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Keys to Drawing Paperback – August 15, 1990

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Frequently Bought Together

Keys to Drawing + Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition + Strathmore Series 400 Sketch Pads 9 in. x 12 in. - pad of 100
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; Reprint edition (August 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891343377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891343370
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This long-popular guide uses simple black-and-white pencil drawing illustrations to help beginners to develop their skills and dexterity through a series of short exercises." --Library Journal

About the Author

A painter, teacher and illustrator, Bert Dodson is the author of the best-selling North Light book Keys to Drawing. He's illustrated more than 70 children's books and worked as an animation designer for the PBS series Intimate Strangers.

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Customer Reviews

This book has some very good illustrations and easy to follow instructions.
Wanda S. Bailey
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who feels that they need to improve their drawing and need some practical help.
N. Alexiou
This book gets you drawing right away and gives you so many exercises and so much encouragement to just draw.
tivoli lafbag

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

680 of 687 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
In high school, my best friends were the Artist and the Musician (I was the Writer), and while I learned to produce something approaching music, I was never able to draw anything recognizable. I never wanted to paint in oils or acrylics, or anything that advanced; I just wanted to be able to create good representational drawings and sketches. This apparent artistic inability has been a deep annoyance to me for more than thirty years -- aggravated by all the people who insisted that "anyone can learn to draw." Unable to find a class for adult beginners anywhere, and being the autodidact type, I've tried to teach myself from how-to books. I've read through dozens of them and have spent serious time trying to learn from at least five or six, but none of them turned out to be very useful, at least not to me.

Then I happened across Dodson's book and everything changed. He doesn't spend the whole first chapter describing the tools you need. He doesn't launch into a zen discussion of the "is-ness" of art or play amateur psychologist. He just tells you to sit down, cross your legs, and draw your feet -- and he explains, in very simple terms, just how to go through the process. Look, hold, draw. Look, hold, draw. And it works, it really does. I'm sure all this is old hat to you artists out there, but Dodson is exactly the sort of teacher I've been looking for all these years! There are about fifty exercises on methods and techniques throughout the book and I'm taking my time with them. After three months, I'm about a quarter of way through the book, and my sketch book is looking pretty good. I've learned to restate rather than erase, and I'm getting along just fine with two pencils (HB and 4B) and a Micron pen. I cannot recommend Dodson's methods too highly to anyone who, like me, just wants to learn to draw!
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326 of 335 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved to draw as a little girl until my grade 5 art teacher held one of my "creations" up in front of my sister's class (she was very talented) and said, "can you believe they're sisters?". I was crushed and other than in art class, I never picked up a pencil again.
Fast forward 20 years where I see Bert Dodson's book "Keys to Drawing". I remembered how I used to love to draw and bought it on impulse. I started at page 1 and progressed through the book. The day my sister (the artist) walked into my house and seeing the drawing I was working on said, "nice drawing of Louis Armstrong" was one of the best moments of my life. By the way that was a drawing of Satchmo I was working on.
What I learned from Bert Dodson was that drawing is mostly about technique which anyone can learn. Although my masterpieces will never hang in a museum, they do hang in my home and my husband is very proud to have them there.
If you've always wanted to draw but thought you had no talent - buy this book. You will surprise yourself.
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195 of 199 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I looked over and purchased KEYS TO DRAWING on the recommendation of one of the reviews here. I don't have the resources or time for an art class, but I like to sketch for a few spare minutes a day. The book is perfect for someone like me.
Dodson teaches the basics with an emphasis on relaxation and creativity. You really learn how to think about drawing. His exercises are designed to help you master skills (composition, proportion, shading) rather than the perfection of the end result. Oddly enough, the end result of all of these lessons are more perfect drawings!
Now that I'm finished with the book, I still go back mentally to each of Dobson's lessons to help me through the challenges of creating drawings, and I still work on the exercises. To me, this more than earns a 5 star review.
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103 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Making a Mark on May 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Keys to Drawing" by Bert Dodson is one of the first drawing books that I bought after I got back to doing art after a break of over 15 years. It opened my eyes, stimulated my enthusiasm for drawing again and provided me with some really excellent guidelines about what to think about when drawing.

My edition is a North Light Books paperback published in 1990. Amazon indicates the current edition was updated in 2001 and, although I've not seen that I think it unlikely that it departs much from the sound advice provided in earlier editions.

I see the synopsis on Amazon says that it "Describes the drawing process, discusses proportions, light, depth, texture, pattern, design, and imagination, and tells how to evaluate one's work." And it does do all of those things - but it also does a lot more. He has 55 keys to drawing which are introduced as he goes through each of the topics in turn - and he provides lots of practical exercises to see how they can be applied.

It needs to be pointed out that this book is NOT a manual for how to draw in a hyper/photo realism manner - there are other books that do that.

What I like most about this book is it starts by encouraging people who want to develop their drawing to develop their own 'handwriting' for their drawing. Dodson explains:

* how we draw is as individual to us all as how we write.

* all artists combine freedom (intuitive, looser, sketchy drawing) and control (analytical, precise, careful drawing) in their work - they just do it differently

I just loved the idea that this author wanted me to be me - and not like him or somebody else.
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