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The Natural Way to Draw

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  46,573 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Great for the beginner and the expert, this book offers readers exercises to improve their work.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by Mariner Books (first published 1941)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  46,573 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
In light of recent reviews, I feel compelled to advocate it. I've taught university life drawing for over 16 years. If you follow the exercises and do as many as required, your drawings WILL improve immensely. While I agree it is in complete opposition to hard edged, refined type drawings--it is so only as a means. When you skip Nicolaides' experiential cohesive gestures, mass drawings and cross contours and straight through to exacting control, your drawings will remain stiff, disconnected and ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-instruction
I have been drawing since I can remember, and I have been seriously studying art for the last five plus years. I have spent a lot of time focused on the crisp, controlled line and form, carefully trying to copy without seeing. I avoided books like this like the plague because I could never "wrap my brain around that abstract thinking gobbledygook."

But recently, I realized that I wasn't progressing. My drawings were lacking something important. That was when I was ready to break away from stereot
Ahmed Khaled
Sep 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
I normally do not review art books, as there are others who do better than that beside me, but in this book, Nicolaides is the exact archetype of the nonsensical art educator: Teaching you to draw without any basis of actual observation.
To give you a good idea, Nicolaides asks you to do three main types of exercises, which become harder with time, they are: Gesture, Blind Contour, And his "Mass exercises"; Problem is: First of all, Gesture drawing is intended for artists to use to relieve the st
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book on drawing that I own or have read. It teaches one to see. The blind contour drawing method was surprisingly helpful. If you check out one drawing book this year, this should be the one.

The instruction is beautifully written and the student drawings included are helpful and inspiring. People complain about the time suggestions ranging from 2 minutes to 8 hours. But really, do you think you are going to be the best you can be without spending the time?
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Simply the bible for life drawing.

Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This text was used as a loose framework for my college level drawing course. I say loose because we did use many of the exercises but we did not follow the exact progression, time requirements, or employ every exercise.

I found it an extremely effective method to teach observation and drawing. I have had the chance to be a part of other courses taught using other methods and find this one superior. I am now reading this text again after 30 years since my first reading. In light of my education an
Aug 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
The written parts of this books are long-winded and only marginally useful. The example images are poorly reproduced and fail to illuminate the textual content. This book's biggest selling point is the pedantic "working plans", which basically consist of "Monday: do gestures for eight hours; Tuesday: do gestures for eight hours; Wednesday: draw cubes for eight hours..." (you get the idea.)

One can achieve the same effect (or better) and save some money by just committing solidly to drawing for a
Terri Lynn
I read this book back in 1978 and reread it over and over. Kimon Nicolaides was a fantastic teacher of art who believed that the way to learn to draw was to learn to observe details and then practice drawing constantly. He put it like this- "There is only one right way to draw and that is a perfectly natural way. It has nothing to do with artifice or technique. It has nothing to do with aesthetics or conception. It has only to do with the act of correct observation and by that I mean a physical ...more
Clay Olmstead
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, technical
Possibly the best book ever written on learning to draw. It's simple: here is an exercise that will get you started; now draw for three hours, then come back for another exercise. When you're done, you have a firm foundation to go figure out how you want to draw. If that method of learning doesn't excite you, then you might want to learn knitting or something else instead. ...more
Rob Dhillon
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I learned how to see ... to really see. This book helped in all sorts of ways to do quality surgery with excellent results.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: visual-art
There are a dizzying number of methods for drawing practice in this book, which make the author seem awsome and his book very influencial.

However, I wonder whether so many methods are really so "natural", and moreover, whether they are really necessary to learn drawing. Some students may want to perfect in, say, proportion, form modeling, or edge, etc., each of which usually takes a long time; by busily shifting from methods to methods, however, they may not have enough time and concentration f
Jacob Russell
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not a stand alone book, but the essential compliment to books with a more traditional approach to figure drawing, with their concentration on anatomy, proportions, representation. I can't think of a better way to find one's way to a more personal drawing style, to escape the many imitative traps of representational methods.

