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Drawing for Beginners in 14 Steps

Robie is an artist who loves sharing what she has learned about art and painting in the hope that it might help other creatives.

"Jesus and the adulteress" Drawing by Rembrandt

"Jesus and the adulteress" Drawing by Rembrandt

Drawing Strengthens Your Artistic Skills

Drawings trains your eye to thoroughly see your subject matter. To draw something, you really need to observe it.

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. Unfortunately, no one learns to draw through osmosis, you need to learn by practicing.

The more you practice, the better you get.

Most classic master painters spent some time every day drawing, a needed practice to become as good as they were.

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

— John Singer Sargent

What Should You Use to Draw?

Don't get overwhelmed by the many choices. To begin, draw with a few simple tools, like a black ink pen or a graphite pencil.

If you want to fill in the dark values quickly, you can do that with cheap crayons.

What counts is the daily practice, it does not have to be a masterpiece every time.

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

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.

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

14-Step Drawing for the Beginner

Below are the 14 steps to creating a successful drawing.

1

Draw from life as often as you can, rendering real objects or places - drawing from a photo it just not the same thing.

2

Always start by drawing lightly and slowly, keep your lines light and thin, easily adjustable. Flexibility in the beginning stages of a drawing is crucial.

3

If your pencil drawing starts too dark, switch to a harder pencil and keep a light hand.

4

Keep your hand elevated. Your hand can easily smear your drawing and it’s oily. Never place your hand on the paper always keep it above the drawing.

5

Compare, compare, compare. At the beginning of the drawing we are comparing everything with line whereas at the middle and end stages of a drawing we are comparing everything with tone.

6

Break down the drawing act into simple tasks and steps.

Find the governing lines, look for patterns, locate the shadow shapes, fill areas of different values, create volume.

7

Make the first marks you make on paper 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 or governing lines. To better identify these lines, squint your eyes.

8

Once you find a governing line, look for patterns, see if it repeats somewhere else on the subject. Some governing lines repeat, others radiate.

9

Once you have your main lines down, look for shadow shapes and position them on the drawing.

10

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.

11

As the drawing develops, move from comparing lines to comparing tones.

12

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.

13

To develop the drawing further, creating volume and depth, tone the large masses and accent some edges with highlights.

14

Have fun, take chances, experiment with materials and techniques. Don’t worry too much about how it’s going to look.

Importance of Drawing the Negative Space

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

Let’s say that 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.
The 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 (or tone) measures the lightness or darkness of a shape. The lower the value, the darker the area, the highest value is close to white. On a scale from 0 to 10, 0 is black and 10 is white.

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 dark areas as well.

Squint often and keep 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

The Role of Value in Composition

How you arrange the darks and lights throughout the picture will determine how the eyes of the viewer move through the composition. Plan your values carefully making preliminary thumbnail sketches.

Value contrast is very important to define the focal point of the artwork, our eyes are naturally attracted by the areas with strongest contrast.

Identify your focal point, the most important element in the picture, and aim to create the highest value contrast there. Ideally, the lightest light and the darkest dark should meet at your main point of interest.

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.

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Robie Benve

Comments

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 13, 2017:

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 Kowal from South Florida on November 10, 2017:

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

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on March 18, 2013:

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

Brenda Lorraine Scully from Ireland on March 14, 2013:

this was very helpful, thankyou so much

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on January 15, 2013:

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

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 13, 2013:

I have to keep reading this, it is awesome.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on January 13, 2013:

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

Renee' D. Campbell from Gaithersburg, Maryland on January 10, 2013:

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 (author) from Ohio on December 13, 2012:

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

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on December 11, 2012:

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

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 30, 2012:

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

carol stanley from Arizona on November 28, 2012:

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 ++++