Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition Review – by Betty Edwards


Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain Review In Few Words

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain tackles on some of the issues about drawing many people have, some of them could be what’s preventing you from drawing well, so reading it can change the way you think about drawing. And fix some of the misconceptions & bad habits that’s part of why some people can’t draw.

The books confirms many of my believes about drawing, specially the one that states anyone can draw if they really want. That talent is not what distinguish those who can draw from those who cannot. It uses many exercises to get results right away by simply getting the right side of the brain to draw. The books is very detailed, and can be a bit wordy for some. Which shows how much work the author, Betty Edwards has put into making it.

Pros Of Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain

  • Change the way you think about drawing. And fix some of the misconceptions & bad habits that’s part of why some people can’t draw.
  • Makes it possible for you to draw like you always did.
  • Can give you hope about drawing in case you think that you are losing it.

Cons Of Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain

  • The book is very wordy, and requires you to dedicate quite a bit of time to read it.
  • Some minor mistakes in the book can make some sections harder to follow for some people.


The whole premise behind Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is that in order to draw well, you need to resort to the functionality of the right side of your brain. Which has the capabilities to visualize & manipulate images. When this book was originally published, many of the concepts in it was doubted by many. Partly because they were not scientifically proved yet, as time went by, doubts started to fade. Way before that, many people have been able to activate their ability to draw by following some of Betty’s exercises illustrated in this book. Some of them had doubts they could draw in the first place. Knowing that her ways of teaching works, Betty instruct her students to draw a portrait picture before giving any sort of instructions, then to draw another one right after the instructions. The difference between the two picture was amazing in all the cases, the book shows you many examples of these before & after drawings to see for yourself.

It Can Help You Understanding Drawing, And Actually Draw

One of the things I like about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is how it can greatly helps you understand drawing itself. At first, it talks in great details about the brain functions, and why some people like left-handed people tend to be better artists. It also describes, how most of us think about drawing starting from childhood (it has a dedicated chapter for that). How we created symbols for different things like the sun, windows, homes, people & everything else at an early stage of our lives. How these symbols prevents you to see how things really are, which is the key to draw them well. To take for example drawing the hand, most of us have a very generic idea how it looks like, but this idea is not enough for you to draw it on your own in much details. In order to be able to draw it in a convincing way, you need to overcome this symbol system, and to carefully look at the hand you’re drawing in great details, something only the right side of the brain can do well. The left brain side can find it very boring.

I really like it how this confirms many of my teachings in this blog. It encouraged me to continue along with them, along what I already know about them from my own experience with drawing.

More than once, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain criticizes how the American education system, focuses mostly on the left-side subjects. Which hampers the abilities to think out of the box. While not everyone in the world plans to become an artist, learning to draw can leverage the way we use our brains, which leads to a better society. And in my opinion, it can be fun too.

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Useful Exercises To Observe & Draw What You See

To reach the right side of the brain, all you have to do is to follow the detailed exercises in the book. It will explain to you the meaning behind all of them. And it will feel like magic to see yourself actually drawing when you thought that you cannot. Developing the habits of observing & taking advantage of negative spaces, contour drawing & other things. Some of the things mentioned in the book are taught in art schools too.

Many of these exercises encourage you to draw what you see, and observe it in a way that allows you to draw it the way it is. Something I always emphasized with

But…… Doesn’t It Just Teach You Copying?

Some artists who read this book may feel like that teaching people to copy what’s in front of them doesn’t teach them how to draw, but to merely copy images. Which doesn’t seem like a constructive thing to do in the first place. I am against this point-of-view myself.

It’s important to note that the copying this book teaches you to achieve is something many people can’t do in the first place. And by allowing them to see lines, appreciate them, understand them, then create them makes a huge leap for them.

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Also, it’s worth noting that copying drawings that way helps you memorize the visual lines & other things, which can help the artist to draw from imagination at a later stage of their learning. Not being able to copy drawings prevents you from copying drawing masters, a golden source of knowledge you can’t tap into if you can’t copy drawings in the first place.

Confirms My Views Against Talent

The books confirms what’s probably my most believed ideas about drawing:- That anyone can draw if they really put their mind into it. It sheds a new light on the reason why some people can never draw, reason that never occurred to me before. Rather than getting into a debates on whether you can draw or not, it gives you a way to get results right away by simply getting the right side of the brain to draw instead.

I have talked about talent & mentioned the role of right side of the brain in great details in my post Is Drawing A Natural Talent here.

Covers Many Aspects Of Drawing

The book contains a lot of what you need in order to start drawing. However, many of the things discussed in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, like shading & perspective, require a book on their own. Something you could study later if you plan to improve as an arist.

Issues With Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain

While I totally like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, it’s not a book without problems. Knowing about these problems in advance is better than knowing about them after you start reading it.

Missing Chapter About Color

If you read the previous edition of this book, it’s worth noting that the chapter about colors is gone. I never got the chance to read it myself. But I guess you expect it to stay there.

Inaccurate Instructions In One Of The Exercises

In one of the exercises the book instructs you to create two viewfinders of two sizes (4 X 6 inches & 6 X 8 Inches), so that the two viewfinders have the same proportions, if you calculated the aspect ratio of them they turn out to be different, meaning they don’t have the same proportion (the aspect ratios are 0.6666 & 0.75 respectively). So you may have to create viewfinders using your own measurements (to create a 4.5 X 6 viewfinder instead of 4 X 6, for example, so both the viewfinders have the same 0.75 aspect ratio).

And Finally

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is one of the best drawing books I read. Before I read it, I thought I had a good grasp about drawing, and it made me understand it a bit more. I am sure it will do the same as you. I totally recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain to anyone who’s serious about drawing, and art in general. If drawing is something you always wanted to do, I also advise you to read about the other topics the book introduces you to.

I hope you liked my Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain review, and see you again in another review. ^^

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I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible. View all posts by SweetMonia →

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