Don't be a good artist! Be a better one...

I often get questions like How i draw? OR Could you help me with some tips/suggestions on sketching. So here it is! Truly becoming a good artist takes more than just raw skill and talent. Hard work and developing an individual style are at the heart of being a good artist. The nice thing about art is that it is much easier to deal with mistakes. In life there are consequences. In art, you just cover it up.

I have long been aware how blind I get to my own work. My brain-eye coordination seems to get stale after a few hours working, and I begin to rely on intention rather than invention. Other artists tell me they have the same problem.

Find someone with a good eye who can and will tell you if your work is working. It may be painful, but if you are serious about making art you are a masochist already. There are too many artists, too many dealers, and too much art. If plumbing was as popular as art, we would have amateur plumbers running around in stained clothing, brandishing plungers and roto-rooters, climbing in and out of sewers, and writing gibberish about pipe systems. And none of our toilets would work!!

Making art is trial and error. You have to get comfortable making mistakes, because you will make mistakes. The trick is to know which ones to keep.

Below are few pointers i always have at the back of my mind when I am asked for a bit of help.

The Basics- tone, depth, and values Paper-

Paper isn't always made of wood pulp. More expensive drawing paper is made of woven fibers of cotton or linen, which holds different media better. Hot press paper is much more smooth, which allows for a lot more detail and softer rendering. Cold press paper is more rough, which is better for holding darker tones and more graphite.Paper also comes in different weights. Any paper rated 90 lbs. or higher is considered heavy paper and is more durable, withstanding heavier erasing and a more finalized drawing. Any paper under 90 lbs. is noticeably lighter, and should be used for rough drafts and sketches. Most paper is acid free, and acid free archival paper will never yellow, lasting virtually forever. I use 100 lb. paper with a vellum finish, which means that it is smooth enough to allow for small details, but is tolerant enough to handle darker tones.  


Outlines NEVER occur naturally and should never appear in your work. Different shapes and objects are always defined by the contrast of different tones, never by a solid black outline. This reduces depth, essentially flattening your drawing. Even if the background of your drawing is white and an equally white highlight touches it, let them fade into each other. 

Achieving darker values-

Paper is never smooth. It has many grooves called teeth that capture and hold the graphite as you draw. If you are drawing with an ordinary #2 pencil, you will have to press harder to get a dark tone. This flattens the teeth of the paper, leaving a shiny glare and ruining a picture. Professional Drawing Pencils come in different densities, ranging anywhere from 6H-H(hard lead), HB, and B-8B (soft lead). Hard leads will create a very very light stroke, will Softer leads will be much darker. By gently layering different pencils you will create a much deeper tone than with an ordinary pencil, reducing glare and not ruining your drawing. 

Contrast and Depth-

There are countless artists that show so much potential to be great, but fail to achieve any sense of depth and realism because they limit their scale of values. Don't fall victim to this, because no matter how much detail you can create, your drawings will always look flat without contrast. This means that the darkest parts of your drawing should be as dark as you can get them without damaging paper. Confidence is key, because many times people will be afraid to go 'too dark' and ruin the picture. Don't be. As long as you have a broad scale of values you will instantly notice an improvement in your work.

I will be writing alot more of what I know! Till then, work hard and keep that head high because there's nothing greater than an artist's imagination.


Eric Dsouza