How to start learning to draw


Hello, I’ve recently started getting ready to learn how to draw – with a Wacom Intuos Pro Small – but unfortunately I don’t know where to start. I go to some tutorials that start out nice, explaining very simple things such as practices to loosen up your hand and forming smoother-than-jagged circles and lines; then all of a sudden it goes full throttle and says something like “now let’s draw a portrait using what you’ve learned.” Of course it’s not that extreme, but having no experience whatsoever with drawing, all I want to do is just put down the tablet and stop – especially when 9.5/10 of tutorials are always like this.

This video quickly sums up what I feel: - Start out doing simple stretches and then out of no where it expects me to know where and when to place shapes to form something. It is endlessly irritating when I just want something to, not necessarily walk me from here to there with baby steps, but at least explain what I need to be doing to understand why I’m placing shapes where I’m placing them…

I see a lot of people say things such as “this book is really good” or “and this book is also really good,” but that doesn’t help me in my situation because it always turns out to be the same as above, and it also is quite overwhelming when apparently every book is “good.” It doesn’t help me with where I need to start at all.

Classes aside, as they aren’t an option, are there any resources that explain very simple beginner practices, and ones that gradually increase instead of ones that involve jumping off a cliff? I mean how-to-hold-a-pencil type stuff! As I said above, I’m using a Wacom tablet through this process. I’ve read in many places including here, that it’s more about what you’re learning than what you’re learning on. Any resources or info will be appreciated thanks!


Have you looked at the Andrew Loomis books recommendations in the sticky threads? That is where a lot of people start their art self-education, with the most basic book from him called Fun With A Pencil. It starts you off with simple sphere shapes, then start adding simple cartoony features to the spheres to make cartoony faces, and then gradually start to get more advanced.


Unfortunately I did. However, it was before I started getting serious, and when I attempted the first few pages, my drawings came out uncomfortably “off.” Things like the cheek lines being in the wrong place or just lines in general. I can’t tell if my hand-eye coordination is that bad or if I just can’t visually see it in my head before I draw it out. =/

Am I supposed to go right into drawing those faces or am I supposed to practice on making circles first and then gradually start adding division lines and the likes? Something I hate about me is that a lot of times I need to see something to be able to do it, but in times like this I’m not able to see clearly at all.


And also, what is good practices for things like wrist vs shoulder drawing, and also elevation when drawing? I don’t have a desk (laptop) and outside of my table, which is a bistro-style one (sits up high), basically my only option is to draw with the tablet in my lap while on the sofa. I’ve been setting it on the table to draw but I have to raise my arm a bit high in correspondence and it feels a bit strain-y or odd. Would it be better to just have the tablet in my lap while putting the laptop on coffee table?


Before adding my thoughts as to a possible favourable self-learning route forward for you too consider, by firstly just to clarify for me some things as to your particular situation:

A. - You’re using an laptop + graphic tablet combo?
B. - Ad-hoc workspace ie: sofa, coffee table…etc?
C. - Not particularly fond of video tutorials as learning materiel?
D. - Do you have a favourite subject/object when drawing? or are you following step by step figurative/landscape/hardsurface…etc instruction up to this point?

Also may I ask what software package are you using too teach yourself to draw?


One common issue beginners have, is that they tend to be really impatient and grossly underestimate how many bad drawings they need to produce before they reach any level of competency. I’ve had students tell me things like “I’ve been working on this image for a few hours and it looks like crap, and I’m nowhere near finishing it!” They had no idea that the professional illustrations they’ve been admiring as fans, such as covers to their favorite books or promo illustrations on covers of gaming magazines, actually often take weeks to complete. The old masters’ paintings they workship–those often took months or even years to complete. In their mind, a few hours is like an eternity, and problem is compounded by the modern age of instant gratification.

Another similar issue, is beginners often think they’ve drawn a dozen pages of sketches and studies already but they still suck, or they’ve filled out an entire sketchbook already and they aren’t getting significantly better. They have no idea that serious artists fill out thick sketchbooks that have hundreds of pages and stacks of them during their artistic development, and they don’t draw just a dozen pages–they draw hundreds to thousands of pages of sketches and studies. It take that much practice to become competent, so you really have to recalibrate your expectations. You’re going to have to work hard and work smart and remain disciplined for months and years to get anywhere as an artist, so be patient, and take it slow.

It’s perfectly find to follow the pace of a book like Fun With a Pencil, since it’s fairly easy to follow. The thing is, you have to be more strict with yourself when you copy examples from the book. If something is crooked or the proportions are off, don’t just let it stay on the page and then do another bad drawing and repeat the same mistake over and over and then think you’re not improving at all. What you should be doing is to correct the mistakes for as many times as it takes to get just one drawing right, and do not move on to the next one until the one you’re working on no longer looks like a bad drawing with lots of glaring mistakes.

