How to learn to draw?

Learning to draw is a challenge that many people want to give themselves. However, the art of drawing remains difficult, and many people get discouraged. In order for this not to happen, and for you to progress in your art, it is necessary to be able to train with simple exercises, and that you acquire the main fundamentals of drawing, which will allow you to enjoy drawing, and witness your progress.

Drawing is not just for others.

At first sight, when beginners see an illustrator demonstrating his/her artistic talents, making a creative drawing in only a few seconds, while on their side, they can't get a convincing result for their first sketches, they may wonder if knowing how to draw doesn't require a special gift. If you feel this way, remember that all the greatest artists have gone through this process and that they too had to learn the basics of drawing. It is the same for anyone, and even if for some, practicing drawing and learning how to draw seems more natural and quicker, to develop one's style and to become a confirmed and recognized artist requires above all work, a great motivation, and an improvement requiring many hours. The different drawing techniques must therefore be learned step by step, and if you take the time to master each of them with precision, that you draw regularly in order to find your own style, and that you remain curious about everything that can be done in terms of illustration and art in general, there is no reason why you should not become as good at drawing as other sketchers.

The simplicity of pencil and paper, the power of a graphic tablet

Get the right equipment.

To learn how to draw on paper.

Paper remains the most natural element for learning how to draw, and we can never say it enough, but a sheet of paper, or a drawing book, with a simple HB pencil, can allow you to draw any sketch. Forget the eraser at first, this one is made for light retouching, and it is preferable when you want to start drawing, to start over your sketch, rather than erasing a whole part of it. In order to go a little further, once the basic techniques of pencil drawing are acquired, investing in additional material, such as colored pencils, a black felt pen, a range of pencils with different lead sizes, and why not in other more singular elements such as ballpoint pen, pastel, or charcoal for example, can be a plus for the beginner drawer, in order to discover new ways of drawing, to develop his or her creativity, and to have a complete arsenal to draw in a more professional way.

To learn digital drawing.

Although paper is preferred for learning to draw easily, getting into digital drawing from the start can be an interesting idea, especially if you want to specialize in digital illustrations later on. Indeed, these computer programs, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, have many advantages, especially in the selection of tools offered, from brushes to markers, through all the options of effects and colorization, which allow you to try many styles. This makes drawing and learning more creative, and you can easily try your hand at any style of painting, such as oil, watercolor, acrylic, or even chalk or spray drawings, for example. But getting to grips with a graphics tablet can take some time, even for those who are already well advanced in their traditional techniques, as the hand-eye coordination, requiring you to look at the computer screen when drawing with a pen, is not natural. This is why, in order to link the learning of drawing on paper, while familiarizing yourself with the tools of graphics software, investing in a hybrid graphics tablet, such as the Repaper by ISKN, can be a real alternative for the apprentice drawer. It allows you to use the power of graphics software while working directly on a sheet of paper with your favorite pencil. The latter is equipped with a magnetic ring, which allows to retranscribe all the movements and inclinations, and the sensitivity to the pressure of the working surface of the graphic tablet, allows your traditional drawing to be transmitted directly to your graphic software, in a precise and realistic way. Thus, you can learn to use the graphics software, while completing your training in the traditional way, with the most recommended tools for a beginner who is learning to draw.

Some exercises to learn how to draw.

Practice your dexterity.

To know how to draw well, you must already know how to draw geometric shapes with ease and confidence. A graphic work is nothing more or less than the superposition of circles, squares, vertical and horizontal lines, curves, etc. A simple method to master these simple shapes is to make a quick drawing of just these shapes. Take a sheet of paper and keep it straight, facing you, and draw circles of different sizes until there is no more room on your paper. You will see that drawing circles in this way is not so easy, as a circle can quickly take on an oval shape. Similarly, do the same thing by making a series of vertical and horizontal hatchings until your paper is filled. Keeping your paper straight requires effort and dexterity from your wrist, which will help you later on to be able to draw effectively in many positions.

Make your first sketches.

