Learn Pencil Sketching: A Detailed Guide

How Do You Start Pencil Drawing?

If you decide to start drawing or sketching, the first step is to have a couple of needed items that make your task more favorable. You'll want to have a pencil that has an eraser. You can improve making corrections with an eraser that's separate from the pencil. You also want to have some sketching paper or a sketchbook. Anything contained in a binder will make this portable since you can use this as a backing for drawing on.

Although you can draw on a tabletop, a sketchbook is handy and portable for carrying around. A sketchbook also saves your sketches from being smudged or damaged, just like a pencil box will protect your pencils and hold all your drawing supplies. The big trick with starting any pencil drawing is beginning with your supplies. The rest is a matter of dedicating time to develop your drawing skills, as you'll find essential for getting good at drawing.

Learn to Sketch
Learn to Sketch

• Which pencil is used for sketching?

Based on my experience, any pencil is excellent for drawing based on the type of pencil that gives you lighter or darker lines. The graphite inside a pencil will come in a wide range of hard to soft graphite levels. This is why you see the number on the pencil side that tells you what kind of pencil it is. Any set of pencils typically gives you a range of 20 or more [https://pencils.com/pages/hb-graphite-grading-scale] – hard to soft graphite pencils that will give you better control for sketching.

In general, most artists will prefer a pencil that provides a selected level to get graphite onto the paper as soon as possible. This means the graphite will be softer. Some artists are heavy into detail, like a harder pencil for tighter drawing control. To be completely honest, it's possible to make great sketches using a standard HB pencil or what most people see as the standard #2 pencil…

Learn Pencil Sketching
Learn Pencil Sketching

• Holding the pencil

Most of us already know how to hold a pencil to write our name on a piece of paper. There are plenty of correct ways to hold specific tools, musical instruments, and even when firing a weapon. But let's look at how many ways you can hold a coffee mug, hold a water bottle, and handle your smartphone. There doesn't appear to be any correct method that anyone should follow when you learn pencil sketching initially.

It also doesn't matter if you're left or right-handed, which also may claim that drawings or sketches are smudged if you use your left hand to write or draw. As long as you comfortably hold a pencil and you can steady your hand using freehand arm movements, or with your fingers, it's all up to you. There's really no wrong way to hold a pencil.

Which Paper or Sketchbook Should You Use?

Another big question that most people might ask about sketching is what kind of paper is the best to use. This shouldn't be a question since drawing and sketching can be on any kind of paper you have available. A paper napkin will work just as good as a Post-it note. If you have rice paper or tracing paper, it just requires a light touch. If you're making a watercolor picture, you might want thicker paper that absorbs water very quickly.

You can benefit from buying paper from a sketchbook with many pages inserted on a spiral wire or easily tears out one page at a time. Thicker paper will cost more, but you can find online deals or clearance items that go on sale at your local art store. The trick is to know which paper is more valuable and waits to buy it as cheap as regular paper. Learn the differences of paperweight [https://blog.pencils.com/common-paper-weights/] -so choosing the right paper for sketching and drawing is easier.

• How do you get good at pencil sketching?

The key to success is practice, and I know this isn't so easy when you don't have the impulse and dedication to enjoy sketching all the time. It's just part of the enjoyment that you can get from sketching and the creativity that comes from being artistic. There will always be basic skills that you'll need to learn to improve your sketching ability, which is why practice exercises will be necessary.

The better you become familiar with any skills when it comes to sketching, you also need to have a good eye for copying what you see. Almost like a photographic memory, each item is sketched onto your paper and added one element at a time.

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Sketching Techniquies You Should Practice

You might be asking yourself what additional skills will be essential to learn; these are highly recommended. These will improve your sightline and help you draw nearly anything you set your eyes on. You can learn how to do these skills by watching DIY videos that talk about each subject to better understand how they work.

• Continuous line drawing

This is an exercise that doesn't represent a finished drawing but helps you speed up a sketch without having to break a single line in your doodle. Continuous lines are all about shape and form without needed to stop what you're drawing. It will look messy and is supposed to appear this way. If you focus your eyes on these lines, it will look awkward, so you need to look at your picture with a fuzzy focus.

• Contour sketching

This is all about making the basic lines of what you want to sketch. It's straightforward and has no detail, so you can concentrate on the basic shape of the shape you're drawing. It's an excellent exercise to get more complex shapes like hands or faces. This style also includes continuous contour drawings, which allow you to draw basic shapes very quickly. It's another helpful exercise that will keep you on your toes for sketching skills.

• Gestural sketching

If you've ever seen a drawing class instruction where people are drawing or sketching models in various poses, this is gestural sketching. It's the ability to copy what you see right away and make several different versions in several minutes. These are a little more than stick drawings and can include harsh shadows and primary body forms built-up. Getting good at sketching the human form is always a plus when it comes to life studies.

• Speed sketching

There are so many speed sketching exercises that help you to improve your speed skills.

Essentially, the faster you can sketch something, the better you'll become. These can include 1-minute to 1-hour sketches but will all have a set start and finish time in every time category you choose. Don't stick to one single type of speed sketch, so practice as many styles as you can. The better you understand that time allows you to draw, the better you'll be at being a skilled sketch artist.

Can Sketching Be Learned?

Like every other skill that goes with drawing, sketching is an essential part of your drawing ability. It can be learned without school, and with enough free time that you put into sketching, you'll get good in a short while. Any decent amount of attention to looking at drawing instruction websites or how-to videos will tell you more than any school might have you believe. Just be persistent, and you can learn how to sketch without much effort.

