Drawing is a skill that everyone wants to improve, but many believe that the talent for drawing is something natural. This is simply not true. With a watchful eye and patience, anyone can become better at drawing.
Method 1 of 3: Improving Your Drawing Skills
Step 1. Draw every day
Practice, practice, practice. That's the mantra of world-renowned artists and practice is a surefire way to improve the quality of your images. Even just spending a few minutes a day sketching will engage your brain with your artwork and help you learn new techniques.
Step 2. Carry a sketchbook with you wherever you go
If you always carry a small notebook with you, you've opened up opportunities to draw on everything from passengers on buses to natural landscapes to stunning city skylines. You have to practice to become a better draw, so make yourself practice whenever you can.
Step 3. Buy different types of pencils
Pencils are made up of various values that tell you how hard the pencil is and the thickness of the stroke. A pencil labeled "H" will get progressively harder and leave faint fine lines. While the pencil labeled "B" is suitable for making darker thick lines.
- The standard set of beginner pencils available at most art supply stores may include 4H, 3H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 3B and 4B pencils.
- Play around with your new pencils to check the taste of each one. Notice the differences in the resulting lines and try to use a few different types of pencils on different drawings.
Step 4. Experiment with textures, colors and blending
Use a few pages from your sketchbook to experiment with how the pencil brings out color, how your fingers or tissue blend colors together and how to shade simple ball shapes. You have to understand how your tools work to improve image quality and use the right pencil for the right lines.
Create three to four timelines and practice making transitions. How can you use each pen to shade the line from completely black to completely white?
Step 5. Take an art class near you or study art theory
While many young artists feel as though they can teach themselves how to draw, there are a variety of techniques that can only be learned from experienced teachers. Spend your time practicing perspective, proportion and drawing from living models. Time spent in an art studio with an art teacher can help you find mistakes and fix them faster than if you tried on your own.
Check local art supply stores, parks or community colleges to find out about drawing classes
Step 6. Draw objects from photos or other images
While you shouldn't copy another artist's work and acknowledge it as your own, you can learn valuable techniques by hand copying a photo or image you admire. Since the photo is two-dimensional, you will take the mental stress off of learning perspective and focus solely on the lines and angles.
- Practice repainting classic drawings to learn from prominent figures – da Vinci was once the king of drawing human anatomy and his drawings can teach you a lot.
- Never trace because it means you're not really practicing drawing, just drawing lines.
Step 7. Draw in reverse
Drawing upside down will force you to forget about trying to make the picture look right and instead encourage you to draw what you actually see. You can get similar results by drawing through a mirror or practicing with distorted or Photoshop-edited images.
Step 8. Study your source material
Drawing accurate contours takes more than looking through photos online. The best artists and art teachers turn their attention to books, real-life examples and studies to understand the lines they draw. However this depends on the type of image you are working with. All artists can make the most of their time when they're not drawing every now and then.
- If you draw people, buy an illustrated book on human anatomy or take a drawing class with live models.
- If you draw animals, spend a day with your sketchbook at the zoo or buy an illustrated book on animal anatomy.
- If you're drawing landscapes or cityscapes, you'll need to buy a perspective book to help accurately create depth in your drawings.
Step 9. Buy a wooden art doll
These little standing dolls have multiple joints that you can move into certain positions and have perfect human body proportions. Because of this, wooden art dolls can come in handy when you are trying to draw complex poses. Just place the doll into the right position and use it to sketch your drawing and add character details later.
- If you can't get a model, use a template from your biology class at school to learn about proportions.
- There are also precise models of hands, heads and skeletal systems available, although these are often more expensive.
Method 2 of 3: Refine the Contour Image
Step 1. Be aware that contour drawings consist only of lines
Contours are the outline of your drawings. At this stage there is no blending and shading, there are only lines. Drawing good contour lines is important for your final image, as it is at this stage that you give the image shape and proportion.
In general, contour lines are the first thing you make in your drawing
Step 2. Create guide lines for yourself
This is often overlooked by budding artists who choose to jump right into their work, but guidelines are essential to getting accurate drawings. For example, if you're drawing a large scene, start with light lines that divide the image into three parts horizontally or vertically. You will have four little squares on the page. These boxes will help frame your image and fit all the elements into place, giving you a point of reference as you work.
Step 3. Focus on the proportions first
Proportion is the difference in size between two objects. If for example you draw your arms and legs out of proportion, the drawing will look rough and unbalanced. Close one eye and align your pencil with the subject of the drawing. Your arms should be completely extended forward. Use a pencil as a ruler and mark the length of the object with your thumb. Then you can compare these distances with other objects on the page, or even use a pencil to mark specific distances on your drawing page.
You can also use guidelines to help with this step. In which "box" of guidelines is the subject suitable to be included? Does the subject take up the entire page or only a third of it?
Step 4. Sketch the base of each image before continuing
There's no worse feeling than halfway through a drawing and just realizing that your character's arms are too short. Skilled drafters know how to avoid this by blocking the image first. Use simple shapes to mark the proportions of each object. For example, make an oval shape for a person's head, a round rectangle for the body and longer elbows for each arm and leg. Continue to adjust these blocks until you are sure of the pose and proportions of each object.
- Make sure you make these marks thin, so you can easily erase them later.
- Make small circles or dots for each joint to help you "move" your arms and legs into accurate poses.
