Are you someone who wants to sketch but can’t? You may have tried your hand at art, but left it in between for various reasons. For example, your slow progress or not-so-satisfactory results may have demotivated you from continuing.

Well, we can promise you that you are not alone. Anything you do or have been doing gets better with practice, and that’s a fact that no one can deny.

At WhataPortrait, we believe that the world of art shouldn’t be confined to a few. Rather, its knowledge and skills should be spread to all. That’s the main reason that one of our services includes converting your photographs into handmade sketches through our competent artists.

So, instead of fretting, just read these tips to make sure you excel in sketching like a boss!

1. Go Back to Basics

Basic it up

We know you can’t wait to sketch your first masterpiece but every good thing takes time.

While embarking on your sketching journey, make sure you start with basic shapes such as circles, trapezoids, etc. Don’t even attempt to add details at this stage. Take up your pencil and just start perfecting these basic shapes.

Once you’re familiar with the shapes and can identify the shapes in a sketch, go to the shading stage, which gives your drawn shapes a bit of perspective.

2. Hold the Pencil Correctly

Hold the Pencil Correctly

This is something that most people don’t look upon much, considering it is sort of self-explanatory.

But holding a pencil for sketching isn’t the same thing as holding a pencil for writing. You don’t have to worry about neatness here- in fact, you’re rooting for imperfection so your sketch looks more realistic and expressive.

Hold your pencil near the tip for better control in case you’re drawing something minute and small. On the other hand, if you’re just generally creating strokes with the pencil for better shading, keep your hand light and throw the stiffness out of the room.

3. Know Your Pencils

Know Your Pencils

Pencils are to sketching what the internet is to a smartphone. One is necessary for the other to exist.

Knowing your pencil is an essential skill for your sketch to be detailed and impressive. It is imperative for you to identify the pencil and where and when it has to be used. The markings on the side of the pencil define the hardness or softness of the graphite.

A pencil with a ‘B’ marking is considered to be soft, whereas a pencil with an ‘H’ marking is usually harder. Make sure you use a pencil that suits your requirements perfectly.

4. Doodling


Exercising and repeating an action obviously makes you better at it. Yes, exercise. Going to the gym regularly makes your muscles stronger, similarly, exercising and working on your sketching skills are going to make it better.

Start with normal doodling on a piece of paper. Set your hand free and let the pencil move in the direction in which it wants to move in. Make sure you enclose the shape you’ve drawn. After this, decorate the shape you’ve drawn in a manner you feel is best suited. This is called ‘noodling’.

5. Erase and start again

Erase and start again

It's generally seen that newer artists are usually afraid to erase what they have drawn. This is because they’re aiming to gain perfection in their art form and want to create a masterpiece in one go.

Don’t fall into that trap. It’s only going to make your skills narrower and more streamlined. Ensure you make mistakes, erase them, learn from your failures, and move ahead better and more confident.

6. Use a blending stick

Use a blending stick

Don’t start blending your art with your fingers. The oils from your fingers are only going to make it worse. Make sure that you use a blending stick to fulfill the purpose of blending.

Use the stick to blend in a circular motion which spreads the graphite evenly to give it a nice look.

7. Keep the Tools Handy

Keep the Tools Handy

Sketching is no joke. It requires precision, skills, observation, and, obviously, numerous tools apart from a pencil. Make sure you have these tools handy while you’re creating your sketch:

  • A set of pencils varying from B to H hardness levels
  • Drawing/sketching paper or a simple sketchbook
  • Blending sticks or stumps (mentioned above)
  • Basic sharpener
  • Erasers

These are the basic tools that might help you perfect your sketch. Although blending sticks are optional, they can turn out to be extremely useful in giving your sketch the necessary blend effect.

8. Vary the Line Width

Vary the Line Width

Our hands can’t always create the perfect set of lines or drawing that we want. That’s a fact. This means that the lines you draw might have varied lengths, widths, shades, textures, and darkness.

It is considered to be a good thing, keeping in mind that imperfect lines eventually provide you with a perfect sketch. The uneven width of the lines gives the image a more interesting look. Try to experiment with a diverse grade of pencils while drawing, and try holding the pencil at different angles.

9. Use a Sketchbook & Carry it Everywhere

Make a Sketchbook Carry it Everywhere

Sketching is an art form that requires spontaneity and keen observation ṣkills. Make sure you buy a good-quality sketchbook that is handy enough for you to carry wherever you go.

Making this a habit can benefit you in two ways. Firstly, it’ll increase your sketching time, considering you’ll see more interesting things and would want to try and sketch more. Secondly, it’s going to make your observational skills better, for you’ll be looking at different shapes and sizes, which will sharpen your skills of drawing spontaneously.

If carrying a sketchbook seems tedious to you, go to your local art shop and buy a pocket sketchbook.

10. Avoid Smudging

Avoid Smudging

Many artists advise using a sheet of paper while smudging your sketch. Smudging can be a two-edged sword for a sketch.

Smudging, if done properly, can bring out the best in a sketch, but overdoing it might spoil the sketch, and no one wants that. Instead of using your hand, use tissue paper to give a smudged effect to your sketch.

