Stuck for drawing ideas? These 70+ prompts will inspire you to pick up your sketchbook and reach for your drawing tools. Whether you are a beginner or professional artist, we all need some drawing inspiration sometimes.
Find the perfect subject to draw, whether that is a portrait, some flowers, a still life, or wildlife. Plus, get some helpful tips on how to use different drawing mediums, such as graphite, charcoal, marker and colouring pencils.
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Portrait drawing ideas
Draw a face from scratch
Draw simple male and female faces from scratch. This tutorial is perfect for beginners who have never tried drawing a face before, or want to improve their current drawing abilities. Learn to draw each face step by step, from drawing a circle, to spacing the features, drawing the eyes, nose and mouth.
The hardest part about drawing a face for many artists is achieving symmetry. In this tutorial, pick up the basics of rendering a symmetrical face shape, with evenly spaced features.
Sketch multiple faces
Watch HamRib Art’s process of drawing stylised faces. Get yourself some soft graphite pencils and a sketchbook, or use the supplies you already have! HamRib Art goes into detail about how to first build the head structure to map out where the features will go to improve accuracy in drawing. Getting a sketchbook is the perfect way to log practice and improvement in drawing, plus you can make awesome double page spreads like this artist!
Draw the head from an angle
When we first learn to draw faces, we often draw them facing forwards. This lesson will help you practice drawing faces from any angle. This can help give you the confidence to approach life drawing, or character drawing of portraits in different positions and from different angles. Drawing subjects from many different perspectives can change the composition and mood of a piece, it adds variety to a drawing.
Draw a face using a grid
Draw a woman’s face using a grid. By using a grid to measure out proportions, you can improve the accuracy and structure of a drawing. A great drawing is often planned beforehand in this manner. Drawing headshots like this are incredibly fun—once the structure is in place, focus on shading. Artist Emmy Kalia also shares tips on how to render shadows and highlights in portraits.
Portrait drawing with charcoal
Charcoal is a drawing medium that you can achieve brilliant contrast and softness with. The artist Mad Charcoal uses large drawing paper and Pan Pastels with a Sofft Tool to block in basic shapes. Then he refines the basic shapes with soft charcoal pencil. This artist takes a completely different approach to portrait drawing, by starting with a palette knife shaped sponge tool. By using this method, the finished form will emerge from basic shapes. This relieves the pressure of having to be precise with the drawing from the offset and encourages a more gestural and loose drawing style.
Draw a portrait on toned paper
Create your drawing on grey or brown toned paper, get a white pencil and see how the highlight tones pop! There are lots of benefits to drawing on toned paper, with the mid tone already established, you’ll spend less time sketching all the mid tones yourself. This can make you more efficient at drawing, as what you’ll have left to focus on are the shadow and highlight tones. It’s also easier to perceive value relationships by working on a mid tone ground. Watch how this artist VitruvianStudio creates a wonderful portrait with subtle tonal transitions and realistic values in the video.
Draw a celebrity
Take some inspiration from Art By Ali Haider and draw Taylor Swift, he gives some tips on accurately drawing noses and mouths. Or you can draw your favourite celebrity, find a stock image online, or a still from your favourite movie and create your masterpiece.
Focus on one part of the anatomy and draw hands. Arguably, hands are one of the most difficult parts of the body to draw. This is because they can be moved into so many different positions, that it’s hard to practice getting the shapes and proportions right, alongside the angle and gesture. I’ve had a lot of portrait artists tell me that they don’t like drawing hands, so they just avoid doing it completely. If you’ve ever had this feeling, why not face your fear and force yourself to draw the difficult parts.
Draw a figure
Find an approach to drawing figures—portraits don’t always have to be about head shots. This class will equip you so you can feel confident in rendering the whole human form whenever you feel like it. It would be especially helpful for practising for art class, or life drawing class. In the video, Richard Smitheman goes over some of the basic anatomical placements so you can better understand proportions in figures.
