How to SKETCH Like a PRO! - Tools, Tips and Tricks!

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How to Sketch

Two Parts:

Sketching is the practice of drawing a rough outline or rough draft version of a final piece of art. Sketching can be used in preparation for a large piece of art, or to just get an idea of how something will look. Whether you're sketching for fun or for a project, learning the proper technique can make the practice much more enjoyable.


Learning the Basics

  1. Get the right materials.Just like with any art form, it is difficult to sketch when using poor quality (or the wrong) materials. You can easily find all the proper sketching materials at a local arts and crafts store. Spend a few dollars and gather up all the right materials, including:
    • H pencils. H pencils are the hardest pencils, and are used for sketching thin, straight, non-blend-able lines. These are mostly used for architecture and business sketches. Get an assortment including 8H, 6H, 4H, and 2H pencils (8H is the hardest, 2H is the softest).
    • B pencils. B pencils are the softest pencils, and are used for making smudged and blurry lines and for shading your sketch. These are the favorites of many artists. Get an assortment including 8B, 6B, 4B, and 2B (8B is the softest, 2B is the hardest).
    • Fine art paper. Sketching on regular printer paper may be easy, but the paper is thin and doesn't hold the pencil as well. Use fine art paper with a bit of texture for the easiest time sketching, and for the best overall appearance.
  2. Choose your subject.For beginners, it is easiest to sketch from a live model or an image, rather than by using your imagination to create an image to draw. Find an image of something you like, or look for an object or person around you to draw. Take several minutes to study the subject prior to beginning to sketch. Pay attention to these things:
    • Find the source of light. Locating the primary light source will determine where you sketch the lightest and where you sketch the darkest.
    • Look for any movement. Whether actual movement from a real-life subject or perceived movement in an image, determining movement in your subject will determine the shape/direction you make your sketch strokes.
    • Pay attention to primary shapes. All objects are made up of a combination of the basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, etc.). Look for the shapes that underlay your subject, and sketch these first.
  3. Don't draw too heavily.A sketch is intended to be the base or draft of an image. Therefore, when you start your sketch you should use a light hand and lots of short, quick strokes. This will make it easier to test out different ways of drawing a particular object, and will allow you to erase mistakes much easier as well.
  4. Try doing a gesture drawing.Gesture drawing is a form of sketching where you use continuous movements and connected lines to draw your subject, without ever looking at your paper. Although it sounds difficult, it can help you to get a good idea of the basic forms in your drawing, and help to set a base for your final drawing. To do a gesture drawing, look only at your subject and move your hand accordingly on the paper. When possible, avoid lifting your pencil and use overlapping lines. Later, you can go back and erase the extra lines and perfect your sketch.
    • This is good practice for a sketch - kind of like a pre-sketch.

Practicing Sketching

  1. Gather all materials listed.Make sure you have enough light. You can sketch at a table, in the park, in the middle of the city in a sketchbook, on regular paper, or even on a napkin.
    • You might want to try different versions of the same object to brainstorm and later decide which you like best.
  2. Before you start sketching, practice some hand movements.For example, you can draw circles or horizontal lines for five-ten minutes to warm up your hand.
  3. Starting with your H pencil, use light strokes with loose hands.Move your hand very quickly, using minimal pressure, almost glossing over the page without stopping. Get comfortable with the paper you are working with. At this initial stage, you should barely be able to see the strokes. Consider this to be the foundation of your sketch.
  4. For the next stage, use the darker 6 B pencil.When you achieve the perfect shape in Step 3, you can then define your strokes more precisely with this darker pencil. Keep adding details. Start adding inner shapes. Make sure they are to scale. For example, when drawing a parking ramp, you want to make sure that the entrances and parking spots are the appropriate size.
    • When you are finished using this pencil, you will notice smudges on the pages since the lead on this pencil is softer than the previous one. Remove all smudges with the eraser.
    • Make sure you use a soft eraser like the putty eraser so that your erasing does not rip off the top layer of the page. The putty eraser will lighten your lines, not completely eradicate them.
  5. Add further details and perfect your lines and presentation until you are satisfied that you have captured the perfect representation.
  6. When you have completed your sketch, apply a fixative to seal the image.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can I sketch with a charcoal pencil?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Charcoal is a great medium, but be advised, it is very dark and exceptionally easy to smudge.
  • Question
    Can I sketch with only a pencil?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, but you need to rub off a bit to get a light area, then for the rest of the sketch, you can use the pencil.
  • Question
    How do I sketch real people's faces?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Usually you would want to start with basic shapes, then put in details. Do it step-by-step until you think it looks good, and then erase any unnecessary lines from your starting sketch.
  • Question
    What kind of paper is used for sketching?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Fine art papers with texture are best for sketching. It holds the pencil well, preventing a whole bunch of smudging. But if you do not have access to that, blank white printer paper works just fine.
  • Question
    What are putty erasers?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    They are rubbers that you can squish and mold into different shapes. You can find them at most art supply stores.
  • Question
    Do I have to sketch from real life, or can I sketch something that I am imagining?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can absolutely sketch something that you are imagining! You can always use real life subjects and photos as references if you get stuck.
  • Question
    Why can some people draw the sketch perfectly, while some can't?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    People have different abilities. Some have a natural talent for drawing. However, everyone can greatly improve their ability by practicing regularly.
  • Question
    How difficult is sketching?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The answer to this depends on how skillful you are naturally and how much practice you're prepared to put in. Unless you practice, you will always find it hard, even if you're naturally talented. Keep trying and with each attempt, you'll improve. Besides, it never pays to find art easy or you'll produce less than your best unless you're properly challenged.
  • Question
    I am not able to shade my sketch properly. What should I do?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    One option is that you can sharpen your pencil and use the small gray led pieces to shade with. Use your finger to move it around, and make sure it doesn't smudge. Practice a lot.
  • Question
    What is hatching and when should I use it? What does it represent?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Hatching is a sketching technique where you make parallel lines to create different shades. The closer the lines the darker, the farther apart the lines, the lighter. Cross hatching is going back and forth to create a checkerboard-like form of hatching.
Unanswered Questions
  • How do I get the tone and shading right?
  • Are fine art papers the paper in sketch pads? Because I have one and its exactly what you said it was. Has some texture, not too thin, etc.
  • How do you sketch on an animating program?
  • How do I use greaseproof paper?
  • How do I sketch hair for people?
Ask a Question
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  • Have a sharp pencil. Sharp pencils are good for fine details.
  • You can go over your work at the end to make some spots darker for shadow or definition.
  • Practice. Try sketching lots of different things, and don't worry about whether your sketches look good, especially at first. Don't be afraid to experiment or just doodle.
  • To give your sketch a good touch up, try adding thin streaks of light colored pencils in your drawing.
  • Putty erasers are good for erasing little spots.
  • If you want to store your image on the computer, you might want to scan it in.
  • Going over your work with a tracing pen, dark marker, or a dark pencil is a great way to make your sketch look real, even if it's of something fake. A good choice for going over sketches is a thin black Sharpie or a regular black Sharpie.
  • Keep the object at a position at which you can look at comfortably. The job will become easier.
  • You can sketch using imagination but if you think that it is difficult, you may use real life things.


