10 Tips and tricks for starters – How do I learn to draw?

Table of Contents

If you are a beginner in the field of drawing and painting and have made the decision to start this new, challenging hobby, you must be looking for some tips that can help. You can only master a new skill through regular practice. 

On this page, we are going to give you some help, so that you do not start blindly, but can start drawing and painting in a very focused way. 

Tip: First buy a painting by number set, so that you can already start painting.

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1. Get off to a ‘normal’ start

Many start-up artists are often dejected when it comes to getting started. They tell themselves they are not good enough and don’t even dare to start. But every journey starts with a first step. Therefore, you should ‘just’ get started, the result is not what matters in the beginning, practice makes perfect. 

If you take up a hobby regularly, you will eventually master the technique. This is the same with drawing. But as with sport, it is important not to do the same thing all the time, but to take up a new challenge and practice specifically what you are not yet good at.

2. Motives for startups

“Just pick something easy” if only it were that simple. But if you have never drawn before then it is not easy to judge what is easy and what is more difficult than you had in mind beforehand.

The rule of thumb is, motifs that consist of simple shapes and have hardly any detail are the easiest. Examples are a ball, an apple, a melon, etc. Motifs with little detail are, for example, a banana, a TV, a lamp, a simple house, or something similar.

Definitely don’t start with too many different motifs at once, this can be a hindrance. So instead of the whole fruit bowl, try drawing a piece of fruit first.

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3. Enjoy

If you have to force yourself to draw and you don’t like it, we advise you to stop immediately. So if you are not at all creatively inclined and you don’t like drawing, then you should honestly ask yourself why you want to learn it in the first place.

If a stressful life takes the enjoyment out of practicing drawing regularly, then you should definitely not force yourself to do it. Drawing should be a hobby that you enjoy and that brings you pleasure and relaxation.

4. What supplies do I need?

If you are a beginner wanting to learn to draw, you quickly ask yourself what materials ‘should’ buy. Are simple biros and a notepad enough or should it be an artist’s pencil of an expensive brand and special sketching paper?

If you want to see if drawing is the right hobby for you, you can use a simple biro and a notepad from home. But if you are determined and are sure you want to draw more often and ambitiously, special materials are definitely useful.

You don’t have to buy the most expensive brands and the very best quality to make good drawings. Even cheap brands or drawing materials from Action will give you good results. It is not the material that makes a drawing a work of art, but the skill of the artist. You should not be tempted by cheap bargains on the internet, because the same applies to drawing and painting by numbers, cheap is expensive. Low-quality materials can ensure that the fun of drawing and painting is quickly lost. 

We recommend purchasing good paper. Printer paper or college notebooks are not enough, walk to the local action and buy a stack of sketching or drawing paper for less than €5. Drawing paper is specially designed to give a completely different painting feel that normal paper does not offer.

Whether you use a biro, pencil, crayon, fine liner, or choose another material, the choice of drawing utensils depends on the draughtsman. Each material has its own pros and cons and offers its own possibilities.

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5. Talent

This is a more personal point, everyone probably knows someone who is just starting something and is immediately very good at it. There are talented people who have no trouble finding themselves to learn something new and master it in no time, other people are unfortunately not that lucky. However, talent is not a requirement to learn something – even when it comes to drawing.

Do you find yourself untalented? Then we advise you to practice more often, you will see that you will master drawing in no time.

6. Expectations too low

You should not be too critical of yourself. Your expectations should be realistic, if you expect to be a professional artist within a week, then unfortunately I have bad news. Set realistic expectations and embrace your mistakes. Then you will learn from this and execute well in no time. Remember, you got up more often while learning to walk than you fell.

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7. Applying a step-by-step difficulty scale

Some novice draughts men immediately start learning all the details and shades of new motifs to create a beautiful and realistic result as soon as possible. But often basic principles like perspective, clean contours, composition, light, shadow and tone fall outside the box of things that are learned. We recommend applying a gradual increase in difficulty. 

Instead of starting immediately withdrawing a head including facial details, hair, wrinkles, and shading, practice drawing only eyes, nose, mouth, or ears first. Once you are confident about this, start with the shape of the head and the placement of these facial parts on paper. Then start practicing hairstyles and finally, you can add shadows.

This step-by-step difficulty level ensures that you are able to refine your drawings bit by bit and don’t make all the hay. This makes for a better and certainly more enjoyable learning experience.

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8. Eye for detail

The eye of a layman will surely see above only a banana cut in half. But an artist with a real eye for detail sees much more than just a piece of fruit. What do you see as a starter?

If you have been drawing for a while, you are bound to develop an eye for detail. But you can also deliberately tear this up by training your awareness of your surroundings. This will make you see more aspects that you can draw to make your drawing more realistic. 

First, the banana is not in a perfect oval shape. So it would not be right to draw a half-moon and draw a few black spots on it and call it a banana. The back piece in particular has a big bleed in the shape towards the end. 