Take a portrait drawing class
In this class on Skillshare, artist Chris Hong will show you how to draw portraits with lighting that gives artwork a sense of liveliness. Level up your portrait skills and learn how to render complex values. Chris Hong’s approach to teaching is practical and clear, plus her whimsical character art is beautiful!
Landscape drawing ideas
Draw a mountain landscape: focus on atmospheric perspective
The key to creating accurate landscape drawings is in conveying distance through atmospheric perspective. In this video, the instructor Circle Line Art School shows viewers how to make distant objects appear as if they are receding into the background with graphite. Learning how to draw atmospheric perspective is an important compositional technique and it will bring your landscape drawings to life.
Sketch landscapes quickly
The art instructor ArtTutor.com shows artists how to quickly draw complex elements in landscapes, such as foliage. When drawing and painting, it’s not necessary to draw every tiny detail. Artists can omit details by creating the impression of texture in landscapes, if they want to complete a drawing more quickly. The artist captures the essence of the scene by accurately rendering the shadow and highlight values and creating texture by roughly hatching in the shadows. This translates the basic elements of the scene to an effective artwork.
Draw a seascape with graphite powder
An art supply that you may not have heard of, but is also incredibly useful in quickly laying down midtones and creating soft blends is graphite powder. Brush the powder onto the paper, or use a sponge tool like a Sofft Tool to create wonderfully elegant and realistic subtle tones. Watch how the artist Smoothie77 Drawing & Painting creates the impression of soft light and fluffy clouds using graphite in this form. This effect would have been more difficult to achieve with graphite pencil.
Plein air sketching
Grab your sketchbook and take it with you outdoors! Whether that’s to the park, the garden, a local beauty spot or on your travels. Sarah Burns Studio takes a small piece of drawing paper and clips it to her sketchbook to draw a tree in a Scottish forest. If you love being outdoors and in nature, drawing what’s around you is another way to appreciate the flora and fauna when on a hike.
Trees are pretty simple to draw when you break the process down into steps. Trees are organic in shape and are therefore pretty forgiving when it comes to drawing accuracy, as there’s more room for improvisation, instead of copying straight from a reference. Watch how the artist Dan Beardshaw draws three simple trees, from the trunks to the leaves, and how he approaches bringing all the elements together.
Urban sketching and cityscape ideas
Draw iconic houses from TV
A fun idea from Minnie Small is to draw famous TV houses, from your favourite movie, cartoon or TV show. Minnie draws the houses from Charmed, That’s So Raven and many more! Draw with whatever medium you like, with graphite pencils, or ink pen. Architectural line drawings in this style look better when drawn with slightly harder pencils or ink, so try drawing with a HB to achieve hard edges.
Draw a cityscape skyline
Alphonso Dunn shows artists how to break down and approach drawing a seemingly complex city skyline. He encourages artists to make measurements and divisions in the reference before starting to more accurately draw the scene. Alphonso Dunn has a workbook on Pen & Drawing on Amazon.
In this video, find five basic tips for drawing architecture. From tuning observation skills, to using a technique called sighting to measure the proportions of the scene in front of you. Use these skills to draw complex buildings and street scenes with accurate perspective.
Draw a cottage
In this Skillshare class, learn how to draw houses step by step, starting with an old cottage. The teacher Elwira Pawlikowska gives a deep dive on perspective, construction, details and shading. She will teach you how to draw your own cottage in 5 easy steps.
Draw your pet
How to draw white fur
Drawing fur is tricky, especially white fur. In life settings, colours that appear white, are never true white. They are often a light tone of another colour. Kirsty Rebecca Fine Art demonstrates this by putting her reference photo into Photoshop and picking colours from her dog’s fur. She samples blues, browns, greys and yellow tones that all appear as white. Creating a subtle tonal range in fur is how you can make it appear realistic in coloured pencil drawings.
Draw a labrador retriever
Draw the cute face of a Labrador Retriever! This video by How2DrawAnimals is beginner friendly and will walk you through step by step how to draw the dog’s face starting with two circles. A great tip from the instructor is to start with light pressure, that way you can erase mistakes easily. Gradually apply more pressure with each layer when you’re confident of the placement of different elements. For example in the final stages, you will be shading with more pressure.
