If You Can Draw All 8 of These Things, You're a Sketching Superstar

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You're finally sketching pictures you're proud of, and you feel as pleased as you did when your first-grade teacher tacked your stick-figure drawings on the bulletin board.

Why stop there? Now that you're mastering the medium, it's time to take on the really difficult subjects. Test your mettle with the drawing challenges below: some are still lives, some are portraits and some are cats (because everything is more fun with cats). Yes, they'll push you — but they're not impossible. Especially with a little help from us!

Pet Portraits 

The Challenge:
It's tough to nail the proportions in an animal's body, especially if you're facing the subject straight on or from a three-quarters angle. And don't even get us started on how hard it is to convey the different textures in fur and whiskers.

The Strategy:
Having a wide range of reference materials is always a great idea, no matter what you're drawing. Get some high-quality photos that show your pet from a variety of angles, as well as some closeups so you can really capture all the details.

Glass

The Challenge:
You'd think drawing something transparent would be a cinch, but you have to be able to sketch the shadows, highlights and reflections in the glass itself. Then you have to show what's behind the glass, which can be a bit tricky.

The Strategy:
Break the drawing down into simpler steps. First, focus on the shape of the container. Then look for strong highlights and contrasts. Begin to add shadows and color. Bit by bit, your still life will look like the real thing.

Eyes

The Challenge:
Getting the scale, shape and reflection of eyes is tough on its own. But what's even more challenging is drawing eyes with personality. After all, you don't want to end up with a blank look — you want the eyes to see you.

The Strategy:
Print out photos of different types of eyes, including a few closeup shots. Work on capturing the reflection in the eyes by adding tiny, wavy lines that radiate from the pupils. Don't forget to darken the edges of the iris and right around the pupils to create the illusion of depth.

Hands

The Challenge:
It's tough to avoid the over-realistic look, which makes hands look heavy and graceless.

The Strategy:
Break the drawing down into three parts. First, sketch the shapes in the hands — squares and triangles for the back of the hand and cylinders for the fingers. (You can break fingers into cylindrical segments.) Next, draw the outline. Then sketch in highlights and shadows, shading as necessary. Give yourself a high five when you're done.

Automobiles

The Challenge:
A car's curves and angles and shiny highlights are surprisingly hard to get right.

The Strategy:
First, focus on the basic shape of the automobile — like, say, a rectangular SUV. From there, work on the details.

Photo by DWilliams/Pixabay

Flowers

The Challenge:
Flowers can be as simple or as complex as you wish. You've probably already nailed the petals and leaves of a rosebud...but what about a flower in full bloom?

The Strategy:
Start with the flower's basic shape — say, a five-sided rose. Sketch in lines to guide where you'll place the petals. You can draw longer lines for the large, outside petals, and smaller ones for the delicate petals near the center. Don't forget to shade the petals to give the illusion of light and shadows. Now isn't that pretty?

Water 

The Challenge:
Whether you're drawing delicate dew drops or a churning ocean, you must capture the sense of motion along with the translucency.

The Strategy:
Draw the shapes first. For a lake with calm waves, for example, draw long, thick lines in the foreground, and shorter, lighter ones farther away. Then draw shadows and highlights that suggest movement.

Fabric

The Challenge:
Fun fact: there are seven different kinds of folds you can make when drawing fabric. And while your chances of needing all seven in one piece are fairly slim, you need to know how to approach them all in order to accurately capture the subject.

The Strategy:
Work slowly and pay attention to the way the fabric falls. Start by defining the larger geometric shapes and use light to highlight the folds. You've got this!

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If You Can Draw All 8 of These Things, You're a Sketching Superstar