First Pencil Drawing Techniques to Master

First Pencil Drawing Techniques to Master
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Different pencil drawing techniques are used by artists either to sketch outlines or create drawings. Some of these graphite drawings end up rivaling the quality of black and white photographs. Oftentimes it takes more practice than talent to reach such a level of artistry. However, it all starts with a good understanding of the basics.

Pencil Grip: Pencil Drawing Techniques

The most popular pencil drawing techniques involve either a classic tripod or overhand grip. While there are many variations based on these two, they represent the foundation of pencil drawing. Mastering not one but both is essential if you want your drawings to show depth and realism.

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Tripod Grip

Also known as the writing grip, the tripod grip is almost instinctive from an early age. Using three fingers to guide the pencil on the canvas is a habit that most beginner artists have. It feels natural and offers a high degree of accuracy when drawing small details.

When it comes to drawing, the traditional tripod grip needs some adjusting. Holding the pen firmly close to the tip is not recommended. The range of motion is limited already which is why you need to pull back on the pencil. Try gripping the pencil somewhere below the half point.

It is usually not recommended to keep your hand on the canvas when drawing. However, there are pencil drawing techniques using the tripod grip that can benefit from resting your hand. These usually involve drawing short curved lines or accents that need more pencil pressure.

Overhand Grip

The overhand grip uses all five fingers to hold the pencil. When first starting out, this grip may feel uncomfortable. In time you will learn to exercise the same level of control as you have for the tripod grip.

Drawing on vertical sources usually requires the use of the overhand grip. There are a couple of ways you can position your fingers on the pencil to accomplish different goals. Resting your index finger on top of the pencil allows you to apply more pressure and draw thicker lines.

Keeping all fingers on the sides of the pencil allows you to create soft shadows without much effort. There are also a few hand and wrist motions you should master with the overhand grip. With enough exercise, the overhand grip will feel just as comfortable as using the writing method.


After learning about the different pencil grips and hand motions, every aspiring artist should learn the basics of drawing outlines. There are a few different pencil drawing techniques for drawing outlines, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

When attempting to recreate a 3D object it’s important to create an outline that is simple. This means it shouldn’t have details or hard lines. A soft pencil pressure is preferred and recommended if you want to have an easier time adding depth to the shape.

If you want to draw a face, especially as a beginner, you need a different approach. Simply starting with the outline of a circle is not enough. You should segment the face with horizontal lines. That will help you with the positioning of the hair, eyes, nose, and lips.


Edging is the transition between outlines and shadows. These types of pencil drawing techniques are used to add depth to a drawing. Edges and shadows go hand in hand to create a realistic 3D representation. Usually using the overhand grip gives you more control over blending outlines into edges.


Shading is among those pencil drawing techniques that seem so easy to master, from the outside. In reality, just wiggling the pencil on its side is more complicated than meets the eye. In order for your shading to have a positive effect on a drawing, you need to understand how lighting works.

The angle at which light strikes the subject of your drawing is what creates different shades. These will be represented based on the power of the light source. Soft shading is used for lighter areas and darker (hard) shading is used to represent dark areas.

How to practice

Practicing on your own is easy but sometimes not enough. You may lack the motivation to improve. You may also find yourself in need of extra guidance. When either of those situations applies, you could turn to an online course for assistance.

The Secrets to Drawing is a great course for amateur and aspiring artists. The video lessons offer step-by-step instructions and explanations of all pencil drawing techniques you need. You may be asking yourself how that is different from tons of other video tutorials.

Well, all modules come with videos and accompanying eBooks with detailed explanations and practice exercises. Before and after, illustrations are offered to students, so they can follow the instructor at their own pace. The course is designed to lay a strong foundation that students can use to evolve past the amateur level.

If you want to learn how to draw abstract, portraits or landscapes, this course is a great place to start. The lessons are designed to fuel your creativity. You will not only learn basic and advanced pencil drawing techniques but also to put your imagination on paper and make it come alive.

Our Top Pick For Drawing Tutorial

The Most Complete Drawing Course!

Learn More

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