Sketching Lightly Struggles

  • Something I've struggled with for years now, is sketching lightly. I normally only become aware of it when I go to draw on top … sketching with a colour pencil helps, like Jake said about, but my tendency is to sketch too dark.

    Are there any tips on how to force yourself to sketch lightly, or practice maybe?

    I've started doing something else Jake did on his draw everything course, where he rolled up a kneaded eraser to soften the tone … I now call it, "Getting me sausage out" lol Makes me laugh, and I think this laughing as I do it may make an emotional connection and help me remember to go lighter.

    If anyone has any tips it would be super nice 🙂

  • @sophie-lawson

    Good morning,

    I have I think always drawn sketchy as in loosely/wildly and lightly and actually struggled to draw darker finishing lines. Now I am finding my darker lines are stronger purely with conscious I want to succeeded practise. A practise for you for the opposite, consider drawing straight lines or circles from heavy pressure to the lightest pressure you can. It will sort of resemble how you shade I suppose, from darker to lighter. Then you practise and become aware of how heavy or lightly you press on whatever tool your using.

    I hope that helps, it is the first thing that jumped to mind. 🙂

    I will be updating later other work from this past week and Drawing Fundamentals.

  • @sophie-lawson I'd practice making random marks and practicing getting better control with your tools. Try changing up how you are holding your pencil, or use a pencil with harder lead. Implement methods that counteract your tendencies like using a kneaded eraser afterwards. Force yourself to really hold back on the pressure to the point where it seems like overkill. If it's really a tendency and just how you work, you could always do a dark messy sketch then trace over it onto the final paper for illustrations. I do something similar for transferring my sketches for watercolor.

  • Pro

    I'm not sure I completely understand why this is a problem, can you explain? I mean, sure it gets a bit messy but you can always use a light table to ink over on a new sheet of paper, right? Wouldn't forcing yourself to draw lightly kind of hurt the fluidity of your lines that comes when you draw instinctively? I feel like there's something I'm not getting here, since I've never had that problem myself, I'd love if someone can explain to me!

  • @sophie-lawson Essentially, I think it comes down to practice. The problem is probably that you have more control when you press hard, and when you go light, you'll tend back to going dark because it's difficult to draw light. It's almost like trying to draw with your left hand, in a way it feels like taking a step backward!

    One thing that has helped me is a series of drawing exercises where you draw simple, but very controlled shapes. Starting with parallel lines then ellipses and other shapes. The nice thing about this is it's relatively low stress, you won't mess up a painting, but filling a page and doing these as a methodical warmup every morning can help.

    I think you can, to @NessIllustration 's point get by perfectly fine without learning to have a light touch and just going with your natural tendency, but the benefit of being able to do light lines is that you build versatility and you can do certain things technique wise with a light touch that you just can't with a heavier hand. If what you care about is growing as a draughts-person, then it will help to have a more delicate touch throughout all the stages of your drawing and painting process.

    Now if the way you work doesn't depend so much on your touch, then I would say no need to worry about it, but depending on what you want to achieve, it can be a really useful skill to develop.

    Hope that is helpful!

  • @heather-boyd

    Thank you Heather, I've wrote this down and will practice it before bed tonight 🙂 Thank you. Looking forward to the update too 🙂


    Thank you Teju … I will look into tracing techniques too … because I haven't yet got my head around how to actually transfer something with tracing paper lol … same as trying to scale up a thumbnail into a sketch when working traditionally, I can only work that out by using the computer.

    just read Ness's reply below, I forgot about the lightbox! I will get that out and play around with it too. I think I'm in the stage of trying to find my process, at the moment it's all very messy and a bit confusing at times.


    Thank you about the lightbox, I always forget I have that.

    I want to start lightly so I can build up the sketch better, and help with finding my lines … sometimes I find the line I want, but it's hard to make it darker as I've already made all the lines too dark, but I do like the fact that maybe I need to sketch dark to get my lines down or just be ok with getting my sausage out from time to time lol and taking some tone away with the kneaded eraser 🙂 I'm going to play with what everyone has said here and see what feels right 🙂


    Thank you Rob … I practice drawing 3D shapes before bed, so can daisy chain this new light touch approach onto that … as long as I write it down, which I have 🙂 Thank you.

  • SVS OG

    @sophie-lawson have a go at sketching holding your pencil like a paintbrush, between your finger and thumb and the length of your pencil in your palm... you can control the pencil better, well I can... might help.

  • @jason-bowen thank you 🙂

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