How to Draw


Discover a wide selection of Fake watches luxury watches including Submariner, Datejust, Explorer, replica watches and more!

Category: Tools

About Buying Sketchbooks

Are you the sort of person who feels like you need to go get something – buy something – before you can begin a new undertaking? For instance, do you feel a strong need to go buy a sketchbook before you can start drawing?

Me too.

And I did buy a new sketchbook when I started drawing in earnest. The totally amazing thing, the thing that stumps me every time I think about it: I actually filled it. About ten days ago. I went through a whole, think sketchbook in less than a month.

That’s pretty unusual for me… to start something and actually follow through like that. But this time it happened.

Back to buying sketchbooks. I went to the local art store (support your local businesses!) and spent half an hour flipping through and touching all their sketchbooks. They have nearly a hundred different kinds. I really wanted to touch them first, though it was tempting to just get something from Amazon fast.

I found a nice, square sketchbook that was about 10 inches square. It was thick, and had a really sturdy cardboard back cover, so I could hold it on my lap and draw and not worry about it bending. It was not a spiral binding, but a glue binding.

It worked really well. It cost me about $14.

I got a bit stressed while I was using up the last pages. Especially when I had just finished drawing FIVE WHOLE PAGES of bad cats (the drawings were bad… not the cats), and nothing came out really well. A lot of the drawing tutorials I do seem to require enormous amounts of paper. And just when I’ve been reading about how the Sumatra tiger is critically endangered because its forests are being cut down by paper companies…

I bought a new sketchbook on Amazon. Its an 8.5 x 11 size “Sketchbook” by Sterling (whoever they are). Its got very sturdy, heavy covers on front and back, and 176 sheets. That’s an important thing to check when you’re buying sketchbooks – how many sheets.

Its a good sketchpad, but the paper is still thin enough that if I press down hard when I’m drawing, the pencil impressions show through on the next page. And it does not take watercolor, which is something I used to be really, really interested in, and am getting interested in again now. (I am now coveting watercolor and drawing sketchbooks) The new sketchbook is good, but the spiral wire “binding” is not so hot for scanning my drawings, and I scan almost all of my drawings.

There is another, smaller, sketchbook that I have not used yet. Its blue, and about five by eight inches. Its a landscape or “reporter” binding depending on how you hold it, which means that the bound side is one of the short edges, not like a standard book shape where one of the long sides is bound. I got it to be able to draw when I’m out and about. I just keep forgetting to put it in my truck so I have it when I’m out and about. Hopefully, that’s embarrassing enough that I will now remember…

Anyway, I like this little travel sketchbook, but the shape bothers me a little. I wish it was even one, preferably two inches wider. Just five inches seems really skinny. It is made by “Hand Book”. I don’t know much of them, but though this is well made, Hand Books are clearly Moleskine knockoffs.

Sketchbooks that never get used because they just don’t feel right… kind of like nice clothes that never get worn.

What am I drawing on now, mostly? Printer paper. Standard, multi-use recycled paper. The kind you can buy for $3 for 500 sheets, and for even less if you buy a box at a time.

I like this paper a lot, because it does not feel so precious. I hate the anxiety that comes from “you better not mess this drawing up… this is expensive paper” and I’m so broke right now that even paper has to be cheap.

What is the printer paper like to draw on as opposed to proper sketchpad paper? Well, its thinner, for starters. But if you draw on a little stack of it, you won’t notice the difference much. You will also definitely need to use only one side of the paper, but I find that to be true even of the highest quality drawing papers. Again, I scan my drawings, and anything on the other side of the paper typically shows through in the scan. I can usually sift the shadow drawing out with Photoshop, but sometimes it does not work, and its just generally a pain.

The biggest difference with printer paper is that it is so smooth. Higher quality drawing paper is just a big rougher. This has yet to effect my drawing, but I’m not a pro.

I’ve noticed that I do draw more with cheap… ahem, inexpensive paper. There’s less pressure, and I don’t draw well under pressure. And I’m happier because I don’t have to worry about finding the money for $30 or more a month of sketchbooks. Right now, $30 is half to a third of a day’s pay. And I’d rather be drawing on cheap printer paper than having to work another 3 to 5 hours to afford a new sketchbook twice a month.

Eraser Drawing Techniques

Many people think of the pencil as the one and only drawing tool. The poor eraser gets pushed aside as something that only gets used after you’ve made a mistake. But that’s a wrong approach to take – your eraser can do a lot more than just cover up the bad lines of your drawing. In special conditions, it can actually become even more useful than your pencil.

So take that eraser out of your pocket and start using it. Here are the three best eraser drawing techniques.

