There are plenty of online tutorials, that can teach one to use Photoshop or adobe Illustrator. I don't know how to draw, but want to develop that skill, threfore I am looking for a good video tutorial or a book that can teach me.

An important aspect is that it has to teach me how to know what to draw, from the physics point of view. I call it that way, but it may be the wrong name for the painting undertanding approach. Let me provide an example:

Consider two images: one without

wo gradient

and one with the gradient overlay

with overlay

So the gradient overlay from white to black in this case adds an effect of light dropping down on an object.

The next time I will be drawing something, I will know, that if I need to express a light on the object, I use gradient overlay.

I am looking for a resource that teaches me how to draw in this reality-related way.

Hope my question is understandable. If not really - let me know please, so I can break it down into a more logical pieces. Thank you.

  • Interesting question.
    – e100
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 9:19
  • The effect of your gradient is a well known feature of our visual processing system, not so much a physics phenomena.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 5:21

4 Answers 4


It seems like you're asking "How would I learn to draw photorealistically?". If that's the case, you should probably be looking into both perspective techniques and shading techniques.

Perspective techniques would allow you to properly draw the objects you're rendering based on the viewer's current position relative to the object. I would suggest doing a google search on "two point perspective" and "single point perspective" to see how that's done.

Shading techniques pay careful attention to the direction and amount of light shed onto an object as well as the object's physical properties - is it a very reflective material (in which case there will be specular reflections and even other objects being reflected from the face of the object) or a dull object (which will have brighter patches and some falloff but no reflection) or something in between?

I would suggest grabbing a pencil and some paper to start with; as you work with these you'll get practice ("How do you get to Symphony Hall? Practice!") as well as a better appreciation for both of these techniques.

I've always liked the Ching books, particularly for perspective ("Architectural Graphics" is the go-to book for any first year architectural student and has the best method of teaching perspective drawing I've ever seen) but there are plenty of other sources out there. Find one that works for you and doodle. Doodle, doodle, doodle.

  • 1
    +1 Great answer. The only thing I'd add to this would be, "Observe!" You can only make things look real by looking at the real world closely. Da Vinci and Michelangelo could draw incredibly realistic figures because they actually dissected bodies to see the muscle and skeleton under the skin. I'm not suggesting you to that far(!), but the principle is the same. Rules won't help much if you don't combine them with direct observation of the real world. Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 19:59
  • I would add.. Get into Symphony halls through the door.. so much easier.
    – Joonas
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 22:51
  • Definitely look at da Vinci, he was one to work it through from first principles!
    – e100
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 9:23

See also the recent presentation on the new perspective tools in Illy CS5.


For how to draw: These two should get you started in the right direction:

Draw a box provides an exercise framework that will develop your technical skills and ability to draw 3d forms.


Good short single topic videos covering a multitude of topics. a great place for beginners to start.


Now on to things that cost money:

Still on the topic of how to draw, this is the best book on how to draw in perspective I have run across. How to Draw: drawing and sketching objects and environments from your imagination by Scott Robertson


Detailed site covering perspective including how to measure in 3 point perspective. It's a bit dry but great information on how perspective geometry works.. not so much on how to draw it. good to read through later when some perspective theory is needed.


For color and rendering/light:

I can't express how much James Gurney captured my imagination as a kid with his Dinotopia books. Consistent attention to observation and physics of how light works, and how to capture that on a page.

https://gurneyjourney.blogspot.ca/ https://www.amazon.ca/Color-Light-Guide-Realist-Painter/dp/0740797719

The second half of how to draw, covering how to render so those 3d forms look 3d.



I'm agree with the previous poster. I believe perspectives are the ultimate edge for drawing same as light study is the ultimate for painting.

Following resource is my all time starting point for them in case it's what you are looking for: http://termespheres.com/6-point-perspective/

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