A few years ago, I took a figure drawing class at UVU. The instructor taught us to finish each section of the drawing to the same level of completion before going onto the next level of finish. For instance, if you are working on the gesture sketch of a figure, make sure you finish gesturing out the whole figure before you go back and refine the line. This is especially helpful to make sure you have everything the correct size before you start on refining the nose. The drawing horror that happens when you don’t obey this advice, is you spend 2 hours rendering out the nose only to find out when you put everything else in the drawing that the nose is in the wrong place or it is too big for the rest of the head.

As I was working on my Paige and Webb book this week, I was working with one drawing where I wanted a strong silhouette. So after I drew the drawing, I copied the drawing then using a dark marker, I colored in the whole body/bodies to make a silhouette.

Honestly, I was delighted with the silhouette it made and I wanted to make every single one of the drawings in silhouette. I thought “I can justifiably procrastinate by doing silhouettes for each of the pages in the book.”



It is a great exercise to see if what you think is a good silhouette reads as a silhouette.

I find it a fun break. It gives me a different perspective. I slow down and really think about the shapes and what I am communicating and how I can improve those shapes.


Having a clear silhouette is important because it reads better for your audience. In a glance, they know what is going on. They don’t have to rely on looking closer to find the details.

The child is jumping off a diving board. Boom. The child is skiing down a mountain. Boom. the man is cutting down a tree. Boom.

Good silhouettes are good design.


Creating a silhouette from your drawing can also point out places you can improve the drawing that you might be blind to. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my moose/elk and the small penguin, but the silhouette emphasized that yes indeed the head of the moose/elk is too big and so is the head of the penguin. I also need to move the moose/elk over to the right so the hanging scarf will read as a hanging scarf and the foot of the giraffe doesn’t merge into the foot of the moose/elk.

I think I’m going to stop trying to finish these drawings and spend some time with the silhouettes before I get the nose looking great, but totally in the wrong place.

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