how to draw: stages for beginners

My latest work, 'Proud' (so you trust me!)This is after years of practice though!
My latest work, 'Proud' (so you trust me!)This is after years of practice though!
A rough sketch of another Lion, this is the kind of level you should aim to reach first!
A rough sketch of another Lion, this is the kind of level you should aim to reach first!

Learning how to draw is suprisingly easy, (it is NOT the mysterious process that only the gifted-born few can do!) yet all too often I hear other people putting themselves down by saying that they could never draw like I do! I have been drawing, sketching and painting since I was a child though and so am obviously quite practiced, but anyone with the right instruction could easily catch up with me!

I think the main problem for most people is that most art courses expect people to have a certain degree of practiced artistic skill, and are full of complicated terms or expect you to have your own studio of supplies! This is why in the end I decided to create an e-book for beginners called, wait for it: Learn to Draw! The idea was to reach people who thought they might never be able to draw and change them into confident, developing artists!

So if you are a beginner, (or even a pre-beginner whose stick-men go wrong!) don't worry! We all have to start somewhere, whatever it is we happen to be learning! You didn't sit in the drivers seat of a car for the first time and drive it perfectly did you? Below I have outlined the main stages, borrowed from my e-book, that you will need to master in order to learn how to draw...

Stage 1: Relax!

A calm, positive mind goes a long way when it comes to learning a new skill. You don't want to end up messing up and feeling frustrated as you're less likely to bother to try next time! I have even suffered from anger and frustration with myself when I was learning, and screwed up bits of paper when I should have just taken 5mins to have a break! If you need a little help with your own positivity have a look at my other hub Learning attitude: Positive Thinking & Confidence, to which I have included a link at the bottom of the page.

Stage 2: Learn to control that hand!

Even if you have absolutely perfect handwriting, you will still need practice sketching and moving your hand in a 'free flow' motion. Sorry if I've used some terminology there! 'Free flow' is basically just moving without planning, in other words you don't plan to draw a circle but just go ahead and let your hand draw one! This is the key to putting what you see with your eyes onto the paper! Often people know what they want to draw and have an idea as to how they should go about it, but when the hand stays stiff and rigid it just doesn’t happen. The wrist MUST be mobile and relaxed, and this level is easily obtained from practicing some free flow sketching. I find doodling the best way, and it stops it from becoming too dull!

Stage 3: Sketching lines and circles

Once you have a nice mobile wrist you need to get the hang of sketching straight lines and circles. It all sounds a bit boring at the moment I know, but you need to learn the basics before you attempt anything too complicated else you lose the confidence to keep trying! Bear in mind that to draw a line is to do it in one sweep, to sketch is to go lightly in a series of strokes. The idea behind sketching straight lines is that you because you don't have to draw the line in one go, you are more likely to be able to aim for specific points on the page without going astray. So build your line out of a series of shorter lines that are easier to control, this way you can achieve a long line or even start to put angles into it without ruining it by a jog, twitch or slip of your pencil!

Stage 4: Understanding perspective

Understanding wah?! A lot of people struggle with the idea of perspective at first, it is both a concept that defies logic but also one that we live with and use everyday! The point is that something in the distance APPEARS smaller that something close by, which includes things like the top of a building APPEARS much narrower than the bottom part that you are stood by. I have again written another hub Finding your Artists Eyes: Perspective that covers this topic in more detail!

Once you understand perspective you need to practice using it, by drawing an easy object like a box or cube. The same principals apply to objects whose far ends are only a couple of inches away, and this is how a square can turn into something 3D! Think about how the angles APPEAR to change direction, despite your KNOWLEDGE that they don't! You must draw what you see, not what you know is there.

Stage 5: Shading

In order to make your drawing really leap from the page, you will need to apply some form of shading. This defines areas of shadow and misses areas of highlight that trick your eyes into believing that the object is really there. To know where to put the shadows etc you need to know where your light source is, like the sun, a lightbulb or a window. There is also a couple of techniques for shading, and I often end up using a combination of them both, which are 'direct shading' and 'cross hatching'.

Direct shading is using the pencil in back and forth movements in constant contact with the page, like you are colouring in the area. Of course the different shades from black to grey are obtained by how hard you press the pencil. Cross hatching is where you use separate lines drawn next to each other to indicate an area of shade, you can build on the lines by drawing some in the other direction over the top of the first set to trick the eyes into thinking that the area is darker.

Stage 6: Development and practice

Once you have reached this stage, it is just a case of practicing and trying new objects. You will eventually be able to instinctively translate angles onto paper and shade the correct tones!

My e-book goes into a lot more detail on each step than I have written here of course, it is 26 pages of instructions, explanations and pictures separated into 11 sections! I also have sections that show you how to plan a compilation picture, how to draw 3D rounded objects, how to draw a perfect circle without a compass and also how to achieve various textures amongst many more. For more information go to http://learntodraw.weebly.com

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4 comments

luciano63 profile image

luciano63 7 years ago from Paris

Hi, great article about drawing techniques. However; I do not agree with you when you say that everybody can learn at any age to draw like you because you have a talent and not everyone has it!

I tell you this because I also draw since I was a child, doing paintings and drawing cars to the point that I went to a art and design school to get a diploma and since 20 years I am a professional designer in automotive industry and a design teacher,too.

During my admission entry portfolios at school (when I use to teach) I refused some young boys and girls because they did not have the talent! I did tell them the truth not to give them an illusion and frustration later on.

No, not everybody can learn how to draw. Your very well written article is targetted to young art students and they will take great advantages from your tips and suggestions (as I do on my design education blog Luciano Bove). But if I ask my sister or some of my friends (they love my drawings and car illustrations) to follow your tips by reading without beeing there drawing with them for at least 6 full months...they will not learn anything finding them always at the starting point. Simply because they do not have the talent and will not be able to get the same line quality you or I have, the same feeling for the drawing tools using them creating emotions on a white paper.

Then you can have a part of people who will learn some, but they will be technical illustrators and not talented creators. They will be good in reproducing a part of reality, but nothing more. Just like a painter that is able to paint a postcard exactly the same after 10 or 20 hours of work, but without soul.

Hope you do not take this personal, all the best

Luciano


craftyfox 7 years ago

Thanks for your input Luciano, I appreciate any comments. I know what you mean about some people not having the 'talent' but my point is that if someone approaches any subject in the right frame of mind, practice and are given guidance in a way that they can relate to, they can learn it! My hub is really just an itro for my e-book so doesn't give people all they need, but even a terrible doodler should come away with a basic skill after having read it.

Most people don't need to become a famous artist, but would like to be able to draw something and would be happy to just recreate some reality. In trying people can get a great feeling of worth and confidence which is valuble these days.


luciano63 profile image

luciano63 7 years ago from Paris

OK I understand, the point is that related to my experience (searching for estremely talented people going through sacrifices to improve day by day...) I found a bit "strong" to say that "it is going to be easy" basically for anyone.

Anyway congrats for your e-book and your talent (you do have it), I am sure that a lot of people will love it.

Keep in touch,

Luciano


Jackie 6 years ago

I was looking for a school that can teach me how to do sketching.

I've not found any.

No, I don't want to pay for it.

Being a senior I can't start paying for school.

Would you have another idea on how I can learn to do this?

Thank you,

Jackie

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