7 Basics of Drawing for Beginners

By Jedida Okonkwo

There’s a near-endless list of educational materials created for artists. But only a handful of them is designed to teach beginners how to draw. Now, that’s an interesting irony because beginners are the ones that need all the help they can get. 

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s possible to learn how to draw from scratch. All you have to do is put in the required effort and amount of practice to master the basics of drawing. If you’re a new artist who can’t produce a beautiful image on paper or can’t seem to draw a straight line, this piece is for you. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of drawing for beginners while also offering new perspectives on how to handle your craft. 

Learn Different Pencil Techniques

There’s no “proper” way to hold a pencil when drawing. Artists grip their pencils in a different way than what most people know. That means you are free to grip your pencil anyhow you want, as long as it helps you conveniently achieve the final result. 

However, there are still some basic pencil techniques that you could learn. These techniques are adopted by professional artists and have proven effective in creating special effects when drawing. You can also use them to establish a good level of control over the final image.

The popular pencil techniques that we have to include: 

Traditional Grip

Just like its name suggests, this is the most common way of holding a pencil. This grip is the same as what we were taught in elementary schools to put it more into perspective. For a lot of people, it’s the only way they know how to grip a pencil. But using this type of grip can sometimes limit what you can achieve. This type of grip is ideal for creating larger details, such as the outline of the image. 

Drumstick Grip

Now, this grip is one of the advanced techniques used by professionals. As its name suggests, the drumstick grip is one in which the pencil is held loosely between the thumb and index finger – similarly to holding a drumstick. When drawing like this, the artist would hold the pencil in position while using the other fingers to balance his hand. This grip allows the artist to draw with the side of the pencil’s graphite, not its tip. Artists draw like this to create loose marks and layout the drawing. 

Paint Brush Grip

When using this particular grip, the artist holds the pencil like he would handle a paintbrush. The pencil is kept straight while it rests in the space between your thumb and index finger. Having your pencil like this allows you to create light marks on the paper surface. 

Heavy Overhand Grip

This is the perfect grip to apply material forcefully onto the paper surface. The artist holds the middle of the pencil between the middle finger and the thumb. This grip allows the artist to draw with the pencil’s tip and is held parallel to the paper surface. Artists often use this technique to fill up large spaces in the image. 

Inverted Grip

The inverted grip is one in which the pencil unusually points towards the artist. To create this type of grip, you’ll need to place the pencil on your forefinger while balancing it with your thumb and lower fingers. When using this technique, the pencil touches the paper with its tip and the backside of the pencil’s tip. Artists prefer to draw like this because it allows them to see their pencil marks. 

Learn Two-dimensional Shapes

Good knowledge of shapes is just as necessary as learning how to hold your pencil like a professional artist. You’ll have to relearn some of the things you did as a child at this stage. 

There are many two-dimensional shapes, but the most important ones to any artist include; circle, square, and triangle. It’s possible to create silhouettes of many objects and animals with these three basic shapes. You can draw complex figures by carefully combining two-dimensional shapes. Variations of these basic shapes that you can also use to create silhouettes include; ovals, rectangles, stars, trapeziums, and polygons.  

 Many people find it challenging to draw shapes with equal sides, such as circles and squares. Drawing these shapes is pretty straightforward, and with some practice, you can produce impressive results. 

Learn Three – dimensional Shapes

You should not only learn to draw two-dimensional shapes, as three-dimensional shapes are equally important. An artist may learn to use three-dimensional shapes less frequently than basic shapes. Still, they also help to create complex figures, objects and poses. 

Three-dimensional shapes are more challenging to create because the artist needs to understand the use of space. Here, the main shapes to focus on include pyramids, cones, torus, cubes, spheres, and cylinders. 

Three-dimensional objects can be quickly created using these six shapes. Things like the corners of a house or the hexagonal head of a bolt are related to cubes. You can create other items such as a sofa or flag from combinations of cylinders and cubes. At the same time, hills, bumps, or dented surfaces are products of spheres. 

Applying Guidelines and Proportions

Professional artists rarely speak of guidelines and how they help to create proportional images. These guidelines determine the proportions of the image and help reduce the number of mistakes you have on your paper. Furthermore, they are valuable tools in making sure that you solely focus on just a single part of the image at a time.

An artist can adopt different guidelines, such as drawing a frame to contain the image – a common tactic to create a perfect final image. Some artists may even resort to drawing multiple shapes to give them a better feel of the object. It could also mean using a grid-layout system in recreating the image from the original photo. 

Learn How to Draw Silhouettes

Drawing Silhouettes is an exciting trend that has been around since the mid-18th century. Silhouettes are images of any particular object drawn as a solid shape. When drawing these images, artists tend to focus solely on the outline of the image without adding any additional details. 

From a professional point of view, drawing silhouettes is a necessary form of practice for beginners. It lets a novice artist learn how to focus on the image’s outline while also teaching him the important parts of each subject. The silhouette of an object is the first thing you notice as an artist. When you’re able to create an impressive outline, your subject comes out better because you find it easier to include other details. 

Learn Blind Contouring and Other Types of Contouring

Blind contouring is a popular technique used by professional artists to train their eyes and hands to draw what it sees without giving much thought or consideration. To put it simply, you are to draw the subject without stopping to look at the paper. Many people consider it to be the next thing to learn after practicing how to draw silhouettes. 

Your first few images would turn out ugly and without any form, and this exercise may seem like a waste of time. Still, it’s slowly teaching your brain to focus on the drawing and object. New artists who find it challenging to create an image from a blank sheet would notice considerable improvements when practicing blind contouring.

As an artist, no one expects you to create a perfect image. This exercise aims to teach you how to lower your expectations and focus solely on recreating the image. When you don’t feel like all parts of your image should be perfect, the subject will appear better. Blind contouring frees up the creative part of your mind and allows you to train your senses of sight and touch. Isn’t that great?


Every new artist should not underestimate the importance of practice. All the tips, tricks, and techniques you learn mean nothing if you don’t practice constantly. Regularly revisiting what you have learned and trying it out is the best way to improve your craft. Even when you feel discouraged, keep practicing. You’ll notice the difference in no time. 

Learning to draw as a beginner can be overwhelming because there are many aspects to cover and learn. We’ve compiled a list of the essential drawing basics for every beginner. If you’re looking to improve your craft and draw better images, this is a great place to start. Make sure to read through the points discussed in this piece gently. And don’t forget to practice as much as you can.