30 Days Of Drawing

The first time I worked through 30 days of drawing I was learning how to draw again after spending several years away from it, and I was having a difficult time remembering how to put my mind into “drawing ” gear. After drawing for 30 days, my own version, I had no trouble shifting gears again. Moving into my drawing zone was easy and natural feeling, and that experience taught me a couple of things.

  1. Thirty days of practice is just about right for reviving rusty drawing skills, or learning them in the first place.
  2. Thirty days of drawing establishes a routine that feels natural.

My No-Rule Rules For 30 Days Of Drawing (For people who hate rules as much as I do.)

  • Draw everyday for 30 days.
  • Any line, angle, smudge, or dot counts.
  • If you miss a day, that’s okay. And you don’t have to make it up. (But you can if you want to.)
  • Use a single sketchbook for all the drawings. Or don’t.
  • If these rules are too strict, toss ’em out. (But do make the effort to draw regularly for 30 days somehow.)

Supplies


My Odd Stick-It-To-Your-Sketchbook Method For 30 Days Of Drawing Success

Illustrations Below

It’s surprisingly challenging to draw everyday for a month, so I invented this quirky but convenient way to draw small objects.

  • Collect small interesting objects and keep them in a bowl by your favorite chair — and if you have cats, ferrets, or nosy dogs, put a lid on it.
  • Put a tall light near the chair. A reading lamp will work. (Read about simple lighting here.)
  • Keep a sketchbook, pencils and, erasers there too.
  • When you sit down to watch tv (that’s what I do in my favorite chair), pick something out of the bowl, and stick it to the drawing paper with a tiny piece of kneaded (putty) eraser.
  • Make a drawing of the object, on the paper right beside it.

What To Tell People When They Ask Why You’ve Got Something Stuck to Your Sketchbook

  • Tell them it’s really handy to stick things to your sketchbook because:
    • You can take breaks and come back to the same placement, or even wait to finish your drawing the next day.
    • Also, if you’re drawing something round, it won’t roll away.
  • Tell them this set up is a great way to draw from life because:
    • You can draw at a one to one ratio.
    • Reach over to take measurements easily.
    • And quickly compare the drawing to the object as you work, which is the key to drawing realistically from life.
  • Or, say you’re an artist and not allowed to tell. Say this while gazing at the air over their right shoulder with a far-away look in your eyes.

Here’s How I Drew A Hazelnut Anchored To The Paper With A Sticky Kneaded Eraser

Nut stuck to the paper with a kneaded eraser. C. Rosinski

Hazelnut Stuck In Place With Eraser

I stuck this round nut to the paper by squishing it onto a piece of kneaded eraser. This is a neat way to keep a small object secure if you want to break a drawing session into smaller pieces of time. You just have to be sure to adjust the angle of the pad when you come back so the shadows look the same.

I drew the nut with my usual sketching style … only now it couldn’t get away!

Line drawing of a hazelnut. C. RosinskiLine Drawing

I arranged my light until the hazelnut cast a small sharp shadow. (I draw that in step three.)

Using an HB pencil, I made the drawing the same size as the nut. I took height and width measurements from the nut, and transferred them to the drawing on the paper right beside it.

This image enlarged quite a bit so you can see it better.

A few pointers:

  • To measure with a pencil, hold it over the object and use your thumb to mark the distance from the tip, then transfer that measurement to the paper.
  • You have to make lines wrong before you can make them right, so make some and then correct them. Do that over and over again, without erasing, until the outline looks right.
  • Compare the object to your drawing by looking quickly back and forth between them as you draw.

First shading of hazelnut C. RosinskiErase Extra Lines And Added First Hatching

I erased the “wrong” lines and lightened the outline by tapping it with a kneaded eraser.

Then I hatched the nut to what I thought was a good average value between the darkest shadow and lightest highlight.

And then I took a break.

About Hatching
Learn how to make this kind of hatching or shading.
About Mid Values
Sometimes I use a mid range hatch value to begin my shading. You can read more about how to do that here:
Shading from a Mid-Value – Draw a Pine Cone

Darkest values of hazelnut C. RosinskiAdded Darkest Values

After I was back from my break, I made sure the nut cast the same shadow so that I’d be drawing it from the same angle.

