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Demo: Drawing Bananas

Lesson 6 from: Drawing Fundamentals: Cross Contour Lines and Ellipses

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

6. Demo: Drawing Bananas

Lesson Info

Demo: Drawing Bananas

Here's a banana. You're gonna need a fresh piece of paper, you're gonna need a Sharpie, which I think, does everybody have a Sharpie nearby? Okay, great. And then you're gonna have your pencil, ultimately. So, here's a banana. Here's some bananas. So, I went to the store, and I spent a long time choosing very particular bananas for this, and you'll know why in a little bit. But, yes, I think these are really good specimens of bananas. (laughs) So, we have the banana, they're really fun to draw, and you can see how this idea of like a cylinder in space comes into play, even just looking at it, right? Sort of turned towards you, and you can see how that might relate to that. So let's take a look at, sort of a simplification. So, here's a really simplified banana. As I said, it's almost like taking a cylinder and just kinda curving it a little bit. It's actually like two cylinders, the stem is one, and the body of the banana is another. And then, we have these sort of long lines that sepa...

rate the banana, like these long sections, right? The sort of lines that show like where you peel it, right? Peel along those lines. So that'll be something to help us make dimension, but it's a little less about cross contour, right? It's more like dividing it into facets, but we're gonna consider that, too. And then, what if we did that? Ah, right? There's our cross contour, there's our see-through banana. So you can see how, you know, going from that to that suddenly just made it so much more 3D, right? And then ultimately, you know, you could even take those cross contour lines, if it's a more sort of faceted object, and straighten them out a little bit even, depending on the quality or the character of the object. These actually are a little more curvy, but we'll see. And then, it could lead to that. Like, it could lead to something like this, where, you know, the angles and the dimensions that you created through understanding the cross contour and the direction of them, could actually help us sort of manage the angle of the marks we make in space. So this is a little bit in the future, but how, you know, okay, that's fine and good, drawing a banana, but like, what about something like this? Like, did da Vinci draw bananas? Not sure if he could have bananas, I don't know if they made it to Italy at that time. I mean, who knows, right? But he drew a lot of hands, right? Beautiful hands. Check it out, right? So this, this could, I mean, drawing cylinders, drawing bananas, they give, I feel like, thinking about see-through bananas, yeah, it could help you draw hands. Like, people are really scared of drawing hands, but if you just think of fingers as cylinders, we've done cylinders, right? You think of the sections, the joints, as where you might put your cross contours, makes it a lot easier, right? So, those are some destinations that you might be able to get to by practicing this. It's really important to keep your eye on. Like, we're doing this, but what else could I do with it, okay? So, this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna draw on the bananas first. Ooh, interesting, Amy, okay, and then, we're gonna use those drawings as a diagram to help us draw the bananas. That's a diagrammed banana. So, I'm gonna show you what I mean by that. You're each gonna get a banana, and I may as well just pass them out, because you could sort of get going on this as, once you sort of see where I'm going. And they smell good. So, you know, we're smelling the bananas, we're connecting with what we're drawing, even though we're doing it in a more structured way. Like I'm, like, they smell good, they smell like they're ready to eat, and I'm appreciating their look and their, yeah, they're pretty great. Their curve and their facets, six, seven, okay, great. So I'm gonna give you each a banana. If you don't love the plastic on the end, you can peel it off. Here's one for you, and you can definitely eat them when you're done. For the sake of time, I think I can demo this, and you can do it sort of simultaneously. So I'm gonna take a banana here, and I'm gonna take my Sharpie, this is what we're gonna do. Just like what we just saw, and I'm gonna actually dial it back so you can see it, so we're basically drawing that on this. And this is how I feel, and I'm gonna do a couple lines so you get a sense of it. So I feel, I see this banana has like one, two, like three major long lines. So the first thing I'm gonna do with my Sharpie is I'm going to go ahead and actually just, the best I can, just trace along those ridges. And you might think, well, I see the ridges, why do I need to trace along them? But I actually think it's really useful, just to kind of solidify what we're looking at, to draw it. So you can start, you can start by taking your banana, and just drawing along those long lines. And everyone's is gonna be a little bit different, and