Pencil Drawings:
Learning Basic Drawing Skills


Pencil Sketch For Watercolor

As a famous artist used to say "Drawing is a true test of an artist" (Ingres 1780 – 1867)

Ingres also stated it would take years and years to draw well and this should be practiced before you pick up a paintbrush! IMO, I think that is nonsense as other artists like Picasso, Durer, da Vinci and others did not take decades to become great Masters. So don't sweat the small stuff...by studying and with diligent practice, you can become a good artist with GREAT pencil drawings.

So how do we start here on the road to becoming one of the best artists? On this page (and this site), here are some of the things we will be getting involved with—these will all be tiny steps to gain skill and knowledge progressively.

  • Materials
    These will include pencils, crayons, charcoal, pen and ink, erasers, drawing paper and sketch pads.
  • Drawing Techniques
    Doodling and scribbling, thick line, thin lines, wavy lines, repeating lines, erased lines and continuous lines. All fun stuff with lines.
  • Tones and Values
    Tones and values say pretty much the same thing, they are interchangeable. Tone and values are the lightness or darkness of a color except in all drawings here we'll be using the gray scale; they also will be part of this tone/value scale
  • Using Texture
    There is a variety of textures you can use in your drawings to add interest as well as developing your own style of sketching. Textures can make or break a drawing—and there are unlimited ideas for creating textures.
  • Composition
    This is one of the important elements of drawing and painting which is often ignored by the beginner.

Your drawing media (the stuff you draw with) must be the best quality you can afford. This must include quality paper or sketch pad. Your first drawing instrument should be a pencil and one that is not too hard or too soft: My recommendations are an HB which is about the average 'medium' pencil, and a 2B. The hardest drawing pencil is about an 8H and the softest is 8B. There is a full range between these two.

Get a quality ring-bound sketch pad/book about 9x12 inches. Why a sketch pad? Because you can keep all your drawings in one place and refer back to them as you date each one to see your progress. Also a sketch pad usually has a good quality paper.

Charcoal is a great drawing medium where you can get wonderful soft gradients to very hard edges—from black to white and every tone/value in-between. Try it! Charcoal is available from quite hard to very soft and the beauty of charcoal is it is very cheap. We'll chat about the other mediums in depth later, I will add a link for you here.

When drawing a line, any line with a pencil, you have to be aware of your pencil softness, how sharp the point is, do you want a thick or thin line, what are you trying to achieve with your pencil drawing? A quick sketch or a finished drawing? In other words, what is the purpose for the drawing which must be clear in your mind?

It is a good idea when starting out to doodle as you would on a telephone pad, doodle anything while thinking about nothing. Don't assess if it is good or bad as it is for your eyes only...save it for later maybe about a week or two then have a peek at it. You'd be surprised to find your view of it has changed and you can probably see some 'life' in it where you can get ideas. Remember, this is "self expression" stuff, it is YOU.

Here are some line drawings to get you going, notice how some lines are thick, others variable, some short and some curvy.


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