If you’re right-handed, start shading and smudging from left to right, and if you’re a left-handed person, then go from right to left.

11. ‘Tone’ it up

Tone it up

Tone refers to the difference in the light, texture, and darkness in a drawing. When the tone in a drawing varies, it tends to portray and express the artwork better. Its main function is to give a three-dimensional object a sense of depth and give it a real presence.

The use of tone is critical in artwork to show an object under light or to present an object nearer to or further from the artist. If an object is under the sun, it will be in a lighter shade, and if it is in the shade or in the dark, then it is toned in a darker shade.

Similarly, light and dark shades are used for further and nearer objects, respectively, in a drawing.

12. Symmetry


We shouldn’t stress much thinking that a drawing has to be perfect. While drawing, make sure you throw perfection out of the window.

Symmetry is important, there’s no doubt about that, but a perfectly symmetrical drawing will just bring boredom and monotony to a sketch. Hence, while ensuring symmetry, make sure you also avoid a complete mirror image.

13. Bring in the toned paper

Bring in the toned paper

Most beginners start with a pencil and white paper to sketch on. As you advance your sketching skills, make sure you upgrade your paper as well.

Using dark or mid-toned paper like blue or tan will allow you to be more precise. In the dark-toned paper, you can use chalk, crayons, and pencils to enhance different aspects of the painting, such as the shadow, shine, and dark or low-toned shades, so the viewer gets a better perspective.

Using a dark-toned sheet moreover makes a sketch more lively and precise up to a mark.

14. Learn to build human forms

Learn to build human forms

This is one of the most important and effective techniques of art and drawing. It is important because once you perfect drawing a human figure, you’ll realize that every project mostly comprises simple shapes, which are then given a life afterward.

To make a human figure, start with a skeletal shape and then flesh it up using different textures and details.

For a human body, a trapezoid shape with a wider top works well to suggest the upper body of a person ranging from the shoulder to the trunk. When the same trapezoid is turned upside down, it can be used to represent the crotch of a human being. The head is usually an oval which is roughly drawn.

15. Take Notes

Take Notes

It might seem weird to take notes when it comes to drawing something, isn’t it?

Well, taking notes in art doesn’t exactly mean taking notes. It's meant for when you spot an error and don’t have enough time to perfect the sketch in a go. So taking notes makes sure that you don’t miss out on something critical.

Make sure that you include the important parts of the drawings in the notes, especially those which cannot be remembered easily and are extremely detailed. Take notes in writing for the surroundings and the smaller details.

This technique will help you sharpen your memory skills, your observation, and your habit of sketching.

16. Throw in some colors

Throw in some colours

Throwing in some colors in your pencil sketch might give it a better look and the extra pomp it may need. But before using colors in a drawing, make sure you ask yourself the question of why exactly you need to use the specific colors in the drawing.

Start with a light pencil sketch and upgrade your way to layers of colors. Use the lighter shades at the base of the drawing and move your way up by slowly layering up the sketch with darker hues. You can use watercolors along with pencil colors.

17. Imperfect is Perfect

Imperfect is Perfect

A bit of smudge here, some curves here, and such small imperfections make it perfect in the end.

Emphasizing the fact enough that imperfections bring authenticity to your sketch, you shouldn’t worry about minute imperfections. The imperfect lines and details make your drawings express better and even boost the viewer’s interest in the drawing.

18. Create a Contrast

Create a Contrast

Creating contrast in a painting or a drawing, to be more specific, reveals the neat spots and magnifies the details involved.

Make sure that you add contrast in a drawing, not only in light and dark shades but in other forms such as hue, saturation, contrast, shape, textures, edges, and proportions.

Although contrast can be a useful tool at times, make sure you don’t use contrast too much or in unnecessary places. It will only spoil the painting and make it jump out of its natural and realistic structure.

19. Make it a habit

Make it a habit

Practice makes you perfect. Yup, can’t deny that!

Make sure you sketch or draw every day. Most of us are habitual of complaining about not having enough time, but taking a few minutes out every day isn’t a herculean task to achieve for many.

Take your pocket sketchbook (Point #9) with you wherever you go. While you’re on your daily commute to school, college, or the office, just put in your headphones and start sketching casually.

Giving sketching at least 15-20 minutes a day for around a month might do wonders for your artistic skills in the long run.

What are you waiting for? Grab your sketchbook and get going!

20. Be confident

Be confident

If you’ve decided to learn to sketch or draw, the only person who can stop you is going to be you. Start with this attitude and trust us, you’ll learn the skill in a fairly better and more effective manner.

Be confident in yourself, make mistakes, learn from them, and do better. Done? Now repeat this till you’re confident. That’s the entire process.

While you learn how to draw and sketch and become an expert, we’re here to have your back. We at Whataportrait provide you with authentic handmade sketches of your photographs. All you’ve got to do is:

  • Send us the photograph that you want to convert into a painting.
  • Specify your details and requirements
  • Let us know the type of sketch you want
  • Sit back and relax

Happy Portrait to you!

Get your sketch ready in just a few simple steps.

Embark on your artistic journey with ease by getting your sketch ready in just a few simple steps. Begin by selecting your desired subject or theme, then upload your reference photo or provide a brief description.

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