Pencil Sketching - the quick and easy way to learn professional sketching!

Starting with your sketching lessons? All the best!
Starting with your sketching lessons? All the best!

Chapter 1 : The Basics

Professional sketching is a bit different from the normal everyday sketching. From the way of holding the pencil to the final render, there are lots of differences. But, despite of the differences, professional sketching is not so hard. All one needs to do to learn it, is to know the techniques and a little bit of practice. So here is the series of hubs that will guide you to learn professional sketching in a simple and easy way.

The Violin -Bow Grip
The Violin -Bow Grip
Violin-Bow : Overhand Down
Violin-Bow : Overhand Down
The Tripod Grip - neither prohibited, nor recommended.
The Tripod Grip - neither prohibited, nor recommended.

How to hold the pencil:-

The very first thing that you need to learn in order to become a professional sketch artist is to learn how to hold the pencil. Usually, we hold a pencil or a pen (or anything used to write or draw) in the normal tripod grip style-making a triangle with the index finger, thumb and the middle finger, supported by the ring finger and the pinkie. But when you are making a sketch, you need to hold the pencil in a different way – this is called the violin bow grip. It looks a bit fancy and at first you may feel a bit uncomfortable, but don’t hesitate, you’ll get used to it once you start practising.

The reason behind using the violin bow grip in sketching is to increase the area you can cover in a single stroke (if you don’t know what a stroke is, I’ll teach you later on). In sketching, strokes are very important especially when you have to draw that contains lines. If you keep the usual tripod grip, you may need to break the line in between to place your hand ahead to complete the line. Sometimes (or probably most of the times) this results in a break between the lines, which doesn’t look good. That’s why sketch artists recommend this style of holding the pencil so that you can complete a line in a single stroke.

Now when you learn to hold the pencil, learn to ‘not keep the hand on the drawing sheet’. Though most of the people consider it just another extra, useless add-on, I personally recommend it for people like me who have a problem of sweating on the palms. The sweat often spoils the drawing. (and I know the pain of getting a drawing spoilt by your own sweat, especially when it’s a good one!) So if you have the same problem, I would recommend you to learn this as well.

Things you may need to learn sketching:-

Now coming to the sketching part, and the things you may need in order to learn professional sketching. Well, the basic things required, are a pencil and a paper. But what kind of pencil and what kind of paper? Basically we buy the normal HB pencil. But sketching requires more. In the initial stage, I would recommend you to buy three pencils, namely, HB, 2B and 4B. Now you might be thinking what do these terms mean? These terms are actually used for the grading of the pencil. Here ‘H’ stands for ‘Hardness’ and ‘B’ stands for ‘Blackness’ of the pencil. Like a pH scale, this series starts from 9H from the left and goes up to 9B on the right. The greater the B number the darker is the shade, the greater the H number, the lighter is the shade. HB is the medium shade. There are different companies who go to an even wider shades’ range of manufacturing pencils. So amongst the three pencils we need, HB is the lightest then 2B is a bit dark and 4B is the darkest of the three.

Thermocol Cutters (or Stationary Cutters)
Thermocol Cutters (or Stationary Cutters)
Thermocol Cutters (or Stationary Cutters)
Thermocol Cutters (or Stationary Cutters)

Now how will you start using the pencil? Oh, I forgot one thing! How are we going to sharpen the pencil? We need a cutter, right? So go get yourself a cutter – a thermocol cutter and not the usual sharpener used by school students. Few more things you’ll need besides a cutter are an eraser, a scale, a sheet of paper (actually sheets of paper). Or it’ll be great if you could get a bundle of A4 size paper sheets and get them spiral bind.It is always helpful as it keeps all your sketches in one place as you go on through the process of learning. It is also necessary in one way because when you become good at it and you flip over the pages back to the days when you started, you’ll realize that the thing is actually working out and making you a good sketch artist day-by-day. Besides this, the A4 sheets are also a good option because they are quiet cheap as compared to the normal drawing book, which contains lesser pages and will get over in a few days if you practice sincerely.

