How To Draw A Line

I Can’t Draw a Straight line to Save my Life!

Why Do We Have to practice Drawing a line?

I know.. I know, sounds simple right?  It’s the simplest things in life that become the most complicated.  Not even the pros can draw a straight line.

Drawing requires just as much coordination as any other activity. Music, sports, martial arts,  and other activities have specific moves to work on. Drawing is no different. The same muscle memory has to be developed.

 Drawing, sketching, and painting are creative activities and meant to be done in a freestyle way. That’s when art becomes enjoyable.

Being able to draw lines and shapes in one fluid move frees up your mind to create lively drawings.

But when you constantly stop and erase or look for a measuring device or another drawing aid the flow of your work ceases. The work becomes … well… work. Creativity freezes and new your new found passion becomes drudgery.

Maybe you want to sketch a garden, or a beautiful  seascape and paint it later. How are going to do that if you don’t have measuring tools available?  That’s why it’s important to learn how to draw freehand as much as possible.

Why is drawing a straight line so dang hard?

The bones in the arm and wrist aren’t straight and the long bones in the forearm are slightly bowed.  To make matters worse, normal arm/wrist movements are semi-circular. Therefore, a new artist has to practice drawing straight lines. Fine motor movements take hours of practice and even the pros cannot perfect this move.  Even drawing a line with a straight edge can be tricky. Unfortunately, fine motor movements worsen as we age.

To draw a straight line without a ruler or straight edge is an important skill to learn. In fact, this simple drill can advance your drawing skills to the expert level and beyond.

Remember, drawing, and sketching is essentially putting lines on paper. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Closed forms like a circle or triangle are made up of lines. Some “LINES” are curved or U-shaped. But in essence, they are lines. Try not to overcomplicate the drawing process it’s not that mysterious. Where the skill comes in is HOW those lines are applied on the surface.

Good drawing requires the proper application of LINES on a surface

I want you to practice this exercise before all drawing activities

  1. Draw a bunch of dots on the paper at various distances.  Draw some close together some further apart.
  2. Now draw a line from one dot to another in one move. Don’t be hesitant. Line up the dots and draw the line. How did you do?
  3. If you missed the other dot try again until you hit the dots.
  4. Then do the drill again. Do the drill at different angles and different lengths until you feel comfortable drawing lines without the use of a ruler.
  5. Do the same drill again using a curved line. This time I want you to draw with the elbow and see how gentle a curve you can make. Finally, do the same drill and draw from your shoulder and see how dynamic the lines can be.

When doing these drills You can brace your hand against the table if you want.

There are three ways to hold the pencil that the pros use:

Overhand, Underhand, and the typical writing grip

I want you to try them all when warming up.

Overhand:  The way a music conductor would hold a baton. Don’t worry about the quality of the drawing. You’re just warming up using this grip to draw simple lines.

Underhand: This is the same as the overhand but you’re turning your hand over.

(The underhand grip is used when drawing on an easel or on an upright surface. )

These grips may feel uncomfortable and unnatural but give it a whirl and see how your drawings come out. You can always go back to the “writer’s grip” if the drawing doesn’t come out.

“Don’t sketch the line, and don’t use short choppy strokes to connect the dots. Draw the line in one full motion. If you miss the dots, you miss. Do it again.”

We will work on similar drills when we draw circles, cylinders, and ellipses. The same repetitive drills will be done. Trust me. This will help in all your advanced drawing lessons.

Let me know if this lesson helped in the comments below.

Let’s go back to the cube lesson

Here’s to good drawing!


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