When drawing, the whole shoulder vs wrist thing is actually all about the size of your canvas/page and the lines you’re drawing. The smaller the drawing surface and the shorter the line you’re making is, the less you move the shoulder and use more of your wrist instead. The larger the drawing surface and the longer the line you’re drawing is, the more you’ll have to move your shoulder and less of your wrist.

If you are working on a tablet like a Wacom or something similar, the most comfortable and ergonomic position for me is to put the top of the tablet on the edge of the table, and the bottom edge of the tablet on my tummy (about where my belly button is). But keep in mind this has to work in conjunction with proper height of your desk and chair. Ideally, you want the height to be so that when you are sitting up straight in your chair and placing your your hands on the keyboard and mouse, your arms are hanging straight down and your elbow is bent at roughly 45 degrees, and your shoulders and elbows are not pushed up by the arm-rest of your chair. If you’re sitting on your sofa Buddha styled and have the tablet on your lap, that should be fine as long as your shoulders and elbows are relaxes like I previously described.

Don’t hold the pen too tight or tense up your wrist. Keep it relaxed and comfortable and fluid. You’re supposed to glide while you draw, not chisel or etch or carve into the drawing surface.


A and B are correct yes. C, I don’t have anything against video material, if you have any to recommend I’ll try it out. My only thing was when tutorials start small and then expect you to instantly know how to go to the next section. I haven’t been drawing long enough to necessarily have a favorite subject, but if I had to say at this moment I’m more interested in figurative I suppose, and landscape.

Thanks Lunatique. Well last night I read the book again and drew one “funny face” and I’m proud of how bad it was. More importantly I did actually finish it after I kept erasing and re-drawing lines like you were saying. I’m never really in a rush for anything I do and I’m also quite patient. Sadly I tend to lose focus at some points and when I’m in doubt I need someone to put me back on track. Half the time I don’t know if I’m doing something right and will just stop doing it because I’ll assume I’m doing it wrong (you may think of that as not patient at all I guess).

Anyway, thanks again for taking your time to assist. I’ve never been one that has drawn sketches daily and maxed out sketchbooks, so I have zero experience in this sector. In particular I’m more focused on 3D work, but because it’s stated that having 2d knowledge will help you with 3D, I don’t mind studying it. Will try to set side an hour or so daily to keep attempting drawings with the Fun with a Pencil. Self discipline is hard but I’m a bit tired of wasting time saying I can’t do something, so would rather just start trying at the least.

I really hope I didn’t seem like a baby saying “it’s hawwwrd” xD!


Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated, for me it just provides a clearer picture as where I think useful advice could be effectively applied when initially through self-taught avenues, those learning too draw with minimal hassle can get up to speed with.

Even though there aren’t hard and fast rules when it comes to what materials are employed from the outset, whether traditional pencil and paper or digital device/s, although I’ll hasten to add, normally I’d recommend the former due to preference through force of habit, also in addition I’d attribute to a very large extent stemming from childhood when I’d first embarked upon my own artistic journey.

One other aspect I’d picked up on, is a sense of frustrated confusion at this point, which tellingly a commonality @Lunatique had previously outlined above shared among novices, confronted with for example, when rendering by free hand a likeness of a given subject of interest in 2D, pretty much reduced to being a chore rather than a fun enjoyable learning activity it should be, which needless to say results in sadly 9 times out’ve 10 people giving up.

So to that end first off, I’d not recommend typically for anyone starting out to tackle a figurative purposed tutorial drawing exercise, due to simply complexity in execution for the beginner to follow, however that said I’ve come across an in depth [moderate learning curve] 10 part pencil and paper tute using a photo as a reference, by the artist Lou Pemberton, from experience a good learning sample for the untutored artist too follow, all the way from drawing techniques, planning & prep through too framing the finished drawing.

I know this doesn’t specifically address a digital drawing avenue, but in my opinion as a traditionally trained Portraitist, a more intuitive solution, given the context, overall plus a tactile aspect this pathway would produce in the long term, I’ll emphasise in saying Its really a course of action I’d strongly suggest you think about as to the obvious positive results for your development I foresee farther down the track, anyways its entirely up too you, as to which content generation workflow is utilised at the end of the day.

Cheers :wink:


Well I’m ok with starting with a tablet. I can’t say if it’s better or worse for me personally, but I think the main thing I’d have a hassle with is getting Photoshop brushes and settings to work similar real life tools. Eventually even that will be set up once I research the best settings since I’ll have to know it anyway sooner or later.

