Can be learned to draw

Learn to draw | online tutorial from Martin Missfeldt

How can you learn to draw quickly and easily? How do you start drawing? This is exactly what a small series that I will start here is about. Yesterday I described some tips and tricks for beginners in painting (see “Painting for Beginners - First Steps, Tips and Tricks”). However, I would recommend painting and drawing in parallel. Roughly simplified: drawing is about lines and chiaroscuro, while painting is about colors and surfaces (see also: Difference between painting and drawing). A drawing is not infrequently the basis of a painted picture, and on the other hand you will encounter questions and problems while painting that can be clarified much easier in a drawing. In the meantime I have published several articles on the subject of "learning to draw" that are free to read. But in the meantime I have bundled everything again in a book and summarized it in a clearly structured way. More on this below ... First a video in which I also present my book on learning to draw. The (free) article follows below.

"Learning to Draw Basics: Introduction"
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Basics of drawing

Let's start with the material. It should be as simple and inexpensive as possible. Nothing is worse than having scruples about experimenting. Anyone who is afraid of doing something wrong - for example because the paper was so expensive - is inhibited when drawing. Before drawing comes shopping - but don't worry: drawing is usually very inexpensive compared to painting.

Drawing paper

Therefore: simple drawing paper, not too small. I would recommend not using printer paper. Better get a sketchbook DinA3 or A4. It is important, especially at the beginning, not just to draw with your hand, but with your whole arm. To get started, get a piece of paper that is neither too firm nor too soft. I would recommend choosing a paper weight of 120-190 grams / m² (depending on what you can get cheaply in your area). I've been drawing on the for years Hahnemühle sketch pad paper. That is 190 g / m², so it's quite heavy. The advantage: it is stable and does not kink easily. In this list you will find some drawing paper blocks in different sizes (for price comparison). For beginners A cheaper paper, e.g. that from folia Bringmann, with 120 g / m² is also suitable.

Pencil / crayon

The best for beginners are pencils. I consciously mention the plural: especially at the beginning you should try different pencil degrees of hardness. Background: Pencils have degrees of hardness. The names run from H9 (very hard) via HB (medium) to B9 (very soft). Each type of pencil offers different drawing options. To determine which type of pencil is best for you, I would recommend starting with the following pencils:

  • H3 (hard lead, silvery-gray, hardly any abrasion, easily pressed into the paper)
  • HB (medium hard lead, dark gray, standard, e.g. suitable for writing)
  • B5 (soft lead, black, strong abrasion, easily smudges)

You can get them from specialist dealers. If the pen mentioned does not exist, you can also use a similar one (e.g. a B4 instead of B5). If you want to get yourself a pencil set to start with so you can try out the different degrees of hardness, you will find good artist pencils from Faber-Castell (9000) on Amazon.

By the way: I would always recommend the material right in an art supply store to buy. At least in the big cities there are. But if you already know what you want, the Internet of course also offers the opportunity to order good artist products and have them delivered to your home. About the pencils: I almost exclusively use HB to B4 from Faber-Castell and am very satisfied with it. Here you can find some pencil sets for beginners, in which the different degrees of hardness are included.

Eraser, sharpener, rulers, compasses etc ...

You should have a suitable eraser ready. Get a simple, not too hard eraser so that you can correct the drawing later if necessary. A suitable sharpener is of course also necessary. If you don't want to sharpen your pencils with a cutter knife (for which there are good reasons), you will find a sharpener here, especially the practical electric one.

Rulers, compasses and other fuss are not important at the beginning. Learning to draw means first of all getting a feel for the material and the hand that draws. In the second step you can then think about what you want to draw, and only then can the use of other aids make drawing easier.

Sign work table / daylight

Professional draftsmen usually have a special drafting table that can be folded up. The reason is simple: it takes the strain off your back. So you can draw in an almost upright position. Of course, this is not necessary at the beginning: find a table that is somewhat cleared. Good lighting is important. Because if you don't see clearly what you're drawing, you can't really learn it either. A table with daylight lighting is best. It is optimal if the light comes from the side with which you are not drawing. So: for right-handed people, the light should come from the left side.

It all sounds a bit complex, but ... Especially for beginners who want to learn to draw, it is important to prepare properly for their first exercises. If you just start drawing like that, oops, you quickly lose the seriousness and then the pleasure in drawing. Enjoy the preparation and ensure optimal working conditions. That frees and helps ...

Learn to draw - first steps

Begin your first drawing exercises by exploring the material. You can and should "screw up" the paper. first draw only loose lines, arcs and curves. Press very hard with all types of pencil, and then again only very gently. You will notice how the pencils are different from each other. How do pencil and paper work together? What impact do they have?

Draw a black area

Next, try to draw a deep black area. You will see that this is almost impossible with a hard pencil. This is exactly what you have the soft pencil for. Then draw a circle to the left above this black area. You will notice that the heel of your hand blurs the jet black.

tip: use a “backing sheet”: have extra paper ready (e.g. printer paper). Place this sheet under the heel of your hand when you are working on deep black surfaces.


It is good practice to draw circles. Because circles are extremely heavy. Don't be disappointed if you fail. It takes years of practice to be able to draw a good circle in freehand. Try different sizes: a circle the size of a coin, one the size of a plate, and one the size of a sheet of paper. You will find that these are three very different challenges. This experience is extremely important when learning to draw.

You can also learn a lot about the different degrees of pencil hardness by drawing and filling in circles. The softer the pen (e.g. B4), the darker the surface - and the less pressure you have to exert to blacken the surface.

Draw with your hand and arm

You draw with your hand AND with your arm. That's why the sheet shouldn't be too small, especially when learning. The very small circle is almost only drawn with the fingers, the medium-sized one with the hand, and the large one with the arm. Many beginners make the mistake of only practicing wrist movements. Also draw from the whole arm: elbows up - maybe while standing !?

Repeat the exercise with different abstract shapes: squares, triangles, ovals, spirals, etc. And don't be too specific - it's supposed to be fun ...

Conclusion 1st section: Learn to draw = experience material

If you now say: "I don't want to smear paper with abstract shapes!“Then you understood that you didn't to drawbut that you "learn to draw". That's a big difference. Especially as a beginner you should start modestly and work your way forward. This first section is mainly about getting to know the material. If you want to use other pens or picture carriers, it's basically the same. Before you start making “real drawings” you have to get to know and experience the working materials.

Realistic drawing: "Löwenkopf", Martin Missfeldt, May 11th, 2020
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The next chapters of the "Learn to Draw" tutorial

New! I wrote an eBook: "Learn to draw realistically - observe with pencils". Scope: 97 pages, with numerous illustrations, Step-by-step instructions and concrete Drawing exercises. The book offers many helpful tips and tricks for beginners and anyone who has not yet dealt with nature studies intensively.

Even if the focus is on realistic pencil drawings: the book contains a lot more. "Realistic" and "To draw" are two things. On the one hand, the Basics of drawing conveyed, from materials and tools to basic drawing techniques (e.g. hatching) to effective preliminary drawing and the 4 phases of the drawing process: emphasizing, blending, blurring, erasing. On the other hand, the Basics of observation that you need for any kind of realistic picture. In the end, numerous inspirations help you to find your own artistic path. Learn more about it ...

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