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6 ways for a newbie to improve sketching

Wonder why your sketches look too clumsy or unrealistic? Here's how you can fix it...

Sketching is one of those art forms where it looks simple but when you start, it turns complicated. Yes, I felt the same when I started drawing something from my history textbook, back in school. Do you remember those beautiful sketches on the sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora caves? After drawing 1 or 2 of them it was hard to continue since the lines were either too thick or too many marks was left on the page after erasing multiple times to get it right, nor did I understand the shadings. All I thought was that having a pencil and a pen would do the trick. Are you thinking the same? But it’s a fact, all you just need is a pencil and a pen to create magic on paper. Do you want to know how?

To understand this art form, you should know what's going wrong. Let’s talk about the mistakes we make while sketching to become better artists. I believe these 6 mistakes are the root cause for a newbie to lose hope in sketching further.

#1 Always use a pencil to draw the basic outline

Have you ever tried sketching directly with a pen and ended up messing it big time? Used a 2B pencil and couldn’t erase the pencil marks?

Choosing a pencil type is very important. Coz they will be your starting point. It’s best to start properly than mess up later.

“Create something beautiful by doing it the right way”

Use an HB or 2H pencil with a sharp tip. Blunt edges create double outlines sometimes. Also never give pressure while using a pencil. When you erase, the pressure marks stay on the paper and look shabby.

Tip: I always use a mechanical/pen pencil to draw the outlines. You don’t have to fret about sharpening the edges and can have control over the pressure.

#2 Use basic shapes as a guide

Are your petals out of proportion compared to the centre of the flower? Has your cat’s head been bigger than its body?

I admit that I was too lazy to draw the basic shapes like a circle for a flower before sketching the actual petals. And that’s made me redraw several times. If I had started with a circle, then I could have created a beautiful flower the first time. Also, I could have avoided getting frustrated and losing interest.

“Art is meditation for those who believe in it”

Understand what basic shapes you need to draw before starting. A little Googling will save you a lot of time. The more you practise, the more time you’ll save in the future. It’s always hard in the beginning.

#3 Wiggle your lines a little

Do want your flower to look like a real flower rather than a doodle?

The trick is to wiggle your lines a little rather than having a smooth straight line. Just give it a try, and you’ll know it makes a lot of difference. And don’t connect all the lines. It’s ok to leave it hanging. For example, the veins of the leaves need not connect till the end.

#4 Draw with one perspective at a time

Is your side-facing flower very different from the straight-facing flower?

Practise one perspective at a time so that each drawing is at its best. When I started learning Bharatanatyam, my teacher made me practice only the Thattadavus (leg movements) for about 6 months. I was so losing passion for the dance since all I had to do, was tap my feet in the same position in the half-knee position. But later, I learnt that it was the most important part of the training. It's the core of dancing since this helps the dancer maintain balance and strengthen the thigh muscles. I am not stating that you have to practise the same flower for 6 months. All I'm trying to say is that the basics should be strong to master the art form. Do one thing at a time.

“Key to success is mastering one thing at a time”

Tip: Start with your favourite flower or even just leaves. I started by sketching all the herbs like parsley, tulsi, mint and chives.

#5 Overlapping elements is a must

Have your flowers lacked depth? No 3D effect in your sketches?

It’s a good practice to have overlapping elements like a leaf going behind the flower or all leaves are in the different direction.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

#6 Don’t give up

Have you been demotivated when the sketch didn’t turn out the way you wanted?

I understand if you are feeling the same way. I have been there. What if the sketch is not perfect, after all, it’s yours. Own it. Keep trying again and again. There’s nothing to lose.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross

Tip: Learn to add shading later when you have mastered the outlines. Don’t overdo it.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso

Keep creating!

Have you sketched? I would love to see what you have created. Do share it on Instagram and tag me @huesofsush, I will re-share your artwork on my stories. Or feel free to mail me your artwork at

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Jun 03, 2022

Excellent tips! 😊

Replying to

Thank you 😊

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