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Tips for Pencil Drawing as a Hobby

Jackson is a film and animation enthusiast who enjoys drawing. He likes to create tutorials to help others learn how to draw.

A few years ago, I took to drawing. It was an adventure for me that I took on late in life, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. You can read more about it on another of my articles called I Wish I Could Draw.

One of the things that's motivated me and kept my interest has been writing drawing lessons online. It's something I've enjoyed since joining, and I plan to continue doing it for as long as I possibly can. The one thing I always tried to imply in all of these lessons is that anyone can draw.

Along with that, I try to imply that all it takes is the will, the pencil, and the paper. That really is true. But there are a few more things people who draw frequently know. And I'd like to share some of it here.


Draw Things More Than Once

Take a look at the picture above. It's a scribble sheet that I used to create my logo. I spent a good amount of time, I didn't get discouraged, and I continued until I had what I wanted.

The thing is, repetition is a good way to learn things. It may seem like it's boring, but when learning something new, sometimes it really is the only way. And every picture drawn is a new picture.

I also feel like it's a good idea to take a few stabs at drawing something because it takes the pressure off getting it right the first time. I'm not obsessing over each little thing, and I can afford to be more experimental.

In fact, the picture above wasn't the first one I thought to place here. I found a number of them in my folders that I scribbled on repeatedly, trying to get the drawing right. I found that I go anywhere from three-to-ten times before I stop on one I like, but more often than not, three seems to be the number.

I think on my first pass, I'm really just feeling things out, trying to figure out exactly what I want. Then on the second pass, I'll actually nail down the proportions. And the third time, I have a good idea of what I'm doing, so depending upon the complexity of the drawing, I'll get it that time.

Nuance of Arms

Nuance of Arms

Add Nuance to Lines

Take a look at the two arm drawings above. It should be fairly obvious that they are both arms, but the one at the top is kind of straight and lacks any kind of definition. It's the kind of arm that Shaggy on Scooby-Doo might be drawn with. There isn't much there.

Now, take a look at the second arm. When I drew both arms, I began with the exact same framework, but with the bottom arm, I continued to nuance until it looked like it had muscle depth. I didn't want to stop at the bare minimum of an arm. I wanted to make sure I pushed the lines as far as I could.

Gentle curves can indicate something very different to the eyes. It's all in the nuance.

Simple Shapes Cat

Simple Shapes Cat

Use Simple Shapes

Often times, artists will begin by blocking out a drawing with simple shapes, rather than trying to tackle the complex collection all at once. This can be an extremely beneficial process when accompanied by nuances to lines, as you go.

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Read More From Feltmagnet

This is a step that's about developing an artist's eye. It's about seeing things and breaking them down into simple ovals, circles, rectangles, or lines. It's not always easy, but in the end, it's worth the trouble to take an image in smaller chunks.

The cat above is part of a lesson on How to Draw a Cat. It's the beginning stages of the drawing, which displays the head and body as nothing more than circles and ovals. This makes it much easier to handle the entire drawing step-by-step.

Ball Pencils

Ball Pencils

Use a Number of Pencils

One thing many artists do is that they use more than one pencil. This is a great technique that offers a number of benefits.

The first thing is, whenever you draw, you want to begin with a light sketch, so I personally always start with either my F or HB pencils. The F and HB demonstrate the hardness of the pencil. These two are very hard, so they write very light on paper. They're perfect for blocking out a sketch. Then, once I've established which lines I want, and my drawing is pretty much there, I'll move up to the 2B or 4B, which are softer pencils, and write darker.

Drawing with darker pencils intensifies the drawing. The sketch lines will literally begin to disappear as you use the darker pencils. This is great, especially if the sketch was loaded with lines going all over the place you may not have wanted. Once the darkened lines are established, you can still drop back down to lighter pencils to add some shadowing to the drawing. It's fun to switch between two or three pencils and see what kind of effects that can offer.



Don't Stop Until It Pops

The final step in drawing is about popping the picture off of the paper. It's about taking the simple lines and adding light, shadow, and depth.

