Drawing is often relegated to the planning and sketching phase of a painting, where its charms are covered up with another artform. But it can be very rewarding in its own right.
There are a number of drawing techniques you can practice to improve your skills, but if you remember your school art classes, some of these can be a little boring. The creative part of practicing is engaging your imagination and making it fun for yourself.
1.Hatching and cross-hatching
The precise shading that hatching techniques produce are often used in pen/ink drawings like political cartoons and strip comics.
Hatching is the drawing of many parallel lines close together, while cross-hatching is overlaying one set of parallel hatching with a set in the opposite direction.
Choose a subject with plenty of shadow and practice these techniques by drawing only the dark areas using hatching lines of various distances about for light to medium shadows, and cross hatching for the very dark areas. Try to avoid drawing an outline so that you have to rely on translating the shadows that you see into a two-dimensional reproduction.
Pencil shading is more commonly used than hatching because far more tones can be produced by varying the softness and pressure of the pencil and the number of layers of shading. It is less precise than hatching and can be modified and manipulated more easily, and errors are easier to hide or erase.
Practice shading by choosing a subject with plenty of curves, and light it strongly from one side.
Another useful perspective to practice is viewing and capturing a subject purely in terms of the background space around it.
Choose a subject such as a piece of furniture and place it against a contrasting wall. Block in the shapes of the wall where the items is “not”.
4.Different angles and perspectives
We can get too set in drawing a subject from the same angle. For example, choosing a cup to practice an elliptical shape and curved shading. How about turning the cup on its side or upside down?
Choose a view of an object that is not usual so that you’re drawing less from your brain’s set knowledge and understanding of that item and forcing yourself to study and draw what you see
Important Steps on How to Draw
As a beginner artist there is a few steps on how to draw that you should try to keep in mind every time that you approach a new drawing or artistic project. It's often easy to become lost in the complex details of what you're trying to create, but by focusing on how to break a complex object down into simple shapes can make a drawing almost anything a lot more manageable.
Steps on How to Draw from Photos
Crop your Image Though this may seem easy, cropping your photos is a skill that you'll develop over time by looking at other good examples from other artists and by practicing with your own images. Cropping your image will help give your drawing more impact by removing unnecessary elements in your photo. This should give your drawing a more pleasing shape.
Break the Image Down Tonally
Use your eyes to squint at the picture you want to draw. This lets the image become fuzzy and you can more clearly see the light and dark values in general shapes that are important to the image.
From this blurry view, create some sketches to give yourself a starting point for your drawing. Also pay attention to the light and dark values into your best to break the image into three different tones of lights mids and darks.
Go from Large to Small
Work first on the larger details and then continue to add in smaller and smaller details. Working this way is good for a few different reasons. It lets you focus on broader details first and work on all parts of your image at the same time instead of having one area that has a lot of detail and then another large area that has little or no detail. This should help keep the overall look of your drawing more consistent because you're focusing on developing the entire image together as a whole instead of spending a lot of time detailing one small part.
Working this way is good for another reason that you may not have ever thought of. Because you have worked at adding the same level of detail throughout your entire image you will be free to call your drawing "finished" much sooner than if you had spent a lot of time detailing a section by section.
A finished drawing should have a consistent level of detail throughout the entire picture, so when you work this way you’re actually free to call your picture finished at any point. Some drawings may be more impressionistic than others because you choose to call it quits earlier but at least you have the option and you are free to move on to creating other new works.
I hope these simple steps on how to draw help you out when you are approaching your next drawing. As you evolve as an artist it's important that you make sure to take time to let your artistic mindset grow at the same time and use simple tips and tricks like the above to become a more accomplished artist.
Creativity - Expand your Artist Mind!
Creativity is one of the most important skills for an artist. Everyone has the ability to create something in one form or another - from gardening, drawing, painting and sewing to architecture, interior design, writing and fashion there is more to being creative than just art and literature. The hard thing for us to do is to get in touch with our natural processes spontaneously. Some people find this a struggle, not even recognizing the natural process inside themselves. So how can we enhance what we don't know we have, or find it almost impossible to tap into even if we do recognize it?
