How to Draw: Understanding the Basics

So you want to learn how to draw. Drawing, whether realistic portraits or fun cartoons and Japanese manga, all starts with the basics. Each type of drawing has its own quirks and perks so you will have to take some time to study each category but at the very beginning you want to focus on these simple tips to get you started.

Get the Right Drawing Materials: Pencil and Paper

How to Draw: Understanding the Basics

No matter what you do, you'll have to start with the right set of pencils and paper. Start with the right type of paper. Avoid sheets that are glossy because they can be too smooth, preventing the surface from catching the granite of the pencil's lead. Don't go for old paper either because they catch too much. Office paper and printing paper are some of the best.
As for pencils, this can be complicated depending on your preferences but there is a standard that most artists stick with. For your initial sketches and outlines you'll want faint lines and a hard pencil is best for that. Go for an HB pencil for those initial outlines. When you want to start adding darker lines and shades then shift to soft grade pencils. Most artists use 2B, 4B, and 6B grade pencils for darker lines and shading.

Start by Drawing Basic Shapes
How to Draw: Understanding the Basics

Professional artists can draw shapes and lines right out of their head but for a beginner you will want to start with a template. The best way to create your own template is to master the basic shapes. By mastering how to draw an oblong or egg you can learn to draw a human face. By mastering how to draw squares, rectangles, and angled lines you can draw the template to draw gigantic robots and war machines.
The first place to start is the egg shape. Master this along with oblongs and circles. Use them to draw faces. This will help you study the proper proportion of the human face and later the human body. By mastering this you can use basic shapes to draw a human figure in any pose.
How to Draw: Understanding the Basics

The Use of Guidelines
Going along with the topic of basic shapes, you will want to learn how to use guide lines. This is where the faint lines of an HB pencil come into play. There are many simple templates you could learn to master. Here's a good sample:
  • Guidelines in drawing the human face (cartoonish)
Start by drawing an egg, with the point end at the bottom (it will serve as your chin). You'll now want to draw a vertical line right down the middle to divide the face into two equal parts. Now there are three horizontal lines you will want to focus on. The first one is located 1/3 from the top and this will serve as the hairline or top edge of the forehead. Halfway from the top draw another horizontal line and this will serve as the area where you'll draw the eye line. The last horizontal line is placed halfway from the nose line to the chin. This is where the lips will be.

How to Draw: Understanding the Basics

Study the Masters
Of course one of the best ways to learn how to draw is to study the style of art that you want to emulate. If you are fond of Japanese anime then you'll want to look at some famous work and see how the shapes and lines are drawn. If you are fond of realistic portraits then take a good look at several famous artworks and look for similarities that you can practice.
None of this will mean a thing, however, if you don't sit down and draw. The key to becoming a professional artist is to sit and spend hours drawing. Draw anything. Don't just focus on what you are interested in. Draw people, cartoons, flowers, buildings, and more. This will help you grasp the full relationship of lines, proportions, and basic shapes.
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