#MastoArtStudy Exercise N01

So here it finally is! The first exercise for #MastoArtStudy And to be fairly honest, this one is probably not going to blow your mind because we’re going all the way back to the very basics of drawing. However, no matter your skill level these fundamentals are always important to practice. And practicing this will continue making you better at drawing. When making this article, there was a ton I learned of doing these exercises myself.

So what are we going to do? First we’re going to draw cubes, and then we’re going to draw cilinders, spheres and cones. Then we’re going to use these shapes to draw some nice old timey cars.

Now, I take it you already can draw boxes, cilinders, spheres and cones. So why is it important to practice these simple objects? Because everything that we can see can be decontructed into these simple shapes! So this exercise isn’t necessarily only about you learning how to draw them, its about learning how to recognize these shapes in your subjects and use them to construct your drawing. By using these shapes you’ll be learning how to think and observe as a sculptor and suddenly you will notice that drawing in three dimensions comes a whole lot more natural.

Take this image of this horse for example.

A horse standing statically in a field with the sun casting a late afternoon glow.

Photo by David Dibert, taken from Pexels

Now this how I see the horse when I want to draw it.

A simple sketch of the same horse as before, but build up from simple shapes such as cubes, cilinders, spheres and cones.

I’ll admit this isn’t probably the most wonderful sketch of a horse you’ve seen. It’s a jumble of cilinders, spheres, some cones for the hooves, and a whole lot of oddly shaped boxes.

But these basic shapes help with drawing the perspective, they help me with the proportions, the anatomy and the shading as well (because its a lot easier to figure out how the light is hitting these simple shapes).

Now it might be that this sketch doesn’t make much sense to you, but I think every artist should try to find their best way how they see the world. Maybe you only see cubes, where another person would see mostly spheres. These things can be quite subjective.


In order for you to learn how to break down subjects into simple objects, you’ll have to to learn how to draw cubes in perspective. A simple recap on perspective: there are 3 points of perspective.

A rough sketch showing the three vanishing points.

Perspective isn’t difficult to draw. You draw a straight line for the horizon and you place one or two spots on that line from where you draw your perspective lines. These points are called vanishing points. One point perspective is a good pick for drawing roads, train tracks and the inside of rooms, two point perspective is good for drawing buildings and objects. Three point perspective is made by placing a third vanishing point above or below your horizon (below is good for a high perspective looking down). Three point perspective is great for skewed camera angles, city- and landscapes.

The big difficulty with perspective is that often the vanishing points are laying far outside of your paper/canvas. There are several tricks on how you can get around this problem when working traditionally, but I will not mention them in this post for now. If you are drawing digitally using Krita check out Krita’s Assisent tool. Here you can place vanishing points anywhere on or around your canvas and draw out straight rulers from these points. You can add as many assistents as you want which makes it an exceptionally powerful tool.

Basic shapes

Now let’s practice this by drawing a simple box with a one/two point perspective. Now continue drawing this box, but slowly rotate it. Do five steps as shown below. Don’t worry too much about setting up vanishing points. You can if you want to, but it also very good for your intuition to train without.

Five simple sketches showing a cube slowly rotating

I find this exercise quite tricky myself, but one thing that helped me alot was to focus first on the bottom plane of all the cubes and start building them upwards afterwards.

Doing this exercise will help internalize the three dimensions of this shape. Now that you can draw a box, you can use it to draw any other shape inside like so:

four sketches of a cilinder, cone, sphere in a cube and a plain cube

Adjusting the perspective of the box will allow you to draw any of these other shapes into different perspectives. You’ll internalize this eventually at which point you won’t have to rely on drawing boxes for every shape. But even then, if ever you’re being met with a tricky perspective, you can just draw a box, and build up your shape within. No matter your skill level, you’ll likely have to do this at certain points. What really helps building your box correctly is making lines through the corners of the bottom plane. This way you can easily find the center of the cube which will be important for creating these shapes.

Now, you can cut of the corners of your box as well, giving you a whole range of new shapes to play with. This will become especially important in anatomy, but it’s also essential in drawing vehicles, buildings, spaceships, robots, you name it!

A quick sketch of some kind of abstract building with cut corners.

Exercise Number 1

And now for the real exercise! I’ve chosen three images of different old timey cars, you can find them below the article. I want you to draw these cars using your knowledge of drawing boxes and breaking it down into its basic shapes. Draw a big box encompassing the entire car, and draw smaller boxes and cilinders within that box. You don’t have to color your sketch, but you can if you like to. A quick tip, for these cars you will need only two vanishing points. You don’t have to remove the outlines of all the basic shapes. It might be nice for the other participents in #MastoArtStudy to be able to see how you build up your drawing. If you really don’t like these prompt images, you can find your own image, but remember to post it together with your sketch so we can see what you based your drawing on.

When you’re done, post your image to Mastodon using the #MastoArtStudyNumber1 hashtag.

We’ll set a (not too hard) deadline for ourselves on tuesday 29th of November, 2022. Then in the following week we’ll take the time to comment on each other artworks. I will do my best to see all of the post, but I can’t promise I can comment on every one of them. But don’t wait for me, please engage with the other artists as well.

Giving and receiving constructive feedback

Now a big point of #MastoArtStudy is giving each other constructive feedback. This does not mean bashing somebody over the head with what they did wrong, but rather pointing out what the artist did right in the drawing and pointing out the area’s where the artist could improve. Now when receiving constructive feedback, don’t take it personally. The feedback is meant to help you improve. We all have to improve, that’s why we’re doing these studies. So try to refrain from making excuses or explanations for the area’s other artists point out where you should improve, listen and set goals for your next drawing based on the feedback you’ve received.

If you really don’t want to receive feedback but you still want to share your exercise sketch using the #MastoArtStudyNumber1 hashtag, then please write No feedback in your post.

Now with that said, happy drawing everyone!

A photograph of an old red mercedes.

Photo by Tom Balabaud, taken from Pexels.

A photograph of an old white and orange volkswagen.

Photo by Alfonso Escalante, taken from Pexels.

A photograph of a red truck.

Photo by Bradd Morse, taken from Pexels.