginary light source, use shadow to create a 3D image.

Advanced Cylinder Drawing:

Creating Shadows

Find an object with a cylinder shape and place it on a table.

Have your child use a flashlight or other light source to cast a shadow on the cube.

For the drawing, determine the source of light.

Shade the surface and create the shadow as before.

Your child can use the light source, on the real cylinder object, to check to make sure their positioning is correct.

Finding Cylinders

Have your children look for cylinder shapes in the real world. Not just the shape in its true form, have them look for the shape within or connected to objects. For example, most houses are composed of multiple shapes.


The smaller the oval, the more precise the cylinder will be. Start with a small cylinder until you become comfortable with the process. Then over time, enlarge the cylinder.

Making Shapes - Cones

A cone is the combination of a circle (or oval) and a triangle. In order to see a cone as a 3D image you must use shade and shadow, similar to the sphere. Without shading and shadow a cone looks like a 2D image.

By learning how to draw a cone your child will be able to draw cones and birthday hats. It will also help him or her in the future in drawing flowers, plants, witches hats and ice cream cones.

Drawing cones is a progression from drawing triangles. When children draw a hat on a witch, princess or birthday boy they usually start by drawing a triangle. Soon they'll begin to notice that the bottom of the hat has a curve to it. They've discovered a cone. As they progress they'll notice how shadow makes the hat appear rounder. Now is a good time to teach them how to draw a cone.

Drawing a Cone

1. Draw an oval

2. Find the center of the oval and make a faint line from the center up into the paper above the circle. Where the line stops becomes the top of the cone.

3. Starting at the side of the oval, draw a line going to the top of the center line.

4. Do the same on the other side.

5. Use an eraser to remove the upper part of the oval.

6. Erase the centerline.

6. Using an imaginary light source, use shadow to create a 3D image.

Advanced cone Drawing:

Creating Shadows

Find an object with a cone shape and place it on a table.

Have your child use a flashlight or other light source to cast a shadow on the cone.

For the drawing, determine the source of light.

Shade the surface and create the shadow as before.

Your child can use the light source, on the real cone object, to check to make sure their positioning is correct.

Finding Cones

Have your child look for cone shapes in the real world. Not just the shape in its true form, have them look for the shape within or connected to objects. For example, most houses are composed of multiple shapes.


The smaller the oval, the more precise the cone will be. Start with a small cone until you become comfortable with the process. Then over time, enlarge the cone.

Combining Shapes

After your child has gotten comfortable with 2D and 3D shapes, shadows and perspective, it's time to start combining them. Your child should have already been searching for different shapes in everyday objects. Now you're going to want him or her to look for more than one shape in an object. The shapes can be the same or different. They can also be a combination of 2D and 3D shapes.

Have your child gather a few of these objects together, or if you can't find any real objects get a photograph. Now sketch the basic shapes. At this point, it's not important for the drawing to look realistic. Right now, your child is just sketching the shapes.

As your child gets more comfortable with the process of sketching shapes you can find objects that combine more than two shapes. This will help the child learn how to build an object, by putting shapes together.

Connect the Dots and Lines

After your child has learned to combine shapes it's time to use lines to connect the shapes together. For some objects, it may be as simple as connecting the lines. In others, they may have to use their imagination to determine the best way to get the shape they're trying to draw.

You can also teach your child to make some faint lines down the center or at a certain angle to use as a guide. These techniques will come in handy later when your child is drawing realistic images.

For some drawings, it may be best to put a dot where the shape changes. By connecting the dots, you can complete the drawing. This is a learning process and requires practice. This is where your child needs to be persistent.

It may take a long time before your child is able to draw a realistic image by combining shapes. However, in the process of doing this, he or she is learning how to make a sketch.

Making Shadows

Shadows are created from a light source. In order to learn about shadows you'll need to start creating them. This can be done using any light source.

The Five Components of A Shadow

Light Source

This is where the light comes from. If you're outdoors the usual like source is the sun. Indoors it may be a lamp or a flashlight. The light source is usually positioned so that the light comes from the top of the object. The light should be positioned in a way so that it is not directly overhead. Overhead lighting does not give the same depth as lighting positioned to the left or right.

Form Shadow

The form shadow is the shadow on the object. It gives depth and dimension. This is traditionally called shading.

Cast Shadow

This is the shadow that is cast by the object onto a surface. This is what is traditionally called a shadow.


A highlight is where the light reflects off of an object. It's the bright spot. You often see highlights in the eyes of cartoon characters.

