Learn Basic Drawing

Welcome to Basic Drawing!

Here are six simple, easy and fun lessons that will teach you how to use line, tone, texture, and shading with pencil and pen and ink. Skill and technique exercises will help you to develop drawing techniques of line and shading to produce volume and dimension and line expression.

Through lessons dealing with a variety of subject matter including still life, landscape, and self-portrait, your skills will be further developed and you will find that you are actually drawing and having fun as well!

About Using The Right Drawing Materials

Using the right drawing paper, pencils and pens 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.

Small drawing tablet Purchase a small 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" spiral bound sketch book of at least 100 sheets of quality, medium weight, fine grain paper for your sketch journal.

Larger drawing tablet Purchase a good quality 8 1/2" x 11" spiral bound sketch book of at least 50 pages of medium weight fine grain (textured--not smooth and not real rough) paper. I like perforated pages that leave a clean edge if I need to tear out a page for critique or for framing.

Drawing pencils Some drawing pencils are larger then regular pencils. A sharpener that accommodates a larger size pencil will be needed. All drawing pencils come in a several hardness. I recommend softer leads that can produce a variety of tones--black to light gray. Larger pencils like Derwent and Design Ebony are my favorites. In a smaller size drawing pencil, I like Eagle or similar I like an HB graphite for detail work and fine lines and the Eagle Turquoise 6B for a soft, wide tonality pencil.

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.

Pens The Pilot G-20 pen or similar produces a good, fine black line that is excellent for drawing. I don't recommend a ball point, as I haven't met one that creates a fine, constant line like a V-ball, roller ball or Pilot ink pen.

Erasers Pink, white and gum erasers are good for erasing pencil drawings. Kneaded erasers are better for charcoal, pastels and conte crayon. Do not use a regular pencil erasing 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 quality materials are available at your local arts and crafts, or art supply store 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, slowly and accurately. Especially at the beginning, when you are learning a skill, you need to carefully follow the step-by-step procedures. It is my experience as an art instructor for over thirty years, that students who want successful results but are not willing or able to expend the time and effort, fail at learning the required drawing and visualization skill and become quickly discouraged

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!

Project One--Keeping A Sketch Book Journal

Take your small sketch book (8 1/2" x 5 1/2") with you where ever you go. Record what you see in quick little sketches. Write about what you see. This sketch book is your 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 - The Art of 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. So go ahead. Make swirling lines, circles, dots, whatever you wish. And, don't look at what you are doing. Just doodle.....

Although doodling may seem like all too elementary, I have found it to be a very good way to start to learn how to draw. In this exercise, you are becoming acquainted with line as a mode of expression. Fill the page with a your doodle drawing. When you are finished, stand back and look carefully at it. What do you see? Recognizable shapes will appear--animals, flowers, letters--any number of objects.

Outline the image 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. It is fun to a "group doodle" because you can pass your drawing to someone else and ask them to identify objects in it. They will find several different things that you missed.

Do three or four doodles and outline the images in each one. What have you learned? Quite a bit about how "thoughtless" line can be expressive and yield, thanks to your imagination, a bounty of images. Perhaps you will be surprised at your imagination and what you have visualized. This often is the reaction students have to this exercise

Lesson Two: Learn Basic Drawing - Circle and Pyramid

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 a form of shading called crosshatching and is a very good way of shading. You can pretend that light is coming from the right side--so that a shadow will be on the left. Usually the shadow (in reality) is somewhat crescent-shaped. Shade approximately half of the circle, starting out very dark and going to lighter and lesser lines.

On a page in your sketch book, with a ruler, make a pyramid shape that has a 6" base. Now shade the pyramid, using the form of crosshatching, just like you did the circle. Now put your circle and pyramid drawing next to each other and step back to look at them. Does the circle look like a ball that is illuminated on one side and in shadow on the other? Does the pyramid look like it is illuminated on one side and in shadow on the other?

If not, try again, until you achieve this effect. This exercise is essential in learning how to shade and highlight--in other words, how to give volume to a drawn shape.

Below are two examples of how your drawings should look.

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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

drawing, doodling, basic drawing

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.

drawing, doodling, pencil drawing

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.