5 Basic Skills of Drawing

Hola, my fellow warlocks!👋 Today let’s talk about the 5 basic skills of drawing that are to be learned to become an artist. If you are like me, you would have never thought about the intricate techniques, theories or the actual how-to behind a good drawing. You just draw, try to recreate a beautiful painting you’ve seen somewhere or let your imagination run wild and create something of your own. It’s good. But to make our drawing experience better, let’s get into the rules and details of the required skills.

There are 5 basic skills of drawing which are as follows.

  • Perception of edges
  • Perception of spaces
  • Perception of relationships
  • Perception of lights and shadows
  • Perception of the whole or the Gestalt

Pure Contour Drawing

Before we get into the skills, it’s necessary to know what is pure contour drawing. It is nothing but the simplest form of linear expression. For example, take a look at this simple drawing.

Pure Contour Drawing

Here, to draw a fruit, simple and definitive lines are used. In simple words, pure contour drawing is linear drawing, that is, using clear and definitive lines or edges to draw without any shading techniques.

Perception of Edges

After we learn about the pure contour drawing, we can move on to the first basic skill in drawing that is, perception of edges. In the world of drawing, an edge is not just an outline of an object but also a shared boundary between two things. For example, take a look at this drawing.

Perception of edges

Here in this simple line drawing, the edge is the shared boundary between the boat and the surface of the water. Also the horizon line is also a shared boundary between the water and the sky. We don’t have to draw separate lines for these things. It is our understanding of this concept of shared boundary and drawing it and the exact way it is perceived by the viewers, is what it takes to master this skill.

Perception of Spaces

When I say spaces, it’s actually negative spaces. A positive space is the space taken up by the object that we are drawing. Negative space is the space surrounding and in between the space taken up by the object. In a way, the negative spaces are the ones that highlights and gives life to the actual drawing. Let’s take a look at an example.

Perception of spaces

In this example, the positive space is the space taken up by the furniture and negative space is everywhere else.

Perception of spaces

In this negative image, focus on the darker spots. Like an exercise, instead of drawing the chair, try drawing the negative, dark shapes. What you are doing here is, you are not trying to draw the chair but end up drawing a chair! Weird and confusing? Let me make it clear.

Let’s imagine a tougher drawing. For example a scenery in landscape.

Perception of Spaces

In this drawing, take a look at the sky. The negative space here is the sky. Instead of drawing clouds, I’ve shaded the sky black leaving out the clouds part. So in a way, I’ve drawn clouds by not drawing clouds! Sounds cool, right? Also, for the ocean, I’ve drawn random strokes here and there to depict tides. It’s the negative white space, that gives life to the ocean. It is this understanding and incorporating this concept, makes us master this skill which in turn elevates our simple art to an ‘art with capital A’!

Perception of Relationships

Ever seen an artist in a movie or any show, holding out a pencil or thumb in front of them to scale the object they are about to draw? It’s called sighting, a part of perceiving relationships.

Perception of relationships – Sighting

Let’s say you are standing in front of the Eiffel tower and want to draw it in your sketchbook. Now, what you need to figure out here is how to fit that hundreds of meters tall tower into a small paper and make it look convincing. This is where the sighting comes into play.

Perception of relationships – Sighting

Before you begin drawing this tower on your sketchbook, imagine you are looking through an imaginary camera. This is where you need to stop your brain from thinking too realistically, because obviously you can’t draw that tall tower into a paper of equal proportions! Instead to fit it in that tiny paper you’ve got, hold out your pencil or thumb to scale for proportions in length and width. Maintain the same distance between your eyes and thumb (or pencil) to ensure accuracy in the scale. In this case let’s say, the tower is one pencil height and one-third wide at the base.

Perception of relationships – Perspective

Take a look at this giant wheel. If we are standing perpendicular, that is at 90° angle, what we see is a perfect circle. But in this picture, from the point of view, it’s not actually a circle but oval. Note that as angle of view changes (imagine walking around the giant wheel in a circle), the shape we are supposed to draw too changes from circle to oval, then back to circle.

