Many people feel that they don’t have the natural talent to be able to draw, and so they never even try. This is a shame because with a bit of practice anyone can learn how to draw. It’s all about starting off with simple shapes and then adding details and shading for more realism. We’ve put together this helpful guide full of inspirational pencil drawing ideas that anyone can try. These drawings are perfect for beginners, and you can experiment with different techniques and mediums to expand your skills. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they often lead to new ideas!
The basics of drawing with a pencil
When starting out with drawing, it can be helpful to stick to basic shapes. This will give you a foundation on which to build more realistic drawings. Try starting with a simple oval or rectangle for your subject, and then add details and shading gradually. These are the building blocks for any type of drawing. Get these right and you can pretty much copy any drawing or start to make your own drawing. If you are new to drawing, you may want to attempt some easy drawings before you progress to the harder drawing ideas. If you want to skip the beginner drawing ideas then skip ahead to “Advanced drawing ideas for those with some experience“.
Some easy drawing ideas for beginners
If you’re just starting out, here are a few ideas for easy drawings:
A simple leaf or flower
Drawing a simple leaf or flower is a great way to start out with drawing. They’re both relatively simple shapes, and you can add details like the veins on a leaf or the petals on a flower.
A character from a children’s storybook or comic book
A character from a story book or comic book can be a fun drawing to try. Start by drawing the basic outline of the character, and then add details like clothing or hair. If you are struggling getting it right, it is ok to trace the original until you get the hang of it.
A landscape or cityscape
A bird or animal
Drawing a bird or animal can be a fun way to learn about their anatomy. Start by drawing the basic outline of the creature, and then add details like feathers or fur.
A character from a movie or TV show or fan art
My daughter is obsessed with Pokemon and she has actually managed to become a really talented artist because she started copying drawings of Pokemon in her spare time. She started by tracing and then quickly moved to copying the most simple ones that were made of basic shapes. She learned the basic techniques of drawing and applied them to each drawing she made. As her skills increased, she attempted some of the more complex Pokemon and now she can draw them quite realistically in freehand. She’s really good at drawing fan art now.
My younger son is obsessed with plants, flowers, and clocks. He spent quite a long time learning to draw basic leaves and flowers. While his skill level isn’t where he can draw realistic (he’s just 5) he is learning because he tries every day and never gives up and never becomes discouraged if it doesn’t look ‘normal’.
Drawing inspiration from nature
One of the best ways to improve your drawing skills is to look at nature for inspiration. Take a walk outside and observe the different textures, colors and shapes around you. Try to recreate what you see in your drawings, using pencil shading and light and dark contrasts to create depth. You can also experiment with different drawing techniques, like hatching and crosshatching.
Here are some simple things in nature that you can draw:
– a leaf
– a flower
– a bird
– a tree
– an insect
– rocks or a rock/pebble
– a raindrop
Once you feel comfortable with the basics, you can move on to more complex drawing ideas.
Advanced drawing ideas for those with some experience
For those artists who have a bit more skill at drawing but want some drawing ideas in pencil then I have listed some inspirational drawing ideas that challenged me a little and were fun to attempt.
Inspirational drawing ideas with a pencil you can try
Sometimes when we have become proficient at drawing anything, we get bored and need inspiration. We tend to forget that it can be the simple things that can re-energize us and get us drawing again. When I need inspiration, I fall back on my love of simple things rather than trying to challenge myself with something super complicated. My first drawing idea in pencil is always a portrait, whether it’s a self-portrait or my kids or some random person sitting in the park.
A great way to improve your drawing skills is to try drawing portraits. Start by drawing a basic outline of the person’s head and shoulders, then add details like eyes, nose, and mouth. Don’t forget to add shadows and highlights for extra realism. You can use different pencil shades to create different skin tones and experiment with different drawing techniques to create realistic textures like hair and fabric.
Here are some tips for drawing portraits:
– Make sure the proportions of the face are correct – use a grid or ruler to help you get accurate measurements.
– Pay attention to the details – eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc.
– Use light and dark shading to create depth and realism.
– Start with the general outline of the face and then add details.
