16 Cool Drawing Hacks

Drawing Hacks

If you are looking for quick and efficient ways to both organize your equipment and streamline your working processes, then this post can offer you some advice.

Many artists are always seeking imaginative and fun ways to develop their working practices. Artists hacks is a fun way to achieve the variety you seek.

1. Organize Your Graphite Pencils

Organizing quick access to different grades of graphite may seem trivial. But it will allow you to quickly access a cast of pencil you need to quickly and effectively add shading to your drawings.

If you add shade from dark to light, this is great for quickly accessing the different pencils grades from 3B to 9B. Allowing you to focus on building layers of tone with ease. Using my recommended hacks will develop the ability to control and experiment with media and materials.

2. Mix Your Own shade of Black

This is artists hack that I was taught when I was young in school. Using the color black directly from the pencil or paint set will make your shadows seem flat and artificial.

Instead, try mixing your own shade of black. This can be achieved when you layer darker colors onto of each other. For example, blue and purple. The same is true when painting, however, with this technique, you must mix colors on a palate instead of layering them on top of each other on paper.

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    3. Use Solvent With Shading with Color Pencil

    Often when using colored pencils in layers, a grainy texture will begin to appear on the surface of the paper, especially when applying progressive colors on top of each other, or when shading on an uneven surface.

    To remedy this issue, I would use a universal solvent in liquid form. Brush the solution with a clean brush over the surface of the colors, and they will blend together reducing that annoying surface texture.

    4. Organize Your Paint Brushes Like This

    Don't waste time looking for the right size paint brush, instead organize your different sized brushes in order, with the all-important brushes' faces up.

    Time can often be wasted when you are looking for the right-sized paint brush, and then you find it's damaged.

    Cut small holes into a stable piece of polystyrene and organize your brushes in rank order from large to small. This will hold and protect them, making your life more comfortable in the long run.

    5. Turn Your Portrait Drawing Upside Down

    Drawing a portrait correctly or in proportion can be challenging to achieve, especially if you're a novice.

    If you are drawing a basic front view of the face and head, a simple trick you can use is to turn your portrait upside down. This is a simple method that will help you visually correct the aspects of your drawing which appear incorrect or out of proportion.

    Once you view the drawing from a different angle, the aspects of the portrait which appear incorrect will stand out immediately.

    This hack is also excellent for checking for inaccuracies in the drawing of symmetrical objects such as bottles in still life drawings.

    6. Why Should You Use Two Water Containers

    Quite directly this hack will save you time when you always need to change the water.

    Instead, try using two separate water containers to clean your brushes with instead of one. Firstly, wash your brush as usual in the first container once you have completed doing this clean it again in the second container. This doesn't take long as you have cleaned it already in the first container.

    As you repeat the process, you will see that the liquid in the second container does not degrade as quickly.

    7. Use This Trick to Make a Drawing in Perspective Easier

    Drawing in 1 point perspective can be difficult to master if you are new to perspective. So if you are looking for ways to make perspective easier try this simple hack.

    To begin, you will need a piece of paper and a pencil, also you will need two butterfly paper clips, one small paper clip, and an elastic band.

    First, cut the elastic band into one long piece. Then just use the butterfly clips to clip the elastic band to each side of a piece of paper. Make sure when you do this that the paper is positioned in the landscape. Next, attach the paper clip to the elastic band.

    You now have a highly flexible and adjustable ruler which will help you to move up and down and plot lines in perspective. Move the paper clip with one hand and draw faint lines with your free drawing hand.

    To draw a simple building in perspective draw the top and bottom lines first, this will help you draw the base and the top of the building. Then subdivide the spaces in between into smaller areas where you can draw the windows. Finally, draw the vertical edges of the building and the nearest corner using a simple classroom rule.

    8. A Simple Trick to Clean a Dirty Eraser

    This is a simple trick most professional graphic will use to clean their erasers.

    We have all do this, you are in the middle of drawing something it has taken an age to produce you make a mistake, and you try to fix the error with a dirty eraser. This results in an unsightly mark across your work.

    To clean your eraser basically, take a piece of sandpaper and rub the eraser onto the paper to get rid of the dirt trodden into the eraser. You will then be able to go back to your original drawing and eraser the marks that where created.

    9. Draw a Simple Optical Pattern

    Drawing an optical pattern is a fun and straightforward way to create new drawings. It is also a fun way to get children involved in creating images with patterns and tone.

    If this is your first optical pattern, it is best, to begin, with a simple spiral form or an L-shaped composition. You will need a piece of white paper, a  dark pen, and a shading pencil.

    Draw a square frame and subdivide it into smaller L-shapes using a pencil. Use the felt tip pen to outline the shapes you have drawn. The next stage is to add dark shading, do this by alternating a dark area of flat block shading.  

    Next, add the illusion of depth by applying a graduated shadow into the blank areas. When viewed at an angle the drawing will appear to create a hole that disappears into the paper.

    This hack can be taken a stage further with a digital photograph taken at an angle that will enhance the appearance of a hole in the paper. Try it, it really works.

