shading pencil

9 Tips For Drawing Sketches to Improve Your Artworks

As part of our educational series, we're focusing on tips and tricks for artists wanting to start, improve and master their work. This article focuses on drawing sketches and techniques you can use to improve your work today.

The best part of sketching is that it’s relatively easy; get a sketchbook and one or two pencils, and you'll be ready to go. However, if you've been drawing simple sketches for some time, you'll be ready for top-notch lessons beyond-the-basic sketches. This will allow you to take your drawing to a whole new level.

Using these tricks and tips in your drawing workflow will give you rewarding results for your sketchbook. You should also consider having quality sketching materials like quality pencils or a pilot vanishing point pen if ink is your chosen method.

Take note of this: you don't have to be an artist to draw for anyone can draw. However, some are better artists than others, and to reach this level, you'll need to improve your drawing, especially if you're a newbie. To help you, here are nine tips to follow that’ll guide you to draw great sketches. 

Be Observant 

Drawing is 50% visual. To take a photo, you'll need to point your camera at it; the same applies to drawing. You'll need to look at the object to draw a perfect sketch. You'll need to look at the object a lot before drawing. Failure to do so, you'll likely be disappointed with the outcome. 

The time you'll spend drawing an object should be half the time you'll need to observe it. If you want to draw an elephant, you'll need to look at it for the drawing to appear perfect. Consider studying the overall look of the elephant before you start your drawing. This is a vital aspect you'll need to remember as you start drawing, especially for a newbie.

Introduction to Drawing

Take Baby Steps

This is a vital tip for any newbie. You don't have to worry if you can't draw a perfect circle or straight line. Drawing, particularly for newbies, is mainly about learning and making possible mistakes. Therefore, as you start drawing, consider taking baby steps. You can start by drawing quick sketches.

Consider drawing basic geometrical shapes such as triangles, squares, lines, and circles to get your hands started. As you continue to perfect that, you can try drawing portraits or draw human figures or the human body. 

Once you master those techniques, you can pick a subject for your drawing. You can choose either a living or a non-living object. And with your object in place, you'll need to picture where the light is illuminating from, and based on that, you can plan for your drawing in advance.

When drawing, you should always make the side facing the light source lighter and the darker it becomes as you go towards the shadow. The shadow is always the darkest part of your sketch. Ensure all parts are intense and contrast with how the light shines.

drawing sketches

Have Control Of Your Pencil

To master the art of drawing, you'll need to have control of your pencil. The closer your hand is to the end of your pencil, the more control and precision you'll have when drawing a great sketch. In that process, you'll have heavier strokes, resulting in darker markings. When you grip further up, your pencil will offer less precision and control, giving you lighter strokes and markings.

Drawing from your fingers and wrist offers a narrow range and has been promoted by the standard grip of handwriting. This drawing technique won’t give you the full potential of hand movement from your shoulder and arm while drawing. The better your pencil grasp is, the better your drawing will become. This is because when you have greater control and certainty over your drawing medium, you'll have more confidence to explore your potential.

Overhand and Tripod are the two main types of grips you should master for better sketches. You can use both techniques when working on different types of drawing media; however, you might tend to grip pencils and ink pens using Tripod grips. On the other hand, Overhand is often used when working with bulkier media. While both techniques are great, overhand can be more adaptable.

Utilize Various Textures

You'll need to up your technique to have different textures on your sketch. When shading your drawings, the last thing you'd want to do is shade a rough surface and a smooth surface with the same shade. The two should've different properties, and the way you capture them will elevate the status of your drawing thanks to the detail and accuracy you'll have depicted.

Before you start drawing sketches, you'll need to consider if your sketch will have a smooth or a rough texture. Furthermore, you'll need to consider if your texture reflects or absorbs light. A smooth and reflecting surface like chrome often has high prominent and contrast highlights. On the other hand, a rough and absorbing texture, such as cotton, features little or no highlight and low contrast.

Understand Different Shading Techniques

You can implement various sketch techniques and tips to achieve unique effects and styles. Therefore, when drawing for the first time, consider experimenting and finding the technique that best suits your needs. Doing so will help you master and enhance your drawing style. 

When drawing, you might prefer a smoother value transition while using your pencil strokes to blend a thin outline. This can suit your design by cross-hatching against the bold outline. Therefore, consider mastering different shading techniques for greater sketches.

Hatching is a shading technique that involves creating parallel lines giving the illusion of shadow and light. To create a darker value, you'll need to draw your lines close together, and for mid-tone and highlights, you should draw your lines far apart. And apply pressure on your pencil when shading darker areas.

Cross-hatching is a unique hatching shade technique that involves drawing parallel lines next to each other to create dark and light values. You'll then draw perpendicular lines at the top of your first line with a similar hatching technique. This is a vital technique as it allows artists to draw using graphite, pen, or charcoal.

Stippling is another shading technique that's similar to hatching. In this technique, you'll need to create a repeating pattern on your medium and convey dark and light areas. To render the values, you'll need to use dotting action. When drawing, let your dots be closer to each other for a darker complexion and further away for light and highlight tones.

Don't Smudge

You should avoid smudging when drawing your sketches. When shading, consider using an extra piece of paper beneath your hand. Doing so will help minimize the number of times your hand smudges the pencil line. As a right-handed individual, you should start shading from left to right, and the opposite if you're left-handed.

Drawing a clean sketch and losing its value and brilliance from smudging can be frustrating. Fortunately, you can use the smudge to your advantage each time and smoothen out your shading. You can achieve that using various tools, with a piece of tissue paper being the best for getting this job done.

Apply 70/30 Sketching Rule

One of the essential drawing tips is that less can be more. With the 70/30 rule, you can create an effective composition. The 70/30 rule idea is that 30 percent of the sketch should be filled with your main detail and focus while the other 70 percent is a filler. The area that is less interesting aids in directing attention to the primary subject of an artwork. You can apply this rule to your sketch to draw more attention to your subject.


Choose The Right Pencil

When drawing sketches, you'll need to ensure you choose the right pencil, as it's one of the essential tips for a great drawing. Consider checking the side of your pencil to find out the hardness of its graphite. Pencils marked B indicate that the graphite used is soft, while H shows that the graphite is much harder.

However, if you're looking for a pencil that sits in between, you should settle for one marked HB. This means that 4B and 4H pencils have different consistency in a drawing. As you start drawing, consider using scale H pencils as a foundation and finish with darker scale B pencils.

As you learn how to draw, it's worth considering the use of mechanical pencils along with traditional ones. Unlike traditional pencils, mechanical pencils are ideal for precision. However, traditional pencils are great for laying down bigger areas of texture. Mechanical pencils also come inserted with HB graphite that offers a middle range for drawing.

Consistent Practice

There's no better method for mastering drawing than through consistent practice. Practice is the best tip you can get when it comes to drawing. Like any skill, you'll need to practice more than you can imagine drawing some of the greatest sketches. Depending on your consistency, it’ll take time to master top-notch drawing, especially if you're new in the world of drawing. However, the idea is never to give up, and you'll get to enjoy your fruit as time progresses.


You can define drawing as an act of making marks on a surface. Judging by this definition, you can clearly understand why you're an artist, irrespective of your level of expertise. However, to become skilful at drawing, you'll need to consider various factors, as discussed in this article.

With time, instruction, practice, and more practice, you can master the art of drawing sketches. Put together the drawing tips discussed in this article, and you'll see the improvement in your drawing as time progresses. As they say, practice makes perfect; therefore, irrespective of your profession, you can become a better artist by practicing more often and adhering to essential drawing tips.

Introduction to Drawing

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