10 Drawing Tips for Beginners

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

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Are you interested in learning how to draw, but don't know where to start? This blog post is for you! In it, we will discuss 10 tips that will help beginners learn the basics of drawing. We'll cover topics such as line quality, shading, and perspective. So whether you're an aspiring artist or just want to be able to draw a stick figure, read on for some helpful tips!

Don't worry if you're working on digital art: the rules remain the same. Digital artists can use many of these same drills to accomplish skills. Whether you're using digital art exclusively, or just incorporating a digital painting exercise or drawing exercises into your manual art, you should be able to get some benefit out of this work. Let's go!

1. Start by drawing basic shapes

Are you ready to start your drawing journey? A great first step is learning how to draw shapes and lines. This exercise may seem simple, but it's important for laying the foundation of good digital drawing technique. Plus, by practicing these fundamentals, you'll be able to create more complex drawings down the road.

If you're following along with real pen and paper, great! These exercises should be easy for you. If you're following along digitally, we'll have some extra directions below each section.

Understanding how it feels to draw straight lines, and then parallel lines, is a great way for you to improve your drawing skills. Even digital artists can practice drawing parallel lines by hand. So spend some time doodling and cross hatching every morning as a way to further your drawing skills.

Digital drawing exercises

So grab your digital drawing tool of choice and let's get started! Begin by setting up a clean canvas or workspace. Then, try drawing basic shapes like squares, circles, and triangles. Don't worry if they're not perfect at first – just focus on getting the overall shape right. Next, practice drawing straight and curved lines of different lengths and thicknesses.

As you continue this exercise, challenge yourself to make smoother and more consistent lines. At some point, they will be “as straight as you can” and you'll need to consider other techniques if you've got shaky lines. Most art tools come with a “stabilizer”, and you can also draw lines in a vector tool like Illustrator or Affinity Designer.

I personally like the Microsoft Surface, but some people swear by the iPad and the Apple Pencil for their drawing adventures. No matter the tool you use, even if it is an Apple Pencil, you can be sure that the skills you pick up as a digital artist will translate across platforms.

2. Use light pencil strokes for shading and details

Ever tried digital drawing and found it just doesn't quite feel the same as drawing by hand? It can be tempting to crank up that digital brush size and just color in large swaths, but you're missing out on some tasty details! Next time you find yourself reaching for the fill bucket, try using light pencil strokes instead.

Digital drawing exercises

This digital drawing exercise adds a sense of realism, texture, and finesse to your artwork. Use lighter shades for a softer look and darker shades for added depth. Don't forget to play around with pressure sensitivity for even more control! Remember, practice makes perfect – so don't be afraid to give it a go and have fun experimenting with different techniques.

The Apple Pencil is probably best for line pressure, but Microsoft Surface's pen has a great feel for drawing lines, too. Drawing exercises for beginners always emphases line work because it's the fundamentals of drawing skills. Solid lines will always lead to solid artwork.

If the software you're using doesn't allow for pressure sensitivity, or you don't have a tablet yet, then you can also use transparency to mimic the same type of lines (lighter vs. darker). This is one of those things that is specific to digital drawing, so make some space to learn it.

3. Practice, practice, practice!

When it comes to improving your drawing and painting skills, practice truly does make perfect. Nothing compares to the tactile sensation and intimate knowledge you gain from drawing by hand. This physical act of putting pencil or brush to paper helps to strengthen fine motor skills and expand artistic flexibility. In addition, the act of constantly putting your ideas into physical form will naturally improve technique and composition. So don't shy away from breaking out that sketchbook or set of paints – the more you do it, the better you'll become at it! Simply put, practice is the best way to improve your abilities as an artist.

Digital drawing exercises

Even if you're practicing with digital, in most cases, it's wise to experiment with physical art, too. You'll pick up on some details that you might not notice otherwise. When I took an in-person beginner drawing class, I quickly learned how much I relied on digital correction for my art. Learning to “draw it right the first time” helped me become a better overall artist and improved my digital drawing skills as well.

4. Experiment with different techniques and mediums

Looking to shake things up in your art? Experimenting with different techniques and mediums can really add some spice to your work. For example, using watercolors instead of acrylic can give a totally different effect, or trying out a palette knife instead of a brush can bring on a whole new texture. And don't be afraid to mix it up – why not try hand-lettering mixed with watercolor, or adding collage elements to a pencil drawing?

The possibilities are endless! Plus, trying out new things keeps the artistic process exciting and can even lead to discovering unexpected talents or preferences. So go ahead and experiment – who knows what you might come up with!

Digital painting exercises

For digital, it's harder to experiment, but I'll encourage you to do it anyway. Use different papers on Rebelle 5, use different art programs, use those pens and pencils that you never touch in whatever program you're using. Poke around the menus! You'll find something new and fun.

