In today's video and post, we go through five tips that can help you start drawing better right away.
Be sure to watch today’s video for more details and examples:
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Tip #1 Make a Guide
Start in pencil and use basic shapes to give you the form and layout you want to see. You don’t need to put pen to paper right away.
With this cactus we start with a square and a few circles before elongating and rounding it out, slowly adding details and extra shape. The flowers start as circles and a couple of lines. Once we go over it with pen, we can add more details, wiggling the pen for the flower petals and adding lines. If you need more of a guide at any point you can go back to pencil to make sure you’re adding details or expanding in the right area.
Tip #2 Pen Movement
Move the pen towards you, or in the direction, that you are most comfortable with.
I find pulling the pen towards me keeps the pen steady, so often I'll turn my artwork upside down in order to use that directional movement. Try it out and see what you are most comfortable with – you might find you are more jittery in one direction, especially if you are putting pressure on yourself to draw well. Practice with those hand-drawn borders so that they are consistent and straight, but not too perfect. If you are having trouble keeping your hand steady, just turn the page.
Tip #3 Refine and Transfer
After making a guide with pencil and going over in pen to add details to an illustration you can refine this even further using tracing paper.
With this flower illustration, I’ve added extra details and refined things in pen, but next, I'll use tracing paper to make more changes. You can change what you don’t like and keep what you do – it's still your own work so there is no shame in tracing. Here I added extra petals, moved the tracing paper to add leaves in a different spot, changed the size, and took the extra time to get it just as I wanted. This is a great way to transfer illustrations to a different type of paper as well.
Using graphite paper, with the dark side down, you just trace over the entire drawing again. Now you’ll have the transfer on your new paper and you can go over it in pen, watercolours, or whatever material you’d like. By now, you’ll have drawn it a few times and are hopefully feeling more comfortable and happy with your final illustration.
Tip #4 Add shading
Adding line shading is a great way to make your illustrations really pop and add some details.
It can be as simple as adding line details or adding full shading colouring in whole areas. In this flower illustration, I did both, adding lines in the centre of leaves but often colouring in one side. Extra lines on the petals can add texture and shading at the same time.
Shading can be used when we think about lighting. You get to decide where the light is coming from, then determine where your drawing would be darker, and then add in some lines, stippling, scribbles, or crosshatching. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but can really elevate your drawing, showing some extra shape and texture to give it a little more sophistication.
Tip #5 Know your nib sizes
Fineliner or artist pens often come in different nib sizes - referring to the tip of the pen.
In this example, you can see the differences between the 0.1 to 0.8 Pigma Micron. The 0.1 is tiny and delicate, this is great for line shading and details. You’ll see a bit of a difference with the 0.3 and then a jump to the 0.5 and 0.8 as they get thicker and more impactful. I most often draw with the 0.3 or 0.5 and add line shading with the 0.1. The Pigma Microns come in sets so you can get all the nib sizes in one purchase. Having just one pen you can’t get this same level of precision and finish that you can achieve when you know your nibs.