This perspective is very important because if we don’t pay attention to the angle of view, our drawing is a disaster. We can never make convincing drawings ever. It needs practice and imagination because, when we think of an object to draw, our brain automatically brings forward and fixes the default shape of it. (In this case, a wheel which is ‘always supposed to be circle’.) This is where our imaginary camera comes into play again. Imagine you are looking through a camera and with a little practice, it’s a piece of cake!

Perception of Light and Shadow

This is another important topic to be concentrated in drawing. It sounds simple but it’s got the power to make or break a drawing. If your drawing doesn’t look convincing enough, lights and shadows might play a big part in it. Read on to know what it’s all about and how to get it right every single time.

Perception of light and shadow

Let’s look at an example, like these beautiful pumpkins here. Apparently, the light source is at the top left corner. Half of the pumpkins are brighter and the other half in the right side are at a darker tone.

There are two types of shadows : form shadow and cast shadow. The form shadow part is the darker half, that is the half facing away from the light source. The cast shadow is the shadow that is cast on the ground by the object itself.

Perception of light and shadow

In this landscape scenery, I’ve chosen the light source to be at the top right corner. Hence the right side of the house is white, while the left side of the house is darker because of the concept of form shadow. Simply to remember, while drawing every object in a scenery, we need to remember the position of light source and imagine how the shadows will be cast and which portion of the object will be darker.

Perception of the Whole or the Gestalt

The fifth basic skill – the Gestalt is very interesting, fascinating and huge topic. (May be in future I’ll make a detailed post about it.) Gestalt is a German word (pronounced in English as Gesh-tult), meaning unified-whole. It simply means how we perceive a whole drawing or art, the final impact it creates on us.

Our brain is a thing to be marveled about! When we see a group of separate objects, our brain immediately focuses on finding similarity or continuity between them, perceiving it as a whole and understanding the meaning of it. It’s almost as fast as a reflex action.

Perception of the whole/Gestalt

Let’s take a look at this drawing for example. I have drawn dead/dry branches in a way that as a whole what is seen is a human face. This is similarity/closure. It doesn’t have to be a perfect human face for our brain to perceive it. But of course, I can’t draw those branches randomly and expect everyone to see a human face! That’d be ridiculous!😄 There is a grey area between the two ends and that’s where you can dabble and create beautiful art!

There are five laws of gestalt: similarity, continuity, proximity, closure and periodicity, which I’ll talk about in detail in future posts.

So, these are the five basic skills that every artist should remember. It might look simple but it gets as complex as our drawing is. It might look intimidating to the beginners but all it takes is keeping in mind these things while drawing and after a little practice, it will come naturally!

Thank you for visiting! Here’s a few more interesting topics to check out.👇 If you’ve liked it, do share it with the world!💜 Regards, the Art Warlock.

Sketchbook Tour

So… Sketchbook tours are one thing that’s so cool and fascinating. It is colorful, it is creative and what’s not to love? I’ve seen, been inspired by so many art journals and sketchbooks, that I wanted to try and do one as well.

This drawing happened when I was inspired by zentangle art and so wanted to try it. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Zentangle

Who doesn’t love nature? This drawing was inspired by the beautiful and vibrant cherry blossoms. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Cherry blossom scenery

I thought of mixing abstract art and doodling, and this happened.👇

Sketchbook tour | Abstract art and Doodling

That one time when I had to try Scribble Art so much.👇

Sketchbook tour | Scribble Art

When I was inspired by Abstract Art, while looking for references. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Abstract art

I wanted to try different techniques in drawing trees and the sketch turned out like this.👇

Sketchbook tour | Scenery drawing

Have you ever experienced an irresistible craving for artworks in the form of movies that are a masterpiece? I wanted to watch Harry Potter for the millionth time but ended up drawing Diagon Alley.👇

Sketchbook tour | Diagon Alley

This one, obviously is for the festive times.👇

Sketchbook tour | Christmas Eve

This one happened when I tried another way of drawing trees and bushes and learned a bit about lights and shadows too.👇

Sketchbook tour | Tree drawing

This drawing is when I was so in love with the Illustration art , I had to try one. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Illustration art

I tried yet another illustration art with a short story called Freedom.

