Art is a wonderful outlet to help kids to develop creativity, and drawing is an excellent place to begin any child’s artistic journey. From simple drawings to more complex illustration projects, this type of art is fun and generally straightforward.
Whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or educator, or if you just have a special child in your life, you may be wondering when to introduce drawing for kids and what types of skills children should have to get started as young artists. We’ve compiled all of the resources you need—plus we’ve included tutorials for everything from easy things to draw to more advanced projects. You might even want to try some of this so-called “kid art” yourself!
Already know what you’re doing and want to get going right away? Try drawing these cute characters with your child.
What Age Should a Child Start Drawing?
While there’s no firm rule regarding when kids should begin drawing, most children begin to doodle and produce simple drawings between two and four years old. During this stage, you may notice that kids are working to gain mastery with their pencil or crayon and that the outcome of their efforts are less realistic and more on the “cute” side.
Between three and seven years old, children typically begin to experiment with shapes and lines. This is where you may see more familiar renderings in kids drawings, such as people and animals. This is also a great age to introduce easy things to draw and to encourage art projects.
Kids between the ages of six and 11 are considered to be within the “schematic stage” of artistic development and this means that they’ll begin to adopt patterns for drawing certain objects and characters. For example, a child may draw several houses using the same method and design.
Nine to 12 years old is considered a transition period, wherein children may switch between simple drawings and trying their hand at more advanced skills. When children reach age 12 and older, they begin to develop realism within their artistic work. This is when they can begin to better understand the five basic skills of drawing.
The 5 Basic Skills of Drawing
Drawing revolves around five basic skills; edges, space, lights and shadows, relationships between drawn items, and gestalt (putting it all together). Let’s dig in!
Edges are the boundaries of definable shapes and, especially where kids are concerned, things can get a little blurred. If you want to help children master the concept of edges as a means toward understanding the things we see in our world, try this hedgehog tutorial that uses basic shapes and lines to form the body of our familiar friend!
Space refers to the amount of room that a shape or design inhabits on the page or drawing medium. Children tend to be a little more abstract in their use of space, especially during their younger years, and you may notice that things are exponentially larger or smaller than they would be in real life. This is completely normal, and kids typically begin to grasp size as a property of space as they get older and more mature in their drawing.
Lights and Shadows
Lights and shadows give kids drawings depth and texture and are tied into their understanding and use of colors. Though most children don’t begin to experiment with shading and light until they’re into the “schematic stage,” you can introduce this concept within easy things to draw by helping them incorporate shadows— something they recognize in their daily lives.
Older children will enjoy this deep dive into shading concepts where the instructor focuses on adding light and depth to a simple line drawing of eyes:
When it comes to drawings for kids, relationships pertain to how the objects or creatures within their art work together and relate to each other to create the overall picture. This is another skill that will develop as children get more comfortable drawing, but basically, it’s the marriage between the sizes and orientations of the subjects within kids’ art. If your child draws a family, for example, you can expect to see that the children in the drawing are smaller than the adults.
Gestalt is the way that everything in a drawing comes together—the melding of the first four basic skills—which can be a bit of a big concept for young artists who are still learning to understand color or shading. That doesn’t mean they can’t practice! While your child is drawing, start by talking about how lines and shapes work together and how color enhances the objects that they’ve included in their drawings. Before you know it, they’ll be explaining gestalt to you!
How to Find Kids’ Drawing Styles
To build a love for creativity, it’s important to allow children to find their own drawing style. This Skillshare course explains what it means to have a unique drawing style, why each artist needs their own style, and how to find the style that best suits your child.
Once you’ve done that, here are a few fun, easy things to draw together:
How to Draw the Alphabet
Looking to blend drawing for kids with a little education? Skillshare instructor Timothy Goodman encourages children to draw their own creative letters. “Don’t worry too much about what it looks like because so much of the best stuff we create is the unexpected,” he says.
How to Draw Cute Cactus Plants
Through drawing basics, Can Do teaches kids to draw four adorable cactus plants that will take pride of place on your fridge!
How to Draw Blindfolded
Drawing for kids doesn’t have to be conventional, so why not try something new, like drawing blindfolded? It’s a fun and creative way to expand your child’s artistic horizons through simple drawings.
How to Draw a Cloud-Jumping Unicorn
Mythical creatures are ever-popular within “kid art,” but drawing a unicorn can seem a bit intimidating for young artists. Mr. Noel breaks it down step-by-step in a fun tutorial.
Armed with your new lingo, an understanding of the basics, these projects, and a few more when you’re out of ideas, you and your child will be experts in no time. Have fun!
Draw Magic: Creative Creatures
A hands-on drawing class that’ll teach kids to sketch all kinds of creative characters.