    10. Draw with a Ballpoint Pen

    A ballpoint pen is an effective way to create great drawings when you are bored using a graphite pencil. Disposable pens are great for creating a hatched shading effect on a picture. Here are a few ways you can use them.

    • If your pen is not working, try heating over a flame. Your pen should then work.
    • Tape two pencils together to create a double line drawing, this hack can be used to create some fantastic patterns.
    • Use a pen to create hatched shading in different directions.
    • To prevent ink blobs and marks on your drawing, wipe the tip of the pen with a paper towel. This will stop a build-up of ink on the tip of the pens.
    • Remember too when producing a drawing in ballpoint to sketch in pencil first.
    • Practice your hatching technique on a separate piece of paper.
    • Try hatching without exerting to much pressure on the pen, plus try to apply the shading to the paper at a 45-degree angle.

    11. Draw a Tree with a Fine Line Pen

    A fine line pen is an excellent tool for creating a detailed drawing that requires a  fine line. Another added bonus of using a drawing tool like this is that you can create a wash with a brush and water. A tree is a natural form suitable to this type of drawing method. To create a drawing of a tree following the step by step approach:

    • Drawing the outline contour drawing of the outline of a tree.
    • How to break down this larger outline into smaller sections of contour which represent the different parts of the tree.
    • Now you have established the shape of the tree. Progress onto adding the form.
    • The best way to show the form of a tree is through value.
    • Value equals how light and dark, different sections of your tree will be.
    • So establish a light source or a direction from which the which is coming.
    • Separate the different sections of the tree into the light, mid-tonal, and dark areas.
    • The next stage is to create texture, or the illusion of texture and shadow by making marks with your pen.
    • To create the illusion of shadow concentrate on the textural marks you are drawing closer together. I right place to start is the trunk of the tree.
    • Split this area into three sections, a highlight, a mid-tonal, and an area of shadow.
    • Progress onto adding texture to the main section of the tree. To achieve this go back to the smaller contour drawing you created earlier.
    • Split each section into the light, middle and dark areas. Next, apply texture and marks to simulate the leaves on the tree.
    • Finally, draw the branches of the tree between the different areas of texture you have outlined.

    12. Take Photographs of Your Artwork

    Why take photographs of your artwork? Possibly the most important reason is to create a source of visual references of past work to help you develop new artwork.

    If you are going to take photographs of your drawings, then you need to ensure you make good quality images which capture the details of your work.  Taking a lousy picture is easy. With one of the main reasons resulting in a bad photograph is a lack of natural light.

    The difference between good and bad photograph often is as simple as a natural source of daylight.

    • A photograph taken in artificial light will result in a blurred reddish tone.
    • Photographs taken indoors with some natural daylight will result in colors looking washed out.
    • Photographs taken outside in direct daylight will look sharper and have bright colors.

    Another useful way to use photography to reference your work is to create a photo montage of the same piece of artwork at various stages of completion. Take photographs of your work at various point when you have finished or begin to use a different technique. This is an excellent way to reference the methods you have used in your drawings.

    13. Create Your Own Hand Mannequin

    The human form is notoriously difficult to draw, especially when we begin to focus on illustrating the individual aspects of the human body.

    Hands are perfect examples, of an aspect of the human form which is very difficult to get right the first time.

    An excellent way to overcome this is to create your own hand mannequin. This is a fantastic and fun way to develop your confidence quickly when sketching hands.

    • To make your own mannequin simply take a regular disposable plastic glove. Place it on your non-drawing hand.
    • Next, take a felt tip pen and start to draw the proportions of the hands.
    • Make a mark at each individual joint, beginning with the base of the thumb and drawing over the joints of the fingers.
    • This is best done with a dark pen onto a light glove.

    14. Make a Stay Wet Palette

    This simple hack will enable you to save time and money with wasted paint. Acrylic paints tend to dry out if left exposed over a sustained period, say overnight.

    • Find an airtight container with an airtight seal.
    • Fill the bottom of the container with a small amount of water.
    • Find a water-absorbent material and spoke in water, and place it over the water.

    15. Make a Simple Paper Compass

    Cut out a simple piece of card or paper and take it to a sharpened pencil. Create two small holes at both sides of the card large enough to fit a sharp pencil lead. Place the card onto a piece of paper, place a pencil in the hole to secure it, and prevent one end from moving.

    • To draw a circle, first, take a pencil and place it through the hole holding it static in the center of the page.
    • With the other pencil, put it through the hole and move it in a circular motion. This will let you draw a perfect circle.
    • To draw another small circle pinch another hole halfway through the paper and draw another circle by repeating the same process.

    16. Use a Visual Reference when Drawing

    A mobile phone or a digital camera is a simple way to obtain instant images of the objects or subjects you wish to draw.

    Also, if you are interpreting the style of a particular artist, you can use a magazine image or postcard to work from.

    If you are drawing from a secondary source such as a photograph, it can give you a good idea of what the final drawing will look like.

    It is an instant way to compare the composition, proportion, and color of what you are drawing with your chosen subject matter.

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      Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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