Creative Drawing Techniques

Drawing is often relegated to the planning and sketching phase of a painting, where its charms are covered up with another artform. But it can be very rewarding in its own right.

There are a number of drawing techniques you can practice to improve your skills, but if you remember your school art classes, some of these can be a little boring. The creative part of practicing is engaging your imagination and making it fun for yourself.

Hatching and cross-hatching

The precise shading that hatching techniques produce are often used in pen/ink drawings like political cartoons and strip comics.

Hatching is the drawing of many parallel lines close together, while cross-hatching is overlaying one set of parallel hatching with a set in the opposite direction.

Choose a subject with plenty of shadow and practice these techniques by drawing only the dark areas using hatching lines of various distances about for light to medium shadows, and cross hatching for the very dark areas. Try to avoid drawing an outline so that you have to rely on translating the shadows that you see into a two-dimensional reproduction.


Pencil shading is more commonly used than hatching because far more tones can be produced by varying the softness and pressure of the pencil and the number of layers of shading. It is less precise than hatching and can be modified and manipulated more easily, and errors are easier to hide or erase.

Practice shading by choosing a subject with plenty of curves, and light it strongly from one side.

Negative space

Another useful perspective to practice is viewing and capturing a subject purely in terms of the background space around it.

Choose a subject such as a piece of furniture and place it against a contrasting wall. Block in the shapes of the wall where the items is “not”.

Different angles and perspectives

We can get too set in drawing a subject from the same angle. For example, choosing a cup to practice an elliptical shape and curved shading. How about turning the cup on its side or upside down?

Choose a view of an object that is not usual so that you’re drawing less from your brain’s set knowledge and understanding of that item and forcing yourself to study and draw what you see.

This article was first published on BellaOnline in March 2007. © Elsa Neal

For more help with your drawing technique, try

Pencil Drawing Techniques by David Lewis

Draw Naturally : How a New Way of Seeing Can Improve Your Drawing Skills by Allan Kraayvanger

Perspective Drawing by Kenneth W. Auvil