Every artist begins somewhere. Not every artist started at the same time in life or with the same mediums, but the journey often starts the same way: With basic drawing.
I’ve answered a lot of art questions over the years on this blog and in other places. Rarely does anyone ask how to get started. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps most people assume they know how to begin. I know it was never a question for me, but I was drawing before I was old enough to ask why.
Or even how.
But any time you think about starting something new, it is important to have a least a basic idea of how to begin. That’s the purpose of this post.
The suggestions I’m about to make are very basic, but hopefully they will be helpful to those of you who are thinking about starting with colored pencils.
I’ll also provide a few links to other articles that are a bit more in-depth for those who want more specific information.
Of course, if you have questions, you’re welcome to ask them either in the comments below or more directly by sending me an email. I’m always happy to answer questions and chat by email.
How to Get Started Drawing
The first thing you need to get started drawing is the desire. Without the desire to draw, it doesn’t matter how good your tools are or how many you buy. You won’t get very far.
The truth is that drawing isn’t something you can pick up overnight. Yes, it is easier for some than others, but all of us have to practice to get good at drawing. Even once you become good at it, you have to draw to remain good.
All of that drawing requires a certain amount of desire.
But since you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you have the desire.
Choose Your Medium
Since this blog is all about colored pencils, you may think this question is a bit daft. After all, what else would you draw with but colored pencils?
I’ve drawn with graphite, charcoal, conte crayon, Crayola crayons, and even ball-point pens. Any of those mediums are suitable for creating fine art. What’s more, all of them are also perfect for new artists. Most of them are inexpensive, capable to creating value and drawing intricate detail.
So the first step is for you to decide what you want to start drawing with.
If you’re like I was back when I first started, I didn’t want to mess around with graphite or anything else. I went straight for the colored pencils. That’s a perfectly natural decision if colored pencil drawing is what you want to learn.
But there’s also nothing wrong with deciding to begin with something less expensive and simpler.
A lot depends on where you are, how much you have to spend, and what’s available to you. I’ve heard of people who start drawing with a stick in the dirt. Why not? It’s not permanent, but you can learn to draw that way.
Remember, everything you learn about drawing accurately with graphite, charcoal, conte, pen, or any other tool transfers to drawing with colored pencils.
You can also always try other drawing mediums if your first choice doesn’t work out.
So don’t bypass this step because it doesn’t seem important.
Choose Your Tools
Once you’ve decided on the medium, it’s time to look at the tools that are available. As I mentioned above, you can start drawing with a stick and some dirt, but most of us want something a bit more permanent. And convenient!
All you really need, however, is paper and a drawing tool. Depending on the drawing tool, you may also need a sharpener, but those three things are enough to make a beginning.
Learn Everything You Can
If you’re just getting started drawing these days, you have a treasure trove of learning opportunities as close as your internet connection. Choose from free video tutorials on YouTube, paid videos through Patreon, Teachable, Craftsy, and a number of other options.
Many artists also produce and publish downloadable PDF and print tutorials. I have my own collection of tutorials for all levels at my store, Colored Pencil Tutorials. There are books, blogs, teaching websites, and online courses to suit every budget and style.
So how do you find the right teaching method and teacher for you? Look for an artist who does the kind of work you want to do in a style you like. It’s also helpful if they draw similar subjects to what you draw, but that’s not as important. All methods work for every subject for someone.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Did I mention practice?
Nothing helps you learn a new skill faster than using it as you learn. Or rather, learning it by doing it. I remember learning how to use a computer the first time. It went much more smoothly when I was able to use a computer in my spare time.
Drawing is the same way. So watch those videos and do those tutorials, but also draw for yourself. Fun stuff. Difficult stuff. Whatever catches your attention.
That’s How I’d Get Started Drawing If I were Beginning Today
Do you remember I mentioned some links? Here they are.
On this blog, you can find a list of the best posts about getting started with colored pencil.
There is a nearly-free resource at Colored Pencil Tutorials that is a downloadable shopping list for you if you’re ready to buy colored pencils and accessories, but don’t know where to start.
The main thing is to start where you are. If all you can get is a number two lead pencil and typing paper, then do that. It’s far better to make that kind of start, than to wait until you have everything available and never start.