A House Drawing How-To

For many of you, by the time you’ll be reading this, it will be the morning of your first day back at work from Christmas Vacation. To prevent pissing you off even more than you already are I’ll just skip right over that.

I hope everyone had a delightful holiday weekend. Ours felt short on time spent with family and heavy on time spent on the road, but it was still worth it. We had an awesome Christmas Eve and Day with Steve’s whole family. My family is teeny tiny so it’s always exciting for me to feel the energy of a big family. Opening presents Christmas morning with Steve’s parents and brothers was so much fun. I even got my own stocking!

I’m psyched because I can finally share a fun art project I did a few weeks ago; I couldn’t spill the beans any earlier because it was a Christmas gift for Steve’s grandma. Aunt Shelley emailed me a few months ago asking if I could draw a picture of Grandma Hazel’s house, which was about to be sold. She wanted to frame it and give it to Hazel for Christmas, which I thought was an exceptional idea. I was more than happy to help and because I had already drawn Steve’s parent’s house for a Christmas gift last year, I knew exactly how to accomplish the task. (And I’ve never been commissioned to art anything before so I felt pretty fancy.)

Here’s the How-To:

First, Shelley emailed me a picture of the house. I converted it to black and white and then adjusted the lightness and darkness so it printed out with high contrast.

I taped the picture down (with painters tape — so it comes up easy) on a glass table, and then taped a piece of white paper on top of it. (NOTE: Don’t tape down the bottom edge of the white paper. Once you start drawing it’s helpful to be able to pull up the paper so you can see the photograph.)

Then, I placed a lamp under the table to create a light-box effect:

Here you can see how the photograph is seen with the light behind it:

Then, you just start drawing using the photo as your guide. I only used 3 different densities of drawing pencils: a very hard 2H, a medium HB, and a very soft 2B. Having a range of led helps to get the right lightness and darkness. Just go slow and steady, and move right to left if you’re a lefty like me.

Wowzers. My hands are pretty wrinkley. Thank you Macro Setting.

Once you get into it, and you have the basic shape down, it’s helpful to turn off the light and reference a second copy of the photograph for shading. I had an extra copy just sitting on the table so I could get an easy look if I needed it.

Steve couldn’t resist taking a picture of me hard at work. Notice how I fold up into a pretzel when I’m concentrating. Not sure why that is, but I’ve been like that ever since I was a kid.

All done!

After I mailed it to Aunt Shelley she put it in a gorgeous white frame / black mat combo that really complimented the drawing. I was so happy I was able to be there when Hazel opened her present. She adored it, and I loved being a part of it all. (I’ll have to see if I can track down a picture of her opening it.) A big thank you goes out to Aunt Shelley for unnecessarily paying me with OMG a GIFT CARD TO MIDLAND. Do you have any idea how surprised and excited I was? I may or may not have shed a tear. Or two. I will definitely be making a trip there sometime this week. Maybe I will finally find a credenza for the family room?

With some patience, and a little knowledge of drawing, you can commemorate your home. It makes a great gift, whether it’s for someone you love or just for yourself. If you don’t feel confident in your drawing abilities just trace that sucker with a fine point felt-tipped pen. It will feel less realistic and more stylized which could be just as cool.

As Bob Ross once said, “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”. Good luck drawing your happy, little trees!


4 thoughts on “A House Drawing How-To

    • My art school teachers would be ashamed… I just used regular 8.5 x 11 computer paper! It actually worked out great because it was translucent enough to see through with the light behind it. If you do the same thing just make sure you use a spray fixative when you’re done!

  1. Pingback: House Portrait | Homemade Laughs

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