How to Do a Simple Drawing for Beginners

Learn how to do a simple drawing for beginners from artist Rebecca Schweiger in this Howcast drawing tutorial.


We'll now focus on a simple drawing, for beginners. I have a vase here, which is the subject matter that we'll focus on. I'm going to be using vine charcoal. I have a gum eraser, and an eraser just from the back of a regular pencil.

What I'm going to suggest is actually with your charcoal, to just add some shading to your page to get started. You're not going to use the tip, like a pencil. You're going to turn it on its side, and you're just going to go in any direction: Up, down, left, right, diagonal. You just want to get a little color on your paper. Then with your hands, your fingers, you can blend in a bit. This is just allows us to get started. Sometimes it's helpful to have an entry point into our drawing.

You can use any basic shape, any form. It could be a glass, it could be a mug; something simple with simple lines. I'm going to start by looking at my vase, and I'm going to focus on the top of the vase. The top, if I looked at this way, is a circle, but when I'm looking from this angle, it's an ellipse, which is a circle turned on its side. I'm going to draw that ellipse. Now I'm going to focus on each part of the vase, almost 1 inch at a time. I see that the neck of the vase is a little curve, so I'm just going to draw that curve. As I'm drawing, I'm not going to focus on, 'this is a vase'. I'm going to pretend that I don't even know what a vase looks like, and I'm just going to focus on little bits of the vase at a time, so that all these little bits, all of these mini-lines can come together to form an actual drawing.

Basically, it's a mirror image on the left and the right side. If I want, I can even draw a line down the middle. Anything that I do on the left side is going to happen, basically opposite, on the right side. Here are your two curved lines. Then what happens is it curves right out, basically, just continuing that line. Then it tucks around and comes down, basically, almost a straight line.

Where it's sitting on the table, it's not a flat line, it's slightly curved. As I'm looking at this, I'm realizing I want to make a slight change. That is part of drawing; you can always, always, always make changes. It's always a work in progress. I realized the neck is a little thinner, so I'm just going to bring that line in slightly. It's one curved line, connected to another curved line, connected to a straight line. That's all that side is. The other thing I'm realizing is that the top of the vase is a little wider from left-to-right and a little thinner from top-to-bottom. You can see how easy it is to work with charcoal. Anytime you want to change something, you just draw right over it, and you can shade it right out.

One thing I'll do is I'm going to just draw a little line behind it to ground the vase, so that it really feels like the vase is sitting on something. Very, very quickly, I'm going to use my charcoal and just do a little bit of shading. There's a darker shadow that's cast on the table. I'm using the side of my charcoal, and I'm going to move through this vase and just pick out a couple of areas where it's a bit darker. If I want, I can use the tip at times, if I want a little more definition or if I want to make it a little darker. I'm just basically going back and forth, making lines, just like this.

I'm going to come in with my finger, wipe it through a little bit so that it makes a bit of sense. I'm going to wipe over that midline that I had created. As I'm shading now, I'm going to make this motion, almost like a wide U, so that my shading mimics the shape of the vase. My last step, maybe I'll bring in a little more definition with the tip of my charcoal, darkening some of the lines, definitely not all of them, but just areas, just for a little touch. I'm now going to come in with my eraser, and I'm going to erase a couple of areas, just to show where the light is hitting. These little touches with the eraser will allow us to have a little more definition. I'm really drawing with the eraser. I'm not only erasing, I'm drawing right on here. As I define some of these lighter areas, your drawing is going to look much more 3-dimensional.

Those are some tips to beginning drawing. If I want, maybe I'll even just make this side a little darker so the lighter side of the vase can pop forward. Very quickly, you will have a beginning drawing. The most important thing is to have fun, to relax, to practice. Don't criticize yourself, and to allow yourself to really express yourself and to create from your heart. You will be creating incredible drawings in no time.

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