• Practice drawing basic shapes

Try drying everything that you see, no matter how dull or boring it might look. Keep in mind that you're drawing from real life, and that is creating something on paper. The better you get at practicing and copying what you see will give you the ability to draw from memory. This is when you can start composing drawings and sketches without looking at anything. You can also look at sample pictures for further inspiration.

What Should a Beginners Start Drawing?

The point I want to ask you is what sparks your interest? You should be curious about anything that you haven't drawn before. Find out what makes it look the way that it does and the material it's made from. But only having an interest in objects that you like isn't enough. You need to be interested in drawing the rest of your landscape just to have the additional skills. The important thing is to draw everything that you possibly can!

Some of the Key Elements of Sketching:

There are vital points that you need to know about sketching, so each of these points will be part of your skillset. Think of these as tricks that you learn to improve your sketches. Each trick will enable you to complete a sketch that can be turned into a polished drawing. So pay special attention to each of these since they all make a big difference in how your sketch ends up looking. When you learn pencil sketching, these are the essentials!

• Controlling the pencil

Having control of your pencil requires you to be patient and feel comfortable with using a pencil. If you don't, you'll get frustrated while drawing, so use a pencil-like it's an extension of your fingers. The rest is a matter of eye and hand coordination to get the pencil to do what you want it to do. Patience comes from allowing accidents to happen and not being so critical about being perfect every single time.

• Cross hatching

Good shadowing will include a simple shadow technique using only a few well-placed cross-hatch lines. Cross hatching is very simple to do since it uses straight lines in areas where a shadow is supposed to go; cross-hatching is another layer laid onto the first set of lines going in the opposite direction. Like a hashtag symbol, this can make heavy shadows appear in areas where it's darker. Single hatched lines are then becoming lighter shadows,

• Basic shapes

Sketching the basic shape of your object is always the first step in making the outline look natural. This will be the most challenging part of drawing your object so getting the outline correct as soon as possible takes the longest. The rest is a matter of adding detail and shadow and all other aspects of your object. Start with getting the basic shape as simple as possible, one section at a time.

• Texture

This part of adding more realism to your sketch is going to include a generous amount of texture. You need to know what this texture looks like without shadows and needs to be as clean as possible. If you're drawing fur, spikes, rocky surfaces, or liquids, it all needs to begin with clean lines that can be filled in later with shadowing to create more depth. Texture adds that realistic element that will enhance your sketch a lot more than you expect it would.

• Smudging

Blending and smudging are excellent skills to make the edges of your sketches appear softer or blend into the rest of an object. You can use your fingers, but most artists like to use a blending stump that is a pointy piece of rolled paper. This softens harsh edges making outlines appear sharp while inner lines can be fuzzy looking. This comes in handy with drawing hair but is not limited to keeping things blended where hard lines have been drawn.

• Scale

Everything in your sketch will have different levels of scale, giving them the illusion of size. The rule is to make everything in the background a little bit fizzier than objects in the foreground. Yet your scale needs to appear correct. Learn to make perspective drawings to keep objects that can be placed inside a vanishing point based on the horizon line. This scale will help you to correctly place anything into a sketch, making it look more natural.

  • Adding Details

Little details also count for a lot in your sketch. Don't cheat any of these areas that will give you realism and credibility as an artist. Since the little details count more on the first steps of making your sketches, the final touches will take over what you've done in the end. These details aren't exactly in order since you'll be going over several lines and correcting yourself as you go.

• Perspective

The biggest hurdle is getting your perspective correct, so when you decide to make a sketch for the first time, try to make your object fall into a very rough perspective line so you can keep that perspective appear natural. The whole idea you need to keep in mind is to keep anything closer to your sightline sharper than anything further in the back of the sketch to give it a three-dimensional feeling.

• Depth

Depth is hard to pull off unless you pretend that your drawing has a focal point like a real camera. Give mountains and distant objects softer shadows and detail while keeping anything in front of you the sharpest detail. Don't go overboard with this since depth is only used in landscapes or objects with some type of motion. Look at photography and see how things appear [https://www.clipstudio.net/how-to-draw/archives/156960] when the focus is centered with a limited range.

• Darker lines

This can be done using more pressure on your paper to get the graphite to become darker. You can also go over the same line 2 or 3 times to get the same effect. Softer graphite will also do the same thing unless you need darker lines to begin with. Darker lines also work great for shadow zones, so be careful to do this only when you're finishing a sketch. Hold off on making darker lines when you begin a sketch too, it's harder to remove later.

• Lighter lines

When you learn pencil sketching, you need to begin with light lines that you use as your outline in your sketch. These are better to remove with an eraser if you don't get these lines how you want on the first go. Once you have basic outlines, these are then filled with darker lines to define the second or third pass of your detail. When it comes time to make fine detail and texture, you can then start using light lines to map this detail into your sketch.

• Soft lines

This requires minimal effort since soft lines can be softened using a blending stump. If you spend too long trying to get soft lines, you'll eventually go nuts, so rely on your blending tools to get softened results. Paper towels, napkins, fingers, and blending stumps work the same to get the right amount of softened edges or lines. At any point, you want to concentrate on your speed than anything else, so softening is best left to blending as you go.


• Which app is best for pencil sketching?

The best app, in my opinion, will always include free apps that you don't need to pay for. These will give you all the essential info that you need to start a great sketch, just like any other payable app you're looking for. You can check out mobile apps stored on a tablet and give you a better ability to see the info rather than a standard smartphone where you need to zoom in.

You want to search for Free Software Drawing Apps when you look for anything kind of free download. Here's one site that's a collection of free and paid apps and gives you a choice of which media you want to store these programs onto. Check it out!

Create Art With My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I like Udemy if you want to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques. Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounts for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.


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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