Learn To Draw

Learn How To Draw – For Beginners

Hyperealistic koala drawing

Hand-drawn Koala – using graphite pencils (2B/4B/6B)


Best Koala drawing… this pencil drawing took me over 40 hours to draw! Of course it takes years of practice to get to this level, but if you are a beginner, I started my journey in exactly the same place as you!

Learn how to draw

Do you want to know what the best thing about drawing is?

When you are newly discovering the wonderful world of art and you are not sure what your forte is. You might be thinking “do I take up drawing or painting”? Let me tell you straight up, if you get very excited about this new found activity and take a deep dive into painting, It will burn a hole in your pocket.

It does not matter whether you decide to try watercolour, gouache, acrylic or oil painting – if you go for a full palette of artist quality paint… there goes next week’s groceries! Of course, you could go out and buy a cheap and nasty set of paints from a $2 shop just to get started. However, If you have never done any art before and you are just thinking you need a hobby to pass the time, then I would recommend it. Go buy a cheap acrylic art kit, (small canvas/ brushes/ paints) . You don’t want to spend a lot of money only to realise you have no patience, or think that you have no skill, then give up. No harm done, you didn’t break the bank.

With drawing on the other hand, you can start with a few pencils, a sharpener and some A4 print paper. Did you notice I didn’t mention an eraser? I will get to that in a minute.

Whilst it is great to ‘drip your feet’ inexpensively into art, the reward goes beyond that. The most important thing about drawing is this:

Drawing expands the mind, improves memory and imagination!

Yes, that is correct. When you draw you activate the right side of your brain which is responsible for imagination and creativity. Art therapy is used to help people with disabilities, it helps with motor skills; particularly eye hand coordination. People suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer improve memory retention. When you are drawing you are cross referencing your source material, you are looking for miscalculations plus observing composition all at the same time. So your concentration level is huge.

Now the same could be said for all art, but this Blog is about drawing. Besides, it made a powerful headline didn’t it?

To become a master painter you must master drawing first!

That is a bold statement and not entirely true. If you just want to paint abstract paintings and end up completing thousands of abstract paintings – I dare say that you should be a master painter in that genre. But you still won’t be able to draw with accuracy. Now I could go down a rabbit hole of arguments but we are just talking generally here. However, if you want to be a realist artist you need to learn about perspective, scale, proportion, form, composition, tone and shading… it all starts on the drawing table!

Let’s start drawing!

Lesson 1

To begin just loosely draw shapes of various size on a sheet of paper. I want you to leave every mark on the paper, do not use an eraser to remove ‘errors’. The idea here is that all your ‘mistakes’ will inform you to make better decisions. As you practice your shapes over and over you will correct them over time so all the guidelines or imperfections are lessons learnt. The reason behind this method is purely to get you used to holding a pencil and controlling it’s pressure and direction. Starting with this strategy will reap rewards in the long run. Click on this demo link (coming soon)

After mastering hours of drawing circles, triangles, rectangles and ovals you are ready to move on to lesson 2. Seriously, don’t take this lightly. You should be able to draw any shape fairly accurately and control the pressure of your pencil before moving on.

Light & shadow (tints and shades)

To make a circle (2 dimensional) become a sphere or globe (3 dimensional), two aspects come together. Perspective and form. To achieve form you have to understand how light and shadow influence what we see. Light is a huge and complex topic so I will just gloss over the surface because this blog is about drawing. But just to understand the basics, what is light? Did you know that we only see colours because of light, without light there would be no colours. To begin with, there is natural light; the sun, stars, and fires. There is also artificial light; lamps, televisions, computer monitors and light bulbs for example.

Incandescent light powers the sun, light bulbs and even fires. Luminescence light is emitted by televisions, computer monitors, neon signs and fluorescent lights. In the natural world, fireflies give of luminescence light. When looking at an object you have to determine what kind of light source is hitting the surface, plus where it is coming from.

Hand drawn sphere showing tonal values of shadow

I used a 2B and a 4B graphite pencil in this example here!

Example 1: in the above drawing I placed a ball on a table that had natural light coming in through a nearby window. You can clearly see a highlight at the top left side of the ball. Because the light is coming from the sun (above), there is a cast shadow on the right side of the ball, and it gets darker towards the bottom. There is also a cast shadow on the table behind the ball (away from the window – right side), plus a reflective shadow bouncing of the table and onto the underside of the ball (on the window side – left side).

Example 2: if you place an apple on a glossy black, laminated table with a light bulb switched on above the apple, you will have direct light beaming down on top of the apple. You will also have reflected light bouncing back up from the glossy table top, plus there will have a cast shadow of the apple on the glossy laminate. If the table top was completely void of gloss or in other words, it was matte (had no shine); you wouldn’t get reflected light coming from the table. Nor would there be a shadow. I recommend that you get a lamp and move it around your apple to see how it affects the shadow. Try two light sources at the same time.

Lesson 2

Practice drawing objects using highlights and shadows to create form. You can set up a still life arrangement to your preference or just go outside and draw a streetscape, a landscape, or a single object that has a clear light source.

Out in nature, if you look at a tree – the side closest to the light source will have a highlight and the other side will be in shadow. Of course if the sun is exactly above the tree then this principle does not apply. But generally speaking, all objects will have a highlighted side and a shadow side with a cast shadow on the side away from the light source.

Charcoal drawing of tree limbs

Limbs is a charcoal drawing on now-yellowing acid free paper

In the above charcoal on paper example, the light source is coming from the above right. All the branches have light hitting the top and the right side, whereas in contrast, the shadow is cast on the left, or underneath, depending on the angle of the branch.


Drawing of Bangkok canal

Hard to see; however, perspective was used in this drawing – Bangkok Canal

Lesson 3

1 point perspective uses a vanishing point on the horizon line. The easiest way to conceptualise this is to stand on a long straight road and look at the telegraph poles running into the distance. Obviously the closest pole to you will be towering over your head. But as you gaze into the distance each pole will be getting smaller, the poles in the distance will be tiny. As objects get further away they diminish in size. The horizon line is an invisible or perceived horizontal line that depicts where the objects would become so small, they would disappear. 2 point perspective comes into play with cubes or buildings and the like. If you stand at a junction of a long building and first look to your right, that side of the building would be getting smaller as it recedes into the distance. Likewise on your left. So now you would have 2 points that vanish in the distance.

Finally we have 3 point perspective. Put into practise; to make a 2 dimensional square become a 3 dimensional cube – first draw a square. Next, you need to draw an imaginary horizon line (horizontal) behind the square. Now place two dots on your horizon line (one to the left of your square and one to the right). Replacing the top and bottom of your square, draw lines indicating the top and bottom of your cube. Lets alter the square to the left side. So instead of 2 straight horizontal lines of the square – we will create two lines angling back to the vanishing point (the dot) on the left of your square. From the front (right side) of your cube receding to the point on your horizon line. These guidelines are called orthogonal lines.

So, you have the left side of your cube started. Now you need to draw your orthogonal lines from the right side of your square to the vanishing point on the right side. It is time to add a vertical vanishing point which will inform you how the sides of your cube will look. Usually the vertical vanishing point will be off the page somewhere but the point is – a true 3 dimensional cube will have 3 vanishing points.

Keep in mind, what angle you view the object from determines where the orthogonal lines meet the horizon line.

Example: get a square sided box or cube and place it on a table and move it into a position where both sides look equal in size. The vanishing points will be equally positioned to the left and right of the object. Now twist your cube so the right side is almost square in shape. The vanishing point will be far away to the right whereas the left side vanishing point will be only slightly to the left of the object. With 3 dimensional perspective we also have a vertical vanishing point. If you stand very close to a skyscraper and look up – the top of the building appears narrow. So when drawing your square box or cube and you are looking down on it, you will see the top also. Therefore the box will be narrower at the bottom.

Practise drawing different shaped boxes and tubes viewed on different angles with different light sources (strong direct light/ soft reflected light/ multiple light sources)


Shading in drawing basically means to render within shapes to give form, to make the shape look 3 dimensional. There are many ways to shade or render a drawing. We can use single directional lines (hatching) with varying degrees of darkness (tone) to convey direction of form. Cross hatching adds a second layer of lines in the opposite direction to the original lines thus giving more complexity to the form. There are various adaptations to hatching.

Still life drawing using cross hatching technique

I used the cross-hatching technique to create form in this still life drawing!

You can use dots or dashes to make lines or you can space your lines closer together to indicate darker areas. Another way to get tone is blending. Blending is applied when you alter the pressure you apply on the pencil. The harder you press, the deeper the tone and vise versa. You can also achieve blending using blending sticks, cotton buds or even tissue paper.

Pencil drawing of mother-in-law

In this drawing I softly used single direction hatching to blend the tones of the skin on this beautiful lady!

Did you know pencils come in different categories?


When I was growing up, we used to have lead pencils, now we call them graphite. Previously I referred to different categories of pencil.

Did you know graphite is a mixture purified graphite powder and the clay binder kaolin?

You can buy hard pencils (*H *HB *2H *3H *6H) or soft pencils (*2B *3B *4B *5B *6B *7B *8B *10B *12B *14B)

H pencils are hard because they have binders added, therefore less graphite added.

B pencils are softer and create darker marks due to the higher concentration of graphite.

Oddly, the higher the number for H pencils – the harder the pencil lead is. B pencils are the opposite – the higher the number, the softer and darker they get!

Did you know graphite also comes in sticks?

The graphite sticks also come in different values and varying shapes – *hexagonal *rectangular *square or *round.

Drawing Tips

This blog is still in progress… to be continued

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