Sketching Techniques You Should Know

ArtHearty Staff Sep 29, 2018
All of us have been sketching something ever since we were toddlers, and some of us have made it a hobby. Read on to know some more useful sketching techniques and tips.
Ever since we started toddling around the house, our moms started giving us a pencil and a paper and that awakened the artist in us! We would scribble something mercilessly on the poor paper and mom would love our 'art'.
And then we grew up into school-kids and even took drawing lessons after school and loved playing with colors. And then we grew up even more, each one of us with a few hobbies and interests with very few, yet substantial number of us developed the hobby of sketching.
A sketch is a quick freehand drawing which is used to record an idea for further use. It is not considered as a finished work; it has to be painted to be complete. Graphite pencils, modern sketch pencils, or charcoal pencils are usually used for sketching today.

Sketching Techniques For Beginners

For beginners, these also involve lessons on how to hold a pencil. Well, there is no single perfect way of holding a pencil and probably whatever works for you will give you the best results. There are also many myths on how a sketcher should hold a pencil and if you are holding a pencil artificially, you are probably doing a harmful thing for your art.

Tripod Grip

This is the most common way to hold a pencil. Forefinger and thumb form a triangle with middle finger and is supported by ring and little finger. It allows the fingers to have a fine control over the pencil.
If you hold it in its upright position in a tripod grip, it will allow the most accurate shading with the tip. This grip enables your thumb and fingers control the pencil and for fine work, you can rest your hand on the paper sheet. Resting your hand on a spare paper sheet helps avoid your sketch getting smudged that occurs due to skin oils and sweat.

Extended Tripod Grip

This way is same as the basic tripod grip, just the location of the hold changes, on the upper side of the pencil. It's an easy way of sketching, especially for amateurs as it allows more liberty.
This grip allows small movements of your fingers to produce larger movement of the pencil which makes it an efficient grip for sketching. Always keep a relaxed grip on the pencil, it will yield the best results. A tight grip is restrictive and tiring.

Overhand Grip

Many artists use this to hold a pencil. It is an easy way to use the side of a pencil. The pencil is lightly positioned against the fingers with the flat of the thumb. The exact position will vary depending on the proportions of your hand.
Never forget o have a relaxed grip on the pencil. This grip is best suited for vertical drawing surfaces like an upright tripod canvas. For obtaining the best results with overhand grip, you should either sit or stand so that the arm gets a wider space to allow free and expressive mark-making process.

Underhand Grip

The under hand grip is in fact a loose and relaxed way of holding a pencil for sketching.
It can be explained as a tipped-over tripod grip although you can move your thumb higher or you can allow the pencil to pose in a V-shape of the thumb and the palm, with your middle and index fingers, slightly controlling the pencil-tip. The underhand grip is used for a more casual and broad sketch.

Basic Sketching Techniques

Basic technique is something that cannot be given lessons of. It needs a passion to sketch and experiment with freehand drawings. It requires observation, patience and practice of self-expression. The entire art of sketching can be practiced in two different ways.
The first way is to sketch as a primary step for painting later and the second way is to sketch just for the art and for the fun of sketching, which is casual sketching. If this is done with perfection, it might turn into a magnificent piece of art itself! Let's take a look at few basic sketching techniques used by sketchers, artists and professionals.

Pure Contour Sketching and Blind Contour Sketching

The technique of blind contour drawing is intended to enhance your hand-eye coordination. Blind contouring means drawing a primary outline of your sketch without looking at the paper. This technique needs superlative levels of observation. It improves your ability to coordinate the observation with your hand movements on the paper, both simultaneously.
Pure contouring involves sketching the perfect clearly defined edges while looking at the paper. Even a shade of a line drawn holds a meaning in pure contouring. It also involves cross-contouring which deals with vertical and horizontal lines that help us form a visual two-dimensional effect of a 3D object.

Texturing and Shading

Shading and texturing can be started once you gain expertise in sketching an outline of your drawing. Use kneaded erasers in shading to give lighter tones to your sketches. The first step is to find highlighted spots on your sketch. Then, take a pencil which has a medium tone (between dark and light), and start shading with the pencil in angled strokes.
Move towards the darkest spots on your sketch and then shade those spots with dark pencils. First observe and then start shading. Use different textures like hatching, cross-hatching or create your own with a combination of these along with smudging. Smudging is a simple way of adding a soft and blurred texture with your fingertips.

Other Useful Tips

  • Draw straight lines quickly by marking the end-points first.
  • A wrist movement is not enough for drawing straight lines, allow an arm movement.
  • Always have a continuous movement or a series of strokes that overlap.
  • Your pencil should point at fixing your eye on the second point, that will draw the pencil towards the second point.
  • Usually, the same technique is used to draw a diagonal line, but a simple add on would be turning the paper so that it appears horizontal.
  • Start with sketching of the general contours of big shapes. Keep them angular and avoid sketching the details of the drawing so soon.
  • As far as shading goes, highlight the large portions first in simple and light shades.
  • Avoid using half-tones at the initial stage of shading.
  • Watch your source of light and relate it with your shades in the sketch. Then start putting the halftones after which you can furnish the details and all the necessary finishing touches and accents in the final stage to complete a sketch.
It is a fact that you wouldn't become a great sketching artist after reading these sketching techniques. Art is not something that you can read about. As it has been rightly said, it takes a long time for a man to look like his sketches. Practicing your art with these techniques is what you should be trying.
Reading information on techniques and tips about sketching will just be an experience of confirmation of what you, as a sketcher, already know! So, grab that sheet of paper and a sketching pencil and get going; rather, get sketching!