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


If you love RapidFireArt tutorials and want to support what I do, check out my Patreon page.


  1. Hi Darlene,
    I doubt you’re going to see this in 2020. I’m always interested in drawing and finally quarantine life brought me here. I really searched for online art lessons before landing here but there were all costly. I was really happy to come across this and I’m actually trying out. Thank you so much for this. I’m from NAIROBI, KENYA.
    God bless :)

  2. Hii Darlene , my name is Ankita n I want too learn more about sketches n drawing like creative type becz I want to beacame a cartoon artists one so u can help me ? I love drawing n sketches bt m very poor about I this line so plzz can u help me .

  3. Hi Darlene,
    Thank you for the amazing lesson. I’ve been drawing for a long time and am using this as a refresher, plus there are certain things I’m not good at, at all. I just started tonight and I’m really excited. I’m also glad we don’t have to do this with our non-dominant hand, I’m horrible. Actually, not quite as bad as I thought I’d be, but I did learn a few things doing that. I’m a veteran and haven’t been able to go to my groups because of all of this and this has been great to get me back into this. Plus I’m also writing a novel and loving all this time to do this. I don’t usually have this kind of time!!! Please stay safe, and again, great lessons. From Vermont!

  4. I’m a Fine and applied Arts students from Nigeria (Africa) and I’ve learnt alot during this Quarantine period…. Thank You Darleene!! You da best.

  5. Hi miss Darlene! thank you for your tutorials on youtube! it helps me a lot mostly in this tough time. God bless you more and hope I can contact you through private messages to ask you some advices about my drawings :)

  6. Hello Darlene, I have drawn a couple of video classes on YouTube. I was surprised how well I did to the point my granddaughter’s Art teacher invited me to come to her school and class as a visiting artist (big eyes). I wouldn’t consider myself an artist just yet. I need to get the beginnings under my belt and found this website off one of your videos. I can’t wait to get started and share with you my drawings. Thank you so much for these free lessons. Please keep up the good work, because I sure don’t want to lose a wonderful teacher like you.

  7. Hi Darlene my name is Salome. Thanks for this tutorial. I am beginner, and would like to learn drawing. I hope your lessons can help me. Right now situation is giving me and not just me the more time to have find new skills. (I hope you are safe) as a beginner I did your first lesson. I have been done some paintings and want to share it, can I share them and find out your opinions?
    Thank you in advance.
    Best wishes Salome.

  8. Hello Darlene. I really wanna learn how to draw and your lessons look pretty good. My only problem is that I don’t have facebook so is it possible for me to reach you anywhere else?

  9. hello, Darlene, I am new to this site but so far it has been amazing!! I am still new to drawing and or sketching but I want to work with cartoonish drawings as well for example Disney or Pixar animators. if you know how to draw like those or any recommendations, please. By the way, I am a 6th grader and I really admire your work!!

      • On the top of the page, (if you scroll all the way to the top) there should be a bar with the following options: START HERE, DRAWING TUTORIALS, EXCLUSIVE TUTORIALS, TOOLS, GALLERY, VIDEOS.

        Click on TOOLS to find recommended art supplies.

  10. Hi ma’am! I’m really interested in learning free hand outline and model drawing. Yr lessons r really a boon for me! I have a question which bugs my mind. Y some of the artists suggest to try grid method to adapt angles and strokes at first? I find it difficult. If it is the right way of practicing then should I do more grid work or just concentrate on curves, angles followed by shapes? These primary level confusions questions my basic abilities on drawing. Pls help.. thanks in advance :)

  11. Hi Darlene,

    My Name Is Htoo Aung (Not A Name Most People Have) And I Was Wondering If You Had Any Tips For Drawing With My Left Hand, As It Is My Dominant Hand.

    • I am also dominant with my left hand and this could be helpful but I am not sure that it is much different from right-handed dominance. except we get some smudge marks on the side of our hands if you know what I mean!!

  12. Hi. I am an 11-year-old student and I enjoy drawing. Should I draw these drawings with or without references because I am not a creative and I always rely on reference.

    Thank you,

  13. Hi. My name is Warren and I am a student who likes to draw. Should I draw these items without references or with because I am not a creative person but a very unimaginative person.

  14. Hi Ms.Darlene, Love your lessons. I am an art student. Seeing your sketch lessons, I wanted to pick my sketch book again after a while. I am so excited and drawn around 15 so far. Will send once I complete 50. Thank you for the lessons. :)

  15. Thanks for making these lessons!
    Finally taking the time to try improving my sketching – love lesson 1 so far.

  16. Hi,
    Do we have to start sketching with our non-dominant hand, or should we do it with the routine one ?

    • The non-dominant hand thing is a fun thing to try (I just did it to encourage people who find they have lack of control when drawing).
      I’d recommend beginners use their dominant hand because it will be a lot easier and faster to learn with.

