Tricks of the Trade

The tricks of the trade are five fundimental drawing techniques that an artist must understand in order to succeed at drawing. Once mastered, the artist will be able to recognize them when drawing from real life objects and apply his or her understanding.

The five Tricks of the Trade are:
  • Lapping
  • Overlapping
  • Windows
  • Breaking Through
  • Wrapping


A shape is drawn over another shape. Neither one appears to be on top (dominant). This appears in life when drawing transparent objects.


A shape is drawn over another shape. The dominant shape (shape on top) remains intact, while a portion of the hind shape is erased. This appears in linfe when an object is seen in front of another object.


Two shapes are shown overlapping. A window is drawn in the dominant shape. Through that window, we are able to see a portion of the hind shape. A pattern or shading is applied to the hind shape to make the effect obvious to the viewer. This appears in life when objects can be seen inside, around, or through another object.

Breaking Through

A shape is drawn. Instead of a window, a line is drawn in its center. This line becomes the short edge of a long shape that overlaps the original shape. Draw the continuation of this long shape extending out from behind the original shape. This appears in life when drawing an object protruding through another object.


Draw a long rectangular shape. Draw a curving line that crosses back and forth over the rectangle. Draw a companion line that parallels the first curving line. Connect the open ends with two short lines. Each time the curving shape passes over the rectangle, its placement in front of or behind must alternate. At the first intersection, erase the lines of the rectangle inside the curving shape. At the next intersection, erase the lines of the curving shape inside the rectangle. Continue.