Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Keys to Drawing” as Want to Read:
Keys to Drawing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Keys to Drawing

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  7,134 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Anyone who can hold a pencil can learn to draw.

In this book, Bert Dodson shares his complete drawing system--fifty-five "keys" that you can use to render any subject with confidence, even if you're a beginner.

These keys, along with dozens of practice exercises, will help you draw like an artist in no time.

You'll learn how to:

Restore, focus, map, and intensify
Free your hand
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 15th 1990 by North Light Books (first published August 1st 1985)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Keys to Drawing, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuirePerfect Chemistry by Simone ElkelesCan You Keep a Secret? by Sophie KinsellaIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
Best Chick-Lit I've Ever Read
330th out of 1,010 books — 2,175 voters
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-MurilloThe Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean SovernSketchy Behavior by Erynn MangumThe Collective by Don  LeeThe Writing Class by Jincy Willett
Art Supplies
22nd out of 31 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

(More pictures at

Here's a pretty good book for anyone who's thinking of picking up drawing. Bert Dodson has written it in a crisp straightforward manner. The are 55 keys of drawing, introduced at a very comfortable pace. Alongside are 48 easy-to-follow lessons.

The examples are all sketches from Bert Dodson, his students and selected pieces old art masters. They are all pretty sketchy but this book isn't about techniques on realistic drawings. It's also not about specific technic
I'm not sure if Dodson meant this to be more than just a drawing book. But the subtitle of the book is "Rediscover the Art of Seeing." And that's what it's about. It's not just about learning how to draw--and it is one of the best books I've found for that. But it's more. It's about being an observant person, who looks at people and things--really looks. It's about not missing detail that makes a person and a picture come to life. I found this not only an excellent book about drawing, but great ...more
Christie Skipper Ritchotte

Some books on drawing seem to want to scare away the riff raff, approaching art as something to fear or grovel before (I'm not worthy!). This one is a refreshing find, after making a slow slog through an exorbitant amount of art how-tos books that had begun to bleed into one another. Many books seemed to assume the reader would be in art school (or had already attended), and more than one recommended among other nonsensical advice, that one should hire models regularly to study human posing. Adv
This is the first and so far the only art instruction book that I finished reading, did most of the exercises from, will happily re-read and recommend it to anyone starting to draw. I would re-read it now, except I lent my copy to my sister and I suspect that if I buy another one I would "loan" it to a friend, who is earning to improve her drawing skills.

While Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the right side of the brain" could be slightly easier to understand for the complete novice, I enjoyed Bert D
Oct 07, 2011 Makingamark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beginners and improvers
I've been strongly recommending this book to people wanting to learn to draw - or to improve their drawing - for years.

I first read " Keys to Drawing" after I got back to doing art after a break of over 15 years. Bert Dodson's book is about learning how to see and 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.

This book is NOT a manual for how to draw in a hyper/photo realism manner - ther
Ahmad Sharabiani
Keys to Drawing, Bert Dodson
عنوان: کلیدهای طراحی؛ نوشته: برت دادسون؛ برگردان: عربعلی شروه؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، فرهنگسرای یساولی، چاپ نخست 1373، چاپ دوم 1375، چاپ سوم 1377، چاپ پنجم 1380، چاپ هشتم 1385، چاپ نهم 1387؛ در 222 ص مصور، اندازه: 21 در 29 ص.م.، فروست: سری کتابهای آموزش عملی طراحی نقاشی مجموعه شماره 25؛ موضوع: ترسیم و طراحی، راهنمای آموزشی، شابک: 9643061531
It is not for a beginner. It just teach you roughly about drawing basic.
Not step by step book. The exercises are very poor instruction.
It tell you to put the still life then draw. But how! How to start! Step 1 Step2