5. Draw inspiration from nature and everyday objects

When trying to come up with ideas for paintings, sometimes it can feel like all the good ideas have already been taken. But inspiration is everywhere – you just have to know where to look!

Next time you're feeling stuck, take a walk outside or browse through your favorite online marketplace for unique objects. Look for interesting shapes, colors, and textures that catch your eye.

Maybe it's the way the leaves fall on a tree or the way the light hits a mug on your coffee table. Take photos or make sketches of these moments, then see how they can be incorporated into your own piece of art.

Don't be afraid to experiment and think outside of the box. Remember: everything has potential to inspire!

And who knows – you could even create something completely original that others will use as inspiration in their own work. So get out there and start exploring, and let nature and everyday objects guide your next masterpiece.

Digital painting exercises

Just because you're working digitally doesn't mean you have to abandon nature. You can use a stock image or visual search engine to find inspiration, or just take your drawing on the go. If you sit in a shady spot, you should be able to see your screen for digital painting.

6. Take online tutorials or attend art classes to learn new skills

Learning new skills can really broaden your horizons and open up new opportunities. And you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home to do it!

By taking online tutorials or attending virtual art classes, you can learn everything from how to play a musical instrument, to how to paint a masterpiece, to how to become a master chef in your own kitchen. And the best part is, the sky's the limit – there are so many options out there for what you want to learn.

So why not give it a try? You never know where it might take you. Plus, learning something new always feels pretty good. So what are you waiting for? Start expanding your knowledge and skill set today!

Sign up for a free trial of Skillshare today!

Digital painting exercises

Obviously, new art classes and experiences are where digital painting shines. You can attend a live session from anywhere in the world and get one-on-one instruction or critiques. Online tutorials offer the convenience of learning at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home. Art classes, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to learn from a professional and receive hands-on instruction with fellow classmates.

No matter which route you choose, the important thing is that you are investing time and effort into improving yourself and your talents. So why not try something new and see where it takes you? Your skills may just surprise you.

7. Track your progress on the same type of drawing

One of the best ways to measure progress when you're learning to draw is to draw the same thing a bunch of times. For absolute beginners, select an easy scene or object. Then, once a month, redraw it. You can reinterpret it however you'd like, you should still be able to see progress if you're practicing daily.

Objects that are perfect for this exercise are:

  • your favorite coffee mug
  • your favorite view out a window
  • drawing from a picture
  • drawing something else that won't really change much through time

Digital painting exercise

It's important to track progress digitally, too, so make sure that you also do this. For this type of practice, I think it's important to not trace your reference image at all. Go from scratch.

8. Remember to have fun

The only way you're going to want to draw and paint more is if you have fun while you're doing it. So make sure that you set aside some time for art every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. If calling something a “digital painting exercise” bores you, then call it something else. Experiment with new mediums and techniques, even in digital art. And most importantly: don't take yourself too seriously!

Art is supposed to be enjoyable, so make sure that you're enjoying yourself along the way. Otherwise, what's the point?

Digital drawing exercise

Same goes for digital art. If you work a computer job like I do, it can be hard to have more screen time at the end of the day. So do it at the beginning! Fit daily art into your schedule, even if it's in a small amount of time. Replace your Facebook doom scrolling with digital art. You'll thank me later.

9. Make (digital) art a daily habit like brushing your teeth

Daily art is the best way to improve. It's like working out- if you don't do it regularly, you're not going to see results. But if you make it a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth, it'll become second nature before you know it.

And the great thing about art is that there are no rules. You can do whatever you need to make sure that art fits into your schedule. Heck, add a “meeting with Art” every day at a certain time to your work calendar.

Digital drawing exercise

It's easier to sneak away and do some digital drawing exercises daily. I find that sometimes I'll doodle in a digital art program during a meeting. It helps me focus on the meeting, and I get some practice in with digital art, too. Win win.

10. Share your art journey with the world

By posting your drawings on platforms like Instagram or Twitter, you can connect with a community of fellow artists and receive valuable feedback on your progress. Plus, it's an exciting opportunity to showcase your growth and development as an artist.

This is obviously easier if you're working with digital art, but you can do it with your paintings too. Just snap a real picture with your phone and BOOM! Your real life art has transformed into digital art.

Get started by creating a designated page for your handmade or digital art, using hashtags to attract attention from like-minded creators. And don't forget to engage with other artists in the community by liking and commenting on their work as well. So what are you waiting for? Start sharing your art journey with the world today!

Final thoughts

I hope these drawing exercises have been useful for you. I'll be sure to post more in the future as I continue my own journey as an artist. And remember, the best way to improve is by practicing daily. So get out there and start making some art!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. I'm always happy to help fellow artists out on their journey to improve digital painting skills.

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