How do you get better at drawing?

With plenty of practice, of course!

Every artist has to start somewhere with their drawing skills, and even the most enviable of experts weren’t creating stunning pieces right from the start. To help you get going, we offer lots of courses on the basics, from how to start drawing to mastering 3D drawing and perspective.

As you take any of our drawing classes, refer back to these tips as a sort of workbook to help you improve.

1. Practice Observing

drawing of a pepper
Drawings of a pepper by Skillshare student Tamsyn Obi, and proof that the more you look at something, the more you learn about it.

You can’t draw what you can’t see. Take the time to really study your subjects before putting pen or pencil to paper, and consider working off of photographs so you can practice translating what you see onto the page.

2. Don’t Aim for Perfection

landscape drawing
A landscape drawing by Skillshare student Lydia Marie.

One of our best tips on how to get better at drawing is to let go of the idea of perfection. Work on establishing comfort with shapes, lines, and shading first, and from there you can begin honing the details.

3. Take Time to Doodle

simple doodles
Simple doodles by Skillshare student Esra G.

Doodling kick-starts your creativity. It’s especially helpful when drawing figures because over time, you’ll refine your ability to evaluate proportions and how different elements work together—even if they’re not looking true to form yet.

4. Start With Stick Figures

drawing stick figures
A stick figure hard at work, drawn by Skillshare student Linda Thomas.

Another of the best figure drawing tips is to master the stick figure before attempting realism. This is based on the same principles that make doodling an effective place to start, but is specifically driven toward improving your ability to capture the human form.

5. Play Around With Light and Dark

light and dark drawing
Light and dark bring added dimension to this piece by Skillshare student Crys McDaniel.

Light and shadow are two of the most important elements in drawing. Further your understanding of how these two features interplay with each other in a drawing by studying up on the shading process and getting creative with how you utilize light and dark in your work.

6. Vary Your Line Quality

line quality drawing
Skillshare student Annie Yang illustrates how different line qualities achieve different results.

Line quality—i.e. how thick or thin the lines are in your drawing—plays a big role in the overall effect you achieve. Experiment with both width and the softness or severity of line edges, with the understanding that a well composed piece will often have a lot of line quality variations.

7. Choose the Right Medium

draw florals
Pen gives this piece by Skillshare student Marielle Heesakkers clear and well-defined lines.

One of the most important drawing tips that we can give is to figure out which medium will be ideal for what you want to achieve. Pencil, ink, charcoal, and digital devices all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the medium that’s right for one drawing might not be right for another.

8. Keep a Sketchbook

animal drawings and sketches
An inside look at Skillshare student Janet L.’s sketchbook.

It’s a great idea to start and maintain a daily sketchbook, especially if you’re at the early stages of learning to draw. Just like budding writers should be writing every day and singers should be singing every day, drawing every day will help you develop your skills and grow your confidence. It will also help you see your improvements in real time.

9. Draw With Your Eyes Closed

blind contour drawings
Blind contour by Skillshare student Azlen Elza.

Here’s one of those tips for drawing that might seem counterintuitive but actually has some real benefits. Your finished product will be far from “perfect” (which we know isn’t the goal anyway), but this challenge will exercise your mind and help you draw more freely.

10. Position Your Hand Correctly

drawings by Jazza
Skillshare instructor Josiah (Jazza) Brooks holding his pen close to the tip to achieve fine detailing.

How you position your hand matters. Grip closer to the tip of your pen or pencil for heavier strokes and more precision, and further from the tip for lighter, less defined lines.

11. Warm Up

hand sketching
Some hand stretching ideas, courtesy of a piece drawn by Skillshare instructor Robert Marzullo.

Speaking of hands, they may require a bit of warming up before they’re ready for complex work. Stretch your fingers, swivel your wrists, and start with some basic sketches before delving into your art.

12. Use Perspective

sketching with perspective
Sampling of proper perspective from Skillshare instructor Brad Scott.

No tips on how to improve drawing skills would be complete without mentioning perspective. Perspective refers to the angle from which you’re drawing from, as well as how various elements in your piece relate to each other. And in both cases, it’s key to adding space and depth to your art.

13. Draw in a Continuous Line

continuous line self portrait
Continuous line self portrait by Skillshare student Mia.

Not sure where to even start with a piece? Take a stab at continuous line drawing, a technique that serves as an excellent way to explore lines and shapes while improving your hand-eye coordination.

14. Mix Up Your Subjects

bird sketch
Bird sketch by Skillshare instructor Amy Earls.

Every artist has their preferences in terms of what they like to draw, but mixing it up can be one of the most helpful tips on how to start drawing better. If you normally draw faces, try your hand at animals or landscapes. Used to sketching still objects? Try out water or motion. You’ll not only gain new skills, you’re almost guaranteed to learn some things you can carry over.

15. Get Inspired

random drawing idea generator
A random drawing idea generator might have you tackling a totally new subject, like these sneakers by Skillshare student Kipari Kamui.

Use a random drawing idea generator (or make your own!) to boost your creativity and explore new techniques and ideas. Then come up with alternate ways to draw each prompt, varying up the pattern and medium to see what you can come up with.

16. Understand the Fundamentals

architectural sketch
Fundamentals at work in this architectural sketch by Skillshare student Matej Jan.

What are the five basic skills of drawing? What role does dimension play? The more you can understand fundamentals like these, the more you’ll understand the why behind tips on how to get better at drawing, instead of just the how.

17. Take on a Challenge

dragon drawing
Dragon drawn by Skillshare student Laila Civatti as part of the 14-day fearless art jumpstart.

Test your limits with a challenge, such as the 14-day fearless art jumpstart. You’ll get a prompt each day, plus an added incentive to make drawing part of your daily routine.

18. Learn Hatching

Impressive hatching work by Skillshare student Jill Dimond.

Hatching is an ink drawing technique that can get you more familiar with lines, textures, effects, and working with mixed media. It’ll also give you a lot of general practice with pen work, with tips on how to improve drawing skills with pen that you can build on with other tools.

19. Change Your Perspective

bird's eye drawing
Skillshare instructor Stefanie D’Angelo explores a bird’s-eye perspective.

Find new ways of looking at things and you might just discover new ways of drawing them, too. Changing your perspective is key to developing your artistic eye and can provide you with a new challenge whenever you’re looking for one.

20. Bring in Color

watercolor drawing
The addition of watercolors brings this ink drawing by Skillshare student Pam to life.

Feeling stuck or uninspired? Go back in your sketchbook and add color to existing drawings. Use paints, pencils, markers, or oil pastels, and look for ways to revisit and refine your old work—you never know what you might discover along the way.

21. Find Your Voice

tree drawing
“Nocturnal Tree,” by Skillshare instructor S Sukilopi.

You may emulate other artists, but who you are as a drawer is completely personal and unique. Overcome negative self talk and start to explore your strengths so that you can appreciate your skills instead of judging them. From there, you can never go wrong.

Written by:

Laura Mueller