Step 5. Slowly add details to the existing contours
Add a level of complexity with each of these concepts. First add the guidelines and a simple scarecrow. Then add basic shapes and poses. After that, add permanent lines above the outline, then connect each joint, add facial features, etc. Think about creating the final contour of the body by connecting the joints so that you get a recognizable shape.
- Once you're satisfied with your new lines, erase the thin contour lines from under the new image.
- Work slowly, drawing each line carefully and erasing when you're not satisfied. The contour lines must be accurate for the final image quality to improve.
Step 6. Draw from the largest object to the smallest object
Never draw from the details first. Once you've completed the basic contours, it's time to work on the details of the drawing. Most artists get bogged down in this section at the start, making them spend all their time and energy on the small details while neglecting the larger proportions.
Step 7. Practice perspective drawing to give the scene realistic depth
Perspective is the reason why objects that are farther away appear smaller and those that are closer appear large. One way to practice is to use perspective points. Think of the perspective point as the farthest point on the horizon, like the sun before setting. Dance a straight line from this point to fit it into your image. Anything closer to the perspective point is further away from you and therefore smaller. While anything away from that point means closer to you.
Draw two diagonal lines coming from the perspective point. Anything that fits between the two lines is the same size as the real-world example, even though the perspective makes it look as if it's different
Method 3 of 3: Perfecting the Shading Technique
Step 1. Know that shading gives depth to the drawn object
Shading is what makes an image look alive and keeps it from looking boring. A big part of the three-dimensional illusion of a good image lies in the shading. But shading is a difficult technique to master, especially when you're trying to shade something based on imagination or memory.
Shades can also act as lines. Imagine two small bumps between your nose and upper lip (also called the philtrum). You can't draw a line to draw a philtrum, as this will make it stand out and be unrealistic. Try shading or shading the area instead, lightly darkening the surrounding area to make it "look" in the center of the dark areas
Step 2. Think about light sources
Shadows are created because they are exposed to less light than other parts of the scene. Where the light comes from, what type it is, and even the time the image was created will all affect your shadow. Shadows form on the opposite side of the light source. For example, if I put a ball down and shine light on it from the right side, the left side of the ball will appear darker. This is where you will shade when you draw the ball.
Step 3. Pay attention to the edges of the shading
The edge of the shading is how quickly the shading disappears. Imagine you're trying to make a shadow puppet -- when your hand is close to the light and the wall, there's a sharp edge where your shadow meets the light; however when your hand is further away the shadow will fade slowly into the light. However keep in mind that all shadows have slightly soft edges. The difference between shading and contouring is the degree of fading of the edges.
- Direct light such as spotlights and the bright sun create dramatic shadows with defined edges.
- Indirect light sources such as a lamp burning in the distance, multiple lamps, or the sun on an overcast day, create softer, subdued shadows with faded edges.
Step 4. Map out your shading before starting
Draw soft, smooth lines around the edges of the shadow image before starting to create it so you know where your work is going.
- Map out the highlights (highlights): where is the light the brightest? Is there a blinding light?
- Sketch the shading: at what point do the shadows of each object start and stop?
- Contour the harsh shadows. Are there dark shapes produced by light, such as a person's shadow in the sun?
Step 5. Focus on gradual transitions
Shading is the art of gradually changing the amount of light from one area to another. Start by lightly drawing, shading around the object with the lightest pencil strokes. Continue working on the image by slowly filling in the darker areas, one level of darkness at a time.
Step 6. Blend your shading
This is a great way to create gradual, realistic shadows on any image. Using a tissue, your finger or thin lines with your pencil, blend the darker areas to the lighter ones by rubbing from the dark to the light areas. Most pencils will blend only slightly, while charcoal drawing allows you to dramatically blend the shading with your fingers.
Step 7. Practice shading simple objects
Arrange a basic inanimate object for you to use as an object for shading practice. Just place some simple, easy-to-draw objects (a ball, small squares, water bottle, etc.) under a bright light. Draw the contours of the objects, then practice shading the pictures of the objects exactly how you see them.
- As you get better at it, add clear objects, intricate shapes or a second light source to practice more difficult shading techniques.
- Shade used children's coloring books which usually have simple contour lines for further practice.
Step 8. Learn the different types of shading
While the most realistic form of shadows is an even, gradual blending (called "smooth shading"), there are different styles of drawing shadows for different artists and drawing styles. For example, many caricatures use cross-hatching or dots to create shadows. However, the basic principle remains the same - more strokes means darker shadows. Try a few different types of shading to find what works best for you.
- Hatching: single straight lines that create shadows. The more lines the darker the shadow.
- Cross-hatching: Diagonal lines criss-cross each other that casts shadows. The wider the distance between the lines, the brighter the shadow. This is perfect for shading striped objects such as hair or feathers.
- Stippling: A collection of small black dots that form a shadow. Adding more dots makes the shadow look darker, so you may not be able to see that the edges of the darker shadow are made up of dots.
- Circular Shading: Make small overlapping circles with a pencil to trace your shadow. The more time you spend making circles overlap in one area, the darker that area will be. This technique works best with colored pencils.
- Experiment with mistakes. It could be that a wrong line you drew can make your drawing look better later on! Compromising with your work is a great way to discover techniques that will help you master your skills in the future.
- Visit art galleries and browse the internet for works by artists you love for inspiration.