A Professional Guide into the Basics of Drawing To Help You Become a Master!

boy drawing on window condensation
Boy Drawing on Window Condensation. Getty Images

 They say that great achievements begin with small beginnings.

A successful athlete was once a diligent aspirant who trains regularly. An excellent driver starts as a student who practices good driving habits consistently.

Why should artists be any different? Even great masterpieces began as a simple sketch that utilizes the basic elements of drawing. To become a great artist, you must not only know what these fundamentals are but also practice using them the right way.

Constant Practice is not Enough

What good is constant drawing practice when you're doing them incorrectly all the time? A poor understanding of the basics of drawing and improperly applying them unto paper will just worsen your skills. Sooner or later, you'll realise that you've acquired bad drawing habits that will be too hard to break. So if you're just starting to draw, make sure you fully understand the concepts behind these fundamentals and apply them properly the first time.

It's simple, really. You essentially draw each basic element on top of another until you're able to create a complex, realistic figure. If your first few elements are wrong in the first place, the disaster can stack up until you complete your sloppy artwork. In short, you need to master the basics not just by practising regularly but also correctly to make sure that your final result is as stunning as you want it to be.

Drawing Lines

Lines are among the most fundamental features of any drawing. Your ability to position lines on your paper will affect the end result of your masterpiece in one way or another. In essence, your drawings begin with simple lines to create the guides and rough sketches that will serve as foundation to what you're about to draw.

Straight Lines: Kindergarten art lessons begin by drawing straight lines on paper. If you haven't mastered straight lines by now, perhaps you should learn from school children. By understanding straight lines and mastering how to draw them, you'll realise that there's more to them than simple sticks. You'll understand the illusion and movement they seem to create when placed with each other in a certain distance and in a certain position. You'll also understand how to project a stiff object in your drawing or how to create a masterpiece that seems to suck your viewers into your art.

Curved Lines: Experiment with curved lines and you'll understand about graceful movements and fluffy figures. In essence, drawing dynamic characters such as a dancing man and even a sexy lady sitting on a couch can be effectively achieved by drawing curved lines that will represent movement of the body. This is beneficial especially when you're out on the street and spot a wonderful figure that you want to draw but don't have the time to create a full drawing. You can quickly take note of the imaginary dynamic curves into your handy sketchpad and complete the details of the full drawing when you get home.

Repeated lines: Mastering your straight and curved lines, you'll understand that combining some of them into a single pattern will provide you with magical results that you may have not expected. You'll discover that you can create an ocean when you draw straight lines parallel to one another with distances between them becoming shorter and shorter as they're located closer to the top. Similarly, a pattern of swirls also provides a different effect and usually represents gracefulness or movement.

Shapes and Forms

Connecting your lines together will give you shapes. Whether they're the basic 2-dimensional ones like squares and circles, the 3-D ones like spheres and boxes, or unique ones that are a result of your creative mind; shapes essentially give your drawings the volume and depth they should have.

It's like turning a stick man into something that looks like a man made of balloons. Shapes can serve as the bridge between your basic lines and the complex figure you're attempting to draw. A circle gives you the foundation to draw a ball, a clock or even the earth. A rectangle can become a book, a door or a flat-screen TV.

Understanding shapes is important because when combined together, they can form the foundations to a more complex drawing. A triangle on top of a square can turn into a house. Ovals stacked together can become pets or wild animals. A sphere with an irregular box below it can turn into a skull or human head. In short, everything you see in life can be drawn easily and properly when you understand that they can be visualised as various shapes put together.

Light and Shadow

Whether with your pencil, chalk, drawing inks, wax crayons or any other material you use, shading will further provide depth and volume to whatever you're drawing. But shading anywhere on your canvas or paper isn't the way to achieving a stunning masterpiece. That's why you should understand how light and shadows play with each other to learn where to put the dark areas on your drawing. Flawlessly darkening some areas on your drawing while leaving white spaces will add a sense of 3-dimensional effect, and if done properly, you could create an illusion where your drawings tend to pop out of the page as if they're real to those who see them.

Understanding Perspective

Combining your knowledge and experience on the previously mentioned basic elements of drawing, you can understand the concept of perspectivein terms of drawing. It essentially gives your drawing a sense of distance as well as provides viewers an idea of the relative space among the structures and characters in your drawing. Whether you're drawing a group of people, a metropolis or a simple countryside landscape, the right use of perspective will give your masterpiece a more realistic appeal when combined with the proper implementation of the concept of lines, shapes and shadings.


As you can see, you don't have to be necessarily born with natural talent for drawing to create stunning art pieces. Understanding the fundamental concepts of drawings and practising them the right way the first time are highly essential to developing the skills and expertise of creating wonderful masterpieces that will engage your spectators.

Assess yourself today. Are your drawing habits making you create sloppy artworks? Or have you mastered the elements of drawings so well that you can provide 3D illusions or invoke the deep emotions of your viewers?

Quotation: "Art should reveal the unknown, to those who lack the experience of seeing it." - Jaune Smith