we're, you know, doing it with a Sharpie because it doesn't smudge, and so people trying this at home, if you have an indelible pen, it's more ideal, because if you use something water soluble, it's gonna smudge around. Alright. So, and you can, if your lines sort of go all the way up into the stem, you can do that too. And then, we're actually going to be drawing kind of the cross contour lines that go around it after you draw these long lines. It looks like people are pretty much there, so let me just show you briefly how that might be. So we really want them to wrap pretty directly around it, so I'm coming across the top, I'm turning it, I'm coming down this side, as if, you know, as if I sliced this banana in half, and this was, like, I wanted to like slice it in very particular places, this is the line I'd be drawing to slice it by. So this is my first line, and then, you know, maybe draw three of them. It might be slightly angled, but you want it to meet up with itself again, you know? So the one in the middle might be more straight up and down, because that's for the center, but these might span out to the edges a little bit. As if we were wrapping an elastic band around it. And this is just a guide, just do the best you can. And once you have your lines on it, I'm just gonna show you a real quick demo of what I might do with my diagrammed banana. So, like, the diagram is your drawing. That's sort of a strange concept, but the diagram is actually what you're, it's like the, I'm kinda creating like an armature around it. Like this is kind of our structure. And so when you go to draw this on your paper, and we're gonna play with drawing it from a couple different angles, you're really paying attention to the shape of the banana, but then, like, depending on its angle in space, how these lines wrap around it, and that's gonna again, kind of like the cylinder, and kind of like the egg, gonna help you create more dimension. So we'll try it. So let me just do a quick sketch, here, to show you how I might move into it. And the fun thing, we have enough time, I think, to be able to do a few studies of this, because this is sort of the culmination of the things we've talked about. So that'll be nice, to get a chance to do that. Alright, so I'm holding, you can either prop the banana, or you can hold the banana, like you can do it any way you want. You're gonna do a couple different versions of it. So I'm just gonna, for my sake, hold the banana like this, and I find, you know, if you hold it directly in front of you like this, with no sort of angle, sometimes it's harder to wrap the lines around, they feel kind of flat. But if you hold it with a little bit of an angle, the first thing I'm gonna do is just draw sort of the gesture, sort of the curve of the banana, just to get that in there. And then initially, I'm just gonna focus on the basic shape, the outline of the banana, which is, remember, just a cylinder. But it's a curved cylinder. So if we remember, if we took a cylinder, and curved it, right, there'd be this sense of having the opening on the side, and the closing on that side. So we're sort of echoing the cylinder shape, and it doesn't have to be exact, in any shape of the imagination, but we can start to just get at least a little sense of the outer shape, and then once we have that, we can say, oh, well, here's one of these long lines that I drew, and then you can just start drawing the diagram on top of your banana, on your drawing, and I really only see, really like one of these long lines, so I'm gonna then go in and start to draw the lines that wrap across. So you see, if I come across the top and come down the side, suddenly I have a top and a side, and that creates dimensionality. I'm actually working a little bit with the flatness of the top of my banana, because it does have that character. But if you prefer to work a little bit more with this idea of an ellipse, you can do that too. Does that make sense? Great, alright, so let's diagram a banana, go for it. So try your first one, make an overall outline, and it could be actual size if you wanna work kinda loosely, or it can be smaller, it's okay. And then you can start to play. Once you have your outline, and again, really, if it helps you first to draw sort of a curved cylinder and then make it into a banana, you can do that. Once you have the basic shape, and you have the long edges that come through it, then from there, you can start to wrap the cross contour lines around it, to really give it dimension. And again, in our practice pages, we have bananas that you can trace from different angles, and kinda practice this idea, which, you know, again, we often have bananas in our households, so you certainly can, these are great forms to practice this idea of dimension with. And just like when we just started with the eggs, and you really saw how that line wrapped around the whole form, and then when we went into our cylinders, and you saw that, really think about, what's happening here? What direction is that line going in? You know, maybe the Sharpie drawing isn't perfect, but you can still imply these concepts