Drawing can be a difficult and frustrating task, especially when you’re starting out. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated when learning how to draw something new.
You might not be sure where to start or what supplies you need. I have written this guide to show you that anyone can learn how to draw anything, even if you think you’re not ‘artistic’.
You’ll learn the basics of drawing, some simple tips, and how to apply those tips to any subject matter. You don’t need to be the best at drawing when you start, you just need to draw consistently and make incremental improvements, and don’t get frustrated.
Why can’t I draw anything?
The number one reason most people think they can’t draw is that they compare their drawings to how things look in real life, and of course, it falls short. This is why drawing from imagination is so important, as you’re not constrained by how things actually look.
The second reason most people think they can’t draw is that they are comparing their beginner self with professional artists or artists with many years of experience.
So when you say you can’t draw anything, you should be saying that you can’t draw anything yet.
So now that we have established that you may not be able to draw just yet, let’s break down the reasons why you currently can’t draw anything so that we can work out how to draw.
Reasons why you currently can’t draw anything
There may be one or more reasons as listed below that could be the reason or reasons why you currently can’t draw anything. Some are simple to fix and some will take practice and further learning.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons.
The good news is that this is an easy fix, and all you need to do is learn a grip that suits you best. Do not hold a pencil too tight, hold it lightly between your thumb and pointing finger and rest it a little on your middle finger.
You have no confidence – A big reason why people say they can’t draw is that they lack confidence. They may have tried to draw in the past and not had much success, so now they think that they are just not good at it.
The good news is that anyone can learn how to draw, regardless of their skill level. So if you’re feeling a lack of confidence, know that it’s something you can work on and improve.
All you need is some patience and practice, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your skills will improve.
You’re not using the right tools – This is another common reason why people think they can’t draw. They may be using pencils that are too hard or too soft, or they may not be sharpening them correctly.
They may also be using paper that is too thin or too thick, which makes it difficult to get a good result. I have even seen someone try to use fat charcoal sticks to draw a detailed and technical design and then complained that the results were horrible.
Once the community explained that he used the wrong tools and suggested that a technical pencil would suit his style of drawing, he started seeing some success in his art.
You are not using a reference – When you try to draw something from your head, it’s very difficult to get the proportions and details right. It’s much easier to use a reference book, photo or image to help you out.
You can find references everywhere, from books and magazines to online.
You are not using the right paper – As I mentioned before in tools, you need to use the right equipment that suits your drawing style. One of those tools is paper.
The type of paper you use makes a big difference. If you’re using a very thin notepad, the pencils will likely rip through the page and leave behind jagged lines.
If you’re using thicker watercolor paper, the pencils will glide over the surface smoothly and create fine lines. Find a paper that suits your pencil or pen and see if you like the results.
You are not studying other artists – A big mistake that a lot of new artists make is not studying other artists. It’s important to study how other people create their drawings so you can learn from their techniques.
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to find a few artists whose work you admire and study their drawings. Pay attention to the way they use lines, how they shade, and how they add details.
I love going on Instagram and following the artist accounts of those who have Patreon pages and who earn a living teaching art. Those accounts will show you how to draw or paint like the masters and teach you some tricks to save you time.
You think you need to start with a clean slate – a white sheet of paper or a blank canvas – but that’s not always the case. The goal is to get the drawing done, and starting with a pencil sketch can help you achieve that by blocking in the basic shapes before you add any details.
Some artists like to splatter charcoal or ink or just get the paper dirty so that there is already something on the paper and they can get started. It’s a cool psychological trick.
You are trying to copy instead of observing – When you are looking at something to draw, it is important to really see it. What shape is it? What shades of color are there? Where are the shadows?
Once you have looked at it closely, then you can start drawing it on your own paper. But if you just start copying without really observing, your drawing will look flat and lifeless.
There is no one way to do things – There is no one way to draw or paint a picture. Some people like to work from light to dark, some from dark to light. Some people like to add the details first, others prefer to block in the basic shapes and then fill in the details.
Experiment and find what works best for you.
It’s ok to copy for learning purposes – while I did just say that trying to copy instead of observing may be a problem, for others it’s a great way to start learning how to draw.
If you find a picture you really like, try to recreate it. See how the artist has used light and shadow, how they have drawn the various elements, and how they have composed the overall image. Try to understand how they did it, and then try to apply that knowledge to your own drawings.
You can then use tracing paper or a lightbox to trace the design so that you can learn how to compose a design and then freehand shade it in and add detail.
You are not breaking an image down into simple shapes – When you first start drawing, it can be helpful to break the image down into simple shapes that you can then draw one by one.
For example, if you’re drawing a human face, start with the basic shape of the head, then add the eyes, nose, mouth, and so on. Once you have the basic shapes down, you can start drawing the detail.
