Improve your drawing abilities with this few guides
Regardless of what sort of artist you are, the chances are pencil drawing was the skill that helped you figure out how to draw, and the one that commenced your artistic journey. All through my career as a character creator and visual development artist, I’ve understood that having a strong respect and understanding of the procedure and basics of drawing is essential to improving as an artist. What’s more, what’s more fundamental than pencil drawing?
In this article, I’ll share seven expert pencil drawing techniques to help you improve your drawing skills, whether you want to create stylised or realistic pencil drawings. Take a look at the video above to see these pencil drawing techniques in action, or read on for my expert tips.
01. Learn pencil grip
The first step is to learn how to hold a pencil correctly. When I draw, I use not the tip but the side of the lead, in order to maximise its utility. Holding my pencil like I would charcoal also keeps it sharper for longer.
When covering large areas, I shade with my pencil perpendicular to the line I’m drawing to get wide, soft lines. For details, I hold my pencil parallel to my lines to get sharp, narrow marks. The only time I use the point is when I’m working on intricate details.
02. Combine shading techniques
I like to shade in two main ways: the first is with all of my lines going in the same direction, which makes my shading appear more cohesive. This pencil drawing technique also helps my details pop out from the lines I’m using for shading.
The second method I use is working in patches, which help define shape. Patches of lines go around the form, which help keep things in perspective. This drawing technique is also great for backgrounds and adding texture.
03. Control line weight
The next drawing technique concerns line weight. Having control over my line weight is a great way to separate objects from one another, and can help emphasise shadows. Thicker lines can fade and disappear into the shadows, which can help convey the 3D form.
I try to avoid outlining my drawings because this tends to make things look flat and deadens the 3D effect. Breaks and spaces in my lines show form in the lights and shadows.
04. Develop your sketch
When I start drawing, I plan and explore using loose lines, and avoid committing too early with hard, dark lines. As I progress my lines will change, so checking and rechecking my work is vital. I darken my lines and add details at the end. I don’t focus on one area for too long to prevent overdrawing.
When drawing something symmetrical, I focus on the spaces between the lines, and of course keep reevaluating as I go along.
05. Check all over again
When I’ve checked my drawing, I check again. I have to nail down its underpinnings before I can add details. I really avoid guessing at the details; I want to make sure things are symmetrical and look right before putting down stronger and harder lines. I constantly ask myself, does this feel right?
If anything seems off – even if I can’t immediately put my finger on what it is – I trust my gut and troubleshoot my drawing before continuing.
06. Avoid pencil smudges
This is a valuable beginner’s tip: I always put a piece of paper under my hand to keep from smudging my drawing.
I also like to view my drawing in a mirror, through a camera, or step away from it. This way, I can get different vantage points on my drawing and detect if anything is off.
07. Realize when to finish
Like every other artist I know, even after I’ve signed my name, I will sometimes continue tinkering with my drawings. I can always find something to change if I look hard enough, so it can be difficult to tell when a piece is truly finished.
But remember that a drawing can be overdone! Eventually, I make a conscious decision to put my drawing away and start something new. That’s when I consider my drawing done.