Draw a rabbit
Draw a rabbit from scratch, starting with a grid. Artist markcrilley talks you through each step, to make an accurate drawing. Make sure to draw the grid light, so you can erase it after. To create fur texture quickly, shade the mid tone, then get a fine tip eraser to create highlights and go in with a pencil applying more pressure to detail darker fur sections. Colour your rabbit however you want! You can use colouring pencils, or even paint. Once you have the outline you can make the artwork your own.
Basic cat drawing
This is a super easy, beginner friendly tutorial on how to draw a cat in a more cartoony style. It may be a great place to start if you’ve not got any experience drawing animals. This is a really fun drawing to try and won’t take as long as some of the other ideas on this list to complete.
Draw a dog realistically
If you want to try your hand at creating an astoundingly impressive drawing, this video shows artists how to shade fur, eyes and whiskers realistically. The artist Art By Ali Haider had already completed his sketch at the start using the grid method to scale up a reference photo to paper. If you want to learn how to do the grid method for yourself, check out our tutorial. A photorealistic drawing like this takes time and patience, but the results are worth it!
Wildlife drawing ideas
Draw a bird
Art Online Tutorials starts this beautiful bird drawing with a line of action and the main shapes. If you want to create a more blended look in your drawing, get some blending stumps. Soft pencil texture works great for filling in backgrounds.
Draw a butterfly
The difficulty in drawing a butterfly is in achieving symmetry in the wing formation. The instructor, How2DrawAnimals, simplifies the butterfly wings by drawing the most basic shapes first. The video is helpfully divided into chapters, so you can see the steps broken down.
Draw animals from life
One option, when looking for wildlife drawing ideas, is to get outside and see if you can find any animals you can draw from life. You may need to sketch quickly to capture the form before the animal moves, but you will get some completely unique references. If you like the pose an animal is in, take a photo then take it back to the studio to draw later. Drawing wildlife in their natural habit will help you better understand their form, the way they move and their environment, which will enable you to draw them more accurately.
Draw a lion
Draw an impressive lion, with graphite pencil. LethalChris Drawing shows artists how to draw each of the lion’s features accurately, using lines for measurements. Start with the eyes, then draw the nose, paying attention to how it narrows at the bottom. The artist achieves realistic fur textures by varying pressure to create a range of shadow and highlight values.
Draw a leopard
Draw a leopard step by step with markcrilley. The fun part is detailing the patterns on the fur. The artist finishes the drawing by increasing the contrast in the eyes and the spots with a dark black Primsacolor wax pencil, which is ultra pigmented and soft, allowing artists to achieve deep shadow colours.
Draw an elephant using proportional dividers
In lots of these drawing ideas, we’ve used the grid technique to achieve accuracy. Another tool you can use is the scale divider. Mark out the height and width of different elements to create a perfect drawing. Drawing complex forms like elephant trunks and ears is made much easier with this tool.
Take an animal drawing class
Learn to draw all manner of different animals in this class on Skillshare. Ethan Nguyen Shows artists, with the examples of drawing a dog and tiger the process of achieving an accurate animal drawing comprehensively. He goes into detail about the fundamentals, showing artists the grid method of drawing, elements of shading and how to make smooth gradations.
Draw flowers and plants
Easy rose drawing
Roses can be pretty complex flowers to draw, they have lots of curling petals that get smaller as they reach the centre. Watch this artist draw a rose step by step. Start with a light sketch, if you want to erase light lines, use a kneadable eraser.
Draw house plants
Draw whatever plants you keep in your house! Watch as creosfera draws a set of houseplants, pots included.
Draw a sunflower
Draw a sunflower with pen and ink. The Virtual Instructor starts with an outline drawing, then draws details with an ink pen. The artist shows viewers how to create tiny details and shade using contour lines.