The banana is not perfectly yellow, the banana has some black spots, brown spots, slightly orange spots. If you look closely, you can also see a difference in the light that makes the banana a lot brighter yellow at the beginning and more dark yellow towards the end. 

To make the banana realistic, don’t forget the center of the banana, if you pay attention you can see that not every line is straight. The lines bend, the banana is not the same thickness at each point and the center is not one white dot but shades of yellow can be detected in it. 

The shadow of the banana finishes it off, this creates the most realistic effect. The cast shadow is below the banana and there is also a piece of shadow at the still.

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9. Too thick outlines

As a starter, it is usual to make the outlines very strong and striking. What is also common is for a beginner to press too hard when drawing which creates very thick lines. To improve this drawing aspect, we recommend doing loosening exercises to train in quiet line drawing. We have found for you a detailed drawing manual that explains loosening exercises, basics, and much more from a-z. Read here!

In general, lines should be set loosely, lightly, and unobtrusively at first. As you bring the sketch to life, add more pressure little by little. To avoid applying too much pressure, the pencil should be held in the right way. We explain this way in tip no. 14.

10. Too little contrast

Starters are very hesitant about drawing shadows. Although shadows can be applied to almost any drawing, there is usually no difference in the level of the shadows; the shadow is either uniformly grey or completely black. But variation will provide stronger contrasts, here you bring the shadows clearly into focus and are able to make the shadows really dark and your drawing very realistic.

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11. Stop erasing

Once you start your drawing and you already have a concrete idea of what you want to draw, you will often tend to erase. It is not as you had visualized and you erase your mistake, just wipe it away with your hand, blow and you move on again. It is a technique to embrace your mistakes and leave the lines, especially if your current skills are not at such a level to improve them. Again, the motto applies: you have stood up more often while learning to walk than you have fallen down.

Eraser problems really come to light when your lines have been pressed too hard or you have used a pencil that is too soft. Starters usually draw with a pencil of strength HB, which is an average hardness and depending on the brand, is quite soft and gives a dark color, For sketching, we recommend pencils of strength F and even better with the hardness grades of H, as a starter, low H values such as, H, H2, and H3 is sufficient, but don’t go higher than H4.

Another common problem that erasers cause is damage to the paper. We won’t go into details about the g/m2 thicknesses of papers but printer paper, and college/ notebook paper, which everyone has in their homes by default, is very thin. Therefore, this paper also creases very quickly. Most hobbyist and student drawing papers are slightly thicker. For the ultimate painting experience, we recommend the particularly robust paper. Compared to printer paper, this is considerably more expensive, but it is worth buying, as it allows you to experience the real feeling of painting and that feeling is indescribable.

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12. Stop comparing yourself

A mentor in the drawing profession can be a source of inspiration and knowledge. In general, it is recommended to select role models that you look up to, are inspired by, and want to learn from if possible. 

What you need to realize for yourself is that no one suddenly woke up and started drawing and had a super talent. All famous artists have spent years to decades refining their techniques, lines, shadows, and contours. Therefore, don’t compare yourself to your role models but try to learn from them!

13. Save everything!

Keep all your sketches and drawings, we recommend not throwing anything away. Older sketches are the only way to measure your progress. Even older attempts that have failed will provide a source of motivation when you look back and see what level you have come from. 

Challenge yourself to redraw one drawing every year, save all sketches, attempts, and final results and look over a longer period of time at the huge progress you have made!

14. Avoid hand pain while drawing

People are generally used to holding their fingers as low as possible on the drawing utensil, close to the paper, which is very understandable but not ergonomic. The pressure on the pen or pencil becomes enormous, much higher than holding the drawing utensil high. Holding drawing utensils low can cause a lot of discomfort in the hands and wrists.

To make the next point clear, we ask you to grab a pencil, hold it low and pay attention to the view you have of the paper. Then grab the pencil higher and notice the huge difference between the view you have when you grab the pencil higher. The most ideal position looks like this, the pencil is loose in the hand and the hand covers the entire length of the pencil. The thumb and index finger are not at the same height, the thumb is just slightly above them. For more precision, you can bring the thumb and index finger slightly closer together.

To avoid accidentally smearing your drawing with your hand, you can put a piece of paper under it or wear special drawing gloves.

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15. Focus on the basics

When learning to draw, it is important to master the basics. This includes elements such as lines, outlines, and shadows. These principles form the basis of all drawing, and without a good understanding of them, it can be difficult to progress to more advanced techniques.

It is important to take your time and not rush the basics. This may mean repeating the same techniques and exercises several times until they become second nature. That way, you build a strong foundation that will serve you well as you further develop your skills and explore new techniques.

It can be tempting to jump ahead and try to tackle more complex drawings, but taking the time to master the basics will pay off in the long run. It is better to have a good understanding of the basics than to struggle with advanced techniques that you are not yet ready for.

