A Simple Guide to Sketching for Beginners

Whether you’ve always wanted to explore sketching or you’re looking for a new way to express yourself creatively, this simple drawing guide is here to help you get started.

Sketching doesn’t require any fancy tools or special skills to get started. All that’s needed is the willingness to experiment with pencil and paper. 

Let’s dive into the basics of sketching and learn how to start your art journey.

girl making funny expression
Credit: Cameronmarkart

Choosing Your Supplies

The first step in any artistic endeavor is gathering the right supplies. You only need a sketchbook, pencils, and an eraser to get started.

If you want to go beyond the basics, get creative with different art supplies like markers, pens, colored pencils, pastels, etc. Plenty of options are available to you, so have fun experimenting with what works best for your style and budget.

turtle sketch
Credit: weheartit

Choosing Your Pencils

There are many types of pencils available for drawing, each with its own set of advantages.

The common sketching pencil is the graphite pencil. Graphite pencils come in the following grades: 9B, 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, 5H, 6H, 7H, 8H, 9H.

The B stands for “blackness,” and the H stands for “hardness.” H pencils produce lighter lines, while B grade pencils produce darker lines. The F stands for “firm,” and HB stands for “hard black.”

pencil hardness grades
iStock/Carabus

The average pencil drawing set runs from 2H to 6B because these grades allow you to achieve most sketching techniques.

Charcoal pencils are perfect for producing a rich, matte black finish. The hardness of charcoal pencils usually ranges from HB to 6B.

Colored pencils are great for adding color and texture to your drawings. They come in various colors and can be used to add shading, highlights, gradients, and more.

Lastly, water-soluble pencils can be used like graphite or charcoal but can also be blended with water to create an ink-wash effect. 

Choosing Your Paper

Choosing the right paper for pencil drawings is important. With countless options available to choose from, it can be intimidating to narrow it down.

Before making a purchase, consider factors such as the paper’s tooth, weight, and brightness. Tooth refers to how much “tooth” or texture your paper has; if you want a more traditional feel to your sketches, go with a rougher paper with a medium tooth.

Weight plays a role in the durability of your paper; heavier weights are preferable because they are more durable and do not tear when erased.

Finally, pay attention to the whiteness of the page you select; this will influence the vividness of your final drawing. I like using bright white paper for my sketches.

Even as a beginner, knowing what to look out for when choosing your supplies is important. Especially when choosing sketchbook paper and pencils for your sketches.

flowers and heart
iStock/Anna Leskinen

Finding Inspiration

Once you have your supplies ready, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to draw. The great thing about sketching is that anything can be used as inspiration—from nature scenes outside your window to human or animal anatomy drawings.

You can even look at other people’s drawings for ideas on improving your work. Just remember that inspiration should never be copied; instead, use it as a jumping-off point for your own ideas and creations.

How to Draw Illustrated Female Anatomy
Credit: Pinterest

Sketching Techniques 

One of the best ways for beginners to learn how to sketch is through practice and observation. Start by looking at objects around you; then try sketching what you see.

If you make mistakes while drawing, don’t worry, that’s part of the process. Just erase them and keep practicing until you get the hang of it. I recommend keeping your erasing to a minimum though. Doing so can inhibit your creative process.

You may also want to explore different types of drawing styles such as line drawing, shading techniques like hatching or crosshatching, stippling (drawing using dots), blending with a stump tool, creating textures with a brush pen or paintbrush dipped in ink or watercolor paint. The possibilities are endless.

Once you feel comfortable with the basics of sketching, experiment with different materials like charcoal or colored pencils to add depth and color.

stippling drawing technique
Stippling Drawing Technique (iStock/Layritten)

Final Words on Sketching

Sketching may not come naturally at first, but don’t let that discourage you from exploring this creative outlet.

With a few simple steps like gathering supplies, finding inspirational sources, and practicing consistently, anyone can learn how to become an artist, no matter their skill level or background experience with art or drawing.

Don’t forget to unlock my FREE drawing challenge printable below!

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I'm Tiffany, author of the 30-Day Drawing Challenge Workbook. I'm a crafting expert and writer with over 12 years of experience. I love sharing my passion for crafting, which includes crocheting, drawing, painting, and DIY projects.