Lesson 1: How to Sketch


How to Sketch for Beginners

Click here to read the introduction to the course if you missed it!

Drawing is simply the process of layering shapes, lines, scribbles and values on top of each other until you get your desired result.

In this first lesson, we’re going to focus on the process of sketching. If you can make a mark on a piece of paper, you can learn how to sketch! You don’t need to be able to draw straight lines or perfect circles in order to be an artist.

Introduction to Sketching

Sketching is the process of roughly scribbling an idea on paper. It allows you to bring your ideas to life quickly so you can save time in the long run. It’s a great way to brainstorm!

learn to sketch for beginners _ bike exampleThe awesome thing about sketches is that they usually blend in or fade away while you continue to build upon the concept of your drawing.

So don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

This stage is meant for exploration! When I make a mistake, I find ways to use that mistake to my advantage. If I can’t, I’ll simply move on.

sketching for beginners _ bike example 2
Can you tell this sketch was created using one of the rough sketches above?


How to Sketch

It’s best to use free flowing lines that are loosely and lightly drawn. To do that, adjust your grip on the pencil so that your hand is relaxed instead of tense. If your hand usually gets tired after you’ve drawn for less than an hour, you’re probably gripping it too tightly.

how to sketch for beginners _ dos and dontsIt’s okay if your lines are wobbly because you may not be used to drawing certain lines and curves yet. Drawing is very different from writing, so you’ll need to improve your muscle memory by drawing as frequently as you can!

When making an initial sketch, you’ll want to leave your perfectionism behind and focus on general shapes. Think about the size, shape, angle, etc. The last thing you want to think about is detail!


Let’s Sketch Something Together!

Since this is a sketching tutorial for beginners, I’m using my left hand (non-dominant hand) to show you that you don’t need to have good control of your hand in order to sketch well.

Step 1: Sketch a circle loosely

How to sketch a circle 1
My lines are so wobbly!

I sketched a circle using a bunch of loosely drawn lines. Don’t worry if your lines are going in weird directions. It’s likely that you’re not going to draw something perfect the first time around. That’s totally fine! Remember, we’re supposed to work in layers.

Step 2: Refine the shape

After your initial sketch, find areas that need improvement and sketch over it until you get closer to your desired result.

Step 3: Keep refining

Keep repeating that step until you get even closer to what you want.

Tip: You can rotate your sketch book to help your eyes look at the shape differently. You might spot some obvious areas that need fixing.

Step 4: Define the shape

Happy with how it looks overall? Use more confident lines to define the shape of your circle. You can erase the scribbly lines or let them disappear naturally as you continue to work on your drawing.


Like That Example? Here are Some More!

How to Sketch_Beginners Sketching Examples RFAAfter drawing all these examples and more using my non-dominant hand, I noticed some big improvements!

I got used to moving my elbow and shoulder joint to draw which gave me much smoother lines. If you look at the images in the example above, you’l notice that my lines gradually become a lot less wobbly.

I thought it would be fun to show you the difference between a sketch made with my left versus right hand:

How to Sketch Portraits _ Left Hand vs Right HandAgain, you don’t need to be good at drawing straight lines or have amazing control of your pencil in order to be able to sketch. Having good control just means that your drawing will look cleaner and in turn more precise.

Your Homework Assignment

Things to remember while you draw:

  1. Don’t be a perfectionist
  2. Focus on the overall shape instead of the details
  3. Use a gentle amount of pressure

Assignment #1:

Fill an entire page in your sketchbook, following the steps in this lesson.

Step 1: Sketch Loosely

Step 2: Refine the shape

Step 3: Refine it further

Step 4: Define the desired shape

Find objects to draw around the house, outside or from a quick google search on “random objects”. Once you fill an entire page in your sketchbook, fill another one.

My challenge to you: If you can draw 50 things in your sketchbook and submit it to the facebook page, I’ll feature your artwork down below!

Here are some ideas for you to draw:

  1. Fork
  2. Apple
  3. Banana
  4. Laptop
  5. Jacket
  6. Hat
  7. Your hand
  8. Your foot
  9. Your eye
  10. Key
  11. Lamp
  12. Cat
  13. Dog
  14. Bird
  15. Boat
  16. Tree
  17. Flower
  18. Car
  19. Helicopter
  20. Plane
  21. Alligator
  22. Person jumping
  23. Person sitting
  24. Person standing
  25. My avatar picture


Done the assignment?

Let me know if/how you improved and how this lesson helped you draw better!

If you’re waiting for lesson 2, sign up to my special mailing list in the sidebar or follow me on facebook and I’ll notify you when it’s posted.

Update: Click here for lesson 2

Have any questions? Drop them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you shortly!


Readers Who Completed the Challenge!

Pamela Gail Rowell

Nika Andrienko

Firoz Wadud <– he drew 80!!

Chris Brown


Nykesha Guinita


Anahita Sharma

If you love RapidFireArt tutorials and want to support what I do, check out my Patreon page where you can support RFA and earn cool rewards at the same time!

Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.


  1. Also, if you have another way to submit besides facebook, I would love to send you my sketches! (I’m a recovering facebook addict and not looking to get back on it…)

  2. hi Darlene, thanks for this course. that is what I want . just please check your page on facebook, I mailed my drawing for you and I expect that you answer to them. thanks again.

  3. Hi Darlene, I am inerested on learning how to draw. I find your information very useful, and I hope it helps me in my drawing abilities. My family is full of artists, literally. So I hope I can be like them one day.
    Greetings from Ecuador!