What is Artistic Creativity?
It is what an artist - whatever their field - uses to turn the mundane and ordinary into beautiful, vivid works that excite the mind. It is the inspiration we use to add color to black and white photos. The details that bring a sketched person look alive instead of an inanimate object.
Some people feel that they are at their artistic peak when they are under pressure, but the latest research has shown the opposite to be true. Research shows less work is created during high peak stress times, yet creators feel that they are "more" capable during that time (Teresa Amabile, 2002). So what they feel they are doing and what they are actually accomplishing are quite opposite! When you see something that strikes you as unique, beautiful, or fascinating, choose that moment to sketch it. Finish it up later with the moment in mind, unless you have the luxury of staying there - creating the work from the point of inspiration.
How to Access it
Many times original thought is triggered by an event, an emotion, an experience, or a memory. The triggered idea may begin a piece of work, but the end result may not be what you originally started out with. This will lead to new avenues, and you should be comfortable in letting your inspiration flow. Allow it to fuel your project and lead you into new unexpected (and exciting areas) of your work.
If you manipulate and try to control your work, it may become forced and uninspired. Allow it to move and flow on its own, using your creative intuition, not your analytical mind. Do not think about each step as you are working, just feel it.
When doing a pencil drawing, I let the paper sit for as long as I need to, before feeling the urge to "put pencil to paper". I begin moving the pencil over the paper - sometimes with contour drawing of a chosen form or object, and sometimes letting the paper itself be my contour. I never let time rush me through my original thoughts, which graphic artists or hired illustrators cannot do.
When someone is paying you for a piece of commissioned art work, you simply do not have the luxury of making something at your fullest potential. You are making something, but within tight boundaries - their time restraints, their ideas which you are doing, and their ideas on the finished product.
Ever run out of drawing ideas before? We all do. Much like writers with "writers' block", there are times when an artist cannot think of what to draw. Sometimes inspiration hits, and other times it feels as though nothing is ready to manifest itself on paper. As an artist, where can you find drawing ideas during a dry spell?
Many people take inspiration from nature. If all else fails, step outside and find a tree or a flower. Find something in nature from which you can explore the minute details and practice fine lines and shading. Practice basic skills by expressing colors that are found around you. Draw using the bright greens and blues of summer, or start a work in the stark orange and red of autumn. A simple leaf could make a beautiful drawing to be admired that will simply fill your paper during your mental block while perhaps also giving you an idea for something more that will follow afterward, curing your lack of motivation.
Another source of ideas is your immediate environment. For example, if after reading this you sometime find yourself surrounded by people at a park, pick out a face and practice your profiles. You may even wish to try a hand at cartooning, choosing an interesting face from the crowd and building a caricature of the individual.
Young children at play can make for a great subject to draw. Their happy smiles and boundless energy can be captured within your drawing. Other parts of the environment may offer the opportunity to try your hand at a still life. Rather than building a bowl of fruit to draw or paint, choose a subject already in your environment. Maybe you can draw the plant sitting in your kitchen or the playground across the street.
Drawing simple landscapes can provide a creative element that may rekindle your creative spirit. If you are having trouble coming up with a variety of drawing ideas, you could take the same landscape and imagine it in all of the different seasons. Try it in the fall, covered with leaves, then capped with snow. Take the same landscape and build it blooming flowers in early spring. Finally, sketch your landscape on a golden summer day. Moving in a logical direction will keep you moving, while imagining the different aspects of all the seasons will get your creative juices flowing again.
Above all, you should not let the lack of drawing ideas keep you from sketching something out. Don't allow yourself to get out of practice or out of the habit. This can lead to a careless attitude that eventually causes you to stop drawing altogether. If you must, draw shapes and block letters, but keep the pencils and paintbrushes moving to keep from giving in to your mental block. The only way to work through these times is to fight, forcing ideas out of the back of your head and into your hand.