1) For highlighting

If you plan your drawings very, very carefully, you can leave small sections of the paper blank in order to show highlights. This is nearly impossible to do without doing several practice drawings of your subject beforehand, but as you gain more confidence in your drawing skills, you will begin to be able to leave blank sections. Until then, your eraser is an excellent tool for creating highlights.

2) For blending

This works best if your eraser has a dull edge, but even an eraser with a sharp edge can be a great blending tool. Ever noticed that erasers don’t typically create a hard line when they take away pencil lead? Used judiciously, that smudging can work in your favor.

Depending on what kind of eraser you have, the pencil lead you’ve been drawing in and the kind of paper you have, you eraser’s blending ability will change. You can control it by how hard you press down when you make the dabbing motion used to erase.

You can also get interesting effects by the movements you make as you erase – I once got a beautiful texture for a bird’s wing by making light, feather shaped strokes with my eraser. It was the perfect way to create a feeling of motion, while still preserving a lot of the details of the feathers themselves that I had drawn (too bad I lost the drawing!). So try out using erasers to blend shadows, and to blend textures as well.

You can also use your eraser like it was a brush. Rub your pencil on some scrap paper to “load” the paper with lead (kind of like you would load a brush before you paint), and then rub your eraser into the lead “pool”. You now have an interesting tool for blending and making marks that your pencil could never make.

You can also use this “lead pool” trick by rubbing your finger in the lead. This will give you wide, soft strokes. An eraser will typically give you thinner, more accurate strokes than your finger will. Just be careful to keep loading the eraser with lead, or you’ll go from blending to erasing when you don’t want to.

3) For negative space drawings (aka eraser drawings)

If you make a large square and lightly fill it with an even shade (or an uneven shade, if you want to get more complex), you will have a black background. This is when it becomes possible to draw with an eraser. These sorts of drawings are also called “negative space” drawings, and they are typically what people are talking about when they refer to an “eraser drawing”.

Silhouettes are nice as negative space drawings. So are nudes – you can create an almost draping quality to the light and the shadows that is very reminiscent of the draping cloth used to cover certain parts of human models.

What you do for the background can be interesting, too. The classic thing to do is to have it be a flat black background, but nobody will stop you if you decide to try out a background of crosshatches or any other pattern.

How to sharpen an eraser

One of the biggest problems of working with an eraser is how soft they are. It is a very different feel than working with a pencil. If you press down too hard with an eraser, or if you make your stroke in the wrong direction, it is quite easy to break the eraser in half.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way around this. You just cut the eraser so it has a good edge to work with. You can do this with a knife, but even a sharp pair of scissors will work. Just make sure the eraser is flat on a surface before you start cutting, otherwise you might get to add some red to your black and white drawing.

All this cutting is going to mean that you go through your erasers faster than before, but you did buy the erasers to use them, right? If you really like the technique and find yourself doing a lot of eraser work, just look into buying a whole box of erasers at a time. They are much cheaper when you buy them in packs.

There is one other way to use an eraser, and it might give you a bit more control. You basically stencil with your eraser. In other words, find a thin, sturdy edge that you can put on your drawing paper (like a stiff business card, or anything laminated). You can use that edge to create a nice sharp edge between what’s been erased and what has not been erased.

Dilutants, Driers, Varnishes

A dilutant is a liquid which will thin down your paint so
as to make it easier to handle. Most common is turpentine, but gasoline, so long as it is purified, can be used.

You can dilute your color with oil, but this not only tends to make the paint greasy, it can also make the paint wrinkle and crack. When using turps to dilute your paint, it is a good idea to add a few drops of oil into it to allow for any breaking down of the binder. If too much turps is used to paint with, the paint could become powdery and flake off.


Driers to speed up the drying rate of the paint and so allow for quicker working, are usually made from varnishes and, as in the so-called McGuilp medium, varnish and linseed oil boiled with lead. The varnishes that can be used with paint are mastic, copal and dammer. Varnishes are also used to touch up a picture if it has gone dead or matt and for overworking. This type of varnish is known as a retouching varnish and is perfectly safe to use so long as you retouch when the paint is dry. It can then be worked over with fresh paint.

Mastic, copal and dammer are used as a final varnish over the painting when the painting is absolutely dry to protect the completed painting from dust and damp, etc. Salesmen will advise you on how to choose a varnish for final varnishing and directions are always given on the bottle. If you are doubtful about using them, there are some good synthetic varnishes to be bought which are foolproof to handle. Winsor & Newton’s ‘Winton Varnish’ and Rowney’s No. 88, clear picture varnish, are two of these.