With Rush, Peck and Robert Beverly Hale, Nicolaides makes my figure drawing library complete.
Erin Panjer
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book details how to go about thinking, understanding the world as an artist. Along with useful exercises, there is a wondrous amount of good advice, I see this book as a necessary stepping stone in the road of expression.
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in drawing
I have bought this book twice. I can't remember where or why I first bought it but the second time was when I was teaching art. It is unlike any other book about drawing. When I let myself go and follow the instructions it's just plain fun and the result is great art. ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book for years. I really is the best book you could use to learn to draw life. Despite being out of life drawing classes, I continue to turn to this book. It's a great resource to reference, it's not a sit-down read. ...more
Nero Grimes
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, but not for beginners.

"Drawing depends on seeing. Seeing depends on knowing. Knowing comes form a constant effort to encompass reality with all of your senses, all that is you. You are never to be concerned with appearances to an extent which prevents reality of content. It is necessary to rid yourself of the tyranny of the object as it appears. The quality of absoluteness, the note of authority, that the artist depends upon a more complete understanding than the eyes alone can give.
Terrance Robinson
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read The Natural Way to Draw; it was a solid read for beginners as well as professionals that wise to review and use instructions of how to perfect various drawing techniques and skills. It is mostly black and white illustrations with straightforward explanations and procedures; the textbook is frequently used by many colleges and universities teaching drawing courses such as Beginning Drawing to Advance Life Drawing.
Erika Mulvenna
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Figure Drawing Students
Shelves: art
Nice pictues of how other artists have approached the human form. The author also includes many drawing excercises along with examples of student drawings.
Andrew Klem
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book on drawing that has ever been written, and it's the only one I still own. Every time I see a copy at a used bookstore, I buy it and give it to a friend. ...more
Maram A. alsokry
Amazing highly recommended everyone !
Josephine (biblioseph)
"The awareness of unity must be first and must be continuous."

The book is (or perhaps was) one of the first books to be recommended to serious art students who were studying on their own. I can’t remember where it was recommended to me, some art forum I suspect. I was going to follow it word for word, but I quickly got impatient and instead was given an overview into creative process by a purist. You can scoff, but I think Nikolaïdes’s words are worth reading.

Each exercise directed it’s student
Mandy Shu
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, it is much more than drawing. It's about the connection to life and to others.
The practice in the book is very helpful, I have been following it slowly and now I can sketch any portrait in 10 minutes. I have done over 200 portraits sketching in the past 2 years, I am aiming for 1000.
I have been thinking about art all these years since the first day I pick up a brush, over 20 years now, and I truly believe art is not only colors, shapes, shadows but it is to share the feeling,
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
AN entire drawing grad course by master, published in 1941. Follow the lessons laid out by hours of blind drawing, more hours of contour, more of values and voila - you're a bonafide artist. Very useful. ...more
Abigail (42stitches)
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arts-crafts
Great exercises for skill building or just practice. A book I ought to reread more often.
Sep 14, 2012 is currently reading it
One of the greatest artists i know.. has recommended this book.. and i feel excited to start reading and practicing :)
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I used this as a basic text for years of Drawing classes I taught at the Springfield Art Museum!
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a great read!
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing


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Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've read this a couple of times. He has a kind and encouraging way of making you feel that learning to draw is possible.
It tried my patience because although I was eager to work, I thought it would be like learning notes and chords, then you get to play a song. From this book, I learned that drawing is learning to look.
If I have any personal quality to my drawing, it is because of this book. Thanks to the people who keep this in print.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I read threw the book but, did not do the exercises. I have read this book before and did a few of the exercises. The last time I read the book I enjoyed the contour drawing. I like looking at an object and not at the paper. That was fun. Maybe I will read the book again and the next time do as many of the exercises at I can.
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Anyone ever heard of The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolades? 1 25 Oct 09, 2019 05:11AM  
BEST? book on drawing 1 7 Sep 18, 2019 09:49AM  

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