Reflected Light

Reflected light is light that bounces off of the surface and lights up an area of the object that should be darker.

Plotting Shadows

When creating shadows on your drawing, there are two things you need to do.

1. First, you need to determine where the light source is.

2. Then, you need to determine the perspective by finding the vanishing point and horizon line.

Getting a Perspective

Perspective gives an image depth. In order to create the illusion of a three-dimensional image you need to create perspective. While perspective is used in all types of images, it's easiest to test it out by using landscapes.

The Horizon Line

The horizon line is the place where the water or land meets the sky. This is easy to see if you're at the beach. Even when you don't see the horizon line, it exists and is needed in order to gain perspective.

When teaching children about perspective you want to find images where the horizon line is visible. Later you can test what they've learned by showing them photos of locations where the horizon line is hidden. Right now you can show them photos and let them locate the horizon point.

The Vanishing Point

The vanishing point is the spot in an image where the lines of view come together. Imagine you're standing on a straight road. When you look down the road you'll see that there is a spot where the roadway seems to come together. This joining takes place at the horizon point.

The best way to teach your child about the vanishing point is to take them to a long stretch of roadway where they can see it for themselves. If not find images that show the vanishing point. Don't limit yourself to roads; also look for railroad tracks and others.

The Vantage Point

The vantage point is the place where the viewer is standing. In a photo the vantage point viewer would be the photographer. His position puts the horizon line at his eye level. In a drawing the vantage point viewer would be the imaginary person surveying the scene. The drawing will reflect the viewpoint of that person. Where that person is positioned will affect where the eye level is in the image.

To help your children understand this concept, take them to a place where they can clearly see the horizon. Using your camera take three photos. The first one will be with you standing. This image will be man's eye level. The next photo will take while you're stooping. This photo will be dog's eye level. For the next photo you'll need to reach your hand high over your head and snap the picture. This will be an overhead view image.

Show your child the difference in the images. In each images the placement of the horizon in the image is in a different area.

The image at eye level was taken at man's eye level. This photo will show the image with the horizon at the level of the man's eyes. The horizon point would run straight through the eye of the person standing at the vantage point.

The image taken while stooping down is at dog's eye level. The horizon will be lower in the image, which makes the vantage point seem lower. The horizon line would go through the eye of a dog standing at the vantage point or through the knees of a man standing at vantage point.

The image taken with the camera overhead is the overhead view. The horizon will be high in the image. The vantage point would be above both the man and the dog. The viewer at this vantage point would be looking down on the man.

You can use vantage point to make the person viewing the drawing feel as though he is looking at the image from a lower or higher point. This is useful for all types of drawings. The perspective and how the object is viewed can change the appearance of the object.

Showing depth.

When looking at the horizon photos there's a few things you should notice. Objects closest to the viewer are larger and clearer. That's because perspective affects how we experience depth in a drawing. You may also notice some of the objects in the background of the image are hidden from view by objects in the foreground.


Similar objects will appear to be different sizes based on their position and proximity to the viewer. The further they are from the viewer and the closer they are to the vanishing point, the smaller they are. If you want an object to appear larger, put it closer to the vantage point viewer.

You can test this with your child by lining up similar objects like cans. Place them ten feet apart, move back ten feet and take a photo. Increase the spacing between the two cans and see how the images are different. Each time you move a can back it will get smaller. The changes are also different based on your perspective.

Take more images, this time from different vantage point. The first image should be at ground level, the next while stooping down, and the third at a man's eye level. Show your child the difference in the images.


Closer objects will appear clearer and be more visible than objects further away. Also, one object can obscure or hide an object completely. These objects can once again be visible just by changing the vantage point. The objects closest to the vantage point viewer will be the clearest and most visible.

You can test this by lining up objects, like cans. Take one photo at ground level making sure that the closest object blocks the other. Now take the same image at dog's eye level, then at man size level and notice the difference in what is visible.

Finding a Lost Horizon and Vanishing Point

Take some photos of locations where the horizon is hidden by trees or buildings. Help your child determine where the horizon is in the photo. He or she can use a pencil to draw a line on the photo. Then you can ask your child to determine the possible vantage point of the viewer or photographer. Using this information, your child should be able to also calculate the vanishing points.

Doing this will help your child learn how to recognize the horizon, vanishing point from a vantage point. This can allow them to sketch an image with proper perspective, even when they can't see the horizon line.