Create a peony line drawing
Take this class on Skillshare and draw beautiful peonies and other florals with ink pen, to create illustrative line drawings. Use your new illustration skills to decorate sketchbooks, bullet journals or even cards and invitations.
Still life drawing ideas
Pencil still life palette knife and fruit
Follow along with this still life drawing, or create your own unique set-up. You can use whatever you have around the house to create set-ups like these, crockery, cutlery, fruit, plants. The reference Fine Art Academy has used in this tutorial is especially interesting, with the contrasting textures of the rustic wood and soft fabric. The solid block gives geometric form, which contrast to the organic curved fruits and the reflective palette knife provides the brightest highlights in the drawing.
To formalise the initial shapes of the drawing, the artist uses straight lines, as these are easier to measure. These straight lines are refined and modified after the proportions are sketched out. The instructor uses contour and cross contour sketching techniques to achieve the change in values.
Still life cup and saucer
The circular and elliptical forms of a tea cup are hard to draw accurately. Circle Line Art School shows artists how to combat these shapes step by step. The artists shows viewers how to find mid tones in the drawing, then increases the contrast. Optionally, you can use a white pencil, or pastel to draw the white highlights for the reflections in the silver spoon, this will make it pop out of the page.
Draw an apple
Draw a juicy apple by watching this timelapse process. The artist shows viewers how to shade using the hatching technique. Use a regular graphite HB pencil for this tutorial and use a sketchbook, or any kind of drawing paper you have.
Layer graphite to create a realistic strawberry
This impressive realistic strawberry drawing by Gemma Chambers Art is completed in multiple layers. When created blended drawings with subtle variations in values such as this, it’s important to start with light pressure. Use a soft graphite pencil, and a kneadable eraser to lift graphite to reveal subtle highlights. It can also be helpful to get an eraser with a fine point to reveal tiny highlights and reflections on the fruit.
Draw a pineapple on toned paper
For this tutorial, I used burnt umber and white Polychromos oil pencils to draw this pineapple, but you can use regular graphite. I started by drawing a grid, then sketching the broad shapes. The trickiest part of the drawing is the curling leaves, so start with small leaves at the bottom and gradually increase the size.
Realistic drawing ideas
Easy realistic water droplet drawing
One of the easiest subjects to draw realistically is a water droplet. To achieve the smooth blended appearance on the water’s surface, get a paper stump, or even a q-tip and blend the graphite on the paper. Achieve softer pencil lines with softer graphite pencils, such as a 4B or 6B. A smooth paper like Bristol board will allow you to render the finest details, without the paper texture obscuring pencil lines.
Draw a hyperrealistic eye
Eyes make for an interesting subject. This eye drawing tutorial shows you every step to drawing an eye from scratch. Drawing with a soft graphite pencil and blending with a tortillion will help you achieve ultra smooth blends in the skin. There is a lot of blending involved in drawing an eye. Get a white gel pen, or even some white gouache to create the brightest highlights at the end.
Draw a realistic eagle
Try drawing this awesome looking eagle, with graphite powder and pencils. You can also use yellow colouring pencil for the eye. Use tortillions or brushes as blending tools. Use a Mono Zero eraser to draw highlights on the feathers and beaks. A good tip is to rest your hand on tracing paper when you’re drawing, so as not to smudge the pencil beneath. Kneaded erasers work wonderfully to create the unique texture of the beak, as it will lift the graphite, not erasing it completely.
Realistic ice cream drawing
Talented artist Marcello Barenghi uses mixed media to create these hyperrealistic drawings. He uses a mix of coloured pencils, markers, acrylic paint and even airbrush for some shadows. Marcello draws layer upon layer to create colourful details. Watch how an artist approaches creating realism like this, and get inspired to create your own ice cream drawing!
Draw a glass realistically
Instructor markcrilley shows artists how to shade glass. Glass is a complex material to draw, its transparency and reflections make for some interesting shape, edge, highlight and shadow combinations. Depending on the shape of the glass and the position of the light source, objects behind the glass will look distorted and objects surrounding it will reflect off of the surface. Mark walks you through how to interpret the reference, and shows viewers step by step how to translate this to a drawing.