Sketchbook tour | Freedom

Silhouette art is so fascinating and will always be an evergreen love for me.👇

Sketchbook tour | Silhouette girl art

Nothing beats a good doodling day. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, and in short, it’s inner peace for me. No wonder why I’m obsessed with it. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Doodling flowers

I wanted to try drawing a realistic looking subject. It’s nowhere close but I hope it’s a decent one.👇

Sketchbook tour | Hibiscus

I wanted to talk about drawing in One point perspective and here is the sketch for it.👇

Sketchbook tour | One Point Perspective

This drawing happened when I wanted to talk about drawing in Two point perspective. 👇

Sketchbook tour | Two point perspective

I wanted to try random, leisure doodling with marker pens and here is how it turned out.👇

Sketchbook tour | Doodling with marker pens

Everything you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

So… I’d love to know which one of my sketches caught your eye? Here is few of my other posts if you’d like to read more. 👇 Regards, your fellow Art Warlock.

9 Simple Ways To Get Out Of an Art Block

So… Have you ever had an art block or precisely creative block? It’s as real as a writer’s block; it gets all creators alike. What is an Art Block? Sometimes, we have no problem, the drawing just flows like a river and fills up our sketchbook or canvas and sometimes the river is all dried up. It might sound daunting but it’s actually easier to get out of it than we think.

Take A Break

I know, it might sound silly, but it really works wonders. Take a day or two. Get out of the house, meet some friends, go shopping or anything you like do to relax on a holiday. Anything other than thinking about drawing should work.

Do Not Wait

What?! This is in contrast to the above point! I can hear your mind.😊 But hear me out. ‘Good things come to those who wait’, they say. It works fine for a pizza delivery but not here. Take a break for few days but not too much. Get that sketchbook out and draw something. Anything. It’s okay if it looks bad. Just fill that page with whatever comes to your mind and there’s a high chance you will get an idea of what you want to draw next and how to draw it. Musings and inspirations cannot be forced but you can put yourself in situations where you can find them.

Get Shopping

Try out a new art supply. Yes. All that excitement of wanting to try out that new art supply should get your creative juices flowing.

Try New Art

Trying something new is always exciting. So go out of your comfort zone and try something that you’ve never did before. For example, if acrylics is your thing, you could try drawing comics for fun. Anything that piques your interest.

Do Not Pressure Yourself

You may be professional artist, budding artist or a hobby artist like me. But it never turns out good if you pressure yourself. I believe whatever level of artist you are, the process of creating the art should be enjoyed. As much as you enjoy it, it will be reflected in the result. No rush and no pressure. Love the process and enjoy it.

Brainstorm Ideas

Get a journal and list out everything you’ve ever wished to draw. It might be a cup, a bird, refrigerator, it doesn’t matter how simple the subject is. Write it all down. Next try writing down some scenarios that you want to draw. For example, a girl in a wheat field; a kid in a swing. This will surely jump start your creativity.

Look For Prompts

Ask a friend or family to suggest you some drawing prompts. Start from there and take it in the direction as you feel like. You could even look for prompts in online art forums or groups, participate in art challenges or contests.

Take A Walk

Go out for a walk in a nearby by park or any scenic area and just look around. Art is everywhere literally if you’ve got the eyes for it and anything can be your muse. It can be two people sitting by the tree, a small lake with fountain, kids playing around swings and those tiny rides and so on. If drawing people is not your thing, you could take some good scenic pictures and that should work. You can even try drawing what you are looking. Sit in your room and draw the view in front of you. Or step out the balcony or look through a window and try drawing the beautiful view.

Take References

Yes. It’s by far the best idea to beat the art block. Google your favorite artists, look for ideas in pinterest or whatever works for you. Browse for artworks, wallpapers of your preferred genre and give your creativity a good nudge.

I was kind of feeling stuck too and could not think of anything to draw for a few days. Then I remembered I came across a good picture in pinterest a while ago which I used now. I added some random flowers and colors as an addition to the reference.

Beat Art Block

After inking and coloring

Beat Art Block


Art block or Creative block might feel like ‘the end of your art journey’. But it doesn’t last much longer. Think of it like your subconscious and brain taking a short breather. Usually it goes away after a short time. Or it only takes a few simple steps to get out of it and get you back to creating beautiful art again.

Hope you enjoyed reading. Thank you for visiting! See you soon. Until then, toodles from your fellow Art Warlock.💜