You don’t have to know exactly what you’ll be drawing to buy pencils; simply buy a variety of soft and hard pencils, which are typically less than $2 a piece even for fancy models, and you’ll be covered.

By refining this basic method of drawing, you’ll be creating works of art in no time. Want to learn more? Check out our extensive list of drawing classes!

You can take the drawing as far as you’d like from this point, working it into a highly detailed work or leaving it more “loose.” Follow your intuition, and have fun with pencil drawing.

Mastering a few basic methods of pencil sketching will help you figure out how to create various tones and textures using pencil. This post on various pencil techniques will help you figure out some of the ways to make different textures and shapes in your work.

Art Pencil drawing techniques: 7 tips to improve your skills Pencil drawing techniques: 7 tips to improve your skills

Charcoal drawing, use of charred sticks of wood to make finished drawings and preliminary studies. The main characteristic of charcoal as a medium is that, unless it is fixed by the application of some form of gum or resin, it is impermanent, easily erased or smudged.

This characteristic determined its…

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Pencil drawing, drawing executed with an instrument composed of graphite enclosed in a wood casing and intended either as a sketch for a more elaborate work in another medium, an exercise in visual expression, or a finished work. The cylindrical graphite pencil, because of its usefulness in easily producing linear gray-black strokes, became the successor of the older, metallic drawing stylus, with which late medieval and Renaissance artists and tradesmen sketched or wrote on paper, parchment, or wood.

For more in-depth advice on composition to how to capture light and shadow, take a look at our art techniques article. And if you’re still trying to find the right tools for the job, we also have a guide to finding the best pencil for your drawing style.

But remember that a drawing can be overdone! Eventually, I make a conscious decision to put my drawing away and start something new. That’s when I consider my drawing done. Well, maybe…

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I try to avoid outlining my drawings because this tends to make things look flat and deadens the 3D effect. Breaks and spaces in my lines show form in the lights and shadows.

The preciseness and clarity associated with the use of a moderately hard graphite pencil were developed in the highly selective draftsmanship of the 19th-century French Neoclassicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. His figure sketches and portrait studies were the epitome of pencil drawing in which lucid contours and limited shading combined to create a spirit of elegance and restraint. Many artists throughout Europe accepted this manner, including such German draftsmen as Adrian Ludwig Richter, who preferred the hardest of pencils and sharpest of points to produce wirelike delineations of figures and landscapes. Softer and darker graphite pencils offered appropriate effects to artists whose tastes required more freedom and spontaneity. The sketches of the Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix, created swiftly and filled with flamboyant and undetailed strokes, had a suggestiveness of dramatic figures and compositions. Vincent van Gogh chose a broad carpenter’s pencil for powerful, blunt strokes. To emulate the brilliant atmosphere of Provence, Paul Cézanne employed the pencil, especially in his sketchbooks, to produce highly reductive landscape sketches that made expert use of graphite’s inherent silvery value.

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Note: If that sounds way too complicated, you may find that using a grid can make images much more accessible. Here is a tutorial on how to use grids in your artwork.

Get yourself a good pencil sharpener. A great choice for beginners is a manual pencil sharpener with two openings. Each cavity is suitable for sharpening the pencil to a different type of tip; this means that every pencil can be sharpened to multiple points, making one more versatile.

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One of the most sensitive users of the graphite pencil in the 19th century was the French artist Edgar Degas. A master pastelist and draftsman with coloured chalks and charcoal, Degas created pencil drawings of warmth and charm that were quite unlike the cool, classic works of Ingres or the highly animated, sometimes violent sketches of Delacroix. Degas, with high selectivity, combined graciously fluid outlines with soft, limpid tonal shadings.

When I’ve checked my drawing, I check again. I have to nail down its underpinnings before I can add details. I really avoid guessing at the details; I want to make sure things are symmetrical and look right before putting down stronger and harder lines. I constantly ask myself, does this feel right? 

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When I start drawing, I plan and explore using loose lines, and avoid committing too early with hard, dark lines. As I progress my lines will change, so checking and rechecking my work is vital. I darken my lines and add details at the end. I don’t focus on one area for too long to prevent overdrawing.