If you want something to look really good, never stop at the final drawing. Keep going until you've become tired of it. Use both hands to smudge, erase and re-pencil areas until it begins to really jump from the paper. This stage can take much longer than any of the previous stages, and it can really resemble sculpting, more than drawing.

It's my favorite part, and it can be interesting to see what effects you can get from introducing different levels of light and dark.

Have Fun!

Have Fun!

Don't Go For the Finish

I think one mistake many people make is they're drawing to achieve a completed drawing. They're rushing to the end, and they forget to enjoy the process of drawing, which is really the point.

This can be tough because it's always fun to see what you'll end up with. So often, everyone is excited to see if they can accomplish the drawing. But to really accomplish it, you need to stick with it and move through without feeling the deadline, or any feeling of, I must complete this. Just try to enjoy the draw.

Take The Poll!

Do You Have Any Tips For Drawing?

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 29, 2015:

I am an artist by necessity, not skill set:-) As a blogger, it is often necessary for me to do artwork. Needless to say, I can use all the help I can get. Pencil art is my primary medium.

Helpful hub.

Jackson Thom (author) from West of Left South Lucky on August 09, 2014:

@invictus95: Absolutely, it's fun to see what can happen with a little practice, and a little direction. It's not going to happen overnight, but if you stick with it, anyone can start to see the results they want. Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it.

invictus95 on August 09, 2014:

Drawing is a great hobby, and you're a good artist.

Jackson Thom (author) from West of Left South Lucky on August 06, 2014:

@ainezk: I guess I agree in certain cases. I never really thought about that. I guess it's a matter of technique. I suppose when the drawing is getting go it's better to start with shorter, more rigid lines, and then sculpt them into something more natural as you go. Good tip!

ainezk on July 28, 2014:

Great lenses. One more thing I'd add is that sometimes drawing with short lines can be more effective than trying to draw something with one line and expecting it to be perfect.

Jackson Thom (author) from West of Left South Lucky on May 30, 2014:

@DreyaB: Definitely! You have to slow it down, and just go through the process with joy. Know that they're not all going to come out good. Silence that inner-critic that says, this one wasn't good, so stop. Let things work themselves out. I have a drawing I have pinned on my wall, at work. It's dated 10/12/2012. When I drew it, I was somewhat happy with how it turned out. Now, I see it, and I can see how far I've come. It gives me that motivation that each time I draw, I'm better than the last time I drew.

DreyaB on May 30, 2014:

Drawing is something I've never been really proficient at, but is something I keep coming back to every now and again, so I'm going with my instinct that there's something there I want to achieve. I think my problem is that I'm not patient enough and want everything to be perfect the first time. I'm having another go at the moment but have to allow myself to make mistakes and enjoy the whole process not just the results. Thanks for sharing and keeping me motivated. :0)

Jackson Thom (author) from West of Left South Lucky on May 29, 2014:

@Guy E Wood: Absolutely, Guy! Using different types of pencils is a great way to add some interesting depth to drawings. You can try to get the same effects with a single pencil, it's just a little more difficult, and you need to acquire sort of a feel for the pencils. When I first started learning to draw, I did something similar. I'd use one sharp pencil to sketch, and one dull pencil to darken over the lines. Later, I got the sketching pencils, and I realized how great it was to have different densities of pencils, and ones that really felt good in my hand.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

Guy E Wood from USA on May 29, 2014:


I don't have any tips for drawing. I'm fascinated by the art form, but I've never really explored it with my own hands.

Your lens has intrigued me, though, and you've encouraged me to check the pencil thing out more deliberately than I have in the past. Your mention of the different types of pencils made bells go off in my head because when I've doodled (I won't claim that I've seriously tried to draw), I've always used only a #2 pencil, and then wondered why my drawings were so boring and stick-like. The softer pencils may just open new doors for me.

Thank you for sharing!



Jackson Thom (author) from West of Left South Lucky on May 26, 2014:

@SusanDeppner: Susan, thanks so much! I appreciate the support. And yes, I have a great time doing it. Thanks, again!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on May 26, 2014:

I love reading your drawing lenses. Love the passion that absolutely beams through! Another great job here. Thanks!