Gesture drawing's purpose is to quickly capture the subject that you are drawing. The key to gesture drawing is to use speed. Don't let your hand slow down. Let your arm be loose and quick. The goal here is to get an impression of what you are trying to draw. If you let your hand and arm slow down you may be tempted to try and start adding in detail to your drawing. Don't let yourself do this. As soon as you find yourself slowing down a little bit, get your speed back up.
I personally found drawing like this really challenging when I first attempted it. I tend to be really detail oriented, and working so quickly really went against the way I was used to drawing.
If you are also a detail person, don't fight the system! One thing I found that really helped me when I was starting was using charcoal instead of pencil. I find charcoal to be quite a messy medium and it's almost impossible for me to get really fine details with it, so by using charcoal I was able to overcome my instinctive impulse to be overly detail-oriented.
Gesture drawing is a great way to quickly get ideas onto paper, and it's a great warm-up exercise before you start into a more serious drawing. Like any exercise - you should warm up a little bit before you start.
Use this technique to quickly capture the energy and movement in your subject. Don't be afraid to use really long lines because they help carry the momentum of the subject.
Being able to sketch is one of the single most important techniques that I use when I am drawing. Use this technique to improve the speed and quality of your drawing, and the best part is that this is one of the most painless elements of drawing. I've written this tutorial so that it is valuable to people of any skill level.
So, how can you use this information to improve the way your draw? It's simple. By quickly sketching out your ideas you can come up with a lot of ideas quickly. Once you have quickly put down a bunch of your ideas onto paper, you can then evaluate the drawings and choose the best one.
I know this sounds easy and common-sense, but how many times have we all drawn only one sketch before we begin to draw? I know I have, and I'm sure I'm not the only one! That's ok though, the important thing is that we realize how sketching can assist us in our artistic work.
The other way that I use sketching is by drawing lightly and quickly and letting my drawing constantly evolve. Again, this sounds simple, but it's an important and powerful tool that you should be using. I use this sketch-drawing technique often.
Unless every mark that you put on your page is placed perfectly, you should be using this to assist your drawing. When I first became serious about drawing I used this way to get me some amazing results.
Let me tell you exactly how it's done. Approach whatever it is you want to draw the same way I will describe to you here. Hold your pencil loosely. You want your pencil marks to be very light on the page. Move your hand quickly and don't worry at all if you make any 'wrong' lines. There is no such thing as a wrong line at this point so don't worry and just keep drawing. If you find it hard to move your hand quickly over the page, don't worry.
Go slow to start if you need to. Over time you will be able to increase the speed at which you are able to do this. The most important thing to remember is that any lines you are putting on the page should be looked at as a good thing, and because you are keeping your drawing marks light on the page, later on if you find that there are a lot of marks you don't like, they will be really easy to erase.
When drawing shading the most important thing is to understand about that it's all about pressure - the pressure of the pencil, the pressure of your hand, all the gradual and subtle pressure in between. Once you understand this, you'll be well on your way to mastering this technique.
Beginning Steps of Shading
Drawing shading is not about scribbling, but in the beginning it might be a good idea to run your pencil across the paper in a crazy, irrational way. So do it! Think of this as a warm up exercise. Once this mad dash to artistic fame is done, we will begin the drawing shading lessons. Throw away your eraser for now - you'll learn from your mistakes.
Remember that there is no such thing as doing something 'wrong' in drawing. In the beginning, as I state in my personal drawing philosophy, it's best to think only in terms of practice and learning rather than trying to get ahead of yourself while trying to create a masterpiece. Use the time you have now to explore drawing from as many different angles as you can. Eventually you will find techniques that work best for you.