that help us move around and help us create dimension. Always thinking kind of ellipse, always thinking like, what's the angle of the ellipse, what's the angle of the form in space? And this implied diagram is helping us just to give us some guidelines for the drawing. And again, if it helps you to think about it, just as our basic ellipses, which is pretty much what we've been doing, that's totally great and fine, but if you wanna then maybe work a little more observationally from what's really happening in front of you, you can start to see how some of these lines don't feel like consistent smooth ellipses, right? They feel a little bit more faceted, or a little bit more architectural in a way, depending on your banana. So my banana choosing checklist was about having strong lines, right, and dimensionality, because some bananas are very smooth, but all of these had some very nice facets to them, so I thought that would be easier, easier to work with. You are where you are with your first one, and just, why don't you go ahead and shift it to another position, just so you can get the variety? So this is not so much about necessarily having the time to make a finished sketch, but to have the time to experiment, and just push yourself to see it from different angles. So shift it in space, maybe prop it in a different way, see about turning it to a different angle, and see what can happen in that case. And again, if you feel that you wanna take the challenge and create that see-through quality, you could bring the line all the way through. And think about line quality, think about, your drawings will be more organic, but you're drawing a diagram, not something organic, so there might be a combination of lines here, some of them having more of an organic quality that relate directly to the banana, to the skin, and other ones that might have a more kind of industrial quality, which might relate to the diagram we've implied on the banana. And the great thing about drawing fruit is that you can increase its complexity just organically by the fact that, let's say you decide, you know, I really love drawing those bananas, I wanna try more of them. So you could start a sketchbook, like a fruit sketchbook, and you could start to draw, like, a banana a day. And then, as the bananas get ready to ripen, as they ripen and they're ready to eat, you could start to play with cutting the bananas, and drawing them in cut shapes, or peeling the banana, right, and drawing that, which would bring it up to a more complex type of drawing. So I really love drawing food, and I love drawing different variations on food, so for instance, like you would have an orange, and draw the orange, or draw a lemon, and then what happens when you cut into it, or turn it into wedges. So we have these organic geometric shapes right there for us, which are really fun to work with. So working in a series, like a series of fruit, practice these ideas, is a way to develop our practice, and a way to create something to come back to, to keep us going with it, and we're always looking for that. Ask yourself if you've made lines that are very dark, or made lines very light. Ask yourself if you've made line variety, and also how you're applying these ideas of ellipses and cross contour, and all the things we've learned, how that's helping to feed this drawing. So it's a layering of information, this, again, being like the crescendo of all of these ideas, and a really nice place to practice. So we're gonna draw this for another two minutes, and then I'm gonna demonstrate a little bit about what the next steps might be in a drawing like this, and then we're going to talk a little bit about what your next steps might be, moving on to some additional ideas about drawing. Okay, so I wanna talk a little, and you guys can keep sketching a little bit, but I wanna talk just a little bit about beyond the dimension and creating dimension, I mean, chances are, a finished drawing of a banana in your eyes wouldn't include a lot of these diagrammatic lines, right? I mean, it helps to get it started, and it helps to visualize it, but where would you go from here? So one thing about that would be how something I mentioned a little bit earlier, which is demonstrated up here, but I wanna demonstrate it a little bit as well, and we're not really talking about tonal rendering yet, but I wanted to say how this might relay into that, for future ideas. So what I'm gonna demonstrate here on this paper, with this idea in mind, is if light was coming down from this direction, upper right, and let's say, you know, remember my simplified, my most simplified cylindrical form, which is sort of a motif that sort of I felt echoed in the most simple way what was going on with this particular banana, right? So this a bit of a curved cylinder, and light is coming down from the top and hitting this, and I knew that the cross contour lines in this case were gonna be, because of its angle, wrapping around like this, and wrapping around like this, down the line, what that helps me with is that if I wanted to start building tonality and three dimensionality on this curved