german version

General Drawing Tips & Lessons Learnd

Choose your subject:
The best drawings are created, when you choose a subject you really like and you can relate to it.
Make sure to know waht you want to express with your drawing, no matter if it's just a quick sketch, or a detailed piece of art. I usually have a specific intention, feeling or an image in my mind before I start a new drawing.
Begin with easier subjects. Once you have mastered those, you can advance to more complex drawings. Be aware that a good photo doesn't automatically mean it is a good subjcet for a drawing.

Getting the outline on paper and Proportions:
There are several ways to get the outline on paper. Nevertheless it is useful to be able to draw a face freehand (see facial proportions). It takes more time and practice but its worth the effort an inevitable if you ever want to create your own art.
In addition to that, knowing some basic facts about human anatomy can make figure drawing also much easier.

Of course you can use an aid to draw proportions:
A lot of artists use the grid method to get the outline of their subject on paper. This means you have to divide the image into smaller squares and then you sketch each square onto your drawing paper. Old Masters like Albrecht Duerer even developed a complex grid to draw from real life, and Leonardo DaVinci invented the camera obscura.

Whereas it seems to be a convenient method I never use a grid, because I need to see the whole image. Nevertheless I measure a lot with kinds of methods. Basically, there is no right or wrong way. No matter what method you use don't be surprised if it takes several hours to get the outline on paper.


Shading & Blending:
- If you want to achieve three-dimensional drawings and plasticity you have to know how to shade before you start blending. Otherwise your drawing might look flat (see below). Blending is for many artists an integral part to make a drawing realistic, but you have to know how to shade with your pencil befor you use blending techniques (cotton swabs, blending stums...).
- Draw from light to dark. You can always darken an area if it's to light but its hard to lighten up a dark area.
- There are no hard lines when it comes to the human body. You have to draw the forms, shadows and highlights.
- There is usually no white (except maybe a white shirt). Even the lightest tones can be drawn with a hard (light) pencil or achieved by blending.

learn how to draw - shading learn how to draw - shading
flat drawing as a result of sloppy blending and improper shading vs. mooth transitions from light to dark


Good Light:
Make sure to have good lighting when you draw. Bad lighting might give you a false idea of dark and light tones. Once you see your drawing in good light you might be disappointed. Plus, your eyes are much more comfortable.

Every detail is important. A realistic drawing is a product of a lot of small details. The more you study your subject the more details you see.

jack close up, cat eyes

They happen. Don't loose your head. Sit back, relax and try to fix it later. We all learn from them.

Don’t rush:
The key to every realistic detailed drawing is patience. When you realize that you are getting impatient and sloppy, stop and take a break. Drawing is not a race.

Your style:
You can learn from other artist but don't try to copy them. Find your own style. After all that's what makes your drawings unique. Forget does and don'ts. If it works for you, it's right.

Eye exercises:
It is very useful to do some eye exercises and observe your surrounding. With time you learn to see forms, shadows and tones much easier. You can also use various exercises to train you eye, like 3D images (hidden image stereograms). Instead of short-sighted staring you get a wide peripheral vision and "soft eye".

The trick is to keep drawing. No matter how talented you are, practice is the key to success. Take your time and be patient. Every athlet has to do his or her work out, every artist has to draw to become better.
It also helps to keep a sketchbook. Doing some small sketches every now and then will help you develop your skills. Whenever you feel like it you can grab your sketchbook and draw. That's the way I regained my passion for drawing.

comparison of pencil drawings