Sketching Techniques in 4 Steps With Photoshop

By practicing these sketching techniques and tips on how to sketch our your ideas, you will help build fundamental eye-hand coordination skills to be a successful artist able to draw what their minds can envision.

Through personal experience, I've had friends, colleagues, and students, when asked to draw a straight line, do it with meticulous care. I could see their hands stiff up as they try to get it as straight as possible.

What were the results? Not a straight line at all! It was bending in various directs up close. Not only that, some students go back and forth, creating a straight line that it looks jagged and fury.

We are going to change that. Just shake out your hands, relax, and a nice drawing position. What you will be doing first is categorizing sketching lines as you practice simple sketching techniques needed for digital drawings.

General Sketching Techniques

Make a continuous motion in the air just to get a feel for the shape without the friction of the drawing surface. While continuing with the motion, slowly drop your drawing instrument on the drawing surface.

Try to do various circles and lines fairly quickly and all in one stroke. The faster you do these shapes, the more continuity the shapes will have. You will start to develop a sense of control as you practice more.

Try angling your brush strokes. Try it from left to right and right to left diagonally. Then, try combining both. The result is that you will get crosshatching! Dotting also results in pointilization. All these are very useful for creating form!

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Next, try altering the directions again. There are four fundamental directions that you should focus on: horizontal, vertical, slant, and the reverse slant. This is useful to create flexibility in your wrist.

Eventually, all this will lead to the idea of 'blocking.' Changing the thickness of each stroke allows you to create large forms of shapes quickly. As well, blocking generates quick gradients and values.

With just one type of brush, the chalk brush, you can block in an entire composition just by altering the size and the pressure sensitivity options in any digital art program.

Sketching Techniques: Gesture Drawings

Gesture drawings are quick sketches that match the image in your head. It gives form to your subject where you can start slowly filling the form with little details as you see fit.

When you do a lot of gesture sketches, you begin to feel a sense of the whole. You are no longer focusing on one aspect of the painting. Instead, you will look at the entire painting, how it flows, and how it interacts with other subjects.

First, you need to have an image in your mind of what you want to draw and vaguely draw dynamic lines in response to your image.

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Gesture drawings are quick and take a lot of concentration to do effectively and may not actually present an idea at first. However, you will start to see form in some of the lines.

Eventually, these forms can be brought out by blocking in selected areas. The art of blocking is there to create depth and perspective to an, otherwise, meaningless number of random lines.

While gesture drawings gives me more freedom to generate ideas, if there is an idea that I am firm about, I use contour drawings instead.

Sketching Techniques: Contour Drawing

A contour drawing is a drawing that focuses on the outline of an object or subject. It can be seen in technical drawings or cartoons.

These sketches require established mental images and motor skill as there is little room for experimentation. As such, it requires a lot of experience in set drawing methods and styles.

Having said that, beginners and experts alike do make contour drawings regardless of skill level because these types of drawing outlines ideas a lot more easily than gesture drawings.

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Just like gesture sketches, it can be cleaned up and finalized to create precise or stylized drawings. It also simplifies certain details to make it as accurate or as vague as possible.

Since it's simplified, cartoons use contour drawings as a quick way to create multiple cells, which can be used for animation. It is also great for cutting down costs of production as colors can be simplified to match the style.

Regardless, gesture and contour sketches do feed off one another and are not mutually exclusive.

Sketching Techniques: Learn to Sketch Thumbnails

Thumbnails are perhaps one of the most fundamental and powerful sketch drawing skills needed to save time, effort, and increase productivity as it frames the idea through a series of multiple small drawings.

While there is no one true way of doing thumbnails, there are some important guidelines that most artists use to present their ideas like orientation.

If it's a portrait, then do the orientation on a tall rectangular shape. If it is a landscape idea, then begin a quick outline of a stretched rectangle.

sketching techniques: learn to sketch from

From there, just start plotting ideas down of a theme with similar elements or theme. Once you have a few themes you can work with, you can start narrowing down how to frame the composition.

Once you have something you like, you can either scan it or enlarge it to start working out the finer details. In the professional world, thumbnail sketches are important for storyboards.

In the case of creating a story, create a series of long rectangles similar to a film setting. Leave some room on the bottom for potential text describing the event or highlighting an action sequence so you can reference it later.

Other than that, keep practicing and using these sketching techniques to generate and refine your art. As always, have fun and stay inspired!