how to draw ancient egyptian art
The hieroglyphic system with which the ancient Egyptians graphically encoded their language uses only symbols representing humanity, fauna, flora, landscape and the universe to describe both the tangible and the divine world. These signs can be used in the same text, for both their sound value (phonogram) and for the idea they convey (ideogram). The intricate relationship between writing and drawing is especially evident in some signs that were not made to be pronounced but remained pure drawings, acting as a вЂdeterminativeвЂ™ supporting the understanding of the preceding word. A scene on the wall of a temple or funerary chapel can be regarded as a monumental вЂdeterminativeвЂ™ of the text accompanying it. The scribe вЂdrawsвЂ™ the written word, the draughtsman вЂwritesвЂ™ the image, both roles often being executed by the same person, as in the Book of the Dead of Khonsumes (left photo).
From the sketch to the finished work, the draughtsman used tools and materials specific to each successive stage of creation. In his palette he kept his brushes (slender reed stems chewed at one end) and cakes of colour in cupped recesses. He ground these pigments into powder using a mortar and pestle. He then mixed these colours with water from a small jug in pots or on fragments of curved pottery. There are drawings on virtually all the materials then available in EgyptВ : papyrus, fabric (linen), tanned hide, wood, terracotta, mouna (the earth, chalk and lime rendering used on walls of tombs) and, of course, stone, ranging from the monumental to the minute (ostracon ). Wood or hard stone polishers were used to smooth the surfaces on which they worked (papyri or walls).
- NOTE : You will find information on the best materials to use at the foot of this page.
- You are now ready to start the painting of our portrait.
- We have used yellow ochre for the background as this sandy color is often associated with Ancient Egyptian images.
- The paint was mixed quite thickly with a little water to about the consistency of double-cream and applied neatly around the head and hieroglyphs.
- The borders are deliberately painted more loosely to simulate the edge of an aging piece of papyrus or a decaying mural.
Our Ancient Egyptian head is based upon a painting of Queen Nefertari from her tomb in the Valley of the Queens. Queen Nefertari is usually shown wearing the Royal Vulture Crown of the goddess Nekhbet, the protector of Upper Egypt. Nefertari was the favourite wife of the greatest of all the pharaohs, Rameses II, and she bore him at least six children. She probably died after his 30th year on the throne, about 12 centuries before the birth of Christ.
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Draw the collar to finish.
3. Hips, Legs & Feet
The hips, legs and feet are drawn from the side view.
2. Shoulders & Chest
Draw the shoulders and chest as if you’re looking at them from the front. The arms are drawn according to what the figure is holding.
It is for this reason that Egyptian temples, palaces, homes and gardens, statuary and paintings, signet rings and amulets were all created with balance in mind and all reflect the value of symmetry. The Egyptians believed their land had been made in the image of the world of the gods, and when someone died, they went to a paradise they would find quite familiar. When an Egyptian obelisk was made it was always created and raised with an identical twin and these two obelisks were thought to have divine reflections, made at the same time, in the land of the gods. Temple courtyards were purposefully laid out to reflect creation, ma’at, heka (magic), and the afterlife with the same perfect symmetry the gods had initiated at creation. Art reflected the perfection of the gods while, at the same time, serving a practical purpose on a daily basis.
These criticisms fail to recognize the functionality of Egyptian art. The Egyptians understood that emotional states are transitory; one is not consistently happy, sad, angry, content throughout a given day much less eternally. Artworks present people and deities formally without expression because it was thought the person’s spirit would need that representation in order to live on in the afterlife. A person’s name and image had to survive in some form on earth in order for the soul to continue its journey. This was the reason for mummification and the elaborate Egyptian burial rituals: the spirit needed a ‘beacon’ of sorts to return to when visiting earth for sustenance in the tomb.