Learn To Draw For Beginners - How and Why?

Meditation calms the mind. For everyone who can't meditate, there's drawing!

Long before humans started civilization, the cave dwelling early man had been drawing. The oldest drawings discovered are about 50,000 years old and modern human has appeared only 2,00,000 years ago - which means we have been drawing for one fourth of our time, which is huge! The need to express ourselves and the need to have a creative outlet is one of our major instincts. Many masterpieces in fact are expressed by the creator in such a way that they elicit so many emotions - till date, we are researching and debating about the Mona Lisa.

If you are debating in your mind, if drawing is worth your time, read along.

learn to draw resources

Why should I draw?

  • Drawing can be absolutely therapeutic, as you focus just on getting the details right - this line, that shade, the angle - so many teeny tiny details that if done with no focus, can mess up the entire sketch. You will be so lost in the craft, that you will forget about that ugly troubling thing of your life which has been bothering you - well, at least for a while! It's like a temporary euthanasia to all those millions of thoughts running wild inside your brain in every possible direction. Adult coloring books and mandalas are perfect for this.
  • By the end of a sketch, you will be calm and focused - a great way for people who are too distracted to study to bring back their focus! You will actually be increasing your concentration ability.
  • To be awed by your own marvelous creation after hours of grueling effort.
  • To have a cool sketch book, which you can casually show off to your friends.
  • To keep your brain sharp - no kidding, drawing has been used as a form of treatment for patients who have memory issues.
  • To be more observant - you can't just passively look at the drawing model, you need to observe and grasp in all the details you can, so that your hands can speak!
  • To feel like Picasso, while drawing a stick figure - basically, the feel of achievement and confidence boost.
  • To give a means for your brain to express itself. Drawing is one of the best creative outlets to outsource your ideas and thoughts onto paper.
  • To try turning any negative emotion into a sketch- Stress? Draw a mandala. Feel like crying? Draw some happy/fun doodles. Angry? Draw a torture scene, or may be not.
  • To be a child again and experiment wildly with all kinds of figures with euphoria.
  • To be happy.
  • It could be the cheapest hobby, you only need a pencil, eraser, sharpener and paper for starters - which you may already have.
  • To learn a new hobby and not be bored in this pandemic.
Why shouldn't I draw?
  • It can get expensive if you let your need for art supplies go crazy - different kind of pencils, papers, charcoal, sketch books, kneaded erasers, fancy sharpeners, micro pen, oil paints, color pencils, crayons, acrylic colors - this list is never ending, depending on what form you choose and as you keep learning.
  • Learning to draw as a beginner can be frustrating, but what isn't?
  • To see your complete finished end product, it may take lot of time from hours to days.

I recently had this urge to draw again, like I did in school days - badly, but happily. There are several resources online to learn drawing - videos, dedicated websites, courses and of course, books. You can pick anything based on your best way of learning. After some research, I found that Andrew Loomis books(and some other books too) are great for learning to draw. So I picked the first book - Fun With A Pencil and it has been amazing to learn and draw from it.

Why should I pick "Fun With A Pencil"?
  • You will learn the basics on how to draw a head from circles, a body from different basic shapes and how to give an expression to the face.
  • Instead of copying figures, you will be able to draw your own.
  • It's perfect for beginners - it's no Da Vinci level figure drawing. It's exaggerated cartoon-ish/caricature forms taught using basic shapes. You will be able to keep up with the pace.
  • You can probably draw some cartoon snippets after this.
Why shouldn't I pick "Fun With A Pencil"?
  • Well..it's racist. Many ethnicities are drawn in a derogatory fashion.
  • It's quite stereotypical and little sexist, I guess - pretty women struggling with sports is one that comes to mind.
  • I wonder how it was written for young readers, because there are definitely some "vamps" in it.
As you can see, teaching technique wise, there's nothing wrong with the book. Also, this book was fist published in 1939! So all the negative elements mentioned are from long gone era.

Learning from this book doesn't mean that you will be ready to draw the Vitruvian Man. I still draw very badly. But I can conjure up the forms on my own. You will definitely learn many techniques and how well you will end up drawing all boils down to - Practice.

What's next?

Following are the Loomis books you can follow to learn and this is the order mostly mentioned around by people who have learnt drawing :

  1. Fun with a pencil - basics for beginner to draw exaggerated heads and body.
  2. Successful drawing - Perspective, Shading etc
  3. Drawing the head and hands - the famous Loomis technique to draw heads.
  4. Figure drawing for all it's worth - recommended by many experts to learn figure drawing.
  5. Creative illustrations - when you have mastered all the basics.

Books 3 and 4 are often recommended to get really better at drawing.


Other than Loomis books, there are some very good books to learn for beginners. You can pick these if you don't really like the Loomis style.
  • Keys to drawing by Betty Dodson.
  • The new drawing on the right side of the brain by Betty Edwards.

If you are not into learning through books, videos by Proko are awesome.
Drawbox is amazing with structured lessons and exercises.
If you want to learn digital painting too, you can try ctrlpaint.

What all do I need to learn exactly?

Grasshopper, the answer to this question is limitless. But these are the basics one can try to master in their lifetime :
  • Figure drawing and clothed figure drawing.
  • Perspective
  • Color and lightening.
  • Character and design.
  • Composition and story telling.
  • Anatomy - humans and animals.
  • Environment design.
  • Digital painting.
As you can see, Fun with a pencil won't even fit into this structure - it's just a warm up! It will take years to learn, practice and master these. So take your time, don't rush, enjoy the journey as you happily draw away.

PS: This is my practice - heads up : it sucks. It's there just for me to track my progress and be happy about it.



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