Charcoal drawing ideas
Draw a figure with charcoal
Zin Lim starts this figure drawing by making measurements and sketching the basic shapes, then moves on to refining the details. Charcoal lends itself to highly contrasted marks and a loose almost painterly style of drawing. Artists can quickly render a form with the medium. Find your own figure reference photos on a stock image site, or go to a life drawing class. Kneadable erasers work well to lift highlights from charcoal drawings, without leaving residue on the paper.
Draw a mountain with charcoal
Miroslav The Pencil Maestro tapes around the edges of his paper to make clean lines around the drawing, then sharpens the charcoal onto the paper to create charcoal powder, which he then brushes over the page to create a mid tone base for the sky. This is a great hack for creating a soft blended mid tone quickly. Alternatively, you can buy powdered charcoal specifically made for this technique. The artist uses an eraser, piece of charcoal and a brush to create the light and dark areas of the mountain against the sky backdrop. The contours of the mountain will start to take shape as you progress with the piece. You could even go in with a white pencil to highlight the light areas. Make sure to place a scrap piece of tracing paper under your hand to protect the drawing from smudging.
Accurately draw light and shadow with charcoal: draw a pear
If you’re new to charcoal drawing, start with a simple form to practice rendering light and shadows. Yong Chen shows artists how light is cast over the basic shapes that make up the body of the pear.
Try a different approach to portrait drawing
In this drawing, it appears as if the artist sculpts the figure from tonal masses on the paper. Use a Mono Zero eraser, tortillion and sponge tools to create subtle, soft value transitions. Then refine the highlights and shadows in the last layers. Because the artwork starts with the broad shapes and tones, artists don’t need to specifically measure placements of features. It’s much easier to determine where the eye will sit if you’ve already established the shadows under the brow, for example. This approach to drawing with charcoal exudes spontaneity, with a loose, almost painterly style, it’s incredibly fun to try. The focus throughout the drawing process is on rendering the quality of light, rather than focussing on detailing contrasted looking features that would appear in a hyperrealistic work. Many artists gravitate to this style more than others.
Draw a boat on the water with charcoal
Draw your own beautiful boat scene in this Skillshare class. The teacher Diane Flick will show you how to outline the scene, how to create texture with charcoal and how to use the materials. This class will help you improve drawing accuracy and better understand the charcoal medium.
Coloured pencil drawing ideas
Draw a realistic cherry with coloured pencil
Coloured pencils, such as Polychromos Oil Pencils are incredibly conducive to realism drawing, due to their soft pigmented nature and layering potential. Make sure that you have paper with a ‘tooth’ or sanded surface texture to allow coloured pencil to adhere properly. A paper like Pastelmat would do the job perfectly. Of course, you don’t have to draw this realistically, but this video perfectly demonstrates the potential of this amazingly vibrant medium.
Draw a bird with coloured pencil
Follow along with this tutorial and learn how to draw bird feathers with layers of either wax or oil pencil. To build multiple layers with ease, get pastel paper. This bird has a cute, soft, feathery appearance and is a great project to try if you love drawing birds or wildlife.
Draw a coloured pencil self portrait
A great drawing idea is to try a self portrait. Either do this from a photo, or stand in front of a mirror to draw. You can try with any drawing medium you like, whether that’s coloured pencil, charcoal or graphite.
Create a coloured pencil drawing on black paper
In this Skillshare class, teacher Sandrine Curtiss shows artists how to draw impressive animal portraits on black paper. The dark background of the paper really makes the pencil drawings pop out of the page. Use opaque, pigmented pencils like Polychromos on black Pastelmat, or sanded coloured paper.
Marker drawing ideas
Draw a realistic portrait with marker
Copic markers blend wonderfully and can be used to create realistic tonal transitions. Watch talented artist ActionHankBeard draw in real time starting with the lightest shades. Copic Markers work best on ultra smooth paper, like Bristol Board.