Even if you’ve written with pencils since you were a toddler, though, creating art with pencil is a new and possibly intimidating step. This drawing with pencil tutorial will not only include an easy method of getting started, but will also cover some basic tips for materials and technique.

What about mechanical pencils? These pencils can be great, and never require sharpening. They’re fantastic for line work and creating hatching and cross-hatching, but not as great for soft shading as a regular pencil. If you’re serious about drawing with pencil, it’s a great idea to figure out what types of tip (more broad? Finer?) and graphite hardness you like, and then take the leap to invest in a good quality mechanical pencil.

Graphite, mineral consisting of carbon. Graphite has a layered structure that consists of rings of six carbon atoms arranged in widely spaced horizontal sheets. Graphite thus crystallizes in the hexagonal system, in contrast to the same element crystallizing in the octahedral or tetrahedral system…

Chalk drawing, in the visual arts, technique of drawing with chalk, a prepared natural stone or earth substance that is usually available in black (made either from soft black stone or from a composition including lampblack), white (made from various types of limestone), and red, or sanguine (made from red…

Although graphite was mined in the 16th century, the use by artists of pieces of natural graphite, inserted in a porte-crayon (“pencil holder”), is not known before the 17th century. Then minor graphite details were included in sketches, notably in landscape renderings by Dutch artists. During that century and most of the 18th, graphite was used to make preliminary sketch lines for drawings to be completed in other media, but drawings completely finished with graphite were rare.

I like to shade in two main ways: the first is with all of my lines going in the same direction, which makes my shading appear more cohesive. This pencil drawing technique also helps my details pop out from the lines I’m using for shading.

Once you are happy with your basic sketch, you can start refining your drawing by adding light texture and tone. Evaluate your reference image for distinct textures. In the case of the doughnut, the “cake” part of the doughnut has a slightly uneven texture. You could start by filling in that area in your outline with light to medium scumbling. This will be quite light, so to add some definition, you could either darken the scumbling around the edges, or add hatching or cross-hatching to portions of the radius of the doughnut, to correspond with the darker portions of the doughnut in the image.

When covering large areas, I shade with my pencil perpendicular to the line I’m drawing to get wide, soft lines. For details, I hold my pencil parallel to my lines to get sharp, narrow marks. The only time I use the point is when I’m working on intricate details.

If anything seems off – even if I can’t immediately put my finger on what it is – I trust my gut and troubleshoot my drawing before continuing.

Although graphite pencils provided a substantial range of light–dark effects and the opportunity for tonal modeling, the greatest masters of pencil drawing always kept the elements of a simple linearism or limited shading that were appropriate to pencil drawing. This concept of pencil drawing contrasted with that sometimes employed in the 18th and 19th centuries in which extensive tonal modeling of three-dimensional forms and elaborate effects of light and shade were produced by artists and miniaturists by rubbing the soft graphite particles with a stump, a tightly rolled piece of soft paper or chamois.

I hope these pencil drawing techniques have helped – join in the conversation by adding your tips and tricks in the comments on Facebook or Twitter.

In this article, I’ll share seven expert pencil drawing techniques to help you take your skills to the next level, whether you want to create stylised or realistic pencil drawings. Take a look at the video above to see these pencil drawing techniques in action, or read on for my expert tips. 

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I also like to view my drawing in a mirror, through a camera, or step away from it. This way, I can get different vantage points on my drawing and detect if anything is off.

The second method I use is working in patches, which help define shape. Patches of lines go around the form, which help keep things in perspective. This drawing technique is also great for backgrounds and adding texture.

Begin to refine your drawing by using various pencil marks to make areas darker or lighter, and use a variety of tones which will show “color” even in a black and white piece. Start slow, because you can always make an image darker, but making it lighter is more difficult. Pause every now and again and look at your image from a distance. It will help you determine what areas need more shading, etc.

If you’re just getting started with pencil drawing, you probably don’t want to be drawing on expensive paper from the get-go. It’s a good idea to invest in two types of paper: sketch paper, which is cheap and ideal for testing out ideas and refining pencil techniques and then higher quality archival drawing paper, which is thicker and has a gentle “tooth” ideal for graphite, for when you’re ready to work on a final piece. You can even transfer the sketches you’d like to develop into finished pieces on to good paper using transfer paper, and then create a finished piece.

