Our guide to sketching

Our guide to sketching

First published date February 05 2014 Amended date February 06 2014

From Leonardo da Vinci to Claude Monet, nearly all of the most famous artists in history have owned their very own sketchbooks. Do you consider yourself a good artist but struggle to turn your ideas into works of art? Maybe you have always loved art and want to learn how to sketch for the first time? Look no further than our list of sketching courses which will teach you all you need to know about the art of sketching.


What is sketching?

Sketching is a style of freehand drawing that puts an emphasis on speed over quality. A sketch is usually a method of capturing a moment and getting ideas down on to paper as opposed to a finished product. This allows artists and other professionals to get down their initial thoughts into a basic form and then to go back and revise and refine their work later. Sketching is simple as it involves no tools other than pencil (or any drawing tool) and paper, allowing the artist to sketch down their ideas at any time and place.  


What to expect

What to expect can depend greatly on the type of sketching course you enrol on, there are many sketching courses and some specialise in certain aspects, such as, architectural sketching or sketching for graphic designers. The only thing that will change from these courses will be what you draw; the basic skills of sketching will stay the same throughout the courses. You will be taught sketching techniques for different objects, you may be required to sketch real life models and events one day and then stationery objects the next, specific courses such as architecture or engineer sketching will teach you how to get your ideas down onto paper. As this type of art can often be spontaneous, sketching courses will teach you how to draw with a variety of different tools. You will learn the sketching techniques using pencils, ballpoint pens, graphite sticks, charcoal and pastels.

Want to become an expert sketcher? Then you need to practice all the time. These courses will give you tonnes of practice while at the same time encouraging you to build your sketching portfolio to show future employers or further education interviewers. Courses are often part time and run in the evening or summer time so you can plan around your work and school schedules. Prices will vary depending on the length of the programme with short courses often being anywhere from £60 and longer courses costing anywhere up to £450.


Career paths

There are many career paths that involve sketching and a big market in tourism. Have you ever seen those people drawing in the middle of big cities? Yes, they’re sketching. Many people are able to earn a living from sketching portraits and caricatures of people in the street, however this does involve a great deal of experience as customers won’t pay for a drawing they don’t want.

Sketching is also frequently used in more formal professions however most of these may require you to do an undergraduate level qualifications. Sketching is used by architects, engineers, graphic designers and animators, enabling them to quickly put down their initial thoughts. So once you’ve got a sketching qualification under your belt, an architect course, engineer course, graphic design course or an animation course can all set you in the right direction of your desired career path.


Six quick sketching tips

Practice, practice and practice: If you want to be the best, you have to sketch all the time; you will never stop learning and improving on your skills, even as an expert.

Drawing is a skill: Never get demoralised, people can learn to draw. If you are a beginner and can’t get the hang of it, stick with it and eventually you will learn to become a master of sketching.

Speed over quality: Sketching is all about speed so when first starting put speed before quality. As you get faster the quality of your sketch will improve with practice.

Find a spot people linger: Finding a place where people linger will help you to practise your real life sketching, cafes or waiting rooms provide great places you can draw living people.

Leave out details: Remember you are only jotting down your ideas so at first it’s important to get down the scene. Details can be added afterwards.

Learn from the best: Although sketching is often a method of recording ideas rather than art itself, many famous artists’ sketchbooks have become works of art in their own right. Check out sketchbooks of favourite artists such as Edgar Degas or Leonardo da Vinci to find out how these masters recorded their ideas.