Drawing for the Absolute Beginner

Check back soon to see when this course will be offered again.Click here to see a list of currently available courses.

SampleartSMALL-70x701Do you want to learn principles of good drawing to kick-start (or refresh) your drawing skills? If you’re a beginner or more experienced artist looking to enhance your drawing skills, then our “Drawing for the Absolute Beginner” online drawing course is for you! The course assignments now allow more freedom of creativity and have greater focus on drawing from life. This drawing for beginners course will show you that drawing in a realistic style is easier and more fun than you ever imagined. The course assignments, based on Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark & Mary Willenbrink, and professional guidance from Colin Berry will guide you in practicing everything from how to hold your pencil, to using basic shapes, to working with value.

Start Date:

April 30, 2013



Course Materials:

Workshop Length:

4 weeks


Colin Berry (bio)

View Course Schedule


What You’ll Learn

  • Beginning drawing lessons and drawing exercises for beginners, including:
    • Sketching basics including how to use common drawing supplies and how to execute proven drawing techniques
    • How to indicate shape with value and light
    • How to construct accurate proportions
    • What the key elements of composition are and how to apply them to your own work

    Who should take this workshop:

    • Beginning drawing lessons and drawing exercises for beginners, including:
      • Those who wish to learn beginner drawing
      • Experienced artists who want to refresh their drawing skills


      • 4H, HB and 4B graphite pencils
      • 8B graphite, carbon or charcoal pencil
      • Pencil sharpener
      • 11″ x 14″ (28cm x 36cm) medium-tooth, acid-free, 80- to 90-lb. (130gsm–190gsm) drawing paper
      • Drawing board
      • Kneaded eraser
      • Vinyl eraser
      • Straight edge or triangle
      • Additional supplies and tools, as desired (see pages 7–13 in your textbook)


      Course Syllabus

      Lesson 1: Sketching and Drawing: Exploring Techniques

  • Introduction to basic tools and supplies
  • Holding the pencil to get different results
  • Getting comfortable with different types of sketches

Assignment: Before, during, or after you work on your assignment, practice creating different types of lines (page 15)

Submit the following exercises for feedback:

  • “Structural Sketch of a Coffee Cup” (page 17)
  • “Value Sketch of a Coffee Cup” (page 19)
  • “Chiaroscurao Coffee Cup” (page 21)
  • “Contour Sketch of a Coffee Cup” (page 23)

Lesson 2: Principles of Good Drawing: Basic Shapes and Linear Perspective

Read and study the following:

  • Study the techniques on pages 28-31
  • Read the section on perspective, pages 32-45
  • Using basic shapes

Study the “Using Basic Shapes” example on page 27 and apply the idea to a simple still life of 3 objects you select from around the house. Make an interesting arrangement with your objects. Try and select at least one complex (made up of more than one simple shape) form in your arrangement. Start lightly with your basic shapes and proceed as in the demo on page 27. Submit your finished drawing.

Lesson 3: Values: Lights, Darks, Contrast, and Shadows

  • Understanding contrast
  • Suggesting values
  • Light effects
  • Plotting shadows

Before you work on your assignment, do the exercise “Making a Value Scale” (page 50) and experiment with creating values using different line strokes and pencil grades (page 51).

Submit the following for feedback:
Do a drawing of your own apple from life, as the “Light Effects” apple(page 52). Light your apple from the upper left or right front for best results. Observe the elements of light as they happen on your apple and draw what you see. Also use the information on the Elements of Light: http://www.paintdrawpaint.com/2010/07/basics-of-drawing-form-elements-of.html

Lesson 4: Let’s Draw

  • Arranging elements
  • Composition basics

Submit one of the following –

Set up something similar to one of the examples in the book on pages 92-95, but work from life. Use either apples/bananas, or a watering can and surrounding elements. Set up a good light from the side/front. Start the whole drawing in two values, leave the lights the white of the paper, put down an average hatched value for your darks without modulations. Then from there observe and develop the values as they appear. Do thumbnail sketches to help you as necessary.

Comments are closed.