Drawing takes a lot of time, but it teaches you to be aware of form, proportion, and even color. This is especially true when it comes to pencil sketching – in fact, it’s the first skill you develop when you’re learning.

Here are five tips you can use to improve your sketches:

  1. Hold the pencil properly

Even if you have the best pencils in the world, they’re useless if you don’t know how to hold them correctly.

There are two basic grips for holding your pencil:

  • Tripod – Grip the pencil the same way you would when writing: using your thumb, index, and middle finger. This is useful for detailing small parts of a bigger sketch, and is best used for a smaller sized sketchbook.
  • Overhand – Pick up the pencil using your thumb and all four fingers. All four fingers should be gripping one side while the thumb grips the opposite, and this lets you use the side of the lead instead of just the tip.
  • Mix up shading techniques

Whether you use cross-hatching or patches for your shadows, you can add depth and texture by mixing them up and keep your subject in perspective. This technique is particularly great for backgrounds, but it works on still life and portraits as well.

  • Know when to finish your sketch

You can always overdo your sketches by tinkering with them even after signing your name on them, especially if you look hard enough. This can result with you obsessing to the point where you make too many changes and your original sketch will be significantly changed.

  • Lines aren’t always lines

You’ll almost never see actual lines in the real world in the same way you do in art. In fact, you only see the illusion of them since light contrasts with shadows all the time, creating what looks like lines.

Instead of using lines, your sketches will improve better when you emphasize on adding shading to your subject and background. Keep your light source in mind when doing this.

  • Draw from real life

The best way for you to improve your sketching is to find real-life sources, whether it’s objects, people, or even buildings. You should also allow your hand to wander off and make the occasional mistake – even stray lines can sometimes lead to amazing sketches.

This also includes taking your sketchbook with you and drawing where you can. After all, there’s no better reference like the outside world.

At the end of the day, sketching is something to savor. Whether it’s a quick sketch or a long one, the most important thing is that enjoy what you do while learning along the way.