Using Perspective and Shadows

Now that you understand perspective, you can begin to use it in the creation of shadow. In other words, if the light source is closer to an object, then the perspective will change the shadow. If the light were pulled further away then the shadow would also change.

You can test this out by getting an object. Hold a lamp or flashlight overhead. Move the light towards the object and note where the shadow is; also note its clarity and size. Now move the light away from the object and see what happens. Let your child practice drawing images of the object with the light at different distances.

You can also practice by putting two identical images on a table. Put one further back and away from the light source. Now move it closer and see the difference. Let your child practice drawing the objects far apart and then place them next to each other. Remember to note how the shadow has changed in the drawing.

By learning how perspective affects shadow your child will be able to create images with realistic shadows. This will go a long way towards the child eventually drawing realistic images.

Making Copies

After your children learn how to create shapes, they'll naturally want to start working with more realistic images. While it may have been simple to bring in certain objects to study shapes, there is a limit to the amount of real life-objects you can bring into your home.

One of the easiest ways to start your child drawing realistic images is to use photographs or other types of printed images. For instance, you can get a magazine image and have your child draw from that picture. Now, the idea is not for them to trace the image. What they'll be doing is a freehand re-creation of the photo.

To start you may want to begin with images you can also have available in real life. Children's picture dictionaries often have images of basic items such as apples or bananas. By using these images, not only can children learn how to draw from the photo, they can also work with the real-life object so that they can see that there's no difference in the quality of the image created. They can also play with the shadows to see how it differs from the drawing. You want to start with easy images of one object at a time; this will help to build your child's confidence.

Another source of easy to draw images comes from the comics. Most comics are simple line drawings. Since some comics are very basic in nature, your child may quickly be able to pick up some of the technique. While some comics lack dimension, this is a fun distraction for your children. Drawing will be fun for them, they'll become confident in their ability and it will help them learn how to draw certain shapes and figures.

Most of the images children will work on in the beginning are fairly simple. If you want them to learn to draw you may feel the need to push them to try more difficult work. You don't want to push them too quickly. If you push too hard or they start to experience a string of failures at this stage you may drive away their passion for art. It's best to let children proceed at their own pace.

You can offer them a large selection of art books, pictures and magazines to study. Allow them to choose the ones they work with. Let them explore. If they decide to stop one because it's too difficult, don't push them to finish it. Sometimes an artist needs to put a piece of work aside for a little while. You don't want our children to become frustrated by a lack of progress, but you don't want them overwhelmed either.

If you want to help guide children to harder types of images, start by determining the types of images they like to draw. Then look for more difficult versions of these images. If they like to draw apples, then why not draw an apple on a tree branch. Don't start with something too difficult, like an apple nesting on a bed of leaves with a bird standing off to the corner. Focus on the progress your children have made and allow them to set their own pace. In the end you'll both be happier.

Making Sketches

Whether working with basic objects or complex ones, they're all composed of shapes and lines. While your child may be able to draw an image without thinking about the shape, as the images get more difficult you may need to remind your child about using shapes to create drawings. The easiest way to work with shapes is to use them for sketching the image before drawing it.

If your children have continued to work on their shapes this is a relatively simple process. They would just need to learn how to recognize the shapes in an object. If they have not been studying their shapes, then they're going to need to learn how to look for shapes. As they learn how to shape an image, they will find that the quality of their work will improve.

As your children begin to work with shapes and sketches, they may become frustrated. Instead of just drawing an object, now they're drawing something real. They will push for perfection, however you have to help keep their feet planted firmly on the ground. Make sure they understand there is no perfection and that each piece of art they create is a work-in-progress.

If you find that your child is becoming overwhelmed by a piece they're working on, help them to let go of the drawing for the moment and take some time off. Explain that after a break they'll be able to let go of their frustration and get back to working on their drawing with a cool head. It's important that they know that they can take a break from their work and still produce something good.

The last thing you want is for your child to give up completely because they are overwhelmed and frustrated. You also don't want to try to force them to continue if they don't want to. That's why it's important to catch them before they quit.

This is the stage where many kids give up. Up until now their drawings were just objects. Not they're trying to re-create an image. They have certain expectations of what the drawing should look like. When it doesn't, they may feel like a failure. Your child can be his or her own worst critic. That's why it's important that he or she has your total support. You need to be the cheering squad.

You need to make sure your children know how proud you are of them. You need to let them know when their work has improved. You want to give them honest feedback, without being overly critical. You never want to lie. They need to believe that you'll be honest with them. Give them honest and helpful feedback.

