Skip to main content

Starter's Guide to Pencil Drawing

Author of many wonderful as well as many awful pencil sketches and portraits.


Drawing is an art which does not have an age constraint. It increases your creativity and improves your mood.

When you are newly exploring any field some tips and tricks will save your time. Here are some things that you should know before taking the pencil! You get some bonus tips for drawing portraits too...

What are the essentials for pencil drawing?

Before you start you will need the following items. These are very easy to get and not so expensive.


Obviously for pencil drawing you need pencils!

But a single one won't be efficient as you dive deep into the drawing world. There are pencil with various type of darkness which will help you in shading, contour etc.

For now I would suggest 2H, HB, 4B, 8B and 12B. With these you are good to go.


Pencil Sharpeners

Probably you will have this too already. If not it is time to buy a basic one. They are not at all costly and its available in every stationary store. Don't forget to buy a child safe one if the artist is too young !!


When you make mistakes erasers is there for you to help. The thing to note here is that although the generic purpose flat erasers are okay, one with sharper edge will help you in cleaning up tiny mistakes.

My personal favourite is mechano eraser by apsara as it is cheap and comes with filler !


For now a normal paper with a good amount of thickness is enough which you can find in your nearest store. As you get better and better think about buying canvas papers. We won't be discussing about that now.

Make sure that you start drawing in the rough side and don't use both sides of the paper as it will corrupt both the images.

Soft Tissue or Ear buds !

Scroll to Continue

These will hep you in shading and blending. Shading is explained in detail below.

Take a Reference image and draw a light outline


Something that you can look into while drawing can help you in drawing. While the ancient artists used real life images and sceneries a lot, we can use a pre existing image for this purpose.

After you decide what you want to draw the first step is to draw an outline to the same. Make it too light so that it would be easier to erase and redraw them later. This acts as a foundation for our sketch.

Observe Everything !!

Start observing everything around you as if you are going to sketch them. Take a keen look into how the shadow falls differently in different angles and times, how objects appear relatively smaller from distance, what are the ratios of facial features , what is the ratio between facial features, what are the masculine and feminine facial features etc etc.

Once you become good in this you will be able to imagine things and paste that into paper.

How to hold your Pencil

The way in which you hold your pencil tells a lot about you! There are several grips by which you can create different effects with the same pencil.

While drawing there will be situations in which you need more control and darkness in your lines, hold your pencil close to the tip for that. Hold your pencil away from the tip for more free motion. This can especially help in making lighter shades and all.

When Smudging becomes the deal Breaker

While drawing, the particles that stick into your hand can damage your art. To avoid this the following tips can help

  • Use a white paper between your hand and the canvas while shading and in general
  • Start detailing from top to bottom or left to right. This will reduce unwanted smudging.

The Magic of Shading

Shading is very important part in the sketching journey. It helps you in adding realism to your image.

  • Use blending : After you create basic shade with pencil you can use a blending tools to create more realistic look. In my case I use soft tissues and ear buds for this purpose.
  • Use Charcoal powder : If you want to make the shades more dark and attractive charcoal powder can be used. It is a bit advanced.
  • Use different shades : Try to use different shades for different parts of your image. Make the areas which require more attention darker. Use gradient shading methods to improve continuity.

Be Careful with Portraits

Drawing portrait is a bit tricky. Especially when you are drawing a real person. A microscopic change in deciding the angle or ratio can make a huge difference.

  • Draw the outline containing the ratios: You can erase and draw the outline many times until the outline looks somewhat like the original one.
  • Eyes : Eyes are the secret to an alive sketch. So special attention is needed for that. To add feminine touch lengthy eyelash will help. Add a light source inside both eyes at relative centre position to make the eyes real.

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.

© 2022 Merin Tom

Related Articles