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


181 thoughts on “Lesson 1: How to Sketch”

  1. Hello Darlene ~
    My name is Brandy. First I need to thank you for having these lessons. I have been wanting to learn how to draw for so long. But honestly I never really pursued trying to learn because I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler. Lol.😃 And also I just believed if you weren’t born with the talent then you could never get the talent. But after reading what you have said on the subject I decided I would give it my damndest! I just color everyday using Pigment coloring app. I am disabled so I spend a lot of my time coloring. Been doing it for probably close to seven years now and everyday almost all day for the last 4-5 years. I absolutely love it. However I feel very limited of what I would love to be able to express because I can’t draw. Ok but I degrees. I actually just found your Lessons last night and have started lesson one. And I just wanted to ask you if it ok that I do them on my iPad. Honestly I don’t even own a pencil. Lol! I have procreate. But I wasn’t sure if doing it digitally would differ from me doing it with a pencil and paper. Probably sounds silly but I really want to try to learn and want to make sure I won’t be hindering or limiting myself. I apologize for the lack of using commas. For some reason every time I try to use one I get a pop up message saying “ print screen disabled”.🤷‍♀️ I also apologize for witting you a small novel.😊 Thank you again so much.

  2. Diane Jane Haabjoern

    Thankyou I discovered you today , I decided I wanted to learn . Thankyou so much I enjoy watching you draw. You made my day thankyou so much. I was lonely as my partner died from brain cancer two weeks ago. I wanted to do something to take my mind of his suffering at the end and try to be more positive by learning a new skill. I appreciate your videos

  3. Hi Darlene i am a begginer and i always love art from a young age ,now iam 40years and taking your lessons serious. Is it too late for my age and can i make an honest living with pencil art and provide for my family?

  4. Hello I’m a beginner I have always love anything that has to do with art and I want to become and artist someday

  5. Thank you so much .before I didn’t know my mad skills in art but you showed me I could do anything. From Aliya xxx

  6. Paul H Abrahamsen

    Darlene I am an art teacher at Bethune Bowman Middle High School in Orangeburg SC. I have used your video’s in my classroom for several years now. They are the best tutorial video’s that I have found. Much of the content that you present I didn’t know until college classes that I took (Mostly at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica NY under the instruction of Mr. Willard Sauter). If I hadn’t gotten his instruction I’m not sure I would have gotten it even in later years of art schools. It’s excellent it’s step by step. It’s scaffold-ed very well.
    I wanted you to know I’ve been using your video’s but I just came across your drawing lessons. I currently am teaching an AP course in 2D drawing and I would love to and am planning to teach from your tutorials. I would love to be able to put the materials into the hands of my 5 AP students and the administrator that is overseeing the AP course. First of all I would love your permission and blessing to use your materials and secondly is there any way I could get a printable version do you ever sell subscriptions?

  7. Hi Darlene
    My 13 year old daughter would love to take your courses especially faces.
    We don’t have internet at our home.
    Is there any way you would be able to email me the videos that you have on youtube so that she can watch them?
    I would not use them for anyhting besides for my childs viewing.
    Thank you

  8. Hi Darlene
    Wow just found you online & was so very happy to be part of your teaching . Thank you for helping us grow into artists.
    Am a senior citizen & just want to do some sketches. Started a few days back & done some . Will send them to you

  9. Hi Darlene
    I a senior citizen & am planning to do a do a story of my life in pencil sketches & make it into a video.
    Have been a sportsman & have never tried my hang at art .I am a complete amateur. Last few days I have done some detailed sketches of my garden . Dog . Found you & thank you for making it free … as at this point do not jump into a certificate course

  10. you are very easy to follow and understand most tutorials or how to , the people trying to teach their way of doing it is confusing and dont make sense, with yours it is the totally opposite like i said but also wanted to add FUN..thx for making a difference in my art work

  11. I would do the assignment but I’m only 12 so I don’t have a facebook page, the tutorials are a huge help to me never the less. Thanks so much!

  12. Yannick Luhandjula

    Hi Darlene,
    I recently completed the first lesson for your drawing course for beginners and I’d like to inform you that this lesson has improved my drawing skills significantly. For this, I am grateful to you. I am about to begin with the second lesson of this course and I am looking forward to it. Kindly explain to me how to submit my drawings for the first lesson on the Facebook page. That would be much appreciated.
    Best regards
    Yannick L.

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