Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad

Draw Squad book

Our entire life has been made better by using Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration but I could easily say that this has been the most loved, used, and admired book in our art instruction courses over the past ten years. All three of my boys have worked their way through this art instruction book at least once.

Learning to draw can be an adventure. For my boys it has always been about making things look real.  They wanted realistic cars, planes, houses, and animals. They wanted results! In my searching, I found Mark Kistler and his Draw Squad book.  This book helped my children to get past stick figure drawing and sparked their continued interest in learning to draw even more proficiently.

Each lesson has a drawing challenge that you can keep track of on the provided progress sheet.

Each lesson has a drawing challenge that you can keep track of on the provided progress sheet.

How is the Book Set -Up?
First Mark Kistler describes what he calls the Ten Key Words of Drawing. These include foreshortening, shading, surface, size, contour lines, overlapping, density, shadows, attitude, and daily use. These ideas are thoroughly covered in the Draw Squad book for your child to learn and then apply in their everyday drawing. These words are now a part of our art vocabulary. Working with these concepts in their own drawings, they can easily see how other artists use these tools and concepts in their paintings.

Each lesson gives you step-by-step instruction.

Each lesson gives you step-by-step instruction.

There are 30 drawing lessons in this particular book and they each are structured in a way that easily breaks down the steps to understanding the lesson’s concept and then the lesson helps your child apply the concept to his own ideas. Learning to draw is like learning a new language and Mark Kistler gives us the vocabulary and tools to speak a new “drawing” language in a fun and creative way.

How Long Does it Take?

We could easily complete a lesson each week so this book has a whole year’s worth of drawing lessons. We worked through the complete book in the 4th grade and then again in the 7th grade just for fun.

What Supplies Do You Need?

The book is set up like a workbook where you can actually make many of the drawings right on the pages. We have preferred over the years to do our actual sketching on drawing paper. This means the only supplies you will need are a stash of paper and some good old number two pencils.

I like to keep the completed drawings in a three ring binder. A one inch or perhaps a one and half inch size is enough to hold all those wonderful drawings your child will make in a year’s time.

After the lesson, Mark Kistler challenges the kids to draw something from their own imagination using the lessons concepts.

After the lesson, Mark Kistler challenges the kids to draw something from their own imagination using the lesson's concepts.

Do I Need To Know How To Draw?

Mark Kistler can help anyone learn to draw. His style is easy to follow, encouraging you to learn the basics alongside your child if you have the desire. Draw Squad makes the process fun and so simple that you will feel successful after the very first lesson. The book is also very easily used independently by a middle school child.

My kids had fun learning to draw using Draw Squad!

My kids had fun learning to draw using Draw Squad!

What Do I Like Best About This Book?

As each of my children worked through this drawing book,  I could see the lesson concepts reflected into their other artwork. Many people look at Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad and see a cartooning book, but the cartoon qualities are just the beginning and a vehicle for learning the way to make things look real when you sketch them out. The ideas eventually translate over into more serious artwork. Mark Kistler not only teaches children how to get started, but then he encourages them to add in their own personality. I love this aspect of his teaching.

When we make learning fun and our children have some success, they develop a love for that particular skill. I have seen that in action in our family using this particular drawing book.

This Book is Not Just for Young Children

Drawing and sketching are such important skills for everyone, young and old. Your children will use these skills for the rest of their lives. I have found that it is never too late to give it a try. I took my first drawing class at age 39 and I regret not doing it sooner.

If you are a fan of Mona Brookes’ book Drawing With Children, you may be interested to know that she wrote a glowing forward to Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad book.

For more information and free drawing plans from Mark Kistler, check out his website: Imagination Station

For more information and samples of our artwork, see my Squidoo Lens: Getting Started with Drawing and Painting

Written by Barb-Harmony Art mom.  She also blogs at and her business is found at I would love for you to join us for the Outdoor Hour Challenges:

Barb (45 Posts)

Barb McCoy- Harmony Art Mom writes about homeschooling their teens on her blog Harmony Art Mom. and taking family outdoor adventures on her other blog, Handbook of Nature Study. She is the author and host for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and a series of ebooks helping families get started with simple nature study. Barb also founded Harmony Fine Arts which helps homeschoolers with their art and music appreciation.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jimmie December 10, 2009, 6:37 am

    We bought this book on your recommendation, and LOVE it too! Thanks! I even enjoy the lessons. Mark Kistler has a zany sense of humor. I love how he encourages the kids to make it their own by adding on and making alterations to his basic lessons.
    .-= Jimmie´s last blog ..Living Math with Angles =-.

  • Diane December 10, 2009, 8:27 am

    We have this book from the library at home right now. Just started the lessons this week. Hope we get as much out of it as your kids did.
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..This Week =-.

  • Angie Wright September 16, 2011, 9:57 pm

    Another great drawing book – my “to get” list is getting longer!
    Angie Wright´s last blog post ..After 8 years, you’d think I’d learn?


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