Learn the Secrets of Beautiful Sketching

If you’ve ever picked up a pencil or crayon or pen and just doodled something on a sheet of paper then you’ve had experience sketching. Everyone has done sketching, whether professional or not. Remember though that sketching, by definition, is different than actual drawing.

Sketching is when you take a pencil and simply do a basic outline. Some call it free-hand art because you aren’t finalizing the piece. You’re just making a basic quick, simple outline of what you visualize in your head and these are never designed to be considered finished work.

Drawing is the act of finalizing that sketch. Now you’re doing second lines to add details. You’ll be erasing sketch lines and guidelines to add inking borders and depth. The best way to consider them is that a sketch is the faint outline of a piece while a drawing is when you depth and detail as a finalized piece.

The Tools of the Trade

Drawing requires a lot of tools such as different kinds of pencils and different textured papers. Sketching is a free-form art where you only need very light strokes so it is always best to use hard lead pencils like an HB or 2H pencil. If you use mechanical pencils then a narrow lead point (0.7) is going to be your best friend.

Mastering the Art of Sketching

When you sketch you have to remember that this is completely free-form. Keep your hand from resting on the paper. You can try these four common ways to hold a pencil during your sketch sessions:

  • Basic tripod grip
  • Underhand tripod grip
  • Overhand tripod grip
  • Extended tripod grip

There are also different strokes to sketching and these are used to add a little bit of detail. They are generally used for quick portrait sketches and can be used to do shadows or add depth to a simple outline.
Some basic strokes are:

  • Long lines
  • Medium lines
  • Short lines
  • Tonal grading
  • Blending
  • Crosshatching
  • Corrugated lines

Perfecting the Art of Sketching

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If you want to get good in sketching you should practice the habit of making shapes and lines with simple, light strokes. To perfect this you might want to practice drawing lines and basic shapes. Try this simple process below:

Start with parallel lines. Do them horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. You know you are getting better when you can draw them towards and away from you without having to bend your wrists and still get straight lines that are evenly parallel to each other. To add complexity, try adding additional parallel lines as if you were drawing a road map.

Circles should be done with a carefree motion. If you want to get the measurement right, the best tip is to draw a box first. At the very center of each side make a small marking. These points are the only areas where the circle should come in contact with the box’s lines. It’s a good way to cheat the system and get a nice, well-measured circle. You can use this strategy for oblongs and other ideas as well, even faces and body parts.

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