There are many reasons a designer might want at least some basic drawing skills. Even if you have artists on your team, there are times when you’ll need to sketch out a storyboard or add a minor element to an illustration. It’s a valuable skill for anyone to have. How do you get started?
Learning how to draw for beginners might be something you think only children do, but anyone can pick up this skill with a little knowledge and determination. Basic drawing is about angles and art knowledge. You may have more or less natural talent, but anyone can learn.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 48,200 crafters and fine artists in the United States alone. There are another 254,100 graphic artists in the country, many of whom are talented at drawing. While this doesn’t cover every person who can draw, it does give you an idea of the number of people with at least soft skills in the area.
With so many people who love to make art, there are also plenty of resources to help anyone pick up the primary skills needed to excel in this area. There are so many resources available today that learning how to draw has never been simpler, even for beginners.
You can take a course online, through your local community college, or from any number of local organizations. You may even be able to find an artist willing to give you private lessons or mentor you.
It’s been said that to become an artist, understanding the concept of drawing is about 70% of the equation. You also have to tap into creativity, use an artist’s eye, and know how to add detail, color, and refinement.
As your skills grow, you can dig into more complex concepts. In the beginning, keep it simple and use the tools at your disposal. If your company uses Adobe Illustrator, learn on the same software.
While anyone can pick up the fundamentals, you can’t just snap your fingers and know how to draw. Like any skill, it takes practice and work to become adept. Expect to spend a minimum of six months to a year learning the basics of how to draw for beginners and perfecting them before moving on.
At the core of art is understanding shapes. Everything you want to draw has a shape to it. Start seeing objects as if they’re made of circles, squares, and triangles, and you’ll begin to understand the elements that make up drawing.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it, but understanding shapes gives you a good start. Every object on earth has a basic shape. A dog may have an oval body, square head, and oblong tail, for example. A house is made up of squares, rectangles, and triangles.
Practice seeing shapes in the items around you and sketching them on paper to get a feel for how everything works together. It’s fine if you don’t see geometric shapes in every object. Some things, like plants or clothing, might have more of a fluid, organic appearance to them. You can usually see an overall outline, however.
For example, maybe you’re drawing a cow skull with long, curvy horns sitting on a cloth backdrop. The skull might not look like a triangle, oval, or any other geometric shape to you, but you can still outline the area where you’re going to draw it on the page.
The outline might just look like a wavy blob, which isn’t a traditional shape, but that’s OK. Now you have a basic idea of where you’re going to put the main subject of your drawing. You can even place dots where you want to put certain less-important details, as if you’re creating your own connect-the-dots drawing.
For example, maybe you’re having a hard time outlining the shape of the horns, but you can clearly see that the tips reach the edge of the cloth backdrop. Put dots where the tips of the horns will go on the page.
Then, put another dot in the curvy part of the horn, which looks like it’s right in the middle. Now you can go back and connect them. This can help create your outline.
You can also simply draw lines from the very beginning instead of sketching a whole shape. The cow skull could just be a vertical line with two horizontal lines on the side to represent the horns. Later, you can fill in this skeletal frame of a drawing.
You don’t have to perfect the art of sketching shapes before you can draw objects, but it helps. Many experienced artists use this technique as they begin their sketches. The idea is to lightly draw the shapes, fill in the details, and erase the leftover lines later.
Form is more of a three-dimensional look at objects. If shapes are flat on the page, forms jump out at you with depth, shading, and tangible dimensions. If the shape is a circle, then the form is a sphere.
Sculptors create form by sculpting actual materials, while artists who work in two dimensions create the same effect with light and shadow. When you look at a cube, you don’t just see one flat square side. You also see the cube’s other sides and perhaps even the top. Form is the three-dimensional shape of the cube.
Ideally, as you’re drawing, shape and form will come together. However, as a beginner, learn the shapes first and then focus on the form. Over time, you’ll be able to merge the two.
Start by drawing something simple, like a box. How can you add the sides? What angles are different? Does your box look realistic? Really study each shape you draw. If you sketch an apple, how do you show it has more than one side?
The key is to use shading. Don’t be afraid to go really dark with it, coloring in part of the apple with an almost black tone. Then, color in the rest of the object using varying shades of grey. This tells the viewer that it’s a real object in space — something with weight and size. It also indicates how intense your light source is.
Think of drawing as learning to play an instrument. You first learn how to position your fingers to make chords. Then, you string the chords together to create a tune.
You’ve learned about the concepts of shape and form. Now it’s time to bring it all together.