You are not practicing enough – In order to get better at drawing, you need to practice as often as possible. Even if it’s just for a few minutes each day, the more you practice, the better you will become.
So don’t be discouraged if your drawings don’t look perfect at first – keep practicing and they will eventually start to improve.
You are not patient – One of the most important things to remember when learning how to draw is to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your drawings. If you keep at it and are patient, you will eventually see improvements in your skills.
You give up too easily – finally, this is the biggest reason why you can’t draw, you give up too easily and too quickly.
Learning how to draw takes time, effort, and practice. If you give up after a few failed attempts, you will never improve. So keep at it, and don’t give up!
Now that we know the reasons why you can’t draw anything, let’s work on how to fix them so that you can learn how to draw anything!
Start by learning the basic shapes and how to draw them accurately
Start with simple shapes. When you break something down into its simplest parts, it becomes much easier to draw.
So instead of starting with a complicated subject, start with some simple shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. Once you get comfortable drawing these shapes, you can start adding more detail and complexity.
This involves quick, loose sketches that capture the essence of a subject without getting bogged down in the details.
Gesture drawings are a great way to loosen up your drawing hand and help you learn how to see the world in simple shapes.
Another tip for how to draw anything is to use reference materials.
Whether it’s a photo, a still life, or even another drawing, having a reference point will make it much easier to get the proportions and details right.
So don’t be afraid to use references – they can be a huge help when you’re learning how to draw anything.
Experiment with different shading techniques to give your drawings more depth and interest.
Hatching, stippling, and crosshatching are all great ways to add texture and shadow to your drawings.
I have helped many artists get their shading right. So many beginner artists are afraid to apply darker shading and try to complete a drawing using one grade of pencil and wonder why their drawing looks flat.
One of the most important things you need to know about how to draw anything is understanding how to create shadows and highlights. This will give your drawings more depth and make them look more realistic.
Apply different levels of shading using different grades of pencils. The softer the pencil the darker your shading will be. Typically these are pencils that start with a B such as B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, and so on.
Practice makes perfect
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you’ll become at it. Experiment with different techniques, styles, and subjects. Draw things that interest you.
Draw inspiration from the world around you, or even other artists’ work
If you want to improve your drawings quickly, take the time to study how other artists create their work. Look for drawing tutorials online, or buy how-to books from your local bookstore or library. You can also find a lot of helpful information by subscribing to art magazines.
Take your time and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Taking your time and learning not to be afraid to make mistakes is how you learn and improve. When it comes to learning how to draw anything, there are no shortcuts. But with a little bit of practice, patience, and perseverance, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great artist.
Keep a sketchbook to practice
Keep a sketchbook with you wherever you go, so you can always be practicing and improving your skills. Draw things you see around you, or try out different techniques and styles. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Find a mentor
If you know someone who is a great artist, ask them for advice and guidance. A mentor can be a great resource and help you learn how to draw anything faster and more effectively.
Take classes or workshops
Taking classes or attending workshops is another great way to learn how to draw anything. You’ll be able to learn from experts and get feedback and critiques on your work.
I attended a community college class years ago to learn the basics of graphic design. It was a cheap hands-on class that gave me the confidence to try other classes.
I did a few advanced drawing classes and they were a great experience. While they came nothing close to a university or specialized art school, the instructor was a working artist and their level of knowledge was exactly what I needed at the time.
All you need to do is go into Google and type “drawing classes near me” and see what is available. I attended some great life drawing classes at a pub near my house and it only cost me the price of a beer and a small meal.
Be consistent, you don’t need to be the best
You do not need to be the best drawer in the world you just need to draw a lot and learn from your mistakes.
It’s how often you practice that counts more than anything else. Set some time each day, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes, to work on your craft. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. It takes time and consistency to get better.
Sometimes things don’t look right because you got the shading wrong or a line somewhere is at the wrong angle.
Hold your drawings up to a mirror and it will show you where the mistakes are.
How to Draw Anything book
Finally, if you need to have a written reference, there is the well-known “How to Draw Anything” book. It is not a children’s reference book.
This book is full of helpful tips and examples to show you how to draw anything you want. The author, an experienced artist, has taught drawing classes for years and uses their own drawings to illustrate each step-by-step lesson.
Learn from YouTube
There are also some great how-to-draw videos on YouTube. You can find lessons on how to draw people, animals, objects, and more.
One advantage of learning from videos is that you can pause and rewind if you need to. And you can watch the lesson as many times as you need to until you understand it.
How to draw anything – wrap up!
With these tips, you’re well on your way to learning how to draw anything you want. Just remember to be patient, keep practicing, and never give up. Soon you’ll be creating amazing drawings that will impress everyone who sees them. Thanks for reading!
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com