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should i learn to draw before painting

Should I Learn To Draw Before Painting?

The first time I made the decision to start painting was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It opened up a whole new world that I’m truly grateful for but at the same time, I was bombarded with many questions that I needed to be answered and one of those was, should I learn to draw before painting?

No, you don’t necessarily need to learn to draw before painting but it will be an added bonus if you do have the basic fundamentals of drawing already learned. This will help you in figuring out many details of a new project and the construction of your painting would be way better if you do draw first before painting.

I wasn’t too sure if I should learn how to draw before attempting to paint but only after painting for some time, I realized something was obviously missing from my paintings.

Depending on whether you want a more loose or tight painting, having a rough drawing is good enough and you may not even need to be good at drawing at all!

Here’s why learning to draw before painting might be better suited for you.

Why Learning To Draw Is Important

Have you ever experienced that moment when you’re looking at a scene and have no idea where to begin? There’s the cars, building, trees, clouds, and people in the image that can make you feel overwhelmed.

You’ll have a better understanding of the subject you’re about to paint.

Doing a quick or detailed sketch beforehand will help you identify the important areas that you can include in your painting and fill in the gaps of where you want the viewer’s attention to be drawn too.

learning to draw and paint

Withdrawing, you can easily sketch out ideas rather quickly compared to painting something.

It also gives you a better idea of composition and tonal values while experimenting with choosing to pick or leave particular items out before you even start painting.

Drawing will also give you a good idea of shapes, values, light, and shadow that is necessary for painting a particular subject.

I also find it incredibly helpful to have an idea of the way I want a painting to look by drawing it first before beginning since this also prevents the fear of a blank canvas but more importantly, it can help with making better decisions rather than going into a painting blindly.

This does not mean you shouldn’t start painting immediately because you can’t draw yet!

If you are really excited to start painting something, go ahead. But while you do so, start off by drawing a 5 or 10-minute sketch every day, and overtime as you build your skills, you’ll notice a drastic improvement in your art.

Where To Begin With Drawing (Tips For Beginners)

Like with painting, it can become overwhelming with so much information but no clear direction as to where to begin.

The best way to learn to draw is to start with the basics.

Tip: See our full in-depth guide on how to learn to draw for beginners that will take you through the steps on where to start and what to learn.

As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to broaden out and learn new things but for now, here’s what you should do if you’re a complete beginner at drawing:

1. Learn To Draw Basic Shapes

Almost everything you see around you is usually made up of a shape. The phone you have in your hand or the computer screen you’re looking at is in the shape of a rectangle. A light bulb can be drawn with the use of a circle.

Simply practicing to draw shapes like circles, squares, rectangles, ovals, and learning to draw the 3d form of those is the best place to start.

Once you get the hang of these shapes, you’ll be able to break down any complex drawing with the use of shapes.

At the end of the day, it’s all about rendering these shapes to turn it into the item you’re drawing.

It’s important to remember that you’re not aiming for perfection but rather consistent practice. Your circles may not even look like circles at first but the more you do something, the better you will get at it.

2. Sketch From Real Life

This is the latest practice of mine and that’s learning to draw from life.

sketchbook for drawing and painting

If you ever want to do plein air paintings, having a good knowledge and skill of drawing from life can greatly impact the way your paintings turn out when you’re in that particular environment of painting.

You’re also not restricted by a photo of just one angle to draw from but you can use an item in real life to draw it from various angles increasing your skill and knowledge of that specific item.

3. Learn From Tutorials and Videos

Drawing tutorials are a real blessing when you’re an absolute beginner.

It can be difficult to grasp everything we need to know when you have to learn it all on your own but seeing someone else take you through the steps can make you surprised at your capabilities, boosting your confidence that will encourage you to keep going.

Perspective drawing is difficult to grasp on your own but I found that learning from tutorials on places like Youtube cuts down the work when you have someone teaching the challenging principles to you.

Related Post: Acrylic Painting Tutorials And Tips That Are Perfect For Beginners

4. Learn From Other People

Finding inspiration from those that you admire is a great way to motivate you to learn to draw. By redrawing what they have created will help you understand how and why they made certain decisions.

Drawing and learning from other people is totally fine as long as you don’t pass it off as your own without credit or using these drawings in a way without the artist’s permission.

As long as you keep these drawings for your eyes only, there shouldn’t be any concerns.

See also: No Motivation To Paint? Here’s 9 Ways To Fix It Fast

drawing and painting tips

5. Follow A Step By Step Drawing Book

Learning from drawing books that explain the actual steps of how to break down a drawing is much better for a beginner rather than learning from a book that just explains the process without actually pictures to indicate the steps.

There are many helpful books that you can use to learn how to draw many different things and I suggest you pick up a book that you are interested in learning to paint on that subject.


Learning to draw before you paint is much rather preferred since it’s easier to grasp concepts such as lights and shadow including composition and perspective which is huge when drawing landscapes and cityscapes.

However, the last thing I want to do is put you off by making your feel disappointed that you need to know how to draw before you paint.

I sure was until I learned for myself why it’s important to draw before painting. Now I like to think of it as packing on more skill and knowledge to create better paintings in the future.

Drawing before painting gives you a good idea of where things should be and doesn’t make you a slave to the photo.

You may not have great-looking drawings at first but the more consistent you are with drawing, you’ll eventually surprise yourself when you compare your first drawing to the one month from now.

Just remember, you don’t need to create detailed drawings but doing a rough sketch is just as good enough!

Related Post: Painting With Gouache: Everything You Need To Know

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