The veins on a leaf, the grain of a wood plank, or the texture of a feather are some of the last elements to add to a drawing. These are called the details. They include things like color, lines that add dimension, and other granular elements that provide a finishing touch.
This is probably the most challenging aspect of learning to draw. Many people either add too few or too many details.
If you’re drawing a face, you must add in eyebrows, eyelashes, and perhaps some skin wrinkles. The only way to become adept at the details is through practice.
Start with just a few details, then stand back and look at your drawing. Figure out if you need more shadows, light, or perhaps bursts of color. Study other artists’ work to see how they handle details.
Rule of Thirds
You’ve likely heard of the Rule of Thirds. In a nutshell, you divide your canvas into a grid with three rows and three columns, creating nine separate squares.
The Rule of Thirds states that you shouldn’t place your subject right in the middle square. Leave some space to one side and perhaps the top or bottom. This draws in the user’s eye.
In web design, you can use the Rule of Thirds to draw attention to a CTA (call to action) button by compelling the subject to look toward the clickable link.
A good way to learn about the Rule of Thirds is to study photography. Notice how the subject is almost never smack dab in the middle of the frame? Instead, they might take up the lower two right boxes. You can also place your subject towards the top, bottom, or left to add interest.
Where do you want to draw the user’s eyes? What location works best?
Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule — just look at almost anything by Andy Warhol, widely considered a phenomenal artist. As you’re first learning to draw, guidelines can be helpful, but remember that art is all about breaking the rules and expressing your creativity.
Above all, look at the world through the eyes of an artist. The essential elements of form, details, shape, and the Rule of Thirds can guide your hand, but never your mind. That part is up to you.
Tools You’ll Need
The oldest drawing ever discovered is a red hashtag symbol — or a pound sign, depending on who you ask — which was etched onto a cave wall with a rock 73,000 years ago. It just goes to show that you don’t need professional tools to be an artist!
Some tools will make drawing easier, however, and society has advanced past rocks. At the most elementary level, a pencil and sketch pad will allow you to start doodling and trying out different concepts. You can practice your new skills and get a feel for drawing.
However, if you plan to do website design or upload your images online, you’ll need a digital drawing tablet. There are many different options available. You can get an inexpensive tablet for under $100, which is a good choice for a beginner. You can always upgrade later.
You’ll also need access to software such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. It might be wise to start with a free tool, like GIMP, before investing in something more expensive. You’ll get the basics of digital drawing.
However, if you take a professional course, many classes are based on Adobe programs. You can take out a single license for around $30 to $50 per month and access their software. You’ve probably heard of Photoshop, but Fresco and Illustrated are also art software programs from Adobe, both used for vector graphics editing and more.
If you want to learn how to draw, many online courses are extremely helpful. Even if you have zero experience with sketching, these courses cover the basics and then delve into deeper art concepts, allowing you to take your talent to the next level.
Take a free online drawing course on Rapid Fire Art. The class has five levels and 10 lessons, and each lesson has a homework assignment. You go through the program at your own pace, and there is no fee to take it.
The course focuses on building muscle memory to teach you the basics of drawing. You’ll learn all the fundamentals listed above. It’s a great beginning drawing course and doesn’t cost a penny.
If you’re looking for a video version of how to draw for beginners, look no further than this YouTube course highlighting some of the fundamentals of art.
Many of their classes are free. If you wish to continue with more advanced topics, you can sign up on their website. The cost varies depending on the length of the course.
Price: $9.99 for eight weeks
Udemy offers an intensive drawing course that starts with the core concepts of drawing and then goes on to more advanced techniques. It’s a comprehensive study for anyone wanting to learn to draw.
The program includes videos, assignments, and examples to get you started drawing step by step. Complete the classes on your own time with lifetime access. One thing we particularly like about this course is the focus on drawing the human face.
Price: $109.99 (often on sale for as much as 90% off)
Skillshare offers some more specialized courses, such as the art of figure drawing. Choose the type of drawing you’d like to learn first and take one of their dozens of offerings. You can start with a free trial on Skillshare.
After the 14-day trial elapses, you can keep the free membership with ads or go for a Premium membership at $99 per year without ads. There are thousands of other courses available on the site. Some of the other classes include modern watercolor techniques, daily drawing practice, and 3D drawing and perspective.
Price: FREE or $99 per year for Premium
How to Draw for Beginners
As with any new skill, the more you practice, the better you become. How to draw for beginners starts with concepts such as shape and dimensions, but over time you’ll delve into more specific elements that make your work unique. Your early attempts may be elementary, but with time you’ll gain valuable skills you can use in your professional and personal life. You’ll be a pro in no time!