1. Start by drawing basic lines and curves.
If you’re just learning to draw, start by carefully drawing the pencil over the page in a straight line. Practice holding your hand at different angles to see what gives you the most control over the pencil, along with what feels most comfortable.
Once you feel comfortable drawing a straight line, practice rotating your wrist as you draw, which should create a curve. Try making a series of big loops on the paper, then draw tiny swirls below that. This will help you build up your hand-eye coordination so you can create the effects you want on the page.
Practice drawing lines of different lengths, thicknesses, and textures. Try to produce wavy lines, zig-zag lines, and tangled, scribbly lines.
After you get comfortable with lines and curves, try drawing shapes. For instance, you might try filling a page with two-dimensional shapes such as circles, squares, or triangles
2. Create a sense of depth by shading in a shape.
Draw a simple shape, such as a circle, and add an imaginary light source to your page. Use a pencil to lightly shade in the areas farthest from your light source, while leaving the area closest to the light source unshaded. Keep building up the shading until you have a gentle fade you have a gradient from the darkest values at the parts of the object farthest from the light source to the lightest at the area closest to the light source.
For instance, you might imagine that there’s a lamp shining down from the top left corner of the page. In that case, the top-left area of your shape wouldn’t have any shading. Just below that area, add light shading then progress to very dark shadows in the bottom right corner of your page.
Try blending your shadows with your finger, an eraser, or a cloth to soften them.
3. Make an object seem grounded in reality by adding cast shadows.
Picture your light source, then draw a shadow on the opposite side of the object from the light. The shadow should be the same shape as the object, although it may be longer or shorter than the object itself, depending on how far away the light source is and the angle of the light.
For instance, if you have a bowl of fruit on a table, the table will cast a shadow on the floor, the bowl will cast a shadow on the table, and the fruit will cast a shadow inside the bowl.
Use your finger or an eraser to blur the edges of the shadow so it looks more realistic.
4. Draw a grid on the paper if you need help with proportions.
If you’re drawing something from a source image, draw several evenly-spaced vertical and horizontal lines on your paper to make a grid. Then, draw the same lines on your source image. Look at each individual square on the source image and copy it into the corresponding square on your paper. Your finished picture should be proportionate with the original
For instance, you might draw 3 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines to make a 4×3 grid.
It’s okay if the squares aren’t the same size on your source image as they are on your paper. You’ll naturally adjust the size as you copy the picture you see in each grid. In fact, this technique is often used to resize a drawing.
6. Build an object out of different shapes.
When you’ve mastered the art of drawing and shading basic shapes, you can draw much more complex objects by breaking them up into simpler shapes. Look at something you’d like to draw—such as a human figure, a car, or your hands and try sketching out the basic shapes that make it up.
You can practice by taking an images such as a photograph from a magazine or newspapers and outlining the different shapes directly on the image. For example, take a picture of a car and outline the rectangular shape of the windshield, the circular shapes of the tires, and so on.
Once you’ve sketched out the shapes that make up your image, shade them in to create depth.
To create a more finished drawing, connect the different shapes together with lines to build a coherent whole. You can then erase the outlines of the individual shapes that you sketched in.
7. Try a contour drawing.
Contour drawing is an exercise that helps you learn to create complex, realistic outlines. Pick an object to draw and follow the outlines of the image with your eye while drawing them at the same time. Try to keep your eye on the object you’re drawing as much as possible, instead of concentrating on the hand that’s doing the drawing.
Don’t worry if the drawing isn’t perfect—just try to get the basic shape of whatever you’re looking at onto the paper.
Make a game of it by trying a continuous contour drawing—try to connect all the outlines of what you see without lifting your hand from the page or going back over what you’ve already drawn.
8. Outline your sketch first, then add details to keep your drawing proportionate.
When you’re taking a drawing from sketch to finished work, don’t worry about the small details right away. Start by filling in basic shapes and values, then clean up your drawing and add details as you go.
If you focus on intricate details too soon, you might make one part of your drawing too big or too small, and the work will feel out of balance when you’re finished.
For instance, if you’re drawing a flower, you might start by sketching out the lines of the petals and stem. Once you’ve done that, you might start adding details like the center of the flower and the curves of the leaves and petals. Finally, you would add shading and any intricate details that are left.