cylinder, what I could do is rather than, like, scribbling in dark any which way, I could actually mindfully wrap my shadow lines in the direction of these cross contour lines, and in doing so, because if the light's coming from here, the shadow's gonna be, this is the shadow side. In doing so, I could not only create light and shadow, but I'd also be creating dimension. I'd be helping to reinforce the dimension of it by putting my hatch lines here, my curved lines, in the absolute direction of my cross contour. Does that make sense? Right, so it's really useful in that way. So that would be a really curved form, but let's say if I wanted to work with something a little bit more faceted, like this banana, if we took this cylinder and made it into the banana, light would be falling on the top plane, but I know that these cross contour lines come around, so that if I was gonna go ahead and put my shadow area in, I could follow the direction of this and this, and help create that shadow plane by really paying attention to the direction of those lines in space. So this is sort of where it would go in the future. This is where, you know, when we look at the, if we go back to the slides and we look at how da Vinci worked with it, we can see that there was like a real directionality to the marks, right? There's a directionality based on the form that sort of helps to create more of a three dimensional quality to things. So that's how we can apply it. How did your bananas feel? Good? Yeah? Alright, so this is just, again, like building the layers and building, kind of applying things a little bit more sophisticatedly, and again, I encourage you to continue to experiment with bananas, with fruit, with cylinders. I mean, the more you look in your own household, the more you'll find things, right? You'll say, wow, I don't think I've got anything to draw to practice this, but then you look and you're like, almost everything that I have is a way to practice this, right? So let's talk about what we did. We turned 3D forms in space, we worked with eggs and cylinders and bananas and cups, and we used cross contour lines to wrap around them, to create more three dimensionality. We learned how to draw and measure the height and width of ellipses, we practiced that, and it takes some practice, but really, saying, you know, I think that the height of that is about half of the width, and just in noticing that, it helps you to draw the ellipses. And then applying knowledge of ellipses to drawing eggs, cylinders, coffee cups and bananas, and then anything else that you feel inspired to draw, just notice the round things. Notice how you can work with that and practice that. The next steps from here would be working with perspectives and angles, so I've sort of, you know, on purpose chosen things that are rounded for this lesson. But the upcoming lessons will have to do with more block-like shapes, and how both one point and two point perspective come into play when you're starting to establish these blocks in space, and how they hit the ground, and again, working with really simple forms, and practicing that, which could absolutely lead to the ability to draw something like that. (laughs) It's true, you laugh, but this is a really cool view that I drew from the top of this building, looking up the hill, and there it is. It's all made of blocks, right? I mean, really. So this is reiterating this idea of, like, you gotta go for the basic shapes. You've gotta go for the simple shapes, and then it's just your building blocks, literally in this case, right? To help create a realized drawing. So, you know, keep on drawing, keep a sketchbook, do a series. Really, it's super fun to have a series of drawings that relate to something. Whether it's fruit, or something, do a series of rounded objects. And just do one a day, or do one a week, and just keep things out, use the practice sheets. Just keep drawing. Over time, you'll see your skills develop, and you'll notice how you start to get much, it gets much easier to apply these cross contour lines and create dimension. So it's been fabulous having you, thank you so much for watching, and keep on drawing! (applause)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Drawing Basics 2: Practice Pages

Ratings and Reviews

Melisa Williams

I am taking all of Amy's beginner drawing classes. I like them because her approach is really concise and just very helpful. I am learning lots of techniques. I was one of those "I don't have talent" people and this makes me realize it's a skill anyone can learn if they want to. Thanks Amy!!


A great course to learn how an artist visualizes objects to make their drawings look 3-dimensional on a 2-dimensional surface (such as your paper). Awesome!

Joy Hunter

I've SO wanted to learn to draw and have tried different things, I've tried tracing photos, creating a grid and then putting in the lines section by section, but this is teaching us more - the ideas behind just the mechanics. I love she tells us to feel a connection with the objects we're drawing. I really feel like I'm getting better.

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