Learn Basic Drawing

About Using The Right Drawing Materials

Using the right drawing paper and pencils is important. If you plan on using regular copy paper and just any pencil, think again. Your skills and learning will be handicapped by using materials that are meant for other purposes.

Drawing tablet Purchase a 9" x 12" spiral bound sketch book of at least 100 sheets of quality, medium weight, fine grain paper. Perforated pages are preferable.

Drawing pencils Drawing pencils come in avariety of several hardnesses. Softer leads produce a wider variety of tones--black to light gray. I recommend HB graphite for detail work and fine lines and 2B or 6B for shading.

Sharpeners Pencil sharpeners are not expensive and very necessary--but a better quality one will be less likely to break your pencil lead. Get one that accommodates both sizes of drawing pencils.

Erasers Pink, white and gum erasers are good for erasing pencil drawings. Kneaded erasers are good, too and can be molded to erase very small areas. Do not use a regular pencil eraser for your drawings. This kind of eraser, or any eraser that has an abrasive content of fine grit will scuff your drawing paper and make it difficult to produce good shading and drawing results.

All of these drawing materials are available at art supply stores and there are many good websites where these materials can easily be purchased online. Remember, don't skimp--use good art materials and your hard work will be rewarded AND, because these art lessons are free, you will be able to afford good quality drawing materials!

About Appropriating Time To Do the Exercises and Lessons

It is important to make time to do the Learn Basic Drawing Lessons. Like any other discipline, you need time to follow the instructions carefully and slowly, especially at the beginning, when you are learning a skill.

As with almost any learning process, it takes time! Plan on setting aside at least one to two hours for each exercise and at least three or four hours for each lesson. Now, let's begin!

A Sketch Book Journal

You may want to purchase a small sketch book as well to record what you see in quick little sketches. A little sketch book is a visual diary that will make you aware of usual things in your life that you may never really noticed before. It is the beginning of seeing and reacting as an artist, sensitive to the visual world around you and eager to record it.

Don't worry about how your drawings look. Over a short period of time, with this instruction, you will begin to see your drawings improve. But, that is not important for now. Basically, you want to get into the habit of putting down what you see. Don't be afraid to draw and even write about what you draw! Don't say to yourself, I can't draw that! You are working towards the ability to draw everything and with a little practice, you soon will have the skill to do so! I have seen so much progress and success with students that are faithful to their sketchbook journal.

Lesson One: Learn Basic Drawing - Doodling

On a page in your sketch book, with your pencil, begin doodling. What is doodling? Just making lines and marks freely, with no thought in mind. Make swirling lines, circles, dots, whatever you wish. And, don't look at what you are doing. Spend two minutes doodling and fill the paper with marks.

When you are finished, stand back and look carefully at your drawing. What do you see? Recognizable shapes will appear--animals, flowers, letters, patterns, shapes?

Outline the images you have found with a strong black line so that the shape will stand out from the rest of the drawing. If you identify several objects, strongly outline each one with a thick black line.

Lesson Two: Shading-- A Circle Becomes A Sphere

On a page in your sketch book, make a circle using a compass or plate as a template. Shade the circle on one side using small, short, light lines that go in all directions. This technique is called crosshatching and is a very good way of shading. Make the light source coming from the upper right so that the shadow will be on the left. Usually the shadow on a round object is crescent-shaped. Shade approximately half of the circle, starting out very dark and going to lighter and lesser lines.

Click here to continue Basic Drawing Lesson Two

Real Feedback

You said everybody can draw, even if they can't draw a straight line. So I am working on how you told me to do the still life and really am having fun! Just want you to know I'm drawing and shading and love it!



Our Girl Scout Troop did the landscape drawing lesson at Camp, then we had a show of their work. Even the counselors were impressed!

Thanks, Lois!

Mrs. Ritter and daughter Jennifer

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Frequently bird and fish forms are found as recognizable images in doodles. The student that did this doodle remarked that she could never have thought to draw those graceful shapes. Later, she used similar shapes in a painting.

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The student developed this pen and ink doodle drawing into a musical movement of swirling shapes of black and white.

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Above is a student pen and ink drawing of drapery. Seeing drapery as geometrical shapes like cylinders or simple shapes like hills and valleys will help you visualize how to draw the folds correctly. Look carefully at the forms, sketch them first as the simple forms you see (cylinders, hills and valleys.) Then look again and see how the drapery differs from the simple forms.

With this technique, so much of the line has to express the actual form! With a little practice, your line can articulate any volume, form or shape. An exquisite line is like a haiku or a beautiful little poem.

This method of simplifying what you see works well for anything that entices your eye and makes you want to draw it, whether it be your cat, an old log on a seashore, a house or a self portrait.