If you want to buy drawing basic book, I suggest How to See How to Draw by Claudia Nice.
Lee Hammond series book are the best to start for beginner.
Crystal Puckett
Jan 06, 2011 Crystal Puckett is currently reading it
Shelves: own, art
2011 is the learn of really improving my drawing. I've never had any real drawing classes or learned any technique. So I am starting with this book, which is so universally and highly recommended. I'm doing all of the exercises as well as reading. I am not through the first chapter and have already learned quite a bit. Great book thus far!
Phyllis Burstein, DePaul Art Education
Straightforward, step by step lessons to help students who already have drawing skills and those who are scared to try. Strictly techniques and skill building, though. (Perfect for art teachers who do not feel comfortable teaching drawing. This book will break down the drawing process for both the students and the teacher.)
As far as I'm concerned this is the best book I know to advance drawing skills (although perhaps not for the complete beginner, try Betty Edwards for that). I have many art instruction books and have read many more. I have been drawing from early childhood and it is my favorite way to pass time, relax and lower stress. I have a sketchbook and a Pigma Micron pen 01 with me where ever I go so I'm never bored. There is always something in front of me to draw. I draw well, but this book helps me to ...more
Artists tend to look at pictures rather than reading the text in educational materials. When used properly this is one of the best books written on the subject of drawing. The author explains in detail the techniques the reader must adopt in order to be successful.
Janusz Znany
Fajna książka, polecam.
Jun 17, 2015 Velvetink marked it as to-read
Angel Arturo
Definitely worth reading. This book provides many basic tips for drawing things in real life.
Louisiana Levy
This is an excellent book for artists looking to improve their skills at drawing. The variety of exercises in different categories is amazing. Any time I get stuck with a case of 'art block' this is the book I pick up. My favorite exercise for warming up is one where you draw your shoes. It always gets me in the right head space to draw. There are so many interesting concepts introduced in this book I feel like I never run out of new ideas to explore!
Natashya KitchenPuppies
The best book on drawing that I have read so far. Changes the way you see things and leads you through lots of different lessons and techniques. I probably would have given it five stars, if it were not from 1985. But only the resource info is out of date, really. Drawing is still drawing and I have to say I like it that there isn't a chapter on drawing on the computer.
I used this in a class I was teaching for drawing. Very good for begining drawing class. Easy to follow. Great projects.
May 25, 2012 Gniven rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
Not a drawing book I would recommend to high school, college, or adult artists. For beginners, this is pretty good.
Aiza Cecilia
Jan 22, 2011 Aiza Cecilia marked it as to-read
This tops as drawing book for beginners. And it is not available in any local bookstores! Argh!
fine book for the beginner (draw what you see!) or art instructor looking for course ideas
Mar 17, 2010 Andee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
Another good general art book.
Dec 15, 2013 Esraa marked it as to-read
كتاب جميل لتعليم الفن
cool book to practice drawing
Mills College Library
741.2 D647 1990
Me Me
Me Me marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2015
Houda Nour
Houda Nour marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2015
Cerulean Warbler
Cerulean Warbler marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined
  • The Practice and Science of Drawing
  • Drawing Dynamic Hands
  • Drawing on the Artist Within
  • Drawing the Head and Figure
  • Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil
  • How to Draw What You See
  • Drawing the Head and Hands
  • Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier
  • Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing From Life: Over 1,000 Illustrations
  • The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression
  • The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Master Reveals the Secrets of Drawing the Human Form
  • Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun
  • Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures
  • Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects
  • Pencil Drawing Techniques
  • Sketch Book for the Artist
  • Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist
Bert Dodson is a painter, teacher, author and illustrator. He has illustrated over 80 books for children . He is the author of Keys To Drawing ( North Light Books, 1985), Keys to Drawing with Imagination, (2006) and NUKE A Book of Cartoons, vols. I and II.( McFarland and Co., 1986 and 1988).He co-authored, with noted biologist, Mahlon Hoagland, The Way Life Works ( Times Books, 1995), and Intimate ...more
More about Bert Dodson...
Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Creativity Rapunzel Helping Santa: My First Christmas Adventure with Grandma Lazy Jack Nuke: A Book of Cartoons

Share This Book

“I believe that most of us, students and artists alike, ought to concern ourselves less with what we think is the right way to draw and more with letting our feelings flow through our hand. In this way, we stretch our dynamic nature. Our larger goal should be to draw in a way that expresses our vision.” 5 likes
“Art actually happens somewhere in the space between clarity and ambiguity, concept and intuition, thought and feeling.” 5 likes
More quotes…