How to Teach Yourself to Draw

by Pam Gaulin

There is no magic formula for learning how to draw. This is a skill that takes practice and discipline. Devote some time each day to drawing. Carry a small sketchbook and pencil with you wherever you go. Take free moments to sketch the world around you, from a bottle cap on the ground to the tea cup on your table. Each object offers a drawing lesson for the self-taught artist.

Research drawing books at the local library or bookstore. Find a book which focuses on learning to draw on your own and drawing for beginners. Borrow or buy the book and take it home.

Re-train your eyes to start seeing objects like an artist. This entails paying particular attention to the shape, contours, shading, colors and texture. Start by finding a black and white illustration or simple line art. Turn the image upside down. Draw what you see. This will help train you to see lines, spaces and shapes, not people, chairs and objects.

Exercise your hand-eye coordination by drawing a self-portrait. Sit in front of a mirror with a sketch pad and piece of paper. Without looking at the paper, draw yourself. Do not lift the pencil from the paper. Again, this will teach you how to see objects and lines as they really exist. Seeing the world as it is helps you learn how to draw. Perform this exercise repeatedly over time to gauge your improvement.

Experiment with different drawing mediums. Use a charcoal pencil or charcoal stick. While it's not as expressive as color, it will help you learn shading and contouring. Sketch with pastels one day. This will add an extra dimension to your work. Draw cartoon or comic style figures. Challenge yourself to observe human features and then exaggerate them for a cartoon affect. Experiencing different drawing mediums can help you learn about lightness and darkness, and about how to manipulate the drawing instruments to achieve the effects you seek.

Practice drawing every day. The only way to learn how to draw is to actually sit down and practice it whenever you can. Make it a priority in your life.

Items you will need

  • Pencils
  • Drawing paper
  • Erasers
  • Small sketchbook
  • Mirror
  • Charcoal
  • Pastels


  • Start by sketching simple objects before moving on to more complex ones.
  • Try tracing over preexisting sketches that were well executed to give yourself a feel for how the lines are constructed.
  • Research free online courses that offer specifics on how to draw in a given style.

About the Author

Pam Gaulin is a content specialist and copy writer whose clients have included Reebok,, Walmart, Butterfinger, Ball Park Franks, Modern Mom, McCormikc, Equifax, Transuion, Walmart, and many other notable brands. Her previous positions include editor of "Web Site Source Book," project leader for a K-12 database, business writer for a newsletter publisher and Happenings editor for "The Valley Advocate." Gaulin holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Massachusetts.