  17. hello there.. i am stephen, and im intrested in pencil art.
    I love drawing but i still have poor skills to become better in drawing, but i can see that just in lesson 1 it shows so many ares which i have fail in, thank you so much.
    Looking forward to starting lesson 1.

  18. wow awesome site.. i have been draw for few years now.. but still i have many difficulties.. your lessons are very goood for me to start my foundations looking forward to start lesson 1

  19. I’m trying to figure out how to send you the two photos of my sketch pages; I took them on my cell phone so need a phone to send them so I can text ’em. I’m taking your lessons on how to draw faces. Finished the first one and now I look forward to the others!

  20. Math and art comingle in this first lesson, which gets students to think about shapes and objects from different perspectives. The information here prepares students for sketching and graphically rendering golf holes in future lessons.

  21. Thank you so much for providing this detailed tutorials. I almost lost my passion to draw several years ago until I started seeing my daughter searching for basic sketching tutorials in youtube! We’ll start following your tutorials this summer vacation. It’s a great opportunity for the both of us to learn and to bond as well. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, talent, and passion. Kudos!! :) :) :)

  22. Thank You, mam… I got too many tips and tricks of sketching by watching your blog… This helped me to open my own blog… I would be highly obliged and thankful to you if you just have a look at my blog and kindly provide me with reviews…

  23. Wow, the last user, Guylene Antoibe, what is he/she doing in a beginner course? His/her sketches are impressive, that’s a real talent!!! Native one!!! I couldn’t draw so perfectly not even after 30 years of practicing! Anyway, by the way, great tutorials, I love them, very useful! 😘

  24. i just had to comment i really love the way you teach how to draw you really iinspire me with your super easy tutorials ….all the way from east africa kenya

  25. A Computer Science Student here who loves to be lazy on Sunday morning but not anymore
    I always wanted to draw recently I drew something and one of my friends said oh my god you are very good And I was super excited to learn more and suddenly I came across your website
    I have to say, in this world, we need people like you
    You are simply the best.
    If you ever need my help please do not hesitate to contact me I can create you more beautiful and Professional website for FREE

  26. It is 2019 and I am the first to comment this year. I came across this website just recently and wanted to learn to draw well. I have health issues that took away a lot of my ability to use my dominant hand, so everything I draw is still shaky.

    I went to film school at an art college, and had to take classes in art, but they went with the presumption that we could already draw. I have been on many tutorial sites, and yours is the only one so far that doesn’t expect a perfect circle with perfect lines right at the beginning.

    Your tutorials seem very easy to follow, I appreciate that because my learning style has to be straightforward with no other subtle instructions that would throw me off.

    I am using a Wacom Bamboo pen table, it is several years old and a little scratched, but it is effective enough for what I am trying to learn. I have tried many times to draw from other tutorials and just could not seem to get it. Thank you for teaching more like an artist. And thank you for your patience to get across all the information.

  27. Great classes! I always want to learn sketch but did not how to start. and fund this is an fun and easy to start classes. Awesome!


  28. This lesson is seriously testing me with some of the hardest things. Drawing lightly, not worrying about details, and not being a perfectionist. I’ve always been bold with a pencil, worry too much about details, and am a perfectionist. These lessons give me high hopes. I’ve gone through college but didn’t really learn much there at all, so starting over again after four years (some personal drawing peppered throughout the months).

    Thanks for posting this. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot more by following along in these lessons.

  29. Thanks a lot. Everything is in full details. It is so kind of u for giving up free course. I was so stuck and was confused how wat n why. U t.v. me the best answer. Thank you once again

  30. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful drawing lessons. I am from Iran and very interested in using pencil to draw beautiful pictures. Unfortunately i have no time to join drawing classes, so i found ur words and ur works online so useful in learning how to draw. I am working on ur challenge about drawing on first lesson❤thanks❤

  31. Lesson #1 completed.
    After completing the first lesson I see improvement. I am now viewing objects in terms of basic shapes to start a scetch, this is something I was not doing before. When I begin a scetch with basic circles, rectangles, cones etc. it helps me to keep my proportions acurate and see the potential to make my scetch appear more 3 dimensional.
    I will post my sketches to the Facebook page in messages.
    I look forward to future lessons

  32. Hi Darlene,
    You are awesome, the best drawing teacher. Also, thanks for the FREE LESSONS, you have a golden heart. No wonder you’re a darling to all art lovers. Lots of love and well wishes. And Thanks again.

