The UK is going into a second lockdown and I've decided to try drawing as a hobby to get away from my every day job of been a programmer. I did art at school and that was the last time I did anything arty, other than my photography, so I'd consider myself an absolute beginner at 48 years of age :)

The problem is I do not know where to begin to start training myself. I'll be using a drawing tablet.

So, the type of art/drawing/sketching that interests me is pencil and inking. Stylized portraits and figures (I'm not after photo-realistic style), dioramas etc is kinda what I want to do eventually.

My Question
As a beginning artist, do I begin with figure drawing, full figures and heads, and just try get proportions right, or do I go even more basic?

Of course I realise that becoming adequate is going to be years of practice, but I'd like to ensure I'm starting off on the correct path.

  • You can ask a question on Meta to know how to improve this question so that it gets reopened. crafts.meta.stackexchange.com Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 2:47
  • 1
    Specific art question: how does one start at drawing. Yes it seems open ended but as we can see there is a concise and useful answer provided. It amazes me how much we all love to close questions.
    – rebusB
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:05
  • @rebusB It's obviously not about "us all loving to close questions", it's about having a clear set of rules. This question is way too broad; questions should not be qualified by their answers; and the fact that it's a specific art question is also way too broad a qualifier. And again, this sets a bad precedent.
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 9:34
  • 1
    I edited the question to be a little bit more specific.
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


There are some fundamentals that everyone who wants to draw needs to learn. (Not in order of importance).

#1 Control exercises

Make yourself comfortable with a pencil and paper, draw straight lines - 1/4, 1/2 and full width of a paper - draw 5 times over each line and try to hit the line as precicely as you can. Same thing for circles or ovals. Draw 2 Lines and fill the space between with - as perfect as possible - circles, or ovals. For very small things it is ok to "draw from your wrist", but try to train to keep your wrist still and rather use your shoulder and elbow to make the movement.

#2 Perspective

Learn about 1-/2-/3-point-perspective and vanishing points. Start with very simple forms like a cylinder or a cube and draw them from different angles. Put some simple objects on a table and draw these forms in a composition. Try to draw some stills with more complex objects, or use some photos of streets from different views.

#3 Shape and form

Start with simple objects and try to create more complex forms. You can draw some random "blob" and try to define a 3 dimensional shape by drawing contour lines in that form. Like a wire frame.

#4 Value and Light

In order to create convincing 3 dimensional forms you need to control your values. Always start with black and white. Use a simple value scale of 5 values. White is the lightest, black the darkest 50% grey the middle. Learn to understand highlights, reflected light, core, cast and occlusion shadows. Add more lights and complex forms.

#4 Anatomy

There is a ton of really good resources online to learn anatomy for artists. Get a book about it - I always used this: The Complete Guide to Anatomy for Artists & Illustrators from Gottfried Bammes. I cant remember the Website but when I trained figure drawing, there was a site where you were shown a picture of someone in a specific pose and you could set a timer for how long you wanted that picture to be shown. Train to do poses in 10s, 60s, 10minutes.

Depending on what type of learner you are you might want to search for some resources on each topic, get some books or just trial and error. Always use some reference even for relatively simple things.Get a sketchbook and carry it around. But most importantly have fun !

  • 2
    Thanks, great help, I have a place to begin now :-) That site btw might be quickposes.com
    – John Cogan
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 19:55
  • Yeah I think that was it. It looked a lot more basic back then but the functionality is exactly like i remember it.
    – Lapskaus
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 8:07

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