We have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Effective June 18, 2024 (Some Key Updates: contact information, user rights/opt-out procedures, 3rd party services/integrations, data retention policies...). Please review updated pages.

April 2017

Lesson 2: Learn to See Things Differently

How to draw what you see RFAFirstly, I’d like to thank everyone who left feedback and commented on the course so far. Thank you for your support! I really appreciate your feedback and look forward to working with all of you toward your goals!

If you’re committing to this course, I hope you share your progress with me – it’s the most rewarding part of what I do :) If you check out my Facebook page, you’ll notice that I’ve posted my homework assignment for lesson #1 already. You can also see other readers’ artwork posted there as well.

In this lesson, you will learn several things:

  • How to draw faster! (individual objects and entire scenes)
  • How to make your drawing look closer to reality
  • How to draw objects and people that are more structurally sound


Do your drawings look similar to the one below?

This is an example of how I used to draw when I first started out. I would trace the object with my eyes while translating what I saw to the paper immediately without really thinking about the rest of the object. It’s even more exaggerated when drawing complicated subjects.

If you’re like me, the reason why our drawings are so distorted is because we’re so focused on a single area instead of looking at the big picture. This is called tunnel vision.

This tutorial takes you a step back, shifting your focus away from the details, allowing you to see the world differently, which will change the way you draw for the better.


Breaking the World Down into Simple Shapes

Everything we see around us can be broken down into a series of simple shapes.

Whether it be an individual object or an entire scene, you can break it down in your mind with a little concentration.


Let’s hop into a quick example!

What are the shapes that make up this pepper mill?How to break objects down into simple shapes RFA

For me, it’s 1 circle, 2 ovals, 2 rectangles and a trapezoid. It might be different for you.

Let’s arrange these shapes into a pepper mill resembling the one above:

Wait, that doesn’t look right does it?

That’s because I skipped over a very important step! The overall shape of the object!

Take a step back, squint your eyes until the details fade away and tell me the one shape you see that could represent the pepper mill’s general form.

Breaking Down Objects into simple shapes stage 1

For me, it’s a rectangle. Let’s try drawing the pepper mill again:

How to break an object down into simple shapes

That’s much better! The first rectangle provides a container for the rest of the shapes to fall into, allowing you to create 1 solid object. Pretty neat, eh?

So, do people actually draw like this?

Yes, a lot of artists do, but most of them do it in their minds. That means they can do all of this without planning it out on paper first. That’s a valuable skill that will come with lots of practice!

Let’s recap! The entire process can be broken down into 3 simple stages:


Stage 1: Sketch the Overall Structure

This is where you look at your subject’s form and sketch a simple shape that represents the overall structure. The more simple it is, the better! If you can’t decide on one shape, that’s fine! Sometimes it’s easier to sketch several shapes instead of just one.

How to break objects down into simple shapes Stage 1jpg

Creating a boundary or outline of your object allows you to think about the object as a whole instead of focusing on one specific spot at a time.

If you pay close attention, you’ll see that I only outlined the head, body and wings of the fly and not the legs. It’s okay to leave portions of your subject out to make it easier for you to visualize a solid shape.

Stage 2: Identify Secondary Shapes

How to break objects down into simple shapes Stage 2

These are the general shapes that make up the fly. In this example, I’ve used 4 ovals. If you find that you made a mistake in stage 1, it’s okay to revise it as you continue to work on the drawing.

Stage 3: Define the Subject

Continue sketching until you join all the shapes together into one solid object, insect, person, etc. When you finish your drawing, the shapes you drew in stage 1-2 shouldn’t be so obvious anymore.

Here’s a better example of joining shapes into one object

This may be a simple exercise, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’ve ever struggled with a drawing before, revisit it using this technique and see how it works for you.


Let’s Apply this to a Scene

No matter how complicated a scene is, this technique can help you plan out your entire drawing in just a few short minutes. It also helps when you’re drawing from life because you can draw a lot faster when you see the world in shapes.

Blocking out areas of your drawing allows you to make sure all the elements are in the right place before you commit to drawing the entire scene in detail. You can also very easily gauge the size of each element in your drawing and revise it in the first stages. Nothing is set in stone! We have erasers for a reason :)

How to Draw a Scene Quickly by breaking it down RFA

For this example, I could  have drawn a bunch of triangles for stage 1, but it would look very messy and confusing to start.

Since it’s a mountain range, it’s easy to find other shapes that make up such a huge mass. You can divide areas of the mountain up by grouping certain sections together by difference in overall value, distance, etc.

The couple standing side by side fit perfectly into a rectangle, so I drew a rough one and eventually split it in half.

The entire process can be as quick or as well thought out as you want it to be. Generally speaking, the more time you spend, the more precise your drawing will be, but you’re minimizing the amount of practice you get.


More Examples

I was a slow learner in school and really appreciated when teachers took time to give different examples because I learned a lot better that way. If you’re like me, this section is for you!

Examples how to draw faster


Once you get the hang of it, you’ll start to see shapes everywhere you look!

Nadia, that flower example is for you. Hope it helps :)


Your Homework Assignment for the Week

Pack up your sketchbook and go for a little walk. Find a place to sit, relax and draw what you see in front of you. Don’t be afraid of drawing moving things and people. The more practice you get, the faster you’ll be able to draw.

Try limiting the amount of space you have on the page and see if you can draw faster that way. Experiment with different ways to draw a single scene or subject to challenge yourself even further.

If you want to draw from pictures to get the hang of it first, visit sites like Flickr or Pinterest to get some ideas. You can search for “nature scenes”, “home interiors” or pictures of “food”. Get creative and draw a huge variety of things so you can train your brain to look at the bigger picture, shifting your focus off the details.

My challenge to you is to draw 3 scenes and 5 individual subjects using what you’ve learned in this lesson. Take a picture or scan your work and post it on my Facebook page under the post for Lesson 2. I’ll feature your artwork here if you can complete the challenge!

If you simply want to share your homework and don’t want to participate in the challenge, you’re very welcome to!

You can expect to see my left handed homework assignment posted to Facebook sometime this week.

If you’re waiting for the next lesson on going from 2D to 3D (drawing volume), sign up to the special mailing list in the sidebar or follow me on facebook to get an update when new lessons are out!

Update: Click here for lesson 3

Have any questions? Leave them below!

If you have any friends that would benefit from this course, share it with them using the share buttons below :)

Readers Who Completed the Challenge!

Nika Andrienko


Kevin Stockard


Manjistha Rawat





Lesson 2: Learn to See Things Differently Read More »

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


Ritwik Verma


Guylene Antoine


Lesson 1: How to Sketch Read More »

Scroll to Top