After you have finished collecting all the materials required for sketching, start with practising of making horizontal lines across the length of the A4 copy holding the pencil in the violin bow grip. This will seem boring in the starting, but trust me, this will help you so much, you’ll realise later on! Start from one end and go to the other end without stopping and without touching your hand on the sheet. Don’t put too much pressure on the pencil and sheet and try to make the line as straight as possible. Sometimes when people are asked to make the lines straight, they become so conscious that they either put their hand on the sheet or they make the lines very slow. This is wrong! You should neither put your hand on the copy nor should you slow down your pace of making the lines because this will result in unwanted breaks between the lines and you won’t be able to learn properly. Don’t bother if your lines are not straight in the first few (or several) attempts. Just make sure that there should be a consistent flow in the lines that you’re drawing. Fill the entire page with the horizontal lines. Practice this for at least 4-5 pages. When you feel that you’ve become good at it, practice it for another 5 pages! Just kidding. You can stop with ‘drawing the lines’ exercise here itself and get to drawing vertical lines or, if you really want to become a very good sketch artist, practice this as much as possible, because practice always makes you better.

So, the next exercise, as you might have figured out from the above sentence is, drawing vertical lines. The same way you drew the horizontal lines, you have to now draw the vertical lines across the width of the sheet. Don’t use a fresh paper for this exercise, but use the same ones on which you’ve drawn the horizontal lines. It’s because, if you might have cheated in drawing horizontal lines by putting your hand on the sheet, you won’t be able to do it this time, because if you’ll put your hand, the sketch will automatically get spoilt. Now, start drawing the vertical lines and yes, make sure you don’t turn the sheet sideways so that the vertical lines become horizontal. I mean, you’ll have to actually move your hand from upside to down or vice versa. Students often do this mistake that they turn the sheet so that the horizontal line exercise will eventually become the horizontal line exercise. This is again wrong! So take care of it.

Tips and tricks :-

1. Never put too much stress on the pencil

2. Be honest to yourself, I won’t be there to watch whether you’re doing things properly or not

3. Practice the violin-bow grip. Though the tripod grip isn’t restricted, but violin-bow helps a lot in the long run.

4. Practice every day and as much as you can. But make sure you take time for other things too!

5. Pay attention to the thing I’ve mentioned above about the horizontal and vertical lines. Don’t treat and draw the vertical lines as horizontal lines. You MUST draw with your hands moving both from up side to down and vice versa. Similarly with horizontal lines, your hands should move both from left to right and right to left.

6. Beware of the thermocol cutter and pay great attention while sharpening the pencil. The thermocol cutter is very sharp and if you’re a kid, I would strongly recommend you do it under the guidance of your parents or some elderly person.

7. Also beware of sharp pencil. Keep it away from the reach of small children and your own eyes!

8. Avoid erasers and scale/ruler as much as possible. If you make mistakes, let them be there, because when you’ll become good at this thing and you’ll look back at the mistakes you did on the way, you’ll be proud of the person you’ve become!

Good luck! :)

Next part of the hub coming soon!

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Comments 4 comments

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

My husband is a very good sketch artist. I asked him how he learned how to do it and he said he just knew. I wish I had his talent. You have provided an excellent starting point with your instructions. I'll try using your technique to get started. Thanks!


Abhimanyu Singh92 profile image

Abhimanyu Singh92 4 years ago from Satna, Madhya Pradesh (India) Author

Thank you madam MarleneB. I wish you all the very best for this. I hope the upcoming hubs in this series will help you to become even better sketch artist! :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Voted Useful and Interesting. Very detailed and very well presented. Makes we want to try. Thanks for all the warnings.


Abhimanyu Singh92 profile image

Abhimanyu Singh92 4 years ago from Satna, Madhya Pradesh (India) Author

Thanks madam MsDora for voting and this wonderful comment. :)

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