Control of the Pencil
To know when to press hard or ease up while pressing lightly, begin a series of lined diagonal movements across the paper, using 'up and down' strokes with your pencil - going from light to dark, or dark to light. You can also shade in a series of boxes, with different shades in each one. This will help you to become familiar with the range of values that you are able to produce with your pencil. As you practice, shading again and again with different techniques, you will eventually be able to do this effortlessly without a second thought.
Use of Light and Values in Shading
Once you gain mastery over the strokes and values of drawing shading, the ability to know where the light is placed, and its reference to your forms or objects, will be your next step. Almost all drawings represent how the light is placed, by using shadows across the surface of the paper. If light is not used and the picture appears flat on the paper, it is considered a line drawing - the identification of an object by the use of a visible edge of a solid line.
When you are drawing shading with light as your reference point, and using different tones, or values, do not use a strong line. Linear drawings and value drawings are "two entirely different types of drawings." Do not begin your drawings with line drawings, but with contour drawings, which are simply light outlines of the forms you are going to use - the shading will work them into the value drawings with the light shading and dark shading separating each item from another area. If realistic drawings are what you want to accomplish, do not mix them.
Using Light and Perspective as One
When working with perspective, use geometric contour drawings to represent how the objects appear on the paper. They will get smaller, larger or appear next to each other - as compared to close by, next to, and far away - to make them look 3 dimensional.
What is it Abstract drawing?
It is the art of expressing a thought, feeling, or emotion without creating a realistic image on the canvas. It is much like music, in that there can be several variations of the format, and the mood of the artist can be brought through similarly through certain visual styles.
Take, for example, a song on the radio. The abstract emotion can be felt as the voice of the artist raises and lowers, becomes gruff with emotion, and softens after an emotional outburst. The music in the background supports the feelings being expressed with harder beats or with gentler, flowing notes. The same can be accomplished through abstract drawing. Instead of having an object that the artist is trying to capture, the artist wishes to show emotion or thought with the drawing. Colors, shading, and certain strokes of the brush can say a lot about the mood of the artist at the time the piece was completed.
For example, shades of blue that are blended together, along with a little gray, usually mean sadness or gloom. These shades may also be somewhat hushed in their appearance, without clean brush strokes differentiating between the hues. However, a painting covered in red and orange slashes could convey anger or irritation. In fact, it could even express violence in the attitude of the artist at that time.
How can you create it?
There are many different means by which to express oneself in abstract drawing. The artwork can be very geometric - much like that of Malevich, a well-known Russian abstractionist. Of course, one could also be very dramatic and unorganized, simply sweeping lines and brush strokes across the canvas with no seeming rhyme or reason. If one wishes to begin delving into abstract drawing, one method by which to start is to paint what is real. Don't involve a lot of detail - paint outlines and skimp down to nothing but shadows and shapes representing nature or a scene of some sort. Then, begin to blend the items together, doing away with all sense of reality by simply blurring the edges together to create a work of abstract art.
When working on an abstract drawing, especially in the beginning, one should not try to use too many colors. Determine the mood of the drawing that you wish to portray, and limit the palette to the colors that represent the mood of choice. For example, jealousy and greed call for shades of green and yellow, while reds and oranges are angry or upset. Blues and purples remind the viewer of sadness, and yellows and pinks are usually cheerful images.
Growing as an Abstract Artist
Study abstract artists and their works to get a better idea of the meaning behind an abstract drawing. Study Malevich, mentioned above, Kandinsky, or any number of other abstractionists. Find one that speaks to the heart through his or her work so that a true journey to the world of abstract drawing can begin in earnest. Without some study and training, it is nearly impossible to learn about a subject with as few rules as there are in regards to abstract drawing. It is simply a matter of becoming part of the community.
Pastel drawing involves the use of a type of paint that comes in the form of a substance that resembles chalk. You can have hard, semi-soft, or soft pastels, and all of these are good for different pastel drawing techniques. If you are just starting to learn about pastels I would suggest trying the different types and finding out which one work best for you.
