Last Updated on February 21, 2023
At its base level, drawing is the most simple art form. Furthemore, it can be very meditative, pleasurable and fun and, if you wish, it can also become a source of income.
Improving your drawing skills will take your art to another level. Understanding, for example, shade, perspective, shape, and, most importantly, the value in keeping things simple, will really help you.
Mastering some simple skills will really help your drawing abilities to grow.
So, if you are starting out, here are 10 tips for beginners that will improve your drawing skills.
1. Try Tracing
One of the benefits of painting is that it helps improve your fine motor skills (movements in our hands and wrists using small muscles).
But this improvement comes slowly over a period of time.
It’s simplistic to tell you to practice consistently (although that will help) to see the quickest results, but one way to add some fuel to your progress is to trace.
This may feel like cheating. After all, it won’t purely be your work. But tracing helps beginner drawers (and painters) in several ways.
It will help you fine-tune your drawing skills by improving your muscle memory when it comes to creating angles and curves that are often hard to accomplish right away.
Tracing can also give you an outline to work with, allowing you to be creative after removing the original piece.
2. Use Perspective
As a beginner drawer looking to create a realistic composition, you should focus on mastering the art of perspective.
Perspective is simply the angle from which you view the world.
This can be a tricky skill to add to your repertoire when drawing, but it can soon become the backbone of your drawings.
Practicing perspective will help you be able to draw accurate images whose shape and size change depending on how far it is from the line of sight.
The way to practice this is to create a light grid across a piece of paper and try to fill it in.
So, if you are drawing a person sitting, for example, and you see that the person’s elbow is parallel to their knee, you can align them on your drawing, using the grid as a guide.
You can just get a ruler and lightly draw grid lines across and down your page in a minute or so.
3. Draw Shapes
While learning perspective is a great way to frame your world, improving the drawing of various shapes flows into each genre of art.
We’ve been drawing shapes since we could walk, so it can be frustrating to see how difficult it can be to create a simple circle.
Thankfully, there are several ways to work on this handy skill.
One of them is via tracing which we mentioned in point 1.
Practice and muscle memory will help your shapes come to life exactly how you imagine them in your head, whether that be for a lifelike piece or something more abstract.
Furthermore, if you spend time tracing from life, such as with the help of a magazine, your ability to see shapes in the world around you will greatly help your artistic expression.
4. Start Using the Shapes
With a handle on shapes, take some time to put them to good use. It can be tempting to dive into a composition and draw from mind to hand.
But, instead of doing that, translate your vision into a series of shapes.
For example, you want to draw a dog. Rather than drawing a basic outline and then filling in the details, begin with circles, ovals, and rectangles.
Start with a circle for the head, oval for the torso, and rectangle for the legs, and so on.
This will provide you with a great sense of space to make sure that your drawing is not out of proportion.
By keeping these shapes fine, you can easily erase them. From there, fill in the gaps and add in the detail.
5. Capture Photographs and Life
Put aside the tracing paper and make use of your shapes as you try to recreate photography and the world around you.
Start off with photographs, as it’s easier to recreate something that’s already 2D.
During this step, keep an eye on the photo’s proportion and scale as it may have distorted shapes.
Continue practicing and each time your image transferral will be even more accurate.
The second step is to practice still life. This is a common art genre that dates back to Roman and Egyptian times.
It’s a great skill for beginner drawers to work on, as you can use anything from around the house.
To keep things interesting, use objects that you love, from that chic coffee mug to your favorite teddy bear.
For a true challenge, draw your own hand.
6. Keep All Your Drawings
One of the easiest ways, as a beginner, for you to improve your drawing skills is to keep everything you create.
Early days, these pieces may not be game-changers, but they are important markers on your art journey.
By cataloging your pieces, you will be able to analyze your previous drawings if you’re trying a similar piece and also track your overall progress.
There are two key benefits to keeping these drawings:
- They act to give you a clear indication of your improvement over time
- You will gain a lot of satisfaction from seeing the improvement over time. It takes time but, if you stick with it, you WILL see the progress!
So grab a folder to keep all of your drawings in and do not forget to date each piece and sign it.
7. Master Stick Figures
Yes, stick figures were the staple of our drawings as a five-year-old and yes, they’re just as handy today.
This may sound like counterintuitive advice.
After all, we are trying to create our best work possible. But, just like the use of shapes, stick figures allow us to begin at the base and slowly bring the canvas to life.
Whether you’re creating realistic or free-form pieces, starting with the most simple of objects will pay major dividends in the long run.
As we have been drawing stick figures for years, you will be starting with something familiar, providing your piece with fertile soil. With the basic layout complete, dive into the shapes and details.
8. Doodle on Your Breaks
Whether you’re on a break at work or sitting in an airport lounge for an hour waiting for your flight departure, a fun way to improve your skills is to doodle.
Think of this as an artistic form of meditation. But rather than sitting still and letting your mind roam, grab a pencil and let your hand guide you.
Doodling is a great way to practice shapes in a casual and fun manner.
You can also stoke your creativity by letting your imagination flow.
A simple doodle can quickly turn into something more, forming the base of your next drawing.
9. Choose the Right Paper
At the start of your drawing journey, the idea of investing more money into your new hobby may seem daunting.
That we can understand, but after following the above steps, you should see your work improve and your enjoyment of drawing grow.
To make your pieces even more impressive, the simplest thing you can do is improve the quality of the paper you draw on.
Paper straight out of the printer doesn’t have a fine texture, meaning those who love to shade won’t get the same reward as those who get their hands on drawing paper or buy a sketchbook.
This process can be a bit of trial and error, as the variety of drawing paper, from cold-pressed to hot-pressed, works best for different styles.
10. Pursue Education to Learn Further Drawing Skills
The above tips will help form a foundation for your art.
By beginning with the basics, you will develop the most important skills of all, i.e. perspective and shapes.
Once you feel you have a good grasp on the concepts and have developed your own style, it’s time to dive in a little deeper.
There are several ways to invest in your art education.
One is an art class. Not only will you learn skills, but the classroom setting can keep you accountable for your goals. Secondly, the Internet.
It’s a wide-open world of videos and tutorials that will be specific for your style and where you want to take your work.
Hi. I’m Dr Valeria Lo Iacono, a lady in her 50s living in the UK. I write about the over-50s and 60s lifestyle including on travel, health, food, and fashion.