I’m hoping and assuming that even tutorials focusing on pen/paper will also apply to digital. Skimming through the link you provided seems like it will help me, I’ll definitely look over it. Thanks!


Yep…in my opinion transposing the tute too digital shouldn’t pose that much of an embuggerance. As with most things creative certain workarounds require testing and R&D in order to capture a workable solution.

Cheers :wink:


Nice post. I also love drawing. Thinking for order some silverpoint drawing tool from online store. My budget are $ 60-100. I already know a art supply store. Can anyone suggest me any good source from where I can learn drawing. Thanks for any suggestions…


I would advocate against beginners buying expensive art supplies–just use the cheapest stuff. Your first several hundred sketches, drawings, paintings, etc are going to be just practice/study fodders anyway, and you’ll look back on them in a few years and cringe. It’s really when you reach more advanced levels that you can really benefit from higher-end art supplies, because you’ll have developed enough technique and artistic sensibility to really appreciate the difference.

But if you have money to burn and the extra cost doesn’t matter to you at all, then go hog wild and buy whatever you want.

As for learning resources for drawing, there are so many on the web. Just a quick search will get more hits than you can find the time for. There are also lots of books as well. A good place to start is the classic Andrew Loomis books. Also, read the sticky threads at the top of this subforum–there are lots of links for learning resources.


I have also started for few weeks/month to learn to draw.
I would suggest Proko videos tutorials (youtube) wich are short videos tutorials, really well done, funny and inspirative.

I really recommand it because Proko guy is talented and generous in terms of tips and tricks, etc…
He details anatomy parts per video, or shading, gesture, proportions, etc…

I would also suggest to instead to jump to Photoshop or Mieschief, etc… to buy or use a ‘book’ with empty papers (I’ m sorry I can’ t remember appropriates english terms)
simple pens for drawing and eraser,
and then
practice, practice, again & again. If you used to watch/read tutorials like Proko Youtube channel,
I think you must progress.

It is what I am doing and the good with this ‘real’ medium is that it is near you, and you can open and see/check what you have done, day after day, etc and even correct some of what you have done, etc…

I have not the possibility for the moment to numerise what i’ve done but you can see with the help of instructors (like Proko or anyone with good knowledge) that there is a curve of progression.

to resume:

  • real medium: paper + pen + eraser (simple but efficient)
  • tutorial (short, strong knowledge basics in term of drawing & anatomy if you are going to draw humans, etc)
  • practice

ps: you can send what you have done to proko and he will advise you, or at least you can see what others do/did and what Proko can say about it that they can evolve; etc…


What is it that you want to draw? I mean something made you want to learn, is there something you are drawn to? If I could do it all over again I would start with gesture and pictures. Just find a few videos on gesture so you get the concept. Then google picture and get gesture down. It isn’t a perfect picture, you might be less frustrated and probably come out better in the end. Gesture is the start of figure drawing anyway…


As a beginner and completely clueless person who’s actually interested in this stuff (drawing, 3D modeling), I am encountering the very same problems which actually don’t have solution.

Why? Because it’s not the problem.

The thing is, as someone previously stated, as beginners we tend to be impatient more or less and want to grasp onto something without realizing how much effort is put into creating even what we consider to be simple. For example, I take a look at Mike Mignola’s crude lines in Hellboy and I think for myself: I could do even better. I try to replicate and I fail horribly. The first thing most of us beginners tend to avoid is experimenting and exploring.

You need to grasp the different techniques available to you. Then, you need to start applying those to create stuff you care about. Do you love low poly art? Maybe creature design? Cartoonish characters? Take some time to just doodle and see what you come up with, then take some time to take some time to realize you will need to do it as often as possible because it’s not a science, it’s talent + A LOT OF WORK. A LOT. I don’t have a patience to do it. Maybe you will.

One of my good buddies is Marvel Comics artist. He always found my idiotic drawings to be interesting because I wasn’t burdened with details, ideas, techniques. Try to be open minded about it and practice a lot. As for the practice material, I don’t think you will get anything out of tutorials if you’re kind of person like you’ve described yourself to be. Better, try to find simple drawing challenges like Inktober and try to create stuff every day. Don’t think of complex stuff, think of creating stuff you love and finishing it while you’re at it.

Hopefully this helps.


haven’t read all the comments so I apologize if I’m repeating anything already said. Here’s my personal opinion:

  • I recommend you start with traditional media (pencil, pen…etc) … it’s much easier to learn to draw on paper than on a tablet.
  • check out Proko’s videos on youtube
  • get down and dirty… no way you will learn to draw by just watching videos or reading. Practice practice practice! draw simple subjects at first and grow slowly to more complex images. You don’t have to show anyone your practice images, so don’t worry too much about how good or bad they are.

Good luck