The Three Roles of Sketching


Sketching is the way artists practice their skills. How do you make the most of it? Here are my own guidelines for how I spend my drawing time.


Take a purely academic point of view and focus on what makes a good drawing.

For me, that means drawing from life. There is no better way to measure your progress than trying to imitate the world around you. It may not be the most exciting work; a line drawing of a water bottle won’t win any popularity contests, but it will do loads to help you learn form and perspective.

If I were to draw cartoons all the time, it would be like a basketball player doing nothing but slam dunks during his practice. That kind of player would get nowhere in his athletic career. The flashy tricks mean nothing without the basics; but if you can master shooting and passing, and also throw in a fancy hook shot now and again, that kind of skill is priceless.


This time should be spent learning new ways of doing things. Try different styles, learn a new medium, and explore your favorite methods and ideas. This is where your own voice will come out and where you start to make a style of your own.

The important thing here is that you are not doing the same thing over and over again. You are always letting your work evolve and grow. Consciously try to think outside of the box or refine the way you draw.


Just have fun.

After all, that’s why we draw in the first place. All this studying and work can make you lose perspective on this. Every once in awhile, just put a few lines down without thinking about any rules at all. Artists, as perfectionists, think everything has to pretty all the time. That kind of thinking will wear you out after awhile.

If you take the time to remember the pure joy of drawing, your art will benefit. Your work will be more spontaneous, and because you feel less restricted, it will be easier to create new ideas and images.

Keep these ideas in mind the next time you open your sketchbook. They will make your skills more well-rounded and you’ll progress further and faster. Happy drawing!

Have any other suggestions about sketching? Leave a comment on this post at