One way to use pastels is to use the end as you would a pen or crayon, making defined lines and shapes. These lines can be very expressive. The thickness of the lines in your pastel drawing can be affected by the pressure put on the pastel as you draw.
Note that,when drawing with the end of the pastel, you'll want to use your whole arm to create the strokes, not just the wrist. Long, sweeping motions are easiest to make and evaluate for viewers of your work.
Using the side of the pastels to create sweeping blocks can save time and make for a more smudged look. To get the best results from this technique, break a pastel in half - even a small piece can still be used, whether stroking from the side or creating lines. Once the pastel is worn down from this use, take one of the sharp edges and use it to learn to draw with fine lines. These techniques offer the best results in pastel drawing if you use semi-soft or soft "crayons."
Since pastels are not mixed prior to making the marks on the paper, you must learn to blend the colors on the paper. You can either use two colors close together to create the illusion of being blended, or you can blend on the paper. Traditionally, this second technique is achieved with the bare finger, though there are other methods, including putty and cotton wool. If you do use your finger, be sure to clean it after every blend so that you do not spread colors into unwanted places on your pastel drawing. You may want to keep a box of wet wipes handy for this purpose. Softer pastels are easier to blend, so anytime you don't want a fine color definition, be sure to use the softest pastels you can find.
There is another form of blending that can be accomplished, though less common and more complex. Lay your pastel drawing flat with the first color in place. Then, take the pastel that you wish to blend, hold it over the area in question, and shave off bits of the pastel that can be blended into the color already present. Use a palette knife to do this, but also be sure that the knife is entire clean to avoid contaminating any colors
Interested in learning more about pastels and how to really make them look great? Why not hop over to pastelportraitsecrets.com for more pastel drawing tutorials.
Pastel is a great, enticing medium with which to experiment, and it is fairly inexpensive. If you take the time to find your favorite method, you could be hooked for life!
How is fashion drawing different from other kinds of drawing? Many forms of drawing are simply for pleasure or for show. However, some illustration goes beyond this and can actually become part of a career that requires some technical skill.
Fashion illustration is a good example of this as it is the art of literally drawing the latest fashions and designs. It is the first step in designing a piece of clothing that the world has never seen. Fashion drawing is also featured on packaging, store displays, and other public spaces.
What makes fashion illustration important?
First of all, the saying that "art imitates life" is very true. In this form of drawing, you are actually copying the view of a model wearing certain items of interest, interpreting it in a specific way. Therefore, everything you draw for this purpose has to look realistic. This means the person in the drawing who is wearing the design has to look like a person or mannequin, and the clothes have to fit in a realistic way.
However, other elements can be combined with the realistic qualities of fashion illustration to make the drawings creative. For example, you can focus on a particular application of the clothing, drawing your model in action to advertise the versatility of the clothing. You could be whimsical with your work, making the model and clothing appear longer and leaner, even sleek, with long, thin marks on the paper.
It's important to remember that the model and fashion should still appear as they are and should not cross the border into abstract art, fashion illustration does involve a good deal of improvisational skill. While the model and fashion should stay true to their actual forms and not cross the border into abstract art, fashion drawing does involve a good deal of improvisational skill.
You'll rarely want to draw your model in a simple static pose. What you will draw is that same model, staring down at the river under the bridge, leaning on the fenced edge. To say this in another way, you'll never simply draw a dog in the latest pet sweater for the winter - the dog will be featured in a parade or maybe working in an office with his new threads. With fashion illustration, there are many possibilities for interesting topics to include in your advertisement.
For example, if you are drawing an ad for golf shoes, you could choose several topics for the fashion illustration. You could show it on the step side of a golf cart as the wearer climbs in, or you could show it on the putting green as the golfer knocks the ball in. You could show the golfer walking through the field or even taking them off for protective purposes before wading into a pond to fetch a lost ball.
