Most of these have been taken from Betty Edwards’s book, “Drawing on the right side of the Brain”; and the Guardian step-by-step-guide to drawing.

Have a go and see what works best for you.

Copying a favourite artist is a method that works for many, but there are different ways of copying; tracing, using a light box, using a grid, copying the negative shapes, or copying a drawing upside down, being some of the methods you can try.


Tracing will help you to “see” what you are drawing.
Once you train your brain to draw what you see and not what you think you know, you will be able to draw anything. Anyone can trace. Use it only as a learning tool to improve your freehand drawing.

Try out the exercise on this web page

Then find an artist whose work you really like and have a go at tracing some of their images. One of my favourite artists is Quentin Blake. Have a look at these videos and see how Quentin draws using a light box to help him.

Using a grid

Likewise using a grid is something that Leonardo Da Vinci found hugely helpful back in the 15th century.

Negative-space drawing

Negative space drawing is another technique that has been taught at art school for many years. In negative space drawing you concentrate on drawing the empty space around an object rather than the object itself.

There are some exercises for you to practice with here

And a video here

Upside-down drawing

In the Betty Edwards book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” Betty provides an upside down Pablo Picasso sketch. It is the “Portrait of Igor Stravinsky. The idea is that drawing upside-down prevents you from using all your habitual drawing shortcuts.

There are some exercises for you to try and a video to watch.

Drawing what you feel

Apart from copying there are other ways of practicing drawing in the

There are lots of excellent exercises. I’ve copied one of them out here for you to try. It is an exercise where instead of drawing what you see you draw what you feel.

Place your pencil in the centre of the lower third of your piece of paper. Close your eyes. It’s important to keep them closed while you do this drawing. With your non-drawing hand explore your mouth and describe with your pencil the marks and shapes that your touching hand is feeling. Move up to your nose and do the same thing simultaneously feeling and drawing what you feel. Move across to each eye, your brow and up to the top of your head, your hair. Find your way to an ear, across to the other ear and finally down to the chin. Make dots, dashes, smudges whatever you feel is appropriate.

Drawing with Scissors

Henri Matisse used scissors as a drawing tool. He said: “The paper cut-out allows me to draw in the colour … Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it …I draw straight into the colour”. Matisse also tore shapes too. Try combining cut and torn shapes to create a self-portrait.


Is about simplifying and exaggerating aspects of your subject. Try copying some of the cartoons on these links. Then try doing a cartoon of yourself or a close friend