When you buy through our links, Insiders may earn an affiliate commission. Learnmore.
Drawing may seem like an innate skill one either has or doesn’t. I had been intimidated to try my hand at drawing for years because I subscribed to the notion that I wasn’t a natural. But learning all that is involved — and that anyone can pick it up — definitely changed my outlook.
To learn more about the best ways to get started as a drawing beginner, I spoke to two experts: Kevin Haran, a drawing professor at the University of Central Florida who’s taught for 25 years, and Zaida Diaz, the Latina graphic artist behind PWR_GIRLZ.
The best drawing tips and supplies for beginners:
1.) Stick with a few good graphite or charcoal pencils instead of a huge pencil set.
As a beginner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you enter the art store and see all the possibilities in the drawing section. “I recommend keeping the supplies minimal until you’ve mastered the basics,” says Haran. “Then you can expand your tool kit.” If you’re starting out, the very basics include pencils, paper, and erasers.
There’s an extensive range of graphite pencils that come in different grades of softness and hardness. “Graphite pencils give you more control,” says Haran, while “charcoal pencils can give you more of a range of lines — it just depends on the kind of drawings you want to make.”
It may be tempting to reach for a pencil set, but “the downside of pencil sets is they may include types of pencils you will probably never use,” according to Haran.
2.) Buy an all-purpose sketchpad to cover your bases.
Having a drawing pad or sketchbook is a great way to keep all your work in one place and have it available on the go for when creativity strikes. “If you’re just picking up drawing as a hobby and don’t know what medium you want to focus on — or perhaps want to explore different media — then opt for an all-purpose sketchbook like a Canson pad,” says Diaz.
“If you want your drawings to last, use acid-free paper,” says Haran. “All of my drawings are on Arches Cover paper (an archival paper made of 100% cotton).”
3.) Get a solid eraser to freely make mistakes.
Erasers are important for eliminating mistakes but can also be tools for adding style and texture to a piece. Despite the different types of drawing erasers, Haran keeps it simple: “I only use Pink Pearl or white plastic erasers…you can make all kinds of marks with them.”
You can find more of the best art supplies we recommend here.
4.) Start with the basics.
Once you have all your core supplies, an online class or book can help you master the basics of drawing.
Recommended by Haran, “The Natural Way to Draw” is a wonderful book for a beginner that provides plenty of technical advice along with history, special techniques, and even drawing philosophies.
If you prefer to learn via online courses, there are plenty of options. A popular international online learning platform, “Domestika offers a plethora of inexpensive courses ranging from techniques to unlocking your creativity to beginner guides to drawing,” says Diaz.
You can find more beginner online drawing classes we recommend here.
5.) Focus on having fun and mastering the basics over being amazing at drawing right away.
One of the most important things in learning how to draw is your mindset. “Set aside the idea of trying to be an artist and focus on the basics of learning to draw,” says Haran.
Diaz has a similar philosophy, “I think a lot of people let fear of what others may think or of ‘not being good enough’ stop them, but as an artist, your focus should be on creating for you, creating what feels right to you.”