The idea behind fashion illustration is to sell the subject of the drawing. In other words, your artwork should be unique enough to catch the eye of a potential buyer. Any time you can get creative in the presentation of the subject, you should, as it adds that extra punch to your already fine work. Always remember that fashion drawing is still art, and it requires just as much - if not more - innovation than many other forms of art in order to stay in the business.
This is my personal drawing theory, and I am serious when I say that drawing is a skill and that it can be acquired by anyone who wants to learn it. Some of you may think that artistic ability is a God given talent and that not everyone has it. Let me take a stand here and say that there is nothing that cannot be learnt through practice. Don't believe me?! Keep reading!
Let me explain drawing theory in a little more detail. Most of us want to achieve our goals in just one attempt. It doesn't matter if it's losing weight, quitting smoking or trying to draw a butterfly, it all takes constant and consistent effort to attain these goals.
Isn't it true? Why is it so hard to accept that practice is needed to accomplish anything that we want to do? Your approach to drawing should be no different. We all walked before we learned to run.
If we want to draw, and draw well, there are certain challenges that we have to face. In the beginning of the drawing process, make yourself realize that what you are actually doing is practicing. It is a necessary part of training and the goal at this stage is not to create a master-piece, but rather to make something that is better than your last attempt. With that said, always remember to do your best, but don't set unrealistic goals for yourself or you will become frustrated and want to give up. What I'm trying to say about my personal drawing theory and approach to drawing, is that if you are just starting out - don't beat yourself up. Things will get better over time; trust me.
Another important part of my drawing theory is to remember that drawing is not always about realistic representations. If that statement is false, then what is photography for? I will agree that if you are able to make something look similar to its original, it shows that you have great perception skills and pencil control. However, believe me that it is not necessarily the best form of communication; it is just one style of drawing among many. I will however, not deny the fact that drawing realism and accurately capturing what you truly see is the starting point for any serious artist. So, begin by learning to see the subject and control your pencil.
Always remember, that when drawing something, the function of your eyes is more crucial than what your hand does on the paper with the pencil. Believe me; once you learn to break the object you see into lines, curves and angles, you can draw anything. It may help to write the old saying, "Practice makes perfect" and tape it somewhere that you will see and constantly be reminded that your drawing skill will improve with the time and effort that you put into it.
Many of us believe that it is necessary to draw from imagination to be an artist. This is one of the myths that can discourage people from drawing. Undoubtedly, some people have a good memory and they do not need to look at the subject in order to create a beautiful drawing. The reality however, is that the people who are able to seemingly create beautiful drawings out of thin air have been practicing for a long, long time and it's really unfair to compare a beginner with someone like this. The old saying, 'Practice makes perfect' is one of the keys to my drawing theory.
Like any other skill worth acquiring, drawing also requires practice and determination. Why do you expect yourself to make an amazing drawing on your very first attempt? Masters often draw their subjects several times before they actually begin to make their final drawing. If you can't see the logic in this, then draw the same subject five times and pick out the differences and draw it five more times to see what you come up with. I think you will begin to understand my drawing theory a little better once you have completed this exercise. Every time you draw the same thing it is a little different. I can not say if each drawing will be better or worse, only that they will be different and that it is up to the artist to choose which of these drawings he or she thinks is best. Chances are, that your first drawing will almost never be the 'best' one of the several you create in an exercise like this.
One last note on drawing theory: you will never have a good result if you are drawing under pressure. Make yourself comfortable and begin your learning process right now. With a little hard work, determination and help from your friendly neighborhood drawing coach you will begin to see the difference in your drawings in no time.
The name technical drawing must give you a slight idea about its meaning, but let me define it exactly: the method of creating exact representations of objects for architecture and engineering drawings is called technical drawing. Its other famous name is drafting.
A person who is a professional practitioner of this art is known as a draftsman or draftsperson. Well, with the development of technology, the technicalities of drafting task have also been automated and highly accelerated due to the use of CAD systems.
