The next course from Skillshare that I've decided to try is Drawing Fundamentals Pt 1: Basic Sketching Skills & Drawing Accurately by Ethan Nguyen. This is the first part of my notes on this course.

Setting Up Your Workspace

  • try to keep the drawing plane perpendicular to your line of sight
  • try to keep a good posture
  • easiest setup: a drawing board rested on your table edge and in your lap or the back of a chair

How to Sharpen Your Pencil

  • just check YouTube for a bunch of videos on this

How to Hold Your Pencil

Writing (tripod) grip

  • only uses the tip of the pencil
  • great for precision & small details

Overhand grip

  • uses both side & tip of pencil
  • great for big gestural & dynamic marks


  • draw using overhand grip
  • try to make different marks

Materials used

  • paper:
    • wrapping paper
  • pencils:
    • no-name charcoal
    • Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Nero
    • Conte Pierre Noire HB
    • Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Sepia Light

How to hold your pencil
How to hold your pencil

How to Control Your Pencil

  • writing grip: wrist & fingers
  • overhand grip: shoulder & elbow

Circle & Ellipse Exercise

  • use Ethan's templates available for free on his site
  • or make your own templates by drawing concentric ellipses and circles in a drawing program of your choice, then printing them on a sheet of paper
  • draw the ellipses keeping the templates at various angles to get the muscle memory
  • alternate using the templates and drawing freely on paper
  • use the ghosting technique

Circle & ellipse exercise
Circle & ellipse exercise

Run the Track Exercise

  • draw a shape, then draw over it trying to not stray from it
    • a square
    • some organic form (blob) contour
    • a sequence of small-big-small-big-small circles, connected between them, without lifting the pencil; when at the last circle, return back to the first
    • you can vary the pressure in some area, then try to replicate the pressure when you track over
    • draw looping shapes, varying pressure and direction; when you get to the end, trace it backward

Run the track exercise
Run the track exercise

Line Quality Exercise

  • draw straight and curved lines that tapper at both ends
  • seamlessly join multiple straight lines to get a longer line
  • seamlessly join multiple curved lines to get an larger curve or an S-shaped line

Important: tapering the lines allows you to overlap them seamlessly.

Line quality exercise
Line quality exercise

Connect the Dots Exercise

  • draw a couple of dots on the page
  • connect the dots with a straight line
    • ghost over the page a couple of times
    • draw lightly
    • reinforce the line with greater pressure
    • tapper the line at both ends
    • optional: do the run the track exercise to reinforce the line with greater pressure
  • connect the dots with a curved line
  • connect three dots with a curved line

Connect the dots exercise
Connect the dots exercise

Observational & Constructive Drawing


  • observe and measure the subject
  • most popular with fine art artists


  • build the subject from basic 3D objects (like boxes, spheres, cylinders, cones, …)
  • most popular with illustrators, concept artists, comic book artists, etc, that must draw from imagination

Real Life

  • usually you use a mixture of observational and constructive drawing

Sight Size & Comparative Measurement

Sight Size (1:1)

  • the reference and the drawing are done at the same size (1:1)
  • for real life drawing, you must move closer or farther, depending on the size of your subject and of your canvas, so that the subject is not too large or too small comparatively with your canvas
  • because the size is 1:1, it is easy to compare sizes and horizontal (if the canvas is side by side with the subject) or verticals (if the canvas is above or bellow the subject)


  • when drawing from reference, you are restricted to the size of the reference
  • when drawing from real life, you'll have to position yourself in a very particular position relatively to the model and it can be a problem if you work in a limited space or crowded classroom

Comparative Measurement

  • the drawing can be of different size than the reference
  • measuring sizes is a bit more challenging
  • measuring angles is the same as with sight size


  • less accurate than sight-size


  • trains your eyes better
  • prepares you for drawing from imagination better

How to See & Draw Accurately

  • use angles and measurement
  • of the two, the more important is angle measurement, as it allows you to draw anything by using triangulation
  • measurement is usually for support and double-checking

Measuring Angles

  • use a pencil, skewer, knitting needle to measure the angle
  • alternatively, use two pencils, skewers, knitting needles or a pair of scissors to measure the angle using one reference edge
    • use the vertical, horizontal or another line as reference

Triangle Drawing Exercise

  • make a template:
    • draw 4 horizontal lines on a piece of paper to create 2 bands with some space left bellow them, a bit larger than the bands
    • draw 4 triangles, 2 in the top band, 2 in bottom one, leaving some space on their left (if you are a right hand person)
  • sight-size (1:1) exercise:
    • start with the larger triangle side
    • observe it and try to draw it lightly
    • try to see if it is accurate
    • using a measuring tool (pencil, skewer, …) measure the angle
    • verify your assessment from previous step
    • try to train your eyes to see what the measuring tool shows you
    • try to draw a better line
    • continue observing-measuring-drawing process until you are satisfied with the accuracy
    • continue drawing the other two sides of the triangle
    • you can use a horizontal line to check the location of the third corner
  • comparative measurement
    • use the space bellow the bands to draw the triangles larger or smaller than the reference
    • start with a the larger triangle side and follow the same steps as in sight-size exercise to draw it at a correct angle
    • decide if you want to make it larger or smaller and mark the two corners on the line
    • continue as in the sight-size exercise with the other two lines
    • if you have space, you can draw the triangle multiple times (or rotate the page to draw it from another angle)

Ad-hoc template for triangle drawing exercise
Ad-hoc template for triangle drawing exercise
Triangle drawing exercise
Triangle drawing exercise