Draw the basic shape of what you’d like to draw. You don’t have to be photo-realistic at this point, and you can take liberties.

Like every other artist I know, even after I’ve signed my name, I will sometimes continue tinkering with my drawings. I can always find something to change if I look hard enough, so it can be difficult to tell when a piece is truly finished.

Dance in the CountryDance in the Country, watercolour, brush and brown wash over pencil on paper, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 44.5 × 28 cm.In a private collection

The first step is to master how to hold a pencil correctly. When I draw, I use not the tip but the side of the lead, in order to maximise its utility. Holding my pencil like I would charcoal also keeps it sharper for longer.

Pen drawing, artwork executed wholly or in part with pen and ink, usually on paper. Pen drawing is fundamentally a linear method of making images. In pure pen drawing in which the artist wishes to supplement his outlines with tonal suggestions of three-dimensional form, modeling must necessarily be effected by…

No matter what kind of artist you are, chances are pencil drawing was the skill that helped you learn how to draw, and the one that kicked off your artistic journey. Throughout my career as a character designer and visual development artist, I’ve realised that having a strong respect and understanding of the process and fundamentals of drawing is essential to becoming a better artist. And what’s more fundamental than pencil drawing?

Invest in an eraser. Even if your pencil has an eraser on the end, it will be worn down in no time. A soft gum eraser or a “big pink” eraser (like a pencil eraser but larger) are both good choices, and typically retail for $1 or less.

Into the 21st century, artists continued to use the graphite pencil as a device for autonomous artworks as well as for sketching and for making preliminary rehearsals of conceptions later carried out in painting or sculpture—e.g., Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and others whose taste for basically linear conceptions is revealed in their graphic works.

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Drawing with pencil is an accessible method of creating artwork at any skill level. It requires minimal materials, and even beginners have a strong grasp of how to use this medium.

Shading with unified lines versus shading in patches produces a different feel

Ink, fluid or paste of various colours, but usually black or dark blue, used for writing and printing. It is composed of a pigment or dye dissolved or dispersed in a liquid called the vehicle.…

This is a valuable beginner’s tip: I always put a piece of paper under my hand to keep from smudging my drawing.

Although pencil drawings were much less commonly produced by artists of those centuries than sketches in chalks, charcoal, and pen and ink, the use of graphite gradually increased among painters, miniaturists, architects, and designers. By the late 18th century, an ancestor of the modern pencil was constructed in the form of a rod of natural graphite fitted into a hollow cylinder of wood. Not until 1795, however, did the French inventor Nicolas-Jacques Conté devise a method of producing pencil rods from mixtures of graphite and clays, a true prototype of the modern graphite pencil. Conté’s technical improvement made possible the production of fine pencils the strokes of which could be controlled, varying from type to type in softness and hardness, darkness and lightness. These excellent quality graphite pencils encouraged wider use by 19th-century artists, and pencil drawing became commonly used for studies and preliminary sketches. The graphite pencil could be used on almost any type of drawing surface, a fact that helped make it indispensable in the artist’s studio.

While on the one hand this might sound obvious, the question of which pencils to use is a little bit more specific. For drawing, there are far more varieties available than the standardized test #2 pencil. There are two scales by which pencils are graded: by number and by letter. In a nutshell, “H” pencils are harder, and “B” pencils are softer. Within each letter category, there are various numbers which indicate the hardness or softness of the pencil in question. This post offers a comprehensive view on choosing the right pencils.

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If you’re just getting started, a photograph can be a great reference because it will remain the same. Try to choose an image which is fairly simple for a beginning project: a flower or simple object, for instance. In this example, we’ll use a doughnut.

Drawing with pencil: an easy method Step 1. Choose a reference image

When drawing something symmetrical, I focus on the spaces between the lines, and of course keep reevaluating as I go along.

The next drawing technique concerns line weight. Having control over my line weight is a great way to separate objects from one another, and can help emphasise shadows. Thicker lines can fade and disappear into the shadows, which can help convey the 3D form.

You can make a wide variety of marks with a thoughtfully sharpened pencil each mark has meaning in the context of a drawing its just a matter of learning
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