Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's your favourite tip about drawing?

What's your favourite tip about drawing that you always share?  

Three of my tips about drawing

  1. Carry a sketchbook with you all the time and you will do a lot more drawing.  There are lots of occasions when you can pull out a sketchbook for a quick sketch - plus it records your life as lived! (The sketch below was done while waiting to see the Consultant at the Dental Hospital last week!)
  2. When drawing in life class work out where the middle of the body is. That way I stand half a chance of filling the page but not having to crop the head or the feet!
  3. Use a battery eraser to draw as well as to erase. Drawing involves changing the surface and that can mean removing media as well as laying it down.
The Queue at Reception at the Dental Hospital 7 January 2014
pen and ink in Moleskine Sketchbook

Why I'm asking for your tips about drawing

My reason for asking about your favourite tips about drawing is that I've got my head down right now - writing the book about drawing and sketching that I've been commissioned to do. (see previous posts I've been asked to write a book.... and I'm writing the book this week)

The book has five different sections so I have five different files on the go as I try to meet the criteria for the number of topics, number of words, number of double page spreads and number of images. Flex any one of four to create a problem! ;)

At the moment, I'm working my way through trying to complete the text for double page spread after double page spread.  I'm not a sequential writer - I tend to work pretty much as I draw. I start with sketching in the overall structure (the table of contents) - then start to pad that out (the flatplan) then start to add in content (sample double page spreads) and now I'm into the solid workload of actually producing text and images for 80 double page spreads!  Plus editing down the first pass on the content.

The fact of the matter is I've got too many tips at the moment(!) and I need to start editing down - so I want to know which are your favourites tips about drawing  to make sure these are the ones which don't get edited out!

The favourite ones are:
  • the ones you always remember, 
  • the ones that made a big difference to how you draw and sketch
  • the ones you always share and pass on to others
So - what's your favourite tip about drawing that you will always value and like to share?

To leave a comment click the link to the right of my name and date below.


  1. RELAX ! Sometimes getting to the area where I want to sit quietly and draw is a hectic experience. Sitting down comfortably, closing my eyes and talking to myself for a few minutes about the reason WHY I want to draw at this time, at this place helps me to focus immediately and leave the rest of the world behind.

  2. 'Always be prepared to change your mind about a mark you made earlier'
    'Draw it again and again, better'.

    Good luck Katherine

  3. That's a REALLY GOOD ONE - and more importantly I'd left it out although it's something I always try and do myself.

    Classic "can't see wood for trees" moment!

  4. Julie - another couple of great ones. I've got variations on them but I think you may have said it better!

    I'm sending you an email......

  5. Look at the values, because they can make or break a good drawing.

  6. Absolutely spot on Melissa!

    I've got a whole section on values - I may have repeated myself on this one! :)

  7. Always look at the values, because they can make or break a good drawing. Value affects the composition and what your eye goes to and certainly makes a drawing pop with depth.

  8. Melissa - I agree, and I think that perhaps values ARE the drawing..

  9. I always remember myself to look at the object instead of the drawing.

  10. Yes on the eraser, drawing is (or can be) adding and removing.
    Based on your 3 criteria I have 2 that serve me well.
    Similar to tips from both 'EstelleDeRidder' and 'Leda'.

    I will generally use one or the other depending on my temperament at the time.

    'Let go of any fear of making a bad drawing and just let it happen or evolve'

    This is a more intuitive approach and works well when I am not as focused mentally (or in a hectic environment).
    Sometimes I try TOO HARD and end up with a worse drawing/sketch.
    I start by just making a mark (pun intended) and let it evolve from there, letting my imagination have it.

    'Look or study very carefully and record the essentials'

    This is a more cerebral approach, almost doing more looking (and asking myself questions) than drawing. Very deliberate in execution.

    For me it is important to recognize (in myself) which one to use, or which 'mode' I am currently in, at least as a starting point, and I will have a more enjoyable drawing experience.

    It is like gestural drawings as a warm up before more studied drawings in life drawing sessions. It helps to focus my attention (brain).

    or when I am too out of control drawing loose (gesture) I will slow it down and draw more carefully, then I can go back to looser if I want.

    Nothing new, but we humans forget sometimes!

  11. Don't waste time erasing incorrectly placed lines., draw over the original line and leave it. It adds character to the drawing.

    Draw from the shoulder.

    Draw something, anything, every day, as if your life depended on it.

  12. The one most important tip I received as a young artist and has stuck with me forever was to : always remember the beauty of each stroke. I do and the rest follows.

  13. Observation is everything - it's about what you see and not what you think you see.

  14. Look carefully at where the light falls on your subject(s. Also, make sure the sun isn't in your eyes! Even with sunglasses and a hat on you will probably get a squinty headache!

  15. Look 3 times, draw once. You don't have to look at the page all the time to draw. You can also draw in your head if you're without any kit.It's all practice. One thing I've noticed , and it's very nice, is that as I've got older people leave me alone to draw. When I was younger there was always some man coming up and commenting. Now I am blissfully invisible!

  16. Draw from the shoulder is a very good one that I'll second.

    Draw the negative space. (this can help a beginner, or anyone, to draw what they actually see and not what they think they see)

    Don't just think in lines, remember lines are just the turning point of the volumes of objects.

    Don't just use point of the tool in your hand. Use the side, the other end, your eraser, your hand, your palm, your spit. ;)

  17. 1.When drawing look at the objects most of the time and occasionally glance at the paper to check on angles and proportions.
    I learnt this useful tip from Betty Edwards book Drawing on the artist within.

    2. To me making adjustments searching for an edge when drawing sometimes feels like sculpting with clay

  18. 1. Have my sketchbook handy at all times.

    2. Start with the large masses and then progressively work towards finer details.

    3. Tones really make a sketch work.

    All the best,

  19. For me something that works is to make one quick sketch, then either erase it and begin again, or, easier, take another paper and draw the same thing again. For everytime I draw the subject it gets more and more familiar to my brain and my fingers. A

    Something else is to let go of fear and accept mistakes, something that has taken me a long time to learn. Even though I am fifty I suffer from todays madness "everything at once" or " instant gratification " ( correct english?). I can see it in my children too. They give up if a drawing ( or anything really)does not turn out as well as they want to. We have to learn that to learn something takes time. Do it again, and again, and again! I am by no means good at drawing, but I enjoy it immensely and I can see progress, and that is a reward for not giving up!

    My husband, who loves architecture, says he hopes you will have something about drawing architecture in your book!

    Good luck!

  20. Thanks!

    I will indeed have something about drawing buildings - and it's part written as it stands

    If your husband wants to add his own tips he's more than welcome to join in! :)

  21. Draw often and I don't just mean once a week. Having the sketchbook with you helps but I think you have to make time to draw regularly and build it into your life. Drawing often, practising, quickly improves your technique and broadens your visual language.
    Returning to the same subject matter can also help as the artist can begin to relax with the drawing, not worrying so much about capturing an exact likeness. There is much more to a good drawing than an exact likeness.

  22. Hello! I’m a Senior majoring in Product Design at Stanford University, and for my senior capstone project, my partner and I wanted to tackle the challenge of making art approachable. I stumbled upon your blog while doing research into this topic, and I really enjoy reading your blog posts. I’ve included a link to a video of our preliminary direction (, and would love it if you could give us some comments/feedback! Thank you very much, and have a great day ahead!


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