5 Tips for Drawing Realistically-Updated

Myra Naito
3 min readDec 16, 2021

When it comes to how to draw realistically, the simple answer is…it requires time and practice. That’s not the answer most people want to hear. They want the secret on how to draw realistically now. The truth is, there is no magic pencil that can help you do that. And in fact, for many years, I did so with your average Ticonderoga #2. Yep. The same yellow pencil you used in elementary school. Heck, I’ve been at this for the better part of 50 years! Seriously. There’s no way around the practice. If you’re not willing to do it, it’s just not going to happen.

I can give you the tips, but you have to put in the practice.

1.Learn how to see like an artist.

This is first and foremost. An artist’s eye breaks things down into basic shapes rather than trying to draw all the details from the get-go. It’s like building a house. You can’t put up the roof and fancy windows before you lay the foundation and frame of the house. The basic shapes are the framework for your drawing. If you can’t get this down, drawing realistically will always elude you.

All of my initial sketches are this light or even lighter in order to avoid hard lines that I can’t get rid of. (Photo Credit: Myra Naito)

2.Keep your initial sketches light.

Don’t press so hard that you engrave the tabletop! Initial sketches are just for you to plot things out. This stage should be VERY light and VERY soft. You want this sketch to be light enough for you to erase easily if necessary.

With proper shading, you turn a flat circle into a believable 3D sphere. Shading is crucial for drawing realistically. (Photo Credit: Myra Naito)

3.Value, or shading, is crucial to drawing realistically.

Value creates volume and depth. Not all shadows are the same grey. Most people are afraid to make their shadows as dark as they truly are. This makes your drawing appear washed out and flat. At the same time, they don’t keep their highlights as bright as they should be (the white of the paper) or in the right place. If your highlights and shadows are not lined up properly, your drawing will look awkward and off perspective-wise.

Drawing realistically requires believable shading. Shading by drawing in small circles rather than scribbling back and forth creates a smoother finish. (Video Credit: Myra Naito)

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Myra Naito

Freelance copywriter who is passionate about art and fitness. Check out my art blog at mnatiodesigns.com/blog/ or follow me @mnaito_fineart .