Knowing how to draw — traditional drawing or using graphics software — is a valuable skill. You don't have to be a trained artist. You don't have to have loads of natural talent. Being able to draw pictures, even at a basic level, can enhance your personal and professional design projects.
updated March 2011
For a bit of fun diversion, let's learn how to draw! Sure, clip art is abundant but what if you want or need something just a bit more original? Even if you can't draw a straight line you can doodle — and with a bit of refinement you can turn those doodles into cute cartoons and fun illustrations for your newsletters, fliers, greeting cards, or Web pages. These tutorials focus on both drawing on paper and drawing on the computer. And, you can take the lessons on paper and translate them to your graphics software if that's your preferred drawing method.
Doodling with a PurposeYou can turn the most basic shapes and squiggles into something worthy of display. In her book How to Draw a Radish and other fun things to do at work , Joy Sikorski teaches you how to draw food, animals, and objects that are fun, whimsical, and actually look like what you intended. Joy has other similiar, fun books for grown-ups such as How to Draw a Cup of Coffee and How to Draw a Clam.
Start with an egg shape... Draw a cute little hedgehog. Then begin with a semicircle, a triangle, and a few more simple shapes you, too, can draw an armadillo. Make a circle and end up with a realistic or comical bear face. Jan Brett supplies simple instructions for using basic geometric shapes as the starting point for animal sketches.
You can use the tools in your graphics software to create basic shapes such as circle and squares then use the many line style options or brushes to apply a wide variety of different looks to those basic shapes.
How to Draw on a GridMove beyond doodling and try your hand at more structured, symmetrical designs. Celtic knots are both beautiful and a good drawing exercise. Learn to work within a grid to create these sometimes intricate drawings. Although the grids you work with in desktop publishing are generally rectangular, these tutorials offer lessons in balance.
- 2 Ways to Draw Celtic Knotwork - a side-by-side comparison of using a grid on paper and using a special font on the computer (Celtic knot font is available for purchase from the site)
- How to Draw Celtic Knots - shows how to draw them by hand using little squares
- How to Draw Using a Grid - this About.com Drawing/Sketching tutorial shows how to use a grid for any type of drawing.
Many graphics programs have an optional non-printing grid that you can turn on. It's not usually the default so check the menus in your software. You can use this grid just as you would use graph paper.
How to Draw Funny PeopleIf your attempts at drawing people or animals lack a certain 'realism' consider cartoon characters. Step by step, illustrated drawing lessons from the Chunky Monkey Fan Club and About.com Drawing / Sketching show you how.
- How to Draw Chunky Monkey - start with a pear shape... Sure, it's written for kids but if you're a kid at heart you'll have fun too.
- Draw Cartoon Faces - start with a basic shape then customize for different characters.
- How to Draw a Cute Boy, Girl, or Animal - it's the cute character 'archetype'.
- Learn How to Draw Anime and Manga
Having trouble even with simple cartoons? Try learning how to draw stick figures first. It may be all you need to get your point across in your graphics projects.
How to Draw Holiday PicturesDress up your greeting cards, party invitations, and other holiday projects with cartoons and other pictures you draw yourself. These tutorials include how to draw using graphics software as well as paper drawing.
- Draw a Heart - you can draw this arrow-pierced heart with even the most basic graphics software.
- Draw a Manga Valentine - Maybe not for beginners but still a fairly simple sketch.
- How to Draw Interlocking Hearts - using Adobe Illustrator.
- How to Draw Leprechauns - explore various traditional and computer-drawing tutorials in these St. Patrick's Day graphics pages.
- Draw a Halloween Ghost - I took this same ghost and drew him in graphics software to produce this Happy Ghost Halloween Card
- Draw a Christmas Tree - has lots of tutorials for different software.
- How to Draw a Cartoon Santa - start with big and little circle.
- Create a Holly Wreath - Basic drawing with Adobe Illustrator.
More Drawing TutorialsThese additional drawing tutorials are compilations posted in the Desktop Publishing blog since the time this article was originally written. These may include links to traditional drawing tutorials as well as computer drawing tutorials.
Dig Deeper Into Learning How to Draw
- Learn to Draw using pen, pencil, and other traditional art media.
- Learn to Use Graphics Software offers tips on how to get up and running with any kind of graphics software.
- Learn the Basics of Graphics Software includes how-to tutorials for drawing in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, CorelDRAW, and other programs.
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