Beginning Sketching

01 Sep
Beginning Sketching

Drawing Studio: Day 2: Beginning Sketching

How to Start: Go from general to specific

  • draw lightly first
  • draw all of the shapes first
  • draw shapes, not details
  • don’t shade yet

It’s near impossible to get a drawing right the very first time you put pencil to paper. The key is in revision. Draw a few lines, look at what you are drawing, measure it, check the proportions, then go back and make changes if you need to. These techniques for sketching help because they make it easier to change and adjust lines.


  • use your pencil to measure proportion (holding arm stiff while doing so)
  • choose an object/part of an object and measure everything else against it

My Drawings

The Subject

A Plaster of a Man's Head and Torso, wearing a velvet "Mad hatter" style hat

A Plaster of a Man's Head and Torso, wearing a velvet "Mad hatter" style hat

Day 1

Sketch of a man wearing a mad-hatter style velvet hat

The drawing I did on the first day of class. This was before any instruction, just as a warmup.

On the first day, still rusty with my sketching, I started drawing without doing too much thinking. I sketched out the general shapes first, but when I was frustrated with them, I worked on detail instead. This was a bad choice: I just dug myself into a deeper and deeper hole; as I added more detail to the drawing, it became more and more difficult to change it and correct lines I had drawn early on.

Day 2

Sketch of a man's head and torso

The sketch I did on the second day of class, doing my best to adhere to the advice above.

My second day’s sketch went better. I spent much more time working on the basic shapes and proportions before I added any extra lines or shading. My perception of the shapes and proportions was still imperfect, but the general to specific approach of sketching definitely helped. Another piece of useful advice (random): the need to establish a center line– a vertical reference point as well as a horizontal one. At first I only drew ellipses (ovals) and lines to get the shape of the torso. My professor advised me to add center lines through the face and torso to help with the proportions and to use as guides for where to place the other lines. Take it or leave it, it worked for me.

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Art, Classes, Uncategorized


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