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Drawing for Beginners

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Drawing seems like such a fun activity, doesn’t it? It can be a relaxing hobby, a way to disconnect from electronics, something portable and easy to do while traveling. But where to start? Drawing, for many beginners, can seem overwhelming. Perhaps you’ve tried sketching here and there and have become frustrated with your progress (or lack thereof!) and have decided “I’m just no good at this.” Have no fear! Drawing is a skill like any other, anyone can learn to draw, it’s a matter of learning a few basic techniques and lots of practice!

How to Sketch

Sketching is the main building block of drawing for a beginner. Drawing is simply layers shapes, lines and shading until you get your desired result. Sketching doesn’t need to be perfect; you don’t need to draw perfect circles or straight lines to be an artist! Beginners just need to pick up a pen or pencil, whichever you prefer, and start filling up a piece of paper with circles, lines and ellipses to get warmed up and in a creative space. Sketch quickly with loose, short strokes, which will help you keep more control. After your initial sketch find areas you’d like to improve and sketch over it until it’s closer to what you’re looking for. Finally, when you’re happy with the overall look use stronger lines to define the shapes. You can erase your initial scribbles or let them disappear naturally as you continue adding to your artwork.

Learning to See

Drawing is about perception and understanding what you see. The more you draw, the more you see, and the better you see the faster you can draw. Improving your perception allows you to make drawings that are closer to reality.

If you’ve ever tried to draw an animal like a horse, or a face, you may have been appalled to discover that the proportions were distorted like a Picasso painting (which wasn’t your intent!) A mistake we commonly make when learning to draw is focusing on the details first rather than the big picture.

To fix this, take a mental step back, shift your focus away from the details, and look at the rough shapes and forms of the object. Everything around us can be broken down into simple shapes. Imagine a bottle of wine, it’s basic shape is a rectangle. A flower simply put is a circle. Start by sketching an object’s overall boundary. Continue by adding secondary shapes, in a flower each petal would be a smaller oval. Carry on sketching until you join all the secondary shapes together, giving you a more cohesive drawing.

Remember to stay relaxed and take all the time you need. Although your strokes should be light and quick, taking the time to refine your images is what will give you the practice needed to continue improving.

Perspective: going from 2D to 3D

When making realistic drawings, you’re trying to project how something three-dimensional would look on paper. There are two principal methods of depicting dimensionality in drawings: perspective and contouring.

Perspective: This is what gives a 3D feeling to a flat image.

Contouring: This technique is where the artist sketches the style of a subject by drawing lines that result in a drawing that is essentially an outline.

Step by Step Improvement

Once you master the basics of drawing simple objects, you can move on to more complex subjects, such as still life composites, natural landscapes, and portraits. Don’t get overwhelmed; remember to distill everything down to its most basic shapes and work up from there. The bottom line is to keep at it, practice is the only way to improve. If you’re looking for some external motivation, a great way to hone your craft and also get feedback is with an art class, you can even take drawing lessons online. Another great way to mix art and travel is to sign up for an artist retreat, such as Sketching in Spain. Working with an engaging instructor in the company of like-minded people while experiencing gorgeous surroundings is a surefire way to fuel your creativity!

About the Author: Erin Van de Hey is a freelance writer, outdoor enthusiast, and wine lover. Connect with her on Instagram and on LinkedIn.

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