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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

5 Steps To Creating Sketches That Will Satisfy You

Updated: May 27, 2020

Every artist has been to the point where he knew nearly to absolutely nothing about art and had to start with basic sketching. When I was starting to learn drawing I was wondering what the best method is at all to begin and not until then I didn't know anything about basic sketching. Today I share with you my knowledge of sketching.

What is basic sketching?

Basic sketching is a rapid method to draw not having a certain goal to accomplish and normally a sketch is not intended to be a finished or ready-to-frame artwork. It is the first exercise most artists practice at the beginning. The drawing style is exerted using rapid light lines forming bigger shapes of objects.

Now, knowing what sketching is, you might still have more questions. How do you begin to sketch as a complete beginner, what tools do you use and how long should you draw a day to become really good?

I. How Do You Start Beginner Sketching?

1. Right Pencil Grip

2. Warm-Up Exercises

3. Choose Subject

4. The Mentality

5. Adding A Final 3D Look (Optional)

1. Holding your pencil correctly is crucial for sketching because the is what mainly distinguishes the loose practice from actual drawing. Speaking of loose, this is what describes the perfect pencil grip best.

For sketching, you are practically not allowed to hold your pencil very close to the tip because that doesn't enable you to draw large and soft lines. Holding your pencil at the tip is fine when it comes to adding detail to drawings you are serious about.

Sketching is supposed to be the direct opposite of serious let alone perfect! To achieve loose and light strokes on the piece of paper of your choice, grab your pen a little higher than you would naturally do for when you're writing something for example.

Another very effective way to hold your pencil for basic sketches is holding it somehow like a computer mouse. If you want to learn more about this specific pencil grip you can read about it in this article (click) at the end of section two at "Pencil Grip & Stance".

2. Now that you've chosen one of the two pencil grips mentioned above you should do some warm-up exercises to loosen up even more. These exercises will help you to lose the feeling of having to create something extremely beautiful or perfect.

To achieve this you will want to draw simple straight lines leading to various directions. Do the same with circles in different sizes and shapes. Remember to just warm-up with that and forget about drawing a nice and perfectly round ball.

If you've decided to use the "computer mouse" grip you should also try out the belonging stance to that pencil grip. Sit or stand with your back straightened for this exercise and move your pencil over the paper only moving your shoulder and elbow joint. Hold your wrist steadily while drawing.

Of course, there are many other exercises to start drawing in general as an utter beginner, but this would be way too big of a topic to include here. Click here to get to an article only dealing with this particular subject.

3. Now, that you've loosened up a little and got the right feeling with the graphite or eventually charcoal tool in your hand you will have to choose a subject for your sketching.

Take a look at your surroundings and choose literally any possible object that draws your attention. Maybe you should be careful if it's one your first five to ten sketching sessions to choose not too complex ones.

A great possibility I've just detected right in front of my keyboard is my usual cup of coffee. Ok, I'll admit it is already the second one today... However, this is an object perfectly suited for utter beginners to sketch for the very first time as well as sketches you create later on as a little more advanced pencil artist.

Probably I'll take a minute or two after having finished this post to sketch this cup for you to have a little example. I'll insert my sketch directly beneath this paragraph so you get a feeling for how sketchings could look like.

This mug is way too long and the shadows are far from perfect. You can also see that the outline is uneven and that is okay! Sketches are supposed to be a fast way of drawing and seeing where you're at.

(btw... In this sketch, I've used the homemade blending stump for the first time that we created in this step by step guide on how to make your own paper blending stump. Click the link if you want to build your own.)

What sketches look like in the end—whether you shade them or not (which we'll be talking about in a minute)—is important to know. A free tip from me to you is to just look at basic sketches of other people at your stage or higher.

Look at this sketch, for example, I found on the forum Quora:

This example shows perfectly what a sketch should approximately look like. It should be vague, messy and even look unfinished. Let's take a look at what the artist was able to achieve to create using this very sketch.

You see, every great artist has at some point started with basic sketching and it is even possible to, later on, perfect the artwork to a realistic drawing.

