You can learn to sketch as a simple, relaxing, and entertaining hobby. The best thing about sketching is that you can learn to sketch with only a pencil, a piece of paper, and a sharp eye for observation. That’s it, nothing more! Of course, as you develop your skill and broaden your artistic base, you will probably pick up more supplies and glean many more sketching tips and techniques.
If you have a knack for creativity or even if you just want to try your hand at something new, sketching is a great and inexpensive way to branch out into a new hobby. There is no limit to the skills you can build and to the mediums for creativity within the hobby. This allows you to continue growing your sketching skills no matter how long you do it!
The History Of Sketching
Sketching dates back to the primitive masterpieces scraped out by cavemen on the rock faces of their cave dwellings. Over thousands of years the art of sketching has morphed and modified in its meaning and implication. The word sketching originally comes from the Greek word for “temporary,” and hundreds of years ago, sketching only referred to a temporary recording of an idea or subject. Many of the great Renaissance artists used sketching to make studies of the elements and subjects of their masterpieces before committing to the real thing.
In today’s culturally advanced society, however, sketching has grown into an art form of its own. In the legal world, courtroom artists make sketches of the scenes in the courtroom to help give the outside world a picture of what was going on when photographs were not allowed. Police sketches combine different elements of a face from the descriptions of the witnesses involved to make a composite sketch of how a suspect may have looked.
Sketching Fun Facts
- On the streets of many busy, touristic cities, street artists can make an accurate portrait of anyone within minutes using the technique of sketching.
- A quickly done watercolor study or even quickly modeled clay or soft wax can also be considered a ‘sketch’ in the broader sense of the term.
- A sketch method of reproducing photos is done with a photographic enlarger in a dark room. The negative is projected on the paper where the sketch is to be done.
- The FBI was the first agency to develop a standard for applying a technique of Composite Sketching that could be used by law enforcement agencies large and small across the country.
Getting Started Learning To Sketch
Although you can get started learning to sketch right away with the nearest pencil and paper, having the right tools will make producing the right results a lot easier. It is best to have a variety of pencils – all in different shades of darkness – so you can produce the blackest blacks and the lightest grays.
Pencils are graded by how soft their graphite is and thus how easily it transfers to your paper. The softer the graphite, the darker the mark made will be. A regular writing pencil that you can find around the house will usually be an HB, the hardest graphite and lightest mark available. From there, pencils are numbered: 2B, 4B, and 6B. The largest B you will most likely need is an 8B, which should do for the darkest shadows you will ever need to commit to paper. Don’t press too hard with it though, or you will ruin your sketch.
You can learn to sketch with a quality set of sketching pencils that should cost you at most $10 to $20. Although you can purchase professional sets for over $100, these are usually not necessary if you are just beginning to learn to sketch.
An eraser is also essential for those beginning to learn to sketch. Try to buy an eraser made specifically for sketching, as these will give you the best results. An eraser should not cost more than a couple of dollars at the most. High-quality drawing paper is also a good investment for someone wanting to become a serious sketch artist.
Sketching can take as much time as you are willing to devote to it. Don’t spend a lot of time on each sketch. During the initial phases, it’s more important to make as many sketches as possible instead of trying to perfect every one.
How To Sketch
To learn to sketch, first lay out all of your supplies so that they are easily accessible. Be sure to have an eraser on hand, as well as extra paper in case you need to start over. Relaxing music can go a long way toward helping you get into a drawing flow. You’ll also want to make a list of objects you’d like to sketch.
Start by measuring the object you are preparing to sketch. Hold your pencil at arm’s length in front of one eye and use your thumb to mark on the pencil how large the dimensions are. Transfer these to your paper. Don’t rely on your eyes at first but measure as many aspects of the object as possible using this method.
Be sure to take perspective and dimension into account as you draw. The rule of thirds is a great tool to keep in mind, as it has applications to almost every drawing format and style imaginable. The thought with this rule is that the paper is divided into thirds in all directions, and each aspect of the picture should evenly fit within these segments. This ensures that the finished product is visually balanced and pleasing.
Sketching can take as much time as you are willing to devote to it. Don’t spend a lot of time on each sketch. During the initial phases, it’s more important to make as many sketches as possible instead of trying to perfect every one. With this in mind, you may want to focus on smaller projects to begin with, versus trying to tackle a large and complicated sketch.
Make sure that you thoroughly clean your drawing area when you are finished. Papers and drawing tools should be stored in airtight, flat containers to prevent the papers from wrinkling or the pencils from smudging.
Sketching Tips and Tricks
The following tips and tricks can help as you learn to sketch…
- When erasing portions of your sketch, it’s important not to drag the eraser across the paper as you may have seen others do. Dot the surface of your paper lightly with the sharpened tip of the eraser until your mistake is erased.
- Remember that, even though you see the world in color, for now you are only drawing it in black and white. Learn to identify shadows instead of colors and lean more towards drawing these.
- Different papers will interact with the pencil lead in different ways, so do not be afraid to experiment!
Ways To Grow Your Sketching Hobby
As you learn to sketch and get better at it, it’s important to start learning to draw in shapes. Almost every complex object can be broken down into a few basic shapes fitted together, which can help you make a more proportionally accurate sketch. Try to see the ovals, rectangles, triangles, and planes in every object you sketch and put those basic components down on paper before adding the details. There are also many other ways to grow the hobby, including:
- Sell your sketches at local art fairs and farmer’s markets.
- Take an art class either online or at a local college.
- Try integrating colors into your sketches as a way to bring them to life.
- Branch out into other similar areas such as watercolor or clay modeling.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.