– Draw what you see not what you know. This is a big one for inexperienced artists. For example, they know when drawing eyes that the eyes have the whites of the eye, a pupil, an iris, and some veins. So they draw exactly that. What they forget to do is ensure that the whites of the eyes have shading and shadows, that the iris is not one flat color but it has its own unique patterns, and that the veins are light and dark, thick and thin.
Start by drawing a basic outline of the landscape, then add in trees, hills, and other features. When drawing landscapes, keep them simple or draw a landscape that you know quite well like your own yard, a village near home, a beach you frequent all the time. Knowing what the landscape looks like in your mind’s eye will make it easier when you draw as you know where things should be and what they look like.
Animals and pets
Start with a basic outline of the animal, then add details like fur or feathers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shading and different drawing techniques to make your animal drawings look realistic. If you have a cat or a dog, try drawing their outline only, maybe a side profile using a simple line drawing rather than trying to make a realistic pawtrait (what I call pet portraits) of your beautiful animal.
Drawing people can be a bit more difficult than drawing animals or landscapes, but it’s still doable with a bit of practice. Start by drawing the outline of the body, then add in facial features and clothing. Don’t forget about hair – that can be a very important detail when drawing people! Just try not to draw every single strand or it will look like a wig!
My suggestion if you have never drawn a portrait is to grab your pencil and draw a side profile outline, don’t try to draw too much detail and focus on where the eyes should be, the nose and lips.
As you become more skilled with drawing in pencil, then you can start to add shading or more detail.
Don’t be afraid to block in shades or large areas by smudging with your fingers or using soft pencils or charcoal.
Draw objects like flowers, fruits, or vegetables in detail. Start with simple shapes. If you can draw a circle, try drawing some apples. If you can draw two long lines slightly bent, try drawing a banana next to the apples. Adding a bowl next to them is not that hard.
If you want to learn how to draw flowers, then I have a post where I cover how to draw flowers in 3 to 4 easy steps.
Keep it fun and add detail slowly, or don’t add any detail at all and become a minimalist artist (it is just as much a skill to draw something with very little detail as it is to draw a hyperrealist drawing – remember that.)
Sketch a body parts or features
You can try sketching just a body part, like a hand, a clenched fist, a face, an ear – and then add shading and detail. For a long time when I was a teenager, I would sketch hands in pencil, learning how to get the fingers drawn properly. I would lay my left hand on a table and draw it over and over with my right hand.
I would look in the mirror and draw my nose. Over and over. I got so good at drawing my nose that whenever I draw a random face, it typically has my nose!
Drawing a leg or foot is also a great drawing idea in pencil. Any kind of life drawing is a useful skill.
The sky’s the limit. Just have fun with it! And don’t forget to post your drawings in the comments below – I would love to see them!
Timed doodle or automatic drawing
One of the cool things you can draw in pencil is the artistic equivalent of gibberish – the doodle or automatic drawing. Let your mind be free and just draw whatever comes out of your head, scribble, draw spirals, let these morph into things, or let them just be nothing. After about a minute or two, take a look at what you have drawn, if what you have drawn in pencil resembles anything, and then start adding some detail and work the drawing further.
This is a great exercise to loosen up and just get the creative juices flowing.
Practice drawing hair and hairstyles
One of the things that can make or break a drawing is how convincingly the hair is drawn. For beginners, it’s often a good idea to start by practicing drawing different hairstyles. This can be anything from simple buns and ponytails to more complicated styles with braids, bangs, and twists.
Once you’re comfortable drawing hair, you can start adding more realistic hair on drawings of portraits.
Draw nature scenes
Another great subject for artists to try their hand at is drawing nature scenes. This can be everything from landscapes, to trees and flowers, to wildlife. Start off by trying to capture the essence of the scene, and then add in more details as you progress.
Remember, practice makes perfect! So don’t be afraid to experiment.
Draw classic cars
I spent about ten years drawing classic cars for collectors. Most were commissions from people to give as gifts or from someone who had a classic Camaro and wanted to have a drawn original.
There is so much to learn from drawing an automobile, especially a classic model. You learn to perfect perspective drawing, line drawing, mastering shadows, lighting, and angles. And do not underestimate how difficult it is to draw wheels correctly aligned to the angle of the car’s body. I got a lot of enjoyment from drawing muscle cars and sports cars, they were just as popular as pet portraits.
