Sketching: Learning to draw lines

Sketching lines practice
Lines practice

A sketching update.  I have been doing some on and off. I need to get into more of a routine with it.

It sounds stupid, but I’ve been learning to draw straight lines, free-hand.  This is the first thing that my “Drawing Ideas” book explains; trying to nail the basic components of drawing so that later, when you come to draw more complex forms, you’re not thinking about it.  Even to the extent that you’ve build muscle memory for simple shapes.

But drawing straight lines, it turns out, isn’t as easy as it seems.

My book advocates good posture, a good desk with good light and a drawing action that engages the whole arm from the shoulder, not just the wrist and elbow.  It’s working quite nicely.

But I’ve also discovered a few things that the book doesn’t mention about drawing lines.

Faster isn’t better

I had this theory that focussing my eyes on where I wanted the line to go and then moving as fast as possible would lead to the straightest lines.  But, counter-intuitively, I get straighter lines when going slightly slower.  I discovered this when a rollerball pen I was using couldn’t keep up with fast lines, so I slowed it down a bit, and got better results.

I think there’s a sweet spot and that going too slow also creates more wobble though.

More sketching lines practice
More line practice – this time with some ink too!

Flat means straight

I’m mostly drawing in sketch books, which is proving not to be the best material.  This is because it’s easy to wobble your lines if the page/surface isn’t flat. In fact, an un-even surface seems to override any attempt I make to draw straight. Even fold-flat sketch books can have a slight slope towards the middle, and so drawing straight lines on ANY part of the page is proving to be pretty impossible. I suspect a hard surface with a single sheet of paper is better.

Stop at the edge

Another issue with sketch books is that they don’t let you go to the edge.  On right-hand pages (I’m right-handed) there’s a drop-off where you can’t rest your wrist. And on left-hand pages the binding and right-hand page get in the way.  This means that, especially with a small notebook, you can’t use as much of the page as you would like.


Seriously.  I’m a competent, thirty-something professional person, and I’m having problems with drawing straight lines.

It turns out there are lots of nuances to this sketching lark!!

I’ve got to draw squares next. What can possibly go wrong?