I just want to scratch the surface of technical drawing here for you so that if it interests you, then you can hunt down further information. Even if you are not a skilled practitioner, you may want to know about the basic mechanics involved in technical drawing. So, here I can provide you with some information regarding this.
Actually, the basic workings of drafting include placing a piece of paper or other material on a drafting table. Drafting tables are used, since they have a smooth surface with right angled corners and straight lines. Thereafter, a "t-square", which is a sliding straightedge, is positioned at one of the sides. While placing it, it is ensured that it is slid across the side of the table and so, over the surface of the paper.
Now, you must be thinking what the use of the t-square is. This t-square is used to draw parallel lines. How? Simply run a pencil or technical pen along the edge of the t-square - can't get much easier than that! The use of a t-square does not end here, normally; it is used as a tool to hold other devices like triangles or set squares. So, one or more triangles of known angles can be placed on the t-square. Since the t-square is at a right angle to the corner of the table, it is easy for a draftsman to draw lines at any selected angle to others on the page. Though this may sound a little confusing, don't be, the ability to easily draw straight lines is extremely important when you are doing technical drawing.
Most of these methods are passé now. These days, you will find most modern drafting tables equipped with a parallel rule. This rule is supported on both sides of the table so that a large paper sheet can be slid over it. Using this, you are no longer required to be extra cautious while drawing parallel lines, as they will definitely be parallel. How can I be sure of this? Simple, both sides of the ruler are secured!
Do not think that this is the only tool a draftsman uses. Different tools are used draw curves and circles. Remember your old grade school geometry kit? Those old plastic shapes are some of the same tools that professionals use then they are doing their own technical drawings. Important among these include the compass that is used to draw simple arcs and circles and the French curve, which is generally a piece of plastic having complex curves on it and a spine that can be used manually to draw most curves.
If you are thinking that technical drawing only needs a few fancy lines drawn on a piece of paper, think again! For drafting, one also needs exact understanding of geometry and the professional skills. If you think, you already have all these or you are ready to learn this, I urge you to pursue your technical drawing as it can lead to a great career.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Posted by Jabang George Jimbai at Thursday, October 29, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Drawing a Landscape Plan:
Climate and Microclimate
Other Landscape Features
Putting It on Paper
Designing a beautiful landscape for the home can be a very enjoyable and self-satisfying experience. With a little homework, a landscape plan is within reach of most homeowners. Before great ideas can become a plan, you must determine the limitations and assets of the site. The amount of site research determines the success of the project. Great landscape design cannot compensate for poor growing conditions or improper plant selection.
The easiest way to conduct a site analysis is to record observations on an existing plan or map of the site, so the first step is to draw a base map of the site (See Fact Sheet 103, Drawing a Landscape Plan: The Base Map, for information on how to prepare a base map). Make several copies of the base map for recording a variety of information. Most site characteristics are difficult and expensive to alter, so knowing where they exist can help the homeowner take advantage of positive aspects and develop creative solutions to overcome the problem areas.
Figure 1. Example of site analysis
All plants require a certain amount of light to grow and flower properly — some more than others. It is common to have a mix of light conditions on a site. Full sun plants require at least 6 to 8 hours of full, direct sun. Shade-loving plants require fewer than 4 hours of direct sun. Partial sun/shade plants require 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. Matching the light conditions of the site with the light requirements of plants assures healthy growth and reduces the need for supplemental water. For example, shade plants grown in full sun require additional water and may experience leaf scorch. Full-sun plants grown in too much shade will not flower well and may grow spindly.
Establish which direction is north. The sun will always be in the southern half of the sky, even in the middle of summer. Track the movement of the sun throughout the day. Make notes on the base map as to how many hours of sunlight each area receives. If observations cannot be made for a full year, imagine light availability with the sun closer to the horizon, as it would be in the winter. In the winter, even a small structure can cast a large shadow.
In the landscape, water either moves into the soil or across the soil surface. Soil water availability can be a problem or an asset in terms of plant survival and is critical to plant selection. For dry areas, redirected water from sidewalks, gutters or foundation drains may help, though drought tolerant plants may be the best solution.
