Drawing Fundamentals

10 tips to improve your sketching skills

A good sketch is a great base for your artwork, but sketching is also a great way to improve your drawing skills overall. Sketching doesn’t have to take a lot of time and with deliberate exercises, you can improve your skills real fast. These are my 10 sketching tips for beginners.

1. Sketch daily

Sketching daily will greatly improve your drawing skills over time, even if you just spend 10 minutes a day, it’ll help! If you keep a sketch pad, or your iPad, near you, you can start skething whenever you have some spare time. Don’t worry too much about the end result, but just enjoy practicing your sketching skills.

2. Set a time limit

If you set yourself a time limit when sketching, you force yourself to only focus on the most important aspects of the subject your drawing. It’ll train your eyes and your drawing hand this way. You can start off by setting a 10 or 15 minute limit and once you feel more confident, go for a 5 minute, 2 minute or even 1 minute time limit! You will force yourself to focus in simple shapes and not go into too much detail.

3. Simple shapes

Try starting off you sketch with simple shapes. Try to see the basic shapes in the subject your drawing. Do you see circles, rectangles, triangles? Try to simplify your subject with your mind or just draw these simple shapes on top of your reference image!

4. Variety

Try to sketch a variety of subjects. Don’t just sketch what you are used to sketch and what you are comfortable with. Try to sketch subjects that you usually wouldn’t draw as well. I sketched a horse for example, something I haven’t done in ages! It’s really refreshing to sketch something you normally wouldn’t.

5. Use multiple layers

Layers can come in very handy when sketching digital. You can build up your sketch through multiple layers. You can start out with a rough sketch on your first layer and then make a more refined layer on a second layer, you can just turn down the opacity of the first sketch layer. If you want to refine your sketch even more after that second layer, you can go for a third of course!

6. Sketch from a sketch

My next tip is to make a sketch from a sketch. This will help you to loosen up your sketches. You can use you first sketch to make a new sketch, without looking at the reference. Sketching like this will free your mind, you can exaggerate some parts of your sketch for instance.

7. Extending lines

A way to make proper measurements in your sketches is to extend lines. Check your reference to see where lines would end if you would extend them. You can either do this for real, by drawing over your reference or you can do this with your minds eye.

8. Lines vs Blocks

There are different ways of sketching. You can use lines to sketch, or you can use a big brush to paint big blobs of color or values to make a sketch made up of shapes and values. Try out different ways of sketching to see what works out best for you.

9. Experiment with brushes

Experiment with different types of pencils and brushes. Some brushes can have surprising effects and can help to keep your mind fresh. Procreate has many brushes for instance, try them out and see what works out for you.

10. Draw from life

My final tip is to draw from life. Just grab some random stuff and sketch! It’s a great way to do your daily sketches and to exercise your skills. Sketching from life will train your artists eye. And the great thing is, you can do it anywhere!

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