30. Family pet – if you can get your cuddly friend to sit still long enough – or take a photo and use it for reference.
7 drawing techniques for beginners.
Getting your technique just right can take time if you’re learning to draw. But these tips should help you find your own style and refine it over time. If you’re already comfortable with your skills, they’ll help you brush up on the fundamentals.
1. Find your drawing style.
Whatever you’re drawing, whether it’s your favourite anime character, a flower in your back garden or houses on a city street, the principles of drawing stay the same.
- Pay attention to shapes – they’re building blocks that give a drawing structure.
- Take your time – don’t rush, this will only cause mistakes and add time in the long-run.
- Practice – like anything, you’ll only get better by repeating and trying it again.
Using these rules, you can start to refine your own style over time. You might find that pointillism is your thing, cartoons are your forte, or line drawings might suit your skills.
2. Start with basic shapes.
Basic shapes are an essential starting point when drawing any object, especially when turning a 3D object into a 2D drawing.
“You’re not just drawing what you see in front of you. You’re drawing the other side as well.”
Lucas Elliott, Artist.
To create that depth, break down whatever you’re drawing into:
You can then smooth these edges out later on, to create a more realistic final image. To get this part right, imagine how the figure would look in 3D and from every angle – like it would in real life.
3. Study reference photos.
When you’re just starting out, keep a picture of what you’re drawing in front of you. It’ll give you something to mimic and help you better understand how to draw the outlines and small details of your subject.
“Look at reference images. The more you learn about a subject, the better.”
Kevin Jay Stanton, Artist
To find a huge collection of imagery, search Adobe Stock for inspiration you can use for your next sketch.
4. Set rules for yourself.
When you’re learning the basics, it can be tempting to skip to the more advanced stuff. But it’s important to nail the fundamentals first and master a skill first, before moving onto something more complicated.
For instance, as you fill your sketchbook and are experimenting with colours, start with a limited colour palette. This will help you figure out how colours work together and won’t distract you with all the possibilities out there.
“Picking a colour that I love, then two more that look nice with it really improved my colour sense. When a rule doesn’t serve you anymore, start to break it.”
Kevin Jay Stanton, Artist.
5. Follow your passion.
It’s good to step outside your comfort zone and try drawing as many subjects, using different drawing styles, as possible. But it’s equally as important to find and focus on sketching what you love.
Drawing is all about fun. If you’re interested in drawing manga, for instance, try to create as many of your favourite characters as possible, to expand your skills in that area.
“Really pay attention to how they’re drawn. You’re drawing from someone else’s sketch, focus on how they build their lines. If creating from real life, pay close attention to the object and the space around them.”
Lucas Elliott, Artist.
6. For larger compositions, make a grid.
When you graduate from small-scale sketches and want to create bigger drawings, gridlines are a lifeline. They can help you figure out where different objects belong, as they appear naturally.
“If you have a photo or illustration that’s broken down into quadrants, you can start with one small section and finish that first. Then, you can move onto the next one. Just makes sure you are still connecting it to the previous section, so they still relate to one another.”
Lucas Elliott, Artist.
7. Keep experimenting and evolving your style.
Here are a few tips on staying inspired and creating new compositions – ready to fill your sketchbook with amazing drawings.
- Take a look at your surroundings. The world is your canvas. Cliched, but it’s true. Take a look around your home or enjoy a walk outside and look around you – there are subjects you can sketch everywhere.
- Don’t be afraid to daydream. When you’re not thinking about ideas or forcing yourself to come up with a new composition, inspiration can sometimes strike. Take a moment to allow thoughts to fill your head and your next creation could arrive.
- Check out your contemporaries. A new idea is always influenced by something that has gone before. Look at what other artists are/have been doing. That includes classical artists, current stars and other beginners, to see what they’re creating.
How to keep inspired and motivated.
Here’s some expert advice to help encourage your creativity to run wild and keep you on track when looking for creative things to draw.
“Focus on a style that you’re most intrigued by. If you’re a beginner, there’s no shame in copying as much as possible.”
Ethan Young, Graphic Novel Writer and Artist.
“Draw what’s in front of you. No matter what you do, your act of trying to capture it will help.”
Chris Kindred, Editorial Artist.
“A lot of what people point to with my artwork is faces, but that used to be a thing I didn’t like drawing. I started doing an exercise where I focused on drawing different facial features and expressions … it definitely helped me.”
Mildred Louis, Artist.
“At first, because things don’t always come naturally, it can be discouraging and frustrating. But that’s always how it goes when you’re learning something new. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t give up.”
Jen Bartel, Illustrator and Comic Artist.
Keep on learning and explore the world of illustration by discovering our illustration tips.