If poor drainage is the problem, the solution may be to remedy the problem before planting, or select plants that tolerate “wet feet.” Conduct a soil drainage test in various locations on the site, since it is very possible drainage and soil moisture vary throughout the site. Make note of downspout locations and drain lines, if they exist. Check to see if water from the roof is running away from the foundation. Observe the site during a downpour. Make notes of areas where water ponds or moves rapidly.
Climate and Microclimate
Climate includes rainfall and the temperature highs and lows of an area. Plants grown in their preferred temperature zone will survive cold winters and will require less water in the summer. Though nothing can change the climate, this information is useful when selecting plants for the landscape. The cold hardiness zone can be determined by consulting the USDA Cold Hardiness Zone Map available in most plant reference books. Much of Georgia is in cold hardiness zone 7 or zone 8. Plants are typically sold with a label that provides their cold hardiness zone.
Microclimate is a term that relates to a small area affected by the surroundings. A small pocket area may have a microclimate that permits a plant to survive in an otherwise harsh environment. Examples are a courtyard that stays warmer than nearby areas, or a wet area near a downspout. Make notes on the base map about any micro-climates observed.
In open areas, a strong wind can knock over newly-planted trees or dry out plants that are not well established. Constant winds can cause plants to grow crooked. In coastal areas, off-shore winds bring salt spray, which can injure intolerant plants. Because wind direction naturally shifts with the seasons, it is difficult to determine wind direction and speed. If wind problems are suspected, make observations throughout the year or ask neighbors for a history of wind direction and speed.
Identify utility locations during a site analysis. Digging near underground gas or electric lines is dangerous. Phone and cable lines are typically buried very shallowly and are best moved before landscaping begins. Where a well or septic system is used, locate the lines prior to digging. These lines are seldom easy to locate unless they have been recently installed. In Georgia, all major utility companies belong to the Georgia Utility Protection Center, which provides free utility location prior to major landscape work. Contact this service while conducting a site analysis, and mark the locations of all identified utilities on the plan (Toll free: 1-800-282-7411).
The site analysis should include an inventory of existing plants. If already established, existing plants are likely adapted to the site. Existing trees can provide shade and protection until the new plants become established.
A large, established shade tree is worth thousands of dollars and should be protected during construction or landscape work. Note hazardous trees or those in poor health, whether from construction damage, insects or disease. These will need professional care. Evaluate turf grass areas, if any, for overall vigor. All of this information will help when it comes time to make important decisions about which plants to keep and which ones to remove to make way for the new landscape.
Wild animals can be enjoyable visitors, or they can be a serious problem. None are more bothersome than deer. Bambi might look cute in the front yard, but he is there to feed on landscape plants. The presence of deer varies with neighborhoods and seasons, but they have become a major problem in many parts of Georgia. If you have no personal experience with the site, ask neighbors to determine if deer are a problem. If unsure, introduce plants slowly until the extent of the problem can be determined. (SeeDeer Tolerant Ornamental Plants, Horticulture Department Fact Sheet H-97-032, for more information on deer prevention and resistant plants.)
Other Landscape Features
Every site offers different features and opportunities. Walk the entire property, looking for features such as a rock outcropping, an old farm terrace, a small stream, a clearing or a path through a wooded area. These features could be incorporated into the design.
Putting It on Paper
Once all the site information is recorded on the base map, it’s time to pull the information together. Shade or outline areas to represent the levels of sunlight available. Draw utility lines in different colors to represent each utility. Draw trees as big circles to represent the distance of their roots from the trunk. Label all existing features. Keep the base map free of messy notes by drawing on a piece of tracing paper laid over the base map. However the information for the site analysis is drawn, having it close at hand when drawing the landscape plan will keep the site at the forefront, ensuring the design fits the site.
Posted by Jabang George Jimbai at Saturday, October 17, 2009