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close this book Tools for teaching - A visual aids workshop, and instruction manual for health educators
close this folder Session 1. Introduction to the visual aids workshop
close this folder Handout 1.4.1 - Principles of communication design (Supplementary learning materials)
View the document Design considerations
View the document Some notes on drawing
View the document Technical tips
View the document Lettering guide

Some notes on drawing

No one is born knowing how to draw. It is a learned skill. Like playing a sport or mastering a musical instrument, it's a matter of practice. People who draw well do so because they draw alot. They also know some "tricks of the trade". You can learn some of these tricks, too.

First of all, don't be afraid to copy or trace. Everybody does it. Keep a file of useful images, things you may have to draw frequently. That way you won't have to launch a major search every time you need to draw a tricycle or a carabao.

Don't pay someone else to do your drawing for you. Not only does that defeat the purpose of keeping these visual aids low-cost, you will probably have to modify your visual aid at least once during the process of developing and testing it. If you have paid to have a drawing made, you'll be reluctant to toss it out and start again. If you have a friend who is willing to help you out for free, that's great. Explain to him or her that the drawing will most likely have to be revised once or twice during the development process.

It would be best if you could learn how to draw yourself. It isn't hard to do. The following guidelines will help you get started.



1) First make a rough sketch of the general shape and position of the body. Think about how the body parts work.

2) Place a piece of tracing paper over the rough sketch and trace the body outline, refining the contour. Draw the body naked first. Then add clothes and hair.



3) Your people will look more real if the proportions are correct. Use the scale below to check your drawings.


• A child's head is larger, relative to body size, than an adult's.

• A child's legs are shorter, relative to body size, than an adult's.

• The halfway mark (broken line) is lower down on an adult's body than on the child's.



4) To connote movement, place the body axis on a diagonal.




1) Draw a circle for the skull. Then add a jawline.

2) Keep the distance from eyes to nose about equal to that from nose to chin. Children's faces are smaller, relative to head size than adults'. The lower you put the line of the eyes, the smaller the jaw should be, and the younger the child you draw will look.




3) Change expressions by changing the shape of the eyebrows and the mouth.




Your drawings will appear more realistic if they give the illusion of depth in space. This is accomplished by drawing the people and objects in the foreground larger than the people and objects in the background. The further away something is, the smaller it appears. To keep the scale of all the people and objects in relation to one another, you must draw them in perspective.

1) Draw the figure in the foreground (the part of the picture that appears closest to you) first. This will establish the scale of everything else you draw.

2) Establish the horizon line. This is a horizontal line at the eye level of the viewer beyond which one can see no further.

3) Place a vanishing point on the horizon line. The vanishing point is that spot on the horizon where all lines appear to converge and then vanish. Think about looking as far as you can down a straight road. The edges of the road seem to get closer and closer together until they come to a point and disappear on the horizon. The vanishing point may be placed anywhere on the horizon line. All lines going back in space will converge at this point.

4) Use a straight edge to draw a line from the top of the figure's head to the vanishing point. Draw another line from the bottom of the figure's feet to the vanishing point. Figures the same height as the foreground figure will always be bounded by these two lines regardless of where in the picture they are placed.

Vanishing point

5) Buildings, furniture, vehicles, etc. can be thought of as boxes and constructed accordingly. The placement of the horizon line and vanishing point are arbitrary. The high horizon line in this first drawing of a chair represents an adult's point of view.

Adult’s point of view


The low horizon line in this second drawing of the same chair represents the way a child standing several feet to the adult's right would see the same scene.

Child’s point of view


REMEMBER: All lines going back in space converge at the vanishing point. All horizontal lines are parallel to the horizon line. All vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizon line.

Constructing a picture using a single vanishing point is called one-point perspective.

One-point perspective works fine so long as all the objects in the picture are presented straight on. If, however, you wish to show a house or a bench (for example) angled toward the viewer you will have to use two-point perspective. This means you must put two vanishing points on the horizon line.

Two-point perspective


1) Draw a horizon line.

2) Position the two vanishing points on the horizon line leaving plenty of room between the two points.

• All the objects in the picture must be drawn between the two vanishing points.

• A general guideline is to place one vanishing point on the horizon line near the edge of the drawing. The second vanishing point is established on an extension of the horizon line beyond the edge of the paper.

Edge of a paper


• Tape the drawing to the table. Lay a T-square or other straight edge along the horizon line and mark the second vanishing point on a small piece of tape stuck to the table.

• The right hand vanishing point in the drawing of the house and bench was positioned 4" to the right of the building.

3) With the exception of vertical lines, all the rest of the lines in the drawing converge on one or the other vanishing points.

Always work up your drawings and designs with pencil on tracing or brown paper before attempting to do them in ink on poster board. You won't feel so guilty when you make a mistake and have to start all over again.