  4. Really great stuff, thanks a lot for the site. Had a go at most of the 25 recommended. I felt like 16, and 18+ we’re all a big jump up from the earlier ones. I got the idea behind it though, i feel like i can look at almost anything and see a simpler blueprint to start with. Looking forward to trying out the other lessons over the next few days.

  5. Hey darlene,
    This is Ankit from India.
    I love drawing sketching but with time i lost my touch… I tend to get frustrated very quickly when i draw something and it doesn’t turn out the way it actually is. I m a good copier i mean if i see a sketch i can draw similar but i fail to draw real things by watching them. Could u help me or give some tips?

    I even tagged you on insta with my first sketch im years. @ank.sin

    • Well, if you are good on copying things from paper or screen but aren’t good from drawin real things, why don’t you take a picture of them with your cellphone and then copying from it? You could also cut a square off from a paper and then use it as a frame pointed to the real object.

      In other words, just try to force your brain to see things differently

  6. Hi Darlene! , Greetings from the Philippines! Today I just decided to look for tutorials to improve my drawings coz my friends tease me. In fact I received a gift in our Christmas party and I was happy because what I received were art materials like sketchbook , colored pencils and oil pastel but then my friend said something, I felt that he want to say to me that the art materials will just be wasted, I Just ignore him coz I know he is good in arts compared to me. That’s why in that very day I said to myself “I’ll improve in arts. Im so happy because I found this Site today , I believe that this Tutorial site will help me :)

    • I LOVE how you took that experience and turned it into motivation, Carmela. I hope you’re finding these lessons helpful. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. I’m more than happy to help you out :)

  7. Hi….Darlene,
    I am Faisal Ahmed. I am from Bangladesh. I saw your web site and truly i am happy to see your drawing lesson. I want to learn how to draw. I like your drawing tutorial and i hope i can learn from you. Sometime i can not understand, if i ask some qustion about drawing is that ok? I hope you can understand what i say! I am afraid my english is not good but i am very very much interested in learning how to draw. will you help me?

    • Of course it’s okay! You can contact me directly via the contact page of FB. Looking forward to hearing from you, Faisal!

  8. Hi Darlene! My name is Landon. I have always wanted to draw. One of my good friends is awesome at drawing, I have always tried too draw and it has failed. From a person who has watched ever drawing tutorial on Youtube and has tried ever drawing book I could find and failed, This has helped me SO MUCH!!!!
    I love how easy and simple your tutorials are. I thank you for helping me, and so many others learn to draw and sketch. Thank You! BYE!!!

  9. Hi Darlene… I am retired and live in Spain. I have always had a passion for drawings in all forms but I have never had the courage to try. I have been searching for a long time for tutorials that are free because at this stage I don’t want to invest in a course and then I am not artistic.
    Thank you so much for these lessons as this will surely confirm to me weather I should continue or just give up.
    I am busy with Lesson 1 and will post it on your fb page for some feedback.
    Thank you again for these lessons.

    • Don’t give up Charmaine! If you have a passion for it, keep pursuing it or you’ll never forgive yourself. If you get stuck or have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m here to help :)

  10. Just stumbled upon your website through looking up drawing tutorials on Pinterest. Love that you’re a self-taught artist and teaching others like myself who’s looking to get into drawing.

    Subscribed to your mailing list!

  11. This tutorial are awesome, even your left hand draws better than my entire body.

    Kidding, i’ll mark this site to learn more.
    Hope you don’t mind.

  12. Hi Darlene, this is a very useful and simple tutorial. Thanks to your generosity of sharing it world wide. It is gonna do good to all amateur artists. Hoping to get to the next tutorial soon.

  13. Hi! I’m 42 yrs. old and stumble across your class on line. I got so excited I got started right away. I have always loved to draw but never advanced in it. You are such amazing person this will help so many. Thank you!

  14. I’m new to drawing like most of the other respondents. I’ve look at a few of your tutorials and all are easy to follow and come out looking pretty good. I know with practice I will get better. Thank you for keeping it simple. and practicle. Keep up the great work.

  15. Hello Darlene, I am 751/2 years old and decided to draw. after looking the internet over,I find you at beginer level smart which is great for us pigheads who want to draw without the frenzy of not letting the information being asorbed. You have the talent to send the info to others and it be retained for the art education.Looking fwd to drain your brain. I want to draw. I know I am at the right place to learn. My pencil is standing up drawing but it looks like way before beginer stage, whjich is around 2 yr of age. C.D. newcomb,

    • Wow what a compliment, Dean! I hope I don’t disappoint with the upcoming lessons!
      Lesson 1 is meant to build confidence so people are not discouraged when their sketch doesn’t turn out the way they want it from the get-go. I hope lesson 2 solves some of your current struggles. I find that practicing on a daily basis is great for retaining muscle memory. Keep practicing :)

  16. Hello again… Yes, Darleen is also interested in drawing. We are looking forward to the second tutorial.. Best wishes, and God Bless you!

  17. I wanna thank you again from the bottom of my heart for these tutorials, you’re the best and these tutorials are great and very easy to follow from the way you lay them out.

    • Thanks for taking your time to comment, Moses. It really means a lot to me! I look forward to seeing your progress :)

  18. Hi, Darlene…. My name is Nelson… I am a retired English teacher, and I am very much interested in learning how to draw in pencil… Thanks for this tutorial.. I hope I can learn the skill in a short time… By the way, I have a daughter whose name is Darleen…. Greetings from Venezuela….

    • Wow, all the way from Venezuela! Welcome to RFA by the way!
      This course shouldn’t take very long to complete. If you find yourself in a roadblock at any point, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out :)

      That’s neat! I rarely come across people with the same name as me. Is your daughter also interested in visual arts?