Drawing Tools and Tips for Beginners

Drawing doesn't only provide a creative outlet and foster self-expression, it also helps develop discipline and patience. If you're just starting out, take a little time to explore different drawing tools and tips for beginners before you open your sketchbook. After all, choosing the right medium for a drawing can be just as important to the finished product as the execution of the image itself. Here are the most important tools to consider:

Pencils. Perhaps the most basic drawing tool is the pencil. Artist's pencils are available in a wide range of thicknesses. Graphite pencils are precise, so they're a good choice for sketches that call for a lot of detail. They're also a good option for beginners because they're relatively easy to erase.

Pens. A pen is another traditional drawing tool that's capable of great precision. You'll find many different pens on the market designed for different functions, including lettering, writing, marking and drawing. The type of pen you select will depend on your preferences and your project. To choose the right pen, look at the ink and the nib. Many artists like pens that use India ink, because it's easier to manipulate the pigment for shading or smudging effects. The nib is the pen's tip. Artist pens are available with different-size nibs. Lettering pen nibs also come in different shapes to create lettering effects.

Charcoal. Charcoal is a traditional drawing tool that can be used for sketching or for creating outlines before painting. Charcoal is easily smudged, which can be beneficial to the look an artist wants or a challenge as far as keeping the work looking clean. Compressed charcoal is available in pencil form to make it easier to use.

Watercolor pencils. Watercolor pencils offer the precision of colored pencils with the versatility of watercolors.

Oil pastels. Oil pastels are comparable to crayons. They offer a lot of possibilities for blending and layering but can also smudge easily.

Chalk pastels. Chalk can be used to sketch outlines or shade pictures created with another medium. Chalk is usually not as precise as other drawing tools, but it has a unique look and blending capabilities.

Graphics tablet. Technology has changed the art world, and one new drawing tool that has resulted is the graphics tablet, an electronic tablet that connects to your computer via cable and uses a stylus (plastic pen) to allow you to draw digital images. Graphics tablets can respond to an artist's pressure and stroke to create more realistic results. Drawing with a graphics tablet eliminates the need to scan images into a computer if you want to digitally edit them.

Once you've selected your drawing tools, you're almost ready to start work. Tools are just half the equation. Take note of a few standard drawing tips to help you better translate the images in your head onto paper:

Work up to detail. Outlining your drawings first can help you spot proportion issues when they're easiest to correct. After you have the outlines down, you can add more detail and erase or cover any lines that were meant to act as place markers.

Be an observer. Part of being an artist is paying attention to the world. Take time to notice how shadows, lighting and lines exist in nature. Spend time looking at the works of other artists, too, to learn from their techniques.

End with fixative. Spray fixatives are available in art supply stores. They help set your drawing to protect it when you're finished. Fixatives are especially important when working with media that smudge easily, like charcoal or oil pastels.

Studying drawing tools and tips for beginners can help set you on the right road, but remember that in art, all rules are meant to be broken. Experiment to discover your own techniques and strengths, and draw as much as you can to gain valuable experience. If you do all that, you'll be one step closer to seeing your concepts and ideas emerge on paper.

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