Sketching For Beginners in 10 Easy Steps

Good sketching skills are a must for every UX/UI designer. Before you can start designing the user interfaces of a software system, simple shapes and regular drawings are a good place to start. If you’ve never tried sketching before, but are interested in learning as much about it as possible, then this article is just for you. Below, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to acquire and hopefully master this vital skill that every design professional should know.

What is Sketching?

Sketching is a quickly done, freehand drawing. Sketches are usually done with pencils and light pieces of paper. Best UI/UX design agencies make sketches in order to create prototypes for future apps. For beginners, sketching can function as a great hobby – but also can be the beginning of an exciting journey into the complex world of UX/UI design.

Even though sketching is a fairly straightforward genre that everyone has the ability to master, many professional artists and illustrators use this technique regularly. Often it’s the first step towards a real, professional work of art.

Starting to sketch is easy and the tips below will help you create your first drawing. So what are you waiting for –  let’s start!

10 Steps To Master Sketching That Every UX/UI Designer Has to Follow

Following these simple steps, you can start sketching at a professional level and include this in your CV when applying to work at professional UX/UI design agencies.

1. Find Your Motivation

Think about what motivates you. What are you ultimately striving towards? What do you want? Do you want to be an amateur or a professional? Motivation and plan of action at the beginning will help you not quit sketching on your first attempts and turn drawing into an enjoyable habit.

2. Choose the Materials

All beginners should start with the following: an album and/or special sketchbook, a few pencils, and an eraser.

Drawing pencils come in several different levels of stiffness. The hardest ones leave a thin light line on paper, while the softest ones use dark and dense strokes. Manufacturers designate each level of rigidity with universal markings on the pencil’s tail.

Sketching for beginners does not require a large investment in pencils. At first you will need only three – universal HB, one solid 2H, and one soft B or 2B. For beginners the manufacturer is not important. But as your skills increase, more professional pencils are useful such as the Czech and German producers like Koh-i-Noor, Faber Castell, Lyra, and others.

3. Practice Drawing Shapes and Lines

Even the most complex and skillful sketching is based on simple shapes – a circle, square, cylinder, or triangle.

Try drawing a circle using this sketch technique: short, jerky strokes and light touches on the paper. Do not be afraid if the first attempt  does not come out as a perfect circle; this is normal.

Other shapes can be drawn based on the same principle. When they start to work – this is a great first step in sketching! After this stage, you can safely proceed drawing objects. You can start with very simple ones – apples, pears, mugs, or any other objects with easily distinguishable basic shapes.

4. Learn to Draw Light and Shadow

Light and shadow are the main ways to make sketching voluminous and bring a 3D perspective to a flat sheet of paper. As in all previous steps, it’s best to start with simple exercises. For example, you can add shadow to a circle. To do this, you need to determine the source of light. If in life, the direction of light is determined by nature, then in the drawing, this right belongs to the artist.

Depending on which side the light falls, the shadow in the figure will be distributed differently. Try moving the light source in the picture and imagine how the shadow will move with it.

You can practice seeing the shadow without a pencil in your hands: just notice how light falls on objects in everyday life in different ways. Look at how shadows reflect in the house, on people, and in the street in different ways. It will help you create more realistic sketches in the future.

5. Add Perspective

Perspective is the second important stage in developing sketching skills after mastering shadows. Perspective is needed for drawing streets, landscapes, and objects located at different distances. These are the rules by which the real world is transferred on to paper and  distortions in the perception of space are taken into account.

6. Do Not Forget About Proportions

Proportion is the ratio of parts to a whole. Proportions are important in all types of sketches, and they help make objects and people look more realistic in drawings. A good sense of proportion comes with practice. So the main secret to developing an eye for proportion is simple: do more sketches!

7. Composition

Composition can be described as a set of rules about the location of objects. With composition, it is comfortable for our eye to perceive what is happening in a drawing, photograph, or film frame. Sketching is a great way to practice your overall compositional skill.

The center of the composition is the main center of attraction of attention, that part of the sketch that will be the first to catch the eye of the viewer. The center is usually either the largest figure or the faces of people. In landscapes, these are trees, mountains, houses, roads, or rivers. Think about what should be the most important part of your drawing and put it front and center.

8. Try Drawing More Complex Shapes

The bottom line is you need to hone your skill of drawing something specific but in different angles, shapes, and options. For example, draw only eyes or hands, but from different angles, under different types of lighting and angles of view.

Here are a few ideas for sketching for advanced beginners:

  • learn to draw birds,
  • learn to draw your favorite movie or cartoon character,
  • learn to draw plants.

9. Try Marker Sketching

Exploring new tools and materials is fun! Markers are great tools for sketching. A variety of colors and  types make them an excellent option for realizing any idea you may have.

Marker sketching is unique in that every movement you make cannot be erased from paper. However, this is not a reason to be upset.  Rough sketches can still be done with a pencil, and finished marker lines can be applied on top. Beautiful colored sketches are the result.

10. Sketching in Watercolor

It is more like a bonus activity if you are planning to apply your sketching skills to UX/UI design. Interfaces are usually not created in paint.

However, watercolor sketching is a very beautiful and delicate kind of art and an exciting process. Working with paints makes it possible to feel like you’re really creating something special – especially when learning how to mix colors and try new ones.

  • Watercolor sketching requires special paper. A simple notepad or printing paper will quickly get wet, so you need to stock up in advance with thick watercolor paper or a special watercolor sketchbook. This will absorb moisture and will not wave or deteriorate when drawing.
  • You will also need soft brushes for watercolor, both synthetic and natural bristles are suitable. Three brushes will be enough to start – large, medium, and small.
  • You can use any saucer for the palette, and a simple glass or jar will fit underwater.

With the materials sorted out, it’s time to move on to tricks and techniques. Practice painting what is around you. Mix colors. In no time you’ll notice the results!

Final Thoughts

Sketching is a wonderful skill to develop for both beginner-level and advanced UX/UI designers. Even if you only work with interfaces and do not use watercolors, exploring new materials and themes will expand your creative horizons. Sooner than you realize, new horizons and original solutions will begin popping up in  your work. Soon enough all that practice will have concrete results!