Draw tattoo designs
One of my favorite things to do drawing-wise was drawing tattoos. I would get a picture or drawing of a tattoo and then draw it onto paper to look like a real tattoo. It gave me great practice with shading and depth, and I also got to see how other people’s tattoos would look on my body if I ever decided to get one.
You don’t have to be an amazing artist to be able to draw tattoos realistically. With some practice and the right tutorials, you can learn how to create beautiful pieces that will wow your friends.
A room in your house
One of my favorite artists is Jan Vermeer, famous for his beautiful paintings of rooms. I always loved the way he captured the light in his scenes, and I wanted to try and recreate that in my own pencil drawings.
You don’t need to be an expert at drawing perspective to be able to draw a room realistically. With some basic instructions and a lot of practice, you can create stunning works of art like Vermeer.
My tip is to sit in a corner and draw the room’s view outwards or sit facing a corner of the room and draw what you see between the two connecting walls. To keep things simple try to keep the number of things you draw small. So maybe a couch or a side table with a mirror and a hat stand. Van Gogh completed many works based on his tiny bedroom, and you can too.
A pair of shoes or sneakers
Shoes can be a great drawing subject. They’re interesting to look at, and there’s a lot of detail that can be captured in a drawing.
When drawing sneakers, start by sketching the basic outline of the shoe including the laces and tongue. Once you have the basic shape down, add details like the seams, stitching, and logos. Don’t forget to give your sneakers some shading for realism.
There’s an added bonus to drawing sneakers and shoes, you can start to draw designs on them to customize the sneakers which you can then actually use to paint real sneakers with Posca paint pens or Angelus paints. You get two birds with one stone with this inspirational drawing idea.
Draw the sky
The sky is one of the simplest subjects to draw, but it can also be one of the most beautiful. What more of an inspirational drawing idea in pencil do can you wish for!
When drawing clouds, start off by sketching their basic shape and then adding in smaller details like highlights and shadows. For added realism, and if you’re using colored pencils, use different shades of blue to create a gradient effect.
The best inspiration comes from within, draw things you love or things that challenge you. Look around you, while I covered about 25 drawing ideas in pencil the reality is that there is an infinite amount of things to draw.
You don’t have to be good at drawing to draw
One of the great things about drawing is that you don’t have to be ‘good’ at drawing in order to do it. In fact, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So don’t be afraid to give it a go – you might surprise yourself!
One of the saddest things I see online is new or young artists giving up on drawing for fun or as a hobby because they compared themselves to someone who has been drawing for many many years or comparing themselves with someone who is highly skilled at drawing one single thing like an eye or mouth.
All artists, good or bad start off as bad artists. Those who learn from their mistakes and practice will get better, some just don’t get what they are doing wrong and they do not progress. One thing all artists will benefit from is practicing day in, day out.
And all artists started drawing properly by attempting simple shapes or basic shapes before they became any good at trying to attempt a realistic drawing.
Experiment with different techniques and mediums
Sometimes you need to mix up the techniques or mediums to help you grow your skills. You may feel stuck or bored drawing in pencil because you need some variety in your art. Try drawing with charcoal, ink, or shading with a blender (not the appliance!).
Don’t be afraid of mistakes
Making mistakes is part of the learning process! As long as you learn from them, mistakes can actually help make your drawings better. So don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks – you may surprise yourself with what you can create.
Take inspiration from nature, people, and everyday objects
Take inspiration from everything around you! Nature is a great source of inspiration, with its varied colors and shapes. But don’t forget about everyday objects either – there are plenty of interesting shapes and textures to be found in the world around us. Try drawing from life, or use photos as reference material.
Practice, practice, practice!
Finally, practice, practice and keep practicing. The more you draw, the better you’ll get. So get drawing and see what amazing things you can create!
25 Inspirational Pencil Drawing Ideas – Wrap up!
So why not give pencil drawing a try? With these inspirational pencil drawing ideas, anyone can learn how to create beautiful works of art. It may take some practice, but soon you’ll be able to produce amazing drawings.
Remember, practice, practice, and practice, and do not become discouraged if your progress is a little slow or you can’t draw realistic the first few times you try.
Drawing in pencil is a life skill that take a long time to become really great at, but once you learn you will never forget – and remember, anyone can become an artist, it’s a learned skill.