Create a marker drawing with three colours
You don’t need lots of different colours to make an amazing drawing. Margaret Morales uses a limited palette of blue, blue green and a peach shade to create this cool portrait illustration. Choose a colour scheme for your artwork before you begin and choose the corresponding markers to use. You can even blend these colours to create neutral shadow tones. Make sure to choose colours that give variation in value, so you can accurately render shadows and highlights.
Draw Spiderman with Copic Marker
Follow along with this tutorial and draw Spiderman. Or find your own reference of your favourite movie or comic book character. This is the perfect demonstration that shows the blending ability of Copic markers. Use a fine liner ink pen for the details and a white coloured pencil for the highlights.
Draw a sci-fi truck with Copic Markers
Design your own sci-fi truck and colour it with Copic Markers. The key to achieving blends with Copic Markers is working light to dark and drawing on ultra smooth paper that has a low absorbency, like Bristol Board. If you enjoy drawing vehicles, like cars or motorbikes, get creative and design your own like Scott Robertson.
Draw a cupcake with markers
Draw a sweet cupcake with Copic Markers in this Skillshare class. Use Olga Sh’s references, or use your own cupcake references to create beautifully colourful cupcake illustrations. Olga goes through the basic techniques for using professional alcohol markers and the process of drawing the cupcake illustration in an easy to follow manner.
Ink drawing ideas
Cabin in the woods ink drawing
Draw a cabin in the woods and combine your skills of drawing architecture and landscape. Rendering values with ink is different to other mediums. Darker areas of a drawing are depicted with thicker lines, or lines placed closer to one another. To create the appearance of shadow, use the hatching technique, or create contour lines. The composition of The Virtual Instructor’s drawing is really wonderful, with the circular frame and cabin surrounded by grasses and trees.
Abstract ink drawing
Design patterns with ink, get some geometry tools and let yourself play with lines and curves to create aesthetically pleasing illustrations. Peter Draws uses some interesting shading techniques, using lines and dot patterns to signify areas of light and dark.
Fantasy ink drawing ideas
Draw a mushroom with ink
Draw a small simple object like a mushroom to exercise your pen and ink drawing skills. Alphonso Dunn demonstrates several skills and techniques to use with ink and describes how to create the appearance of reflection on a dark surface.
Character drawing ideas
Create an OC character
Oliver’s Antics demonstrates his process of designing characters. Oliver shows viewers the importance of planning the context and a backstory for the character.
Use shapes in character design
Chelsea Gracei talks about shape language and how shapes can be used to convey certain aspects of a character’s personality. Watch the artist first analyse popular characters, then create a series of three characters using squares circles and triangles. For example, Chelsea talks about how triangles can be used to portray a sense of dynamism from the character, whereas circles symbolise a friendly and welcoming nature that are often used for protagonists.
Art style challenge
Many artists spend hours perfecting their skills, trying different mediums and even trying to draw in different styles. It’s good to experiment as it will show you what you truly enjoy doing. Artist Pypah’s Art draws a self portrait in her own style and then nine other styles including Animal Crossing and Disney. This is a great exercise for understanding character design styles and it may help you to understand your own art style better too!
Inktober is one of the most popular drawing challenges that many artists participate in, in the month of October, sharing their results on Instagram every year. The concept is to create a drawing each day of the month, with prompts found on the Inktober website. Of course, you can use any drawing medium for this, it doesn’t have to be ink. The purpose is to try and develop a regular drawing habit, encouraging artists to practice everyday, even if you can only squeeze in a half an hour sketch. It’s also a really fun way to engage with the arts community on social media and see how other artists interpret the prompt.
Draw every day for a year
If you think you can spare time for drawing every day, try this challenge. Myriam Tillson walks viewers through how to approach setting up a regular drawing practice and how to get incentive to draw each day. Take inspiration from Myriam and get a doodle diary, you could even use some of your doodles as inspirations for larger artworks.
Warm-