While it may seem shocking that five skills can be enough to lay out the foundation of sketching, each skill covers a lot.

They are considered the basics, but each skill takes a long time to master. In fact, you may not ever master them. As long as you have an understanding of them and how you can utilize each skill, you are on the right track to becoming a professional artist.

If you are already a competent artist, then maybe you need to revise the basics again to improve your skills. Sometimes it is easy to forget the building blocks of art when you are too busy focusing on the details.


Edges make up everything you draw, they are the outline of everything you see and are typically the first thing you draw. Edges are needed to understand what you are depicting. Without them, everything becomes unfocused or blurred.

The easiest way to understand edges is by drawing shapes. It may seem simple but shapes construct everything in reality, and as such you need to use them in your drawings.

Many people’s first question is how do I draw an eye, or a dog, or something similar to that. Well, the easiest way to do that is by breaking it down to its basic shapes. Get the edges on the page before the details.


There is a common phrase in the world of art, and that is ‘seeing the hole in the donut’. This means that you are seeing the space the donut takes up, but you also see the space it doesn’t. 

The negative space could be the area around the object or areas in an object. One common drawing exercise is to draw the negative space of an object, instead of the object itself. You will be surprised how spot on the object will turn out to be without you putting thought into drawing it.

Whenever you are stuck on a drawing, don’t focus on the space your drawing takes up. If you instead focus on your negative space then you can stop focusing on one specific point.

Light And Shadows

Light and shadows make up the depth of an image. If there is too much light or too much darkness then it is impossible to see objects, that is why it is important to have a balance between the two.

One important rule of thumb is to always be aware of your light source. You don’t have shadows in places where there shouldn’t be any.

The next thing to tackle is how color plays into light and shadows. It is not just about changing the saturation on it. Sometimes the color in the light will be completely different to the color in the shaded areas.


The relationship in a drawing is about how well everything works together. This initially means that everything that is there, should have a reason to be. Of course, that reason doesn’t have to make sense to everyone, only to you.

Perspective also comes into play with this skill. This could be through the size of objects, the angle of view, or the distance you are trying to portray.

The easiest way to work on the relationship in your art is to do a rough sketch beforehand. This will lay out your whole piece so you can see how they all relate to each other.


This skill is a bit of a catch-all, it technically combines all of the previous skills into one. It is also called ‘gestalt’. You may have previously heard of the phrase ‘look at the whole picture’, this should be taken literally here.

You want your piece to convey what you want it to convey. Make sure that the previous 4 skills are all working together to express the message you want it to. Whether this is an emotion, thought, or a particular feeling. Your piece is an extension of your ideas and you need to make sure it is expressing that.

Remember, you don’t need to master these skills. As long as you understand how they work then you are free to bend and break them to your will.

Everyone’s art is different, just look in any art museum and you will see it for yourself. The only thing that really matters is that you love your own art.

Now, get yourself some sketching supplies for beginners and start your art adventure. Good luck!