Would you like to sketch with me?

People are always so interested in drawing and they want to learn, but they seem really self-conscious or they think it has to be taken so seriously.  If you remember my Bad Dog or Bad Grandpa comics, you will know, sometimes, stick figures get the job done.  Even if you think you would be terrible, what’s a try gonna hurt?

Now, I’m not comfortable teaching, but I’d love to share a few basics and just for fun see what you do.


First things first,

  1. Get something to draw on. Anything. Cardboard, paper, the wall.
  2. Get something to draw with, whatever shows up on the surface you picked.  I’d recommend pencil, pen, or if you really want, crayon. Ink and water, while really fun, are a little tricky for beginners. Don’t let me stop you, though. Get on with your bad self. I understand the pull. Sharpies for the wall would be really nice.

Now, let’s get down to the dirty:

If you want something that is 2-dimensional to have form, you have to use at least 3 tonal values. Light. Dark. Mid-tone.  If you only have one drawing tool  this will be really easy. The surface you are drawing on should be the lightest unless it is a dark surface. Then just find something lighter to draw with, but you knew that. I’m going to assume you are using a lighter surface for clarity.

ConteblockingGesture Drawing, conte on newsprint, ©ElishaDasenbrock2006
Here’s an old example of just using two values. There’s no real definition or features. The focus is on the large blocks of shadow. However, the lightness of the paper still provides a third value for the figure to pop against.

The darkest you can make your drawing utensil is your darkest value.

The mid-tone or tones are for the rest. The more in between tones you have, the more realistic the drawing will be. Let’s just start simple, though, because it can get overwhelming.

You want dirtier?

Okay, next we can discuss some common ways on how to get these values.

  • Hatching:
    Hatching is when you make lines going in the same direction. The more lines, the darker the value. The closer the lines, the darker the value.


 Crusty bread, pen on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2014
  • Cross-Hatching:
    Cross-hatching is when you make lines going in opposite directions. Think NS/EW.   Although, normally they at more of an angle than straight up and down/side to side.  The more lines, the darker the value.  The closer together, the darker the value.



 Tux, pen and ink on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2006
  • Shading:
    Rubbing the paper with the side of your pencil or crayon, if that is what you are using.  Using the points, unless hatching/cross-hatching, can look sloppy.  Maybe that’s what you are going for though. Cool.  If you are using graphite, you can use what is called a blending stump to make the lines less noticeable.
gloveLeather Glove, graphite on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2006

Next step, draw what you want, using a light outline. You won’t have to erase as much. Actually, try not to erase at all. I know, it’s scary, but that’s what drawing is. It’s dangerous.  You’re officially a badass and badasses don’t use erasers. Now, put on your leather jacket, slick back your hair, and get to work.

Block in the shapes of the larger shadows and mid-tones. Don’t worry about details until you are finished with the main darks.

Please let me know if you need anything clarified. I’m more than happy to explain something in more detail.

Now, for the dirtiest:

I don’t know if you are aware, but it is Thanksgiving week.  I’d love to see what you are grateful for.  Don’t be shy. If you are on Instagram, you can tag me @elishadasenbrock or use the hashtag #heyelisha. (I’m open to suggestions for a hashtag.) If you don’t want to use Instagram, feel free to email me at theartist at elishadasenbrock dot com. It can be something you are grateful for just in that moment or something that has changed your life. If you can figure out a way to sketch solitude, please tell me.

I’m working on a way to post them to this blog so we can all see them in one spot, but hopefully we can make do in the meantime.




About Elisha

Elisha Dasenbrock is an award winning, international watercolor artist. She paints with a limited palette on claybord. Dasenbrock graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2009 and has been painting professionally ever since.