4. This has now led us to find the right mentality you need to have for sketching. No one is perfect at the very beginning and as I've already mentioned several times your sketches should not be intended to be perfect at the end.

Look at the act of sketching as a kind of drawing practice and nothing more. Being aware of this makes you let go more and once more loosen up. If not by now already you have hopefully noticed now, that being relaxed is essential for sketching sessions.

If you keep listening to the little perfectionist inside of you, you won't be able to sketch as you're supposed to. Kick out that guy inside your head for a little bit of time and if you really need him you can let him in again afterwards.

It is just important to be open-minded and relaxes during the sketching process itself. This will make you draw more freely, lighter and by that, you will be more open to trying out new things on the paper to grow and learn from sketching.

5. We're finalizing this section with one last piece of advice that can be the next step toward a great drawing if you wish to continue your sketch. Adding a three-dimensional look to your sketch by shading the artwork a little bit is clearly completely optional.

Nevertheless, shading in your sketches can be very helpful because most of the time you've already lost the tempting desire to create something perfect out of that sketch enabling you to try different things for shading.

Before you start shading at all make sure to check exactly how light and shadow are represented on your subject. Where is the center light, the highlight? Where is the halftone, if there is one, and how does the cast shadow look like?

If you have no idea, what I'm talking about right now, check out this article's fourth section where I explain exactly how to analyze lights and shadows:

Trying different variations of shading is also important for you to learn multiple skills and not hold on to only one without even trying alternatives. One possible shading technique for a sketch work would be hatching for example.

Another option to shade is by adding small lines all in one direction located in the core shadow areas of your subject. Within your sketches, you are naturally also welcome to try complete non-sense patterns to shade such as small circles or whatever else comes to your mind.

II. Which Type Of Pencil Is Best For Sketching?

At first let me say, that I always prefer using graphite pencils for sketching and if you're a beginner you should use regular graphite pencils, too. Charcoal is always so tempting to smudge and blend, which should only be of secondary significance if at all.

Before I recommend to you what pencils are best to use for sketching I would like to explain to you the meaning of the different letters on pencils. I've asked myself that question for many years. Unfortunately, I haven't even listened to my art teachers at school...

Well, anyway, the letters indicate the softness of your pencil. This can be subdivided into mainly two categories, that are hard and soft. But what does the B stand for then exactly? Good question.

The "H" on a pencil stands for "hard".

The "B" on a pencil stands for "blackness".

As you might have already guessed the most common "HB" pencil is the optimal middle of that softness and blackness range. Having cleared that up at first still leaves you asking what of them is suited best for your basic sketching sessions.

I, personally, mostly use the common and regular HB pencil initially. When the sketch finally takes on a form that can be identified as the subject I want to sketch, I move on an take the next "blacker" pencil I have.

1B or 2B is what I'm choosing next for the sketch. I use these slightly darker and softer pencils to create a stronger outline. By that, I achieve a clearer shape of the subject so it doesn't look that messy anymore.

Finally, when you decide to shade your art I would recommend using an even softer pencil than before. Take a softness anywhere from 4B to 7B. With these soft pencils, you are now able to slightly shade the darker parts of the object.

Use a paper blending stump e.g. to smudge the shaded parts. This will make the shading look a lot smoother than before and will give your sketch a very acceptable and sufficient three-dimensional look.

III. Related Questions

1. How Long Should You Practice Drawing A Day?

Drawing on a daily basis is the best thing you can do to build up sufficient self-confidence with pencils. If you want to genuinely see drastic improvements you should practice between 1 and 3 hours per day. The more it is the faster you progress.

2. What Is The Difference Between Sketching And Drawing?

Sketching is the rapidly created and messy looking drawing style. You use many light strokes and over time and various improvements you can create a finished drawing out of a sketch.

3. Is A Sketch A Drawing?

The sketch is the basis for creating a drawing later on. The sketch is always created at first disregarding the result you want to achieve with it in the end. The end product is a finished drawing.

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