A Fun Way to Sketch

A Fun Way to Sketch

Let me share with you a fun way to sketch that I stumbled upon earlier this year.

This spring, I decided to start being more deliberate in sketching. While I haven’t been as disciplined as I would have liked, I have done a lot of sketching since then, and have created some very nice sketches.

It’s now June and time to start sharing my sketches and my sketching experiences with you.

And I’ve chosen to begin with an unusual way to sketch that’s also a fun way to sketch.

A Fun Way to Sketch

A Fun Way to Sketch
Try sketching by using simple shading and no lines. This is my first such attempt. See what you can come up with.

A Short Demo

Let me walk you through the process, just to show you how easy it really is.

This sketch is in an Arteza hard cover sketch pad. I used a #2 0.7mm mechanical pencil because it was handy and to show you that you don’t need expensive tools for this kind of drawing.

Step 1

I started out by “shading” shapes. Rather than using horizontal strokes, however, I chose to shade with vertical strokes. I also decided to shade in the direction that trees normally grow, so my strokes are vertical.

But as in the first sketch in this post, I did not use the tip of the pencil at any point. Instead, I extended the lead about an inch and shaded with the side of it. Because I was using a mechanical pencil, I used very light pressure to avoid breaking the lead.

This is the basic shape of the first tree.

Step 2

I continued adding trees to the sketch using the same type of stroke and pressure. As you can see, there’s no detail and not much to suggest that these are actually trees. That’s okay. I knew where I was going with the sketch.

I should also point out that I was drawing from imagination, and simply working out an interesting composition. You can do this kind of sketching while drawing from life and/or with any subject.

A Fun Way to Sketch
Step 3

Now I started making the trees look like trees by adding smaller branches. I also started arranging them in the picture by putting some branches behind others.

I added shadows either by adding a little bit more pressure to my pencil, by adding more layers, or both. But I continued sketching with quick, vertical strokes following the length of the branches.

Step 4

This is the fun part: Blending with my little finger. You can also use a blending stump or some other blending tool.

I would most likely use something other than my finger to blend on a “real” work of art, because of the risk of putting skin oil on the paper.

But this is cheap paper, a cheap pencil, and a quick sketch.

By the way, I blended in the same direction in which I’d drawn: stroking along the length of the main trunks and branches.

Step 5

Once the basic shapes and shading were in place, I continued adding smaller and smaller branches, improving the values, and adding details.

When I’d taken the trees as far as I wanted to take them, I “scribbled” in the grass at the bottom and my sketch was finished.

A Fun Way to Sketch
There’s My Fun Way to Sketch

I don’t know for sure (I didn’t time myself for either sketch), but I’m guessing the second one took twenty minutes or less. The first one was probably five or ten minutes or less.

You might be wondering what the purpose is to this sort of sketching.

My reasoning for sketching this way is primarily to loosen up and have a little bit of no-pressure fun with pencil and paper. But it’s also good practice for drawing what looks like detail without actually fussing over detail.

For someone like me, who craves detail in every drawing, this is good practice.

But I’m also hoping to get comfortable enough drawing easy things like trees so that I can eventually draw more complex subjects like horses. If sketching like this helps me do that, then I need no other reasons!

A New Monthly Post

This is the first post in a series of monthly posts dedicated to developing a sketching habit. On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share some of my sketches, provide a quick demo, or give some other form of teaching that revolves around sketching.

The tools are simple. Paper, pencil and a little bit of time each week. I hope you’ll join me in starting your own sketching habit.

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  1. Pat

    I love this idea for sketching, I think this will really help me loosen up my art. I am going to try this on a picture I want to draw..before starting the actual drawing.

    Thank you.

  2. That top tree is excellent! Something you might use for a tree in the background. No specific delineation using outlines. I have tried this before with simple objects such as an apple or a coffee mug, trying to avoid creating an actual line. It can be challenging because your mind wants to automatically demarcate the shape of your subject. Once you get past that notion, the results can be very interesting…especially if a person was to focus on completing a piece using just that method on its own.

    A similar method I enjoy practicing from time to time is to draw the negative space, leaving the subject(s) in white. I find that this technique works well when doing semi detailed foliage. For some reason, I find that I get a more natural look to the plant life in some cases, depending on the foliage I’m drawing.

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