In short, don’t be in a hurry to move on from the basics. Instead, take your time and focus on mastering the basics of line, shape, and value. This will help lay the foundation for a successful and satisfying journey in the drawing.

16. Use reference photos

Using reference photos can be a useful tool when learning to draw. They can provide inspiration and serve as a starting point for your drawings. By observing real objects, people, or scenes, you can practice your observation skills and make more accurate drawings.

However, it is important not to simply copy the photo. Use the photo as a reference and put your own creative spin on it. This will help you develop your own unique style and challenge you to think outside the box. Try to capture the essence of what you see in the reference photo, rather than trying to recreate it exactly.

Using reference photos can also be a great way to practice specific techniques or styles you are interested in. Working from a reference photo allows you to focus on one aspect of drawing, such as capturing light and shadow or developing a specific color palette.

In short, reference photos can be a valuable resource for learning to draw. Use them as a starting point and let your creativity run wild as you put your own spin on your drawings.

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17. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process when it comes to drawing. In fact, mistakes can even be beneficial as they provide opportunities to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to try new things, experiment with different techniques or take yourself out of your comfort zone.

If mistakes are made, embrace them and see them as opportunities to learn. You can use the mistakes you make to point out areas for improvement and challenge yourself to find new solutions. Remember that every artist, no matter how experienced, makes mistakes from time to time.

18. Take breaks

Taking breaks from a project can be just as important as the time you spend drawing itself. This can help keep your perspective fresh and prevent burnout. If you find yourself stuck or frustrated, take a break and do something else for a while. Take a walk, stretch, or just look at your drawing from a different angle.

Taking a break from your drawing can also help you look at it with fresh eyes and identify areas that need improvement. It can be easy to drown in the details, but taking a break and looking at the bigger picture can help you see things from a different perspective.

19. Experiment!

Experimenting can be a great way to expand your skills and knowledge as a beginning artist. By trying out materials like charcoal, ink, or watercolor, you can understand the unique qualities of each medium and how you can use them to achieve different effects in your drawings.

Not only will experimenting help improve your technical skills, but it can also lead to new techniques and styles you might not have discovered otherwise. You might discover that you like a certain type of pencil more than others, or that you have a natural aptitude for a particular technique.

It is also a good idea to experiment with different surfaces, such as paper, canvas, or wood. Each surface has its own unique qualities and can influence the way the medium is applied and the final result of your drawing.

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20. Drawing to life

Last but not least! Drawing from life is a crucial part of learning to draw and improving your observation skills. By drawing real objects, people, or animals, you learn to capture the unique details and proportions that make each subject unique. This can be especially useful in improving your ability to draw realistically.

Setting up still lives at home or taking lessons in drawing from life are good ways to start drawing. You can also draw from photographs, but it is important to remember that drawing to life offers a more direct and in depth experience.

When drawing to life, concentrate on observing the subject as closely as possible, paying attention to details such as shadows, highlights, and the shape of the subject. It is also important to take your time and not rush the process. The more time you spend observing and drawing to life, the better your observation skills will become.

In short, drawing to life is an important part of learning to draw and improving your observation skills. Set up still lives at home, take classes in drawing to life, or draw from photographs to get started. The more you practice drawing to life, the better your skills will become.

Conclusion

In conclusion, learning to draw can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it does take time, patience, and perseverance. The tips in this article will help you get started as a beginning draughtsman.

From setting low expectations to understanding the role of talent and experimenting with different media, each tip is designed to help you develop your skills and find success in your drawing practice.

Focus on the basics, use reference photos, embrace your mistakes, and take breaks when you need them. Drawing to life is also an important part of improving your observational skills.

Above all, enjoy the process of learning to draw! There are going to be ups and downs along the way, but with patience and perseverance, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

Use these tips to get you started, and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the process. Don’t forget to share your results with us :)? Good luck!

Frequently asked questions

What are the basics of learning to draw?

The basics of learning to draw include mastering line, shape, and value, and understanding proportion and perspective. These elements form the basis of all drawing, and it is important to take your time and focus on mastering them before moving on to more advanced techniques..

What materials do I need to start drawing?

To start drawing, you will need some basic materials, such as paper, pencils, and erasers. As you progress, you may want to experiment with different media such as charcoal, ink, or watercolor.

Is talent important when learning to draw?

While natural talent can certainly be an advantage, it is not a requirement to learn to draw. With practice and dedication, anyone can develop their skills and become a talented artist.

What should I sign when I start?

When starting out, it is important to draw a variety of subjects, including still lifes, landscapes, people, and animals. Experimenting with different subjects will help you expand your skills and knowledge.

Is it normal to make mistakes when learning to draw?

Yes, making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow, and don’t be afraid to try new techniques.

How can I improve my observation skills as I draw to life?

To improve your observation skills when drawing to life, observe the subject as closely as possible and pay attention to details such as shadows, high lights, and the shape of the subject. The more time you spend observing and drawing to life, the better your observation skills will become.

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