Then I added dark value with the softer 2B pencil. I outlined the dark detail line around the shape at the top of the nut, hatched in the value patterns I saw on the rest of the nut, and added the cast shadow.

The cast shadow was the darkest value of all, so I made sure the darkest values on the nut were lighter than that.

Notice that I’m not too concerned about details yet. I just added the very obvious line around the top of the nut and refined the edge shape of the nut a little.

This step was all about comparison and adjustment. As I worked, my eyes were constantly comparing my hatched values and shapes to the real nut.

I added a lot of dark hatching in this step, so that means I was too timid with first mid range hatch. (oops!) If it had been darker, it would have saved some time in this step.

Erased hazelnut's highlights C. RosinskiErased The Highlights

Erasers aren’t as exact as pencil tips, so I shaped my kneaded eraser into points and wedges to dab and rub out the light areas.

There were two types of light valued shapes I paid attention to:

  1. The body highlights that run over the entire nut, lightening and darkening as they move over the hills and valleys of the surface.
  2. The smaller detail shapes at the top and bottom of the nut.

This is a very dark nut and I realized I’d got carried away and erased too much. (oops again!) That’s fixed in the next step.

Finished hazelnut drawing C. RosinskiCorrections and Final Details

I used the harder pencil to go back over and slightly darken and reshape the edges of the details.

Details look the most real when their shadows are drawn right, so I kept the direction of the light in mind as I observed and drew were the shadows fell.

Comparison Again
This last step was very much about comparison again. My eyes were on the nut as much as they were on my drawing, flicking back and forth so I could superimpose one over the other for a fraction of a second to compare them.

Here are two more tutorials that were drawn at a one to one ratio with the object stuck to my paper.
Shiny Ornament
Shell

A basic drawing kit for beginners:
If you don’t have all your drawing supplies yet, these would make a good starter tool set.

I’m a Dick Blick affiliate and I get a bit of money when you buy from my supply links, so if you do that thanks! I’ve been buying my supplies from them for over thirty years. In any case, do try these brands. They’re inexpensive, good, and will save you time and headaches.

Pencils
Derwent Graphic 2B
Derwent Graphic HB

Derwent Graphic 2H

(If one is out of stock, get the next softer grade.)
Paper
Canson Classic Cream Drawing Pad

Erasers
Helix Automatic Cordless Eraser

Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser

Alvin Vinyl Eraser

Sharpener
Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener

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About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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7 Responses to 30 Days Of Drawing

  1. Pingback: Thirty Days of Drawing | Carol's Drawing Blog

  2. kathy says:

    I’m not positive what “hatching” is? You are not explaining this well. I know it is a form of shading, crosshatch. I have forgotten how it is supposed to be done and you do not explain which pencils (hard/ soft) you use when or where.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Kathy,

      There are lots of different kinds of hatching used for shading. This small how to lesson will teach you how to make hatching as I’m using it here. The “hard” pencil I used to draw this nut was an “HB” and the “softer” pencil was a 2B.

      Good luck with your 30 Days!

  3. JoAnna says:

    I, as a child, did a lot of designing fashion. I remember loving it and want to get back to that point, if at all possible.
    Can you suggest the best way to start sketching a model for the clothes I want to design? Would like to use this with various changes in clothes. This I believe is what all fashion designers do.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Carol says:

      Hi JoAnna,

      I think you’re looking for illustration knowledge, while I’m more of a one-off type of gal. Illustrators and cartoonists have good knowledge of their subject and are able to draw it well in many different situations, but they are specialized in that area. (And they get that knowledge from hours and hours of practice.)

      So, while you want to draw a model over and over again in different poses with different clothes, I want to be on to the next subject that catches my eye.

      Most illustrators can draw their subject from the imagination, and most people think that’s how all artists draw, but it isn’t. When I draw from life, I have a model to work from. You’ll have to rely on your own experience, and your knowledge of the human body, to draw your models well.

      You might have better luck visiting illustration websites.

      I wish you a successful journey,
      C

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