If You Can Draw All Seven of These Things, You Are 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. To test your mettle, we've selected the seven drawing challenges below. Some are still lives, some are portraits and some are cats (because everything is more fun with cats).

Yes, these drawings will push you. But they are not impossible, especially with a little help from us.

So get ready to test your artistic skill — three, two, one, go!

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 no. You have to sketch the shadows, highlights and reflections in the glass itself. Then you have to show what's behind the glass, which is also tricky.

The strategy

Break the drawing down into simpler steps. First, focus on the shape of 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

First, you need to get the scale, shape and reflection down pat. But even more challenging is drawing eyes with personality. You don't want to end up with a blank look. You want the eyes to see you.

The strategy

Get some photos of different types of eyes, and make sure you have a few closeups. Then work on capturing the reflection in the eyes by adding tiny, wavy lines radiating 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.

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 — a rectangular SUV, say. From there, work on the details.

Flowers

The challenge

Flowers can be as simple or as complex as you wish. You probably have already nailed the simple petals and leaves of a rosebud. Now show a flower in full bloom.

The strategy

Start with the flower's basic shape — say, a five-sided one for a rose. Then 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.

You've done it! Your first-grade teacher would be so proud!

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If You Can Draw All Seven of These Things, You Are a Sketching Superstar