The addition of a drier or a varnish to your paint is a matter of personal taste. A medium like McGuilp, or its modified, manufactured counterpart Maroger Medium, helps to facilitate the drying of the paint and gives it a nice buttery consistency which is delightful to handle.

An excellent medium is compounded with half oil (pale drying oil as it is termed on the art store’s lists) and half mastic. This forms a jelly which, when agitated, becomes liquid enough to add to the paint. For further information about this medium, see Maroger’s The Secrets of the Old Masters. Authorities disagree about the durability of using driers with the paint. But for a beginner, I would go so far as to recommend using a drier as this will help him overcome the initial difficulties encountered with a slow drying paint.

If you do not get on with them, you can return to using just the paint with turps. But don’t be afraid of experimenting with them. It all adds to the excitement of painting and will help you to get the most enjoyment out of it.

Oil Painting Canvas and Brushes

Canvases are usually flax or cotton/flax yarns, stretched over a wooden stretcher and kept taut by knocking small triangular pegs at the back into the corners where there is room made for them. They are best bought, as preparing and stretching your own canvas is a rather tricky operation for a beginner.

Canvas is delightful to work on. It can be bought with a fine or rough grain. And the movement of the canvas as you paint on it springs nicely to the brush. You can scrape wet paint off with interesting effect. They come in sizes ranging from 7 in. X 5 in. to 40 in. X 50 in. and even larger if specially ordered.

However, I do not recommend canvas until you have acquired a little experience with paper and hardboard. You won’t regret it and it will be something to look forward to.


The brushes artists commonly use in oil painting are made of hog’s hair. They are harder and have more spring and toughness than the brushes used with watercolor. There are four shapes to choose from: flat, round, filbert and brights (Fig. 30). As you will see from the illustration, each type of brush will make a different mark. To begin with I would recommend the flat only. Number 4 and number 6 would do for a start, say two of each until you have had a little experience in handling them. Then you may like to try the brights. The square top of the brush would make a good contrast in brushmark to the flats. I suggest a 5 and 7 for this.

As with most aspects of painting, experience and experiment will help you find the brushes which suit you best. And it is a good idea to tryout all the shapes, eventually, adding one new shape of brush to your collection as you progress. It is not necessary to buy all the shapes at once. The fewer your brushes the easier it is to cope with the problems of painting. Similarly with colors, the simpler the palette the easier it is to cope with it. I follow this rule and find it perfectly satisfactory. Using few sizes and shapes of brushes, my only indulgence is to use oil sable brushes for fine work.

Sable brushes are excellent to use with oil paint but they must be handled very carefully and, if used with the same vigor as hog’s hair brushes, wear out very rapidly. As they are comparatively far more expensive than hog they must be used only in the final stages of painting.

Brushes must be thoroughly cleaned after use. If not, they will become hard or spoil their shape and ruin color when used again. The simplest way to clean a brush is first to rinse it out well in turpentine or turpentine substitute, dry it on a rag and then wash it in warm water and soap. It must then be thoroughly rinsed and dried. Do not use detergents as this does not clean the paint out well.

Dippers and Easels

A dipper is merely a container to attach to your palette to hold turps or oil or drier to add to your paint. If you find them impractical to use, I suggest you keep your dilutants in jars or pots. This is more practical by far than keeping them in dippers.

You will always need plenty of turps for cleaning brushes and the wider the neck of the container the easier it is to do your work. Also when the jars get dirty it is an easy matter to throw them away and start afresh with a new jar, whereas if you use a dipper you will be constantly cleaning them after use. If you don’t they will foul up and be useless.

Jars also have the advantage of being cheap and if they possess a lid you can always put it back on after use and so preserve whatever dilutant or drier you have left.

Turps is used for cleaning brushes and for diluting paint and you will probably use plenty of it. For practical purposes it is better to have two containers of turps; one for cleaning and the other for diluting. In this way your diluting turps will stay cleaner longer.


The best and cheapest easel for oil painting is the type known as the radial easel and costs about $50 to $100 at an artists’ supplier. They can take the smallest or the largest canvas, are very strong, move into any position backward or forward and are ideally suited for painting. However, an ordinary folding sketching easel will do just as well as long as you don’t use too large a canvas (Fig. 29). The greatest fault with a poorly made sketching easel is that it wobbles. If it does, it can make painting in oils very trying.

Failing a bought or home-made easel, you can always prop up your canvas on a chair with your palette in front of it and sit to paint. Or, if you want to stand, prop it up on a mantelpiece. The disadvantage here is that it is better to tilt your canvas forward slightly for oil painting, as this shields the light and stops the paint shining.