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Learning How to Sketch – General Tips

Learning how to sketch is fun. Whenever I look through old sketchbooks I see two things: A chronological record of how far I have already travelled and a highly personal record of places, people, and captured moments in time.

My sketchbooks also contain thoughts, ideas, rough outlines of illustrations (which don’t always get made!), notes and even shopping lists. My mind is right there, on the page. And if i’m ever stuck for ideas my sketch books – around 30 so far – are full of them.

Start Right Now

I began learning to draw by sketching. Sitting in cafes, my back against the wall so no one could look over my shoulder. I was very embarrassed by some of my early sketches: I struggled with proportions and perspective. Some of my people looked more like characters out of Star Wars than anything human, but I was addicted. I still am. Learn to sketch and you will be too.

Not Just Sketching Though…

Sketchbooks are not just for sketching though. They are personal books, each as individual as the artist who created them. Some are messy: bulging with collages and collected ephemera – even textiles. Others are pristine – full of neat, tidy sketches and precise notes. And some combine both.

All of them though, become journals as well as sketchbooks – records of your life. What you do in yours and how you do it will reflect who you are, your likes and dislikes and the media you like to use. You may even decide to keep more than one – reserving one for sketching and another for experimentation.

Learning How to Sketch   General Tips

Because it is so personal – and because you are using it as a place to learn how to sketch and draw you may choose not to share it with anyone. This is your choice – if someone asks to look at your book and you don’t want to show them tell them it’s a journal (it is, after all) and very personal.

Find the Right Book

One which pleases you. Probably not too expensive – at least not at first, whilst you are learning how to sketch. If you feel you can only do ‘good’ sketches and drawings in it, you will likely never use it. It’s important you feel free to do things badly and mess it up. Also bear in mind that once you are hooked you’ll go through sketchbooks very quickly. In a couple of hours sketching I can go through 15 or 20 pages.

Of course you can also make your own sketchbooks – I’ll be showing you how in future lessons.

Paper is of course the other consideration. A good all round choice would be a medium or smooth cartridge paper, about 150gsm/90lbs in weight. If you plan to use only or mainly pens to sketch with then opt for smoother paper as textured paper will create drag.

If you plan to use mostly dry media, try something with a little more texture. It will probably take a little time to find the book and paper you like best.

Finally: Something to draw with! – I discuss possibilities for sketching on the How to Sketch page.

From Sketching To…

Once you are familiar with the basics discussed in How to Sketch, have a look at the other links for ways to develop how you use your sketchbook. From mixing media to drawing without looking at the page there are so many ways to really get most out of your sketchbook. And all of them will help you to learn to sketch.