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Drawing Tips for the Beginner

Updated on October 18, 2017
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is a self-taught artist who loves sharing what she's learned about art and painting in the hope that it might help other creatives.

Drawing Is Powerful

Drawing is a powerful impulse humans have followed since the beginning of time.

Children naturally enjoy drawing. Unfortunately, many stop drawing when the results do not measure up with the person’s expectations.

"Jesus and the adulteress" Drawing by Rembrandt
"Jesus and the adulteress" Drawing by Rembrandt | Source

Drawing Skills Are the Foundation of Art Representation

Drawings trains your eye to thoroughly see your subject matter. When you draw something, you really look at it.

Good drawing technique is the foundation of all art forms. Learning how to draw is like learning the ABCs of artistic representation: knowing how to draw well, opens the doors to becoming a better artist. Since you don’t learn to draw through osmosis, you need to learn by practicing. The more you practice, the better.

Drawing Tips for the Beginner

  • The best practice is drawing from life.
    Don’t worry too much what it’s going to look like: have fun, take chances.
  • Flexibility in the beginning stages of a drawing is crucial. Always start by drawing lightly and slowly, keep your lines light and thin, easily erasable.
  • If your drawing starts too dark, switch to a harder pencil.
  • Break down the drawing act into simple tasks.
  • The first marks you make on paper should be very general, broadly placed, but accurate as far as angles and distance. Start drawing the main directions of your subject, you can think of them as the action lines. To better identify these lines, squint your eyes.
  • Once you find a governing line, look for patterns, see if it repeats somewhere else on the subject.
  • Some governing lines repeat, others radiate.
  • Once you have your main lines down, look for shadow shapes and position them on the drawing. As the drawing develops, we move from comparing lines to comparing tones.
  • If you stop at this point you have a study of a subject that give you a lot of information already. If you are preparing for a painting, several studies like this in thumbnail format can help plan composition and values of the painting.
  • To develop the drawing further tone the large plans and accent some edges with highlights.
  • At the beginning of the drawing we are comparing everything with line whereas at the middle and end of drawing we are comparing everything with tone.
  • Your hand can easily smear your drawing and it’s oily. Never place your hand on the paper always keep it above the drawing.

Drawing Tools: Pick Your Tool of Choice and Practice, Practice, Practice.

 
Vine charcoal
Charcoal pencils
Conte pencils
Charcoal
Graphite pencil
Skewer
White pastel
Blending stump
Plumb line
Artist tape
Drawing board
Paper
Kneaded eraser
Thick crayons, no wrapping
Don't get overwhelmed by the many choices. To begin drawing start with few things. A black point pen and a graphite pencil for the drawing and, is you want, thick kids crayons to fill in the dark values quickly, using the sides.

Drawing the Negative Space

The space that is around the represented object is not less important that the object itself, when it comes to artistic representation.

Let’s say you are drawing a wooden chair. The chair itself is considered positive space. The space around and in between its wooden parts, is negative space.
Negative space is an essential part of artistic composition, and should be taken into great consideration when planning an artwork.

No matter the style or technique, every good drawing has proportion, harmony, composition, and tone. Looking both at positive and negative shapes, and keeping comparing to each other, helps a lot.

Importance of Value in Drawing

Value in art defines the lightness or darkness of a color. The lower the value, the darker the color, so the highest value is close to white.

If you are drawing with charcoal or graphite, you can work in layers to achieve the lower, or darker, values. In between layers you can seal your work with a workable fixative, to prevent smudges.

Squinting your eyes helps seeing the values of your subject better and how the different areas relate to each other.

While drawing, keep comparing the lightest value on your drawing with the lightest spot on the object, and adjust the drawing as needed. Similarly, keep comparing the darkest areas as well.

Squint often and continuously look at your drawing and comparing, assess each area of the drawing in relation the others, to achieve correct value variations. Always keep checking for accuracy. This is a great way to develop drawing and observation skills.

Study of hands by Leonardo Da Vinci - Silverpoint and white highlights on pink prepared paper - circa1474
Study of hands by Leonardo Da Vinci - Silverpoint and white highlights on pink prepared paper - circa1474 | Source

Role of Value in Composition

How you arrange values throughout the picture will determine how the eyes of the viewer move through the composition. Plan your values carefully with thumbnail sketches of your drawing.

Value contrast is very important to define the focal point of the artwork: aim to create have the highest value contrast at your focal point, the most important element in the picture should. That is where the lightest light and the darkest dark should meet.

Drawing by Rembrandt: The Man of Gibeah Offers Hospitality to the Levite and his Concubine. circa 1642-1646. pen and brown ink on paper. 18 × 24.7 cm (7.1 × 9.7 in). London, British Museum.
Drawing by Rembrandt: The Man of Gibeah Offers Hospitality to the Levite and his Concubine. circa 1642-1646. pen and brown ink on paper. 18 × 24.7 cm (7.1 × 9.7 in). London, British Museum. | Source

You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.

— John Singer Sargent

Draw from famous masterpieces by great masters to better understand successful composition.

The Last Supper, After Leonardo da Vinci. circa 1635. Red chalk on paper. 36.2 × 47.5 cm (14.3 × 18.7 in). New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Last Supper, After Leonardo da Vinci. circa 1635. Red chalk on paper. 36.2 × 47.5 cm (14.3 × 18.7 in). New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art. | Source

I don't consider myself a master artist, but what I know I enjoy sharing with others. I wrote this article hoping that it will help beginner artists in their drawing process, not because I believe I “know” how to draw.

I hope you found it useful and enjoyable. Happy drawing! : )

© 2012 Robie Benve

Comments

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    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      11 months ago from Ohio

      Sure thing Gail, there is no such thing as too much drawing. :) The more you do it, the more confident you become, and the more control you gain on how to render things. Happy creations!

    • Gail Felix profile image

      Gail Kowal 

      11 months ago from South Florida

      Perhaps I should give drawing another try...thank you.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks a lot Brenda, I'm glad you found it helpful! :)

    • Brenda L Scully profile image

      Brenda Lorraine Scully 

      5 years ago from Ireland

      this was very helpful, thankyou so much

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Shyron, thanks a lot, you've made my day! :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      I have to keep reading this, it is awesome.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi ReneeDC1979, thanks a lot for stopping by and sharing your experience. Happy drawing! :)

    • ReneeDC1979 profile image

      Renee' D. Campbell 

      5 years ago from Gaithersburg, Maryland

      Great hub -very helpful for me - I saw these great drawings a friend did of the victims of Connecticut shootings and all he used was a black pen - Amazing!!! I'm good at drawing cartoons, but want to master draswing people.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Shyron, I truly appreciate your feedback, thanks a lot!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Another great hub, that will be book marked. Thanks for the very informative tips.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Carol, happy painting and drawing to you. I always appreciate your feedback, thanks. :)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I have been painting for years off and on. Drawing has always been difficult for me and I could never draw what I saw. This is a great hub..so it is in my Robie Benve file of fine art. Voting Up ++++

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