  33. Hey Darlene, thanks so much for creating this website, I love it!!!! It has really helped me learn to draw Thanks again!

  34. Hi, my name is Renea and I live in the u.s. I am a 37 yo mother and wife. I loved art throughout my childhood and took art in high school. My father was a great artist and had inspired me to be. Well I had become an adult and lost my will and time for it. About 3 years ago I decided to try my hand again. I have a 13yo daughter that has had some sort of drawing/writing tool at had at all times since she could hold them. She is a wonderful artist and sketches and draws all the time. I also have an 8 yo daughter that is just AMAZING for her age in drawing. I push and push for them to keep on and not EVER stop. I believe they will be GREAT artist some day. So anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for creating this site. I am very busy and have a hard time finding time to practice. This is very well constructed and easy to follow. I have a goal and that is to illustrate a coloring book or two. I am pretty rusty and this will be the best practice I believe. Thanks again so much for providing your skills and knowledge to the world. Your so very much kind😁

  35. Do you teach drawing buildings (White House)
    Statue of Liberty
    And other physical structures we see every day either in person or on TV?

  36. Hi, Darlene,
    My name is Van Thai, I am Vietnamese. Are you Vietnamese , too? cause I saw your last name is Nguyen, like almost Vietnamese’s last name.

    I like drawing, but I don’t know where I can start, luckily, I saw your webpages.

    Thanks a lot

  37. Hello, this was very good but I do not have a facebook and can not do that but this is extremely useful in helping become a stronger drawer. Thank you!

  38. Thanks Darlene, for creating this site. I always wanted to learn about art but its something i never did.so thank you again.

  39. First of all Thank you. I m the beginner n try to learn sketching from your tutorial and it is helping me. Thank you

  40. I am Ritwik and I have did homework but your facebook page is not working so I am unable to submit homework.Please tell me it’s solution as soon as possible.

  41. Hi Darlene, I came across your web site yesterday.

    I’m a 57yo Australian and have always been in awe of those who can draw/paint. After spending my whole life wondering how my dad’s artistic talent managed to bypass all four kids (including me!), the opportunity to attend a life drawing class came up last weekend. Surprisingly, I actually did rather well and since pencil is probably my favourite medium, I started searching online and found your fabulous tutorials.

    I thoroughly enjoy your teaching style. It’s simple to follow and the goals you set are achievable.

    So, Derwents, sketch pad and eraser in hand, I have started on my sketching journey to see where it may lead. Thanks for your fabulous website. I already have a page of sketches completed and am all fired up!

    • Amazing! Glad you took the initiative to try your hand at it again. Any skill can be learned as long as you are willing to set aside time to practice and practice often :)

  42. Hi, Darlene – This will be a short comment on your excellent drawing lesson and a longer one on the comments section, which literally made me cry. I read every single one. They are from all over the world and from people whose voices show goodness, positivity, humility, hopefulness and gratitude – to name just a few of the qualities that will ultimately bring us out of the tribalistic funk so pervasive right now. There really are way more loving, kind and caring people than there are negative ones and I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your site at this moment and gotten to know you and share a glimpse of so many others of cheerful spirit. It has made me remember what a wonderful, beautiful place our little planet is. Cheers to you and to all who accept your generosity with thankful hearts. I love you, sweetie.

  43. Hi Darlene,
    I love the way you teach, very easy to grab the concepts. Can you tell me how do I upload my sketches I do not use FB. Thanks!!

  44. Hi Darlene,

    Greetings from India.

    You are am amazing amazing teacher I have ever come across. I wish I should have searched you earlier.
    You have made sketching so simple and artistically beautiful.

    I always wanted to learn sketching. I do oil painting but not so good (I mean not at all good) at sketching. After seeing your videos I hope I would learn sketching.

    2 days back I came across your video on eyes when I was searching sketching video on eyes. Since then I’m watching all your videos on you tube. They are so irresistiable that I could not stop watching them whenever I got time even during office hours/Metro/Home.

    Sorry for being so lengthy but I could not stop myself expressing my happiness after seeing all your videos and lessons.

    I still cannot believe that I have such a great teacher like you.

    “I have a request if you could send a PDF version of all your lessons, so that they can be practiced offline and sometimes net connectivity is poor”.

    Warm Regards

    • Hi Kavita! Sorry for the late reply! Thank you so much for your support and kind words, you are really sweet :)
      I will send you the PDF’s via the email you provided. Let me know if you have any questions!

  45. 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…)

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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

  50. 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 :)

  51. 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?

  52. 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!!!

  53. 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 :)

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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.

  59. 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 :)

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

  61. 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 :)

  62. 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?