How to Draw Anything Using Basic Shapes

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11869

Can you draw like the big-time professionals? Surprisingly, yes! You can draw anything with one simple technique! Draw upon some simple tips to learn to draw using basic shapes and your imagination!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Of what shapes are the things around you made? Sure, your computer screen is probably made up of rectangles. But what about a bird, or a tree, or a person?

Drawing simple objects can be pretty easy.

You would probably have little difficulty drawing your computer screen or a straight-backed chair for example. Those objects are mostly made from simple shapes like rectangles, and those shapes are easy to draw. Likewise, drawing the sun or a car tire is as difficult as drawing a circle.

What about if you wanted to draw something a little more complicated, like a leaf or a bird? What if you wanted to draw something really complicated, like a person's face?

Stick with drawing simple shapes! The secret is to break down the more complex objects like birds and people into simple shapes that you can easily master.

Take a look at a video showing an artist doing exactly that. As you watch, draw the individual shapes into which he breaks down the image of the bird and write down the name of the shape. Watch the video, How to Draw by Finding Basic Shapes within Objects (EmptyEasel), and follow along by drawing the separate shapes. Feel free to pause the video or go back to review in order to make your drawings:


Share your findings with your parent or teacher. Then, reflect on the following questions and discuss:

  • How did the artists determine which shapes to use?
  • Why is this an effective way of drawing more complex objects?
  • How do you have to look at objects differently in order to apply this technique?

You will be amazed to find out that all objects are composed of simpler shapes. It's all in how you look at them!

In the Got It? section, apply this way of looking at objects to a picture you like and see if you can break it down into shapes.

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