Designer Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall suggests keeping some texture. “Some artists might find using watercolour pencils a little on the grainy side; however I like the added life the grain gives to a sketch. You don’t have to add water over the whole image. Leave some areas untouched to add a bit of texture to your sketch.”
Illustration 10 sketching tips for beginners 10 sketching tips for beginners
Contour drawing is also going to be an important part of your artist toolbox. Although lines and shapes can serve you very well for many things there are always going to be objects that you want to draw that do not have a shape that fits any of the standard shapes or lines. If you can accurately depict the contour of an object you will be able to reproduce things that have odd shapes much more easily. Drawing contours is difficult for everyone at first but it gets better with practice. Try to draw things like mugs or stuff with simple bases that have irregular shapes until you get good at it.
“When shading, use an extra piece of paper underneath your hand,” advises artist Brun Croes. “This will minimise the amount your hand smudges your pencil lines. If you’re right-handed, start shading from left to right; if you’re left-handed, start at the right and move to the left.
Use varied lines, says illustrator Rovina Cai. “Not all lines are equal. Subtle shifts in the width and darkness of your lines will create a dynamic, visually interesting drawing. Controlling the kind of mark you put down can be tricky in the beginning, but with practice you will be able to create a variety of marks that work together to make a cohesive image. Experiment with different pencil grades (from 3H to 6B) and with holding the pencil at different angles.”
There are four basic principles that you are going to have to learn if you want to be successful and learn pencil sketching. First, you need to learn how to draw good lines or “clean lines” meaning not fuzzy with constant drawing over existing lines. Lines that are wonky or do not stay straight on the page will make it difficult to create really good drawings. Secondly, you must learn how to make perfect shapes. Such as ovals, squares, rectangles, and circles, are a pencil sketching artist’s bread-and-butter.
“Have you ever noticed that every important character in an animation movie is recognisable from their shadow alone?”, says artist Leonardo Sala. “This magic has a name: the silhouette. The purpose of finding a strong and interesting silhouette is to create an easily recognisable character that will remain clear in the visual memory of the viewer.
The third is proportion. The size of an object on your canvas in relation to the other objects in the canvas is very important and learning to accurately depict the size differences is a measurement of your maturity as an artist. Finally, light, tones, and shadow are advanced techniques that you will want to learn eventually.
“The use of irregular lines when shading adds a lot of dynamism to your sketch,” Bomba says. “If you want to create a fresh and unique sketch of a portrait, architecture, or concept art, you should definitely use this technique. I use it to sketch loosely, flat backgrounds (if there is no texture, this technique will add some), bushes, or grass.”
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If you’re a complete novice, you should have a look at our seven fundamental pencil drawing techniques and our 100 drawing and painting tips and tutorials. But if you’re ready to go, here some of the artists that contributed to the Beginner’s Guide to Sketching offer some expert advice to get you off to a flying start…
“Double this wavy line a little below the first. You can already see a curly ribbon forming before you. Now connect the open parts on the sides, remove the guidelines, and add some details.”
“Instead, use spare paper to doodle a big swatch of soft graphite or charcoal pencil, then use a large blending stick to pick up the soft dust to use for your image. Keep using the blending stick and adding more scribbles as you need more graphite. Using the same technique, start darkening some areas of the sky to define the tops of the clouds.”
Learn how to do amazing pencil sketches does take time but it starts with learning the basics, teaching yourself more advanced skills and then practicing regularly until you get good at it.
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Drawing is one of the most fulfilling and relaxing hobbies you can have. Learning to draw is a skill like any other, but you certainly do improve faster or pick up more with training when you have some talent for it. There are many ways of making a picture but one of the most popular – probably partially because it only requires a pencil and paper – is pencil sketching.
Drawing in perspective is another important part of your artist education. In pictures, depicting an object close up will require drawing it larger than if you were placing it farther away in the background of the picture. This illusion is known as perspective. Being able to draw in perspective will show the viewer where the object you are drawing should be in three-dimensional space. Just as with other, more advanced drawing skills, it takes practice to get your perspective drawing right so do not be discouraged if you are unable to pick it up immediately.
Use an extra piece of paper under your hand to avoid smudging your work
“There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to make a clean-looking drawing that loses its brilliance and value thanks to smudging. Instead, use smudging to your advantage every now and then to smooth out shading. You can do this with several tools. I use a simple piece of tissue paper to get the job done.”
