Robin Slee

There are two types of drawing: representation and imaginative. In representational drawing, the artist attempts to draw something they view in front of themselves. With imaginative drawing, the artist attempts to draw from their mind alone. Both of these styles require the same knowledge of drawing practices.

You must understand techniques such as lighting, shadow, line, value, hatching, cross-hatching, cross contour, and more. But learning all of this takes time. To practice drawing, you have to have something to draw first, right? In this post, I’ll cover easy drawing ideas to get you started on your new hobby, as well as four skills to develop in order to level up your drawing ability. 

Drawing and Sketching for Beginners

Last Updated May 2020

  • 39 lectures
  • Beginner Level
4.1 (1,186)

Learn how to sketch and draw with easy to follow videos and exercises. No experience required! | By Robin Slee | Art | Illustration | iPad | Software Development

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Both seasoned artists and beginners face the same challenge as they start their journey on a new piece. Inspiration. It is often said, there is nothing scarier than a blank page. Let’s flip that idea on its head. Consider a blank page a free pass to create whatever you want — whether you can see it or not!

The more you practice easy drawing exercises the faster your drawing skills will improve. And when I say drawing, I don’t just mean with a pencil. You can draw in pencil, paint, digital, mixed media, in light, or sound, and more! 

Let’s start drawing with ideas for your subject matter. Below I have compiled a list of 40 possibilities. Use them to spark your creative juices no matter your level of expertise.

20 representational drawing ideas:

  1. People sitting at a coffee shop or park
  2. Your favorite movie star
  3. Yourself — start by drawing a hand or foot, then try a portrait
  4. A necklace or piece of jewelry
  5. A pocket watch or a wristwatch
  6. House keys
  7. A coffee mug and spoon
  8. A rose or favorite flower
  9. An insect in the garden
  10. A fish or shark 
  11. Favorite city to visit
  12. Still life — a collection of items from the kitchen
  13. Your bedroom
  14. A potted plant
  15. Everything in your pockets or on your desk
  16. Your favorite shoe
  17. A glass half full of water
  18. Your dinner plate full of food
  19. A piece of fruit cut in half
  20. Crumpled paper ball

20 imaginative drawing ideas:

  1. Invent and draw a new way to peel a banana
  2. Combine two opposing subjects such as floating rocks
  3. Draw a fish using only bubbles
  4. Imagine a person made from twigs and leaves
  5. Design your dream car
  6. A dragon flying above a castle
  7. A vivid passage from a book you recently read
  8. Imagine life on Mars
  9. Draw your current emotion using shapes
  10. Change your perspective — draw from a worm’s eye view
  11. A human that looks like an animal
  12. An unlikely pair of friends
  13. A scene from a nursery rhyme
  14. A whale flying through the sky
  15. A city built on the moon
  16. An unusual monster 
  17. A drawing of a hand drawing a hand
  18. Illustrate the phrase “your worst nightmare”
  19. Illustrate the phrase “look of disbelief”
  20. A visual interpretation of a famous quote

How to draw your inspiration in 4 steps

Once you have an idea of what you want to draw, the next step is to actually draw it. Below I have listed four tools or tips to be mindful of while drawing and to help level up your drawing ability. 

Skill 1: References

All drawing should begin by finding suitable reference images to study, copy, and learn from. This study time is building your personal visual library. Using references is not cheating in drawing, it’s a requirement! 

A reference image is also a source of validation for your drawing efforts. It’s a way for you to check if the proportions, angles, values, and textures of your drawing are correct as compared to the real-world example.

While you can find reference images all over the internet, some are free to copy while others are protected by copyright. When looking for suitable reference material, search images tagged “royalty-free.” 

Three good sources of copyright and royalty-free images include:

· Unsplash

· Pexels

· Flickr

Royalty-free images mean you are not obligated to paying any kind of royalty or fee to the original creator. You can use this image in your own artwork as a direct reference or by creating a derivative work. 

Skill 2: Composition

Composition is key to your image. What does that mean? Ask yourself how you want your subject to be positioned on the page. Should it take up the whole canvas or sit in the center? Is the object the dominant element in your composition or should it play a secondary role? 

Let’s say we are drawing from imagination and will have two subjects. One is a scary monster and the second is a frightened child. If we made them both of equal size, then the image might seem boring. But if we make the monster much larger, we introduce some drama into our design.

We could further enhance our drawing by placing the monster in the center while hiding the child in the shadows. This arrangement would instill a sense of foreboding in the piece. Even though the child is not central to the image, we can immediately relate to them. Sure, the monster is bigger, but the viewer will now connect directly with the child. There’s a feeling of compassion and intrigue at what happens next.

Composition is a fundamental skill for any artist. But you should not let your lack of experience stop you from getting started. Think of composition as a tool that you can call upon when needed to enhance your drawings. It is a skill you can build as you learn how to draw with each new image an opportunity to understand composition better. 

Skill 3: Simplification

Make drawing easier for yourself by using simple shapes first to craft your object. Try to break down the main objects into a square, circle, triangle, or organic shape. For example, the shapes of an ice cream cone could simplify down into an upside-down triangle with a half-circle on top. 

The same technique goes for complicated objects. A more complicated form like a DSL camera is a rectangle with a short cylinder mounted to one side. Try not to worry about the details right away. 

It makes sense to try and spot these forms first. Then reproduce them on the page, in the correct proportion and placement. Remember, you can push, pull, twist, and distort these basic shapes. Use whatever shapes best matches the underlying structure of your object. 

Skill 4: Detailing

Understanding how and when to add the right level of detail is also a fundamental drawing. When considering how detailed to make your object, ask yourself if the overall idea of the object comes across clearly without the detail.

Details serve the purpose of supporting the main character; they’re there to describe the object or scene in further detail. It is your job as an artist to be selective. 

Drawing details is about observation. Looking for patterns of lights and darks. If you are drawing a glass of water, where is the brightest spot? What value should the water be? What shape is the shadow? Is there a shadow to see, or does the light pass right through the water? The more questions you can ask yourself as you draw the more informed your drawings will become. 

Drawing is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it does require practice! I hope you will give it a go. Choose a subject from easy drawings ideas list above and jump right in.

Page Last Updated: July 2020

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