The biggest boost you can give them is in continuing to display their work. When you show that you're proud of what they've done or that you enjoy seeing their work every day, they'll want to produce more.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Just like any other art form, drawing requires practice. Since this is supposed to be a fun activity, you never want to push them to practice their work. However, you do need to make sure they have a quiet place to draw. You need to make sure their environment is conducive to creative thought. The only way for them to improve is through practice. It's your job to make sure that when they're ready to practice, there is time and space available for them to do it.

As your child practices, you'll begin to see a change in the quality of his or her work. Soon you'll find that the images in the sketchbook look more and more like the ones in the photos, books and magazines. As your child becomes more comfortable with his or her drawing and is ready to move on to the next phase, you can start encouraging an exploration of nature-based drawings.

You can start this process at any time. Start with simple images such as leaves or flowers. Then you increase the difficult with scenes. You want to expose your children to a number of different types of nature scenes so that when you take them into nature they'll be able to find scenes that they'd want to re-create.

Making Sketches - Nature

There is an amazing amount of nature-based art. Your children can start a foray into nature-based art by making sketches and examining the shapes in nature. As they practice with photos and images of nature, you can help them understand what they should be looking for when creating a scene in nature. When both of you feel comfortable, you can start letting them explore the natural world.

When you and your children go out for a nature walk, you should have your cameras and your children should have their sketchbooks. During your walk your main intention is to get your children used to the sights and sounds in nature and to help them recognizes scenes in nature that may make a beautiful drawing.

Part of the process of creating nature-based art is to learn how to relax so that you can explore and observe nature. This requires patience. Nature does not always offer up its bounty because you're standing there. Your children may not find anything they like on the first, second or even third visit. They may never find anything at a given location. They may also go to a spot and find images they want to capture with their camera within the first few minutes.

After learning about sketching scenes in nature, your children should have a pretty good idea about the type of images they want to draw. There will probably be a certain type of photo or image that they enjoy working with more than others. Talk with your children to determine what they like. If they like flowers, plants or trees of a certain type, then you can try to locate places that have those natural elements. You want to try to steer your children towards new parts of nature, but first you have to get them interested.

After your children's interests grow you can begin to explore other types of nature scenes. You can use different locations to help your children build portfolios of drawings that show the diversity of nature. Your children can learn how to draw sand and water at the beach. They can draw exotic flowers from the botanical garden. They can find new vegetables and fruit from the vegetables garden. You can take them to the forest to draw trees. You can take them to the mountaintop, where they can learn how to draw rocks and snow. Or you can take them to the desert to draw sand and explore perspective with amazing horizons.

But you're not limited by travel time and distance. Remember nature is right in your back yard. Your children can draw pictures of the clouds. They can capture the image of your neighbors hanging plants. Your child can even capture the image of water in a drawing of a kiddie pool. Remember there are elements of nature all around; help your child discover them.

Capturing the Image.

There are two ways to capture a scene to work with. The first is to take a photo of the scene and work with that image at home. The second is to take a photo and do a rough sketch of the scene while you're there. By starting the sketch you'll be able to capture the feeling you get when you discovered the scene. The image can capture what you saw, but the sketch may be better at capturing how you felt about it.

The one thing you should never do is move the scene or try to take it home. You should teach your child that it is irresponsible to take a plant, flower or animal from nature to bring home to use for their drawing. The captured image is all your child needs. Children can even take pictures from multiple angles and perspectives. The image should be enough so that they can leave the natural world the same way they found it.

Taking Responsibility for Nature

As a parent, your job is to teach your children the proper way to live their lives. By taking children into nature for the purpose of creating art you need to make sure respecting nature is part of their lesson. You need to instill a love of nature into your children. You don't want them to see nature as something they can take from without giving back. Nature can provide them with scenes to improve their craft, but nature itself needs to be preserved and protected.

These lessons can begin by making sure your child knows to leave the natural areas you visit in the same condition as you found them. That means taking your trash with you. That means not disturbing the wildlife more than necessary. That also means leaving behind the things you find. It can be tempting to pick a flower or pluck leaves, but if everyone did the same thing soon the flowers would be gone and the trees would be bare.

By exposing your children to the diversity available in the natural world you're not only giving them a large number of images and scenes to work with, you're also helping them learn about the world around them.

Making Sketches - People

Drawing people can be difficult for the beginner. People have a number of different features that need to be captured in order to make the drawing realistic. Drawing people can be frustrating and overwhelming, so before your children begin learning to draw faces make sure they are comfortable with all of the other styles of drawing, especially nature.

When it comes time for your child to draw faces, you want to collect a large assortment of images from books and magazines. The magazine images are a good place to start. Large fashion and beauty magazines often have multiple images of people's faces.

One of the main reasons magazines are good for beginners is because they can sketch some of the lines on the actual image. Your children will be able to draw guiding lines on the modelís face that can help them during the drawing process.


The face is the best place to start when drawing people. It's not necessarily the easiest, but it is the place that offers the most opportunities for practice. Make sure you have a large selection of images of faces to work on. The more variety you have in your images the better you'll become at capturing the images of the face.

Look for differences in each facial feature. Look for the following:

Hair is also something that can vary. People's hair can go from bald to long and your child also has to learn to draw facial hair on men.

Next you'll need to help your child locate images of people with different facial expressions. You'll need images of people smiling and laughing. You'll also want photos of people crying and others of them screaming in fear or surprise.

After learning how to draw these images, your children should be able to draw most people in a realistic manner. They'll also be able to express emotions in their drawings of people.

The Human Body

The human body can be difficult to draw because for most people layers of fabric cover the body. In order to help your child learn about the shape of the human body you can begin this lesson by finding images of people in swimsuits. The swimsuit image will allow your child to understand what the human body looks like.

Next you'll need a collection of images of people. The images need to be of people with different body types. You also want to choose people who are wearing a wide assortment of clothing styles. These images can also be found in magazines.

You'll want to get images of people at every stage of life from an infant to the elderly. When drawing the person you can use guiding lines and images to help in drawing the person's body. Your child will be able to learn to create realistic people by learning how to draw the body.

Clothes are some of the most difficult things to draw for a beginner. Clothes can be problematic because of the patterns and styles. You'll also need to re-create any tears, rips and design elements of the clothes. Then you have to determine the best way to convey the way the clothes hang on the body.


Drawing person after person standing still can get boring after a while. In order to have diversity in your images, pick some images that convey movement. You can start with people walking or running. Later you can include images of people swimming, biking or doing other activities. Your children may find these challenging. Not only do they have to draw the person, they also need to draw their equipment.

You can find many of these types of images in sports magazines. Use faint pencil lines to create guidelines. Then find the shapes both on the person's body and within the blank space around the body.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Drawing realistic people in action will take practice. After working with the images from magazines, your child can start working with photos. Soon your child can start taking his or her own photos and drawing you and the people you know.

Drawing people is a combination of all of the skills your child has learned. These skills still require practice. Your child should still be creating images from nature and drawing sketches.

While your child is drawing people, there may come a time when there is part of an image he or she is finding hard to recreate. When this happens you need to help teach your child how to improvise. Your child's drawing can be a work of creativity. Let your child know the drawings do not have to be a complete match. In time your child will no longer need the images to work off of and then your child will truly be creating something unique.


Art lessons are a gift you can give your children that will last them the rest of their lives. And it all starts with a box of crayons and some paper. You can give your children a gift that has the potential to change their lives forever. Learning how to draw the basic shapes is just the beginning for many children.

If your child is drawing people and looking for more artistic stimulation you may consider professional art lessons. You can also consider getting your child to try another art medium such as watercolor, acrylics or oil painting.

As your child grows as an artist he or she will want to explore new ways to create art. As you notice there are no ages listed in this book. There's a reason for that. Some children advance quickly in learning how to draw, for others it takes time. This is no indication of their level of talent or their interest.

You can't use age as a guide as to where your child is creatively and in their artistic endeavors. The only way to measure your child's success should be the level of enjoyment the child receives from drawing. If children love what they're doing and are having fun doing it, then they are succeeding.

You can use these techniques with children of any age and with multiple children at different ages. The reason it will work well is because the children will all be working at their own pace. They can take their time to practice a technique they found difficult. They can zip though a technique that they believe to be simple.

The only thing you'll need to worry about is sibling rivalry. Make sure children understand how unique their work is. Also don't compare your children to each other or anyone else. The support you give your children with their art will increase their confidence.

This boost in confidence will help them in their other pursuits. Learning to draw can also help your children academically. It can help an active child with his or her focus and give a depressed child a way to express emotions. There is so much your children can get from learning how to draw. This is a gift you can give them.

If your children are enthusiastic about art, encourage them to do more. As time goes on, you'll find that art has enriched and improved their lives in ways you never thought possible. All you need to do is encourage your children, while you teach them how to draw.