You might be surprised at some of the tricks your eye can play on you. A good artist is able to use their pencil to measure so that they can draw an item accurately. For example, if you are drawing a rectangular or square object, you want to measure on both sides to make sure that they are even if looking straight on, or are the right length in relation to each other otherwise. Don’t just guess but get good at knowing what the distance should be and then measuring it with your pencil.
Take control of your pencil by holding it correctly, says illustrator Sylwia Bomba. “If you position your hand closer to the end of the pencil, you have more control and precision, but heavier strokes (darker markings). Gripping further up the pencil will give you less control and precision, but lighter strokes (lighter markings).”
However, you can also hold the pencil underhanded if you want to do shading and there are other, more advanced techniques, that vary from one artist to another.
If you look at the examples here, it’s clear that the first girl is holding a mug, but what about the second one? It’s not as clear!
There are several ways of holding your pencil when it comes to using it for pencil sketching. To learn pencil sketching, you will need to come up with ways to hold your pencil so that it feels comfortable and allows you to have the control that you need to draw. The standard way of holding a pencil – between your thumb, index, and middle – works for most things you want to draw.
Want to draw curly hair? Illustrator Eva Widermann suggests these sketching tips: “Draw two straight vertical lines; these will be your guidelines for the width and length of the curl. Now loosely draw a wavy line down between the two lines.
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The most important thing that you can do to become a great artist and learn pencil sketching is to practice. Practice daily. As with any form of art, drawing, singing, dancing, etc., it takes a lot of practice before you are able to do something really well. What separates the amateur from the professional is often nothing more than a great deal of practice, sometimes each and every, day until you improve. If you are passionate about drawing and you want to improve as quickly as possible, then set aside some time every day to practice. You will be able to draw objects that you never thought you could in just a short period of time.
“To test out whether your characters are readable as silhouettes, grab a piece of tracing paper and trace around your character, filling it in with a solid colour. A great way to test your silhouettes is to show them to your friends or colleagues and ask them what they see.”
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You also need to decide the paper you’re going to be working on. The best thing to use for pencil sketching is some sort of an artist’s pad. Get a cheap one to start off with. These are available in art supply and hobby stores – as well as in some department stores – and they come in different types that are intended for different ways of drawing or painting. For pencil sketching, a lightweight, fine-tooth paper works well but if you want a more rugged appearance to your drawing, you might want to go with medium texture paper instead. A paper that has what is called a “tooth” which you can get from smooth to rough.
Shifts in the width and darkness of your lines will create interest
Keep a nice contrast going between a finished look and a more of a sketchy feel
The Beginner’s Guide to Sketching is a book that offers lots of inspiration and advice for anyone looking to take their first creative steps or wanting to add a new piece to their design portfolio. The comprehensive guide covers everything from choosing the right drawing tools to understanding shading and value, adding colour, and creating a finished scene.
The first thing that you’ll want to know if you want to learn pencil sketching is what kind of pencils are out there and which one you should be using for what type of sketching. Most pencils that are out there have a rating that describes both how hard the lead is and how dark the pencil sketches. These are represented by two letters – H and B – then numbers next to those letters.
Learning to read these codes will help you choose your pencil a little better. H indicates the hardness while B indicates how dark the wedges. An HB pencil is at the exact middle of both. To the left of the middle are H pencils such as H4 and to the right are B pencils such as B2 and B9. B2 is also known as number two and is the standard pencil used in school.
Create subtle shading by smudging large areas of soft charcoal
If you want to sketch a sky, artist Marisa Lewis has some advice: “Sometimes it’s preferable for your shading to be less sketchy and more smooth and subtle. Pencil lines don’t blend perfectly unless you’re very careful. We don’t want a sky full of scribbles, unless it’s on purpose.
“A benefit of tracing paper is that you can flip it over to see how your drawing looks from the reverse angle,” advises artist Justin Gerard. “This can help reveal errors in proportion. As you work, take advantage of this in order to arrive at a more successful drawing.”
“I like symmetrical drawings but they often look boring all too quickly,” says Croes. “A good way to prevent this is to add some subtle changes and only keep the general lines symmetrical instead of mirroring every small part. Keeping some elements asymmetrical helps to avoid boring repetition.”