Sketch Basics

Sketching is a visual language, and as with any language, there are elements that go together to form more structured forms of communication. In sketching or drawing, we use line as one of the most basic components in visual communication. Line does not exist in reality, but it is a mere representation of the edge of an object, or in other words, the point at which we cannot see past the change in surface of an object.

Before you begin, remember to relax. There’s nothing worse than sketching when stressed out. Stress will kill your creativity, and the natural flow of things.

Elements: Lines

Lines come in different thicknesses or weights. Depending on the tool you’re using, you may get a heavier or lighter line. Line weight is a means of using heavier lines to bring important details to the “forefront” or attention of the viewer of a sketch.┬áProper use of line weights or thickness when sketching, can help you communicate important details such as overlap and depth.


Lines can communicate different qualities as well. Gestural lines may be used to communicate feeling or emotion, or merely add interest to a sketch. Contour lines communicate form. Construction lines combined with heavier lines show the makeup of the form you are drawing. Following are a few examples of lines that are used in sketching:


With a combination of lines in succession, shape is formed. Shape is a two dimensional representation of form, and typically represents a view of the subject in an orthographic projection. Simply put, it’s the outline of an object.

Form is then simply represented using lines in perspective along with elements such as contour lines, shadow, and shading, to show depth, breadth, and height. Proper use of perspective along with the aforementioned techniques in a two dimensional medium, will allow you to create compelling three dimensional forms while sketching.

Always warm up and practice drawing lines with your shoulder. Drawing with the shoulder allows you to have optimal control through the entire stroke, and will lead to cleaner lines.

I’ll be posting more here in the days ahead, so stay tuned.