You feel comfortable with simple geometric shapes, and your pencil stroke is becoming more confident. You can then start by making an easy drawing. Take an object, or perhaps a part of the human body such as your hand or forearm, and try to reproduce the main lines of your model, whether lively or not. The goal here is not to make a precise drawing full of realism, but rather to use your dexterity previously trained, in order to make more complex shapes and to make your brain work to acquire automatisms. Practice more and more, and once you have fully mastered the contours of an object, don't stop there. Go further by incorporating some secondary details and lines. From detail to detail, you will get more and more realistic drawings, and all the techniques you develop over time will be useful in many styles.

Work on your perspectives.

Making simple drawings is within your reach, now you must start to perfect your art and give volume to your sketches, by tackling perspective drawing. Indeed, perspective is essential when you want to draw a landscape or any drawing with a depth effect. It is best to start with simple shapes like the cube. This easy drawing is the one with which we can best work on vanishing points and proportions, in order to start with perspective. To practice thinking in three dimensions, and to give depth and volume to your drawings, you must first understand how to give this effect on a sketch made in 2D. Draw a small vertical line in the center of your paper and a large horizontal line at the top of your paper, which will be your horizon line, without making them intersect. On the horizon line, place two points on either side of the line. Each point is what we will call a vanishing point, which is where you are looking. Connect each end of your vertical line to your vanishing points, and you will see the first edge of your cube take shape. In each of the two triangles that formed to the left and right of this one, place another vertical line, and connect the top of these with your vanishing points. Your cube will be drawn. You can see the importance of the vanishing points and the horizon line in perspective, but this is just an introduction to the basics of this technique. You will have to invest in a book to learn how to draw, dealing more in-depth with this aspect, or take drawing classes, to fully master perspective in your work.

Give texture to your first drawings.

Finally, the last exercise in order to finalize works that already combine details and perspective, is to give them texture thanks to shadows and variations of tints. A simple technique, still frequently used in manga drawing or comics for example, is to make shadows with hatching. An exercise that allows you to work on shading and volume efficiently is to take a piece of crumpled fabric as a model, draw the outline of it to make a sketch, and reproduce each variation of light by making more or less dense hatchings in the places that seem most coherent to you. Modulate your hatch lines by making them follow the curves of the fabric, or make a compact mesh for the darkest places. The goal here is to understand how to best reproduce light variations with little material. This will help you later on to manage the effects of light and dark in your designs.

Tips for learning how to draw.

Give yourself room.

When learning to draw, it is important to have a spaced work surface, where your movements will not be hindered by any object. Provide a large space on your desk that allows you to move your elbow as you wish, but also to turn the paper without obstacles, in order to draw at your best. You also need to organize your materials so that you can access them quickly, without them getting in the way of your drawing practice. Also, organize yourself in order to have, at best, a large natural light at the level of the place where you draw, or at least a well-placed lamp, so that it does not disturb you, and that it does not project the shadow of your body or objects placed in the surroundings on your sheet. By being comfortable, you will be able to learn to draw much more serenely, without being hindered.

Think and visualize.

Before starting to draw, especially when you want to make creative works, directly from your imagination, without a model, it is important to pause for a moment, to visualize the space and to think about how you will build the major shapes of your drawing. If for an experienced illustrator, this step is quick, because his or her brain has been trained to do this for many years, the beginner must take the time to do it. With practice, it will become natural, and the thinking will become faster and faster, until you don't even think about it anymore before starting to create a drawing.

Draw again and again, and be critical.

What will really differentiate a young artist from an experienced one is not his or her talent, but his or her ability to practice and learn new things. For this, it is important to practice every day, so that drawing remains a natural practice for the mind, and so that self-confidence grows with time. To be inspired by the outside world, to draw always different sketches, to try new techniques, it is important to work on all these aspects frequently, but also to know how to make one's own criticism, in order to improve always more. Showing your work to other people, like a drawing teacher or other artists for example, will allow you to get improvement. Drawing is a lifelong learning process, and your style will evolve as you learn.


Learning to draw requires a whole range of techniques, which allow you to progress in a natural way, and to develop your creativity. Having coherent equipment, and practicing simple drawings at first, will allow you to acquire the basics, and not to get demoralized by wanting to pass the stages too quickly. Drawing is above all a question of work and perseverance, and you will need to bring these qualities together to become a confirmed drawer, producing the most beautiful graphic works.

The simplicity of pencil and paper, the power of a graphic tablet
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