  • Having a poorly lit space may cause eye strain. Make sure you have a well-lit, spacious area.
  • Soft leaded pencils smudge easily. When you are not using them, keep them in a plastic container or bag for protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean paper
  • Something to sketch
  • HB pencil
  • 6 B pencil
  • Clean hands
  • Putty eraser
  • Light
  • Aerosol fixative (can be found in any art supply shops)

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Quick Summary

Before you start sketching, make sure to buy all the necessary materialsfor best results, including H pencils, B pencils, and fine art paper. Then, practice drawing circles or straight lines for 5-10 minutes to warm up your hand. Next, choose a subject for your sketch, like a live model or an image. When you begin, identify the main source of light in your drawing and use short, light strokes with an H pencil to sketch the outline of your subject. Finish by adding more definition with your B pencil.

Success Stories

Audrey Jones

Apr 4, 2019

"This is article is amazing! Step 3 was really useful. I used to draw too hard and then I needed to erase to correctany mistake, but the dark lines wouldn't completely erase and I'd erase too hard and often rip off the upper layer of the paper."

Verena S.

Sep 26, 2019

"The article is written in a way that's very reassuring, telling you practice is what is actually the most importantpart, and what your outcome depends on. Not expecting one to be perfect from the start or not dealing with that problem at all."

Tracy Emmart

Sep 3, 2019

"I was looking for an overview with basic steps. Before investing in a new skill, I like to try it out first. Thesteps and overview were perfect, and I liked having the Q&A. Thanks!"

Patricia Robinson

Nov 26, 2019

"What pencils to use, and sketching quickly without stopping and not looking at your sketching, only the object. Ithought that was a great way to learn."

Eric Mercurio

Jul 22, 2019

"Since I'm a starter to sketching, the tips here are very useful. It really helps a lot!"

Swati Sharma

Feb 9, 2019

"This is one of the simplest websites to understand the concept in the easiest way."

Bruce Loton

Dec 22, 2019

"Don't be afraid to try, the person who never made a mistake, never made anything."

Madhusudan Mahabal

Aug 14, 2019

"I found the above suggestions and instructions extremely useful and helpful!"

Saher Ammad

Oct 12, 2019

"This article helped me a lot with making a sketch of that special man. "

Luis Oquendo

Jan 20, 2019

"This has helped me become more confident in my artistic capabilities."

Tina Luna

Aug 7, 2019

"It very educational. It's amazing how you can learn how to do it."

Akansha Sharma

Sep 10, 2019

"This site helped me to learn more and more about sketching."

Prasanna M.

Oct 6, 2019

"I now understand how to hold a pencil when drawing."

Amir El-Badawi

Sep 22, 2019

"Helpful. Every detail is important. Thanks."

Denise Colbert

Sep 4, 2019

"Lists all the things needed to get started."

Sucharita Mallick

May 29, 2019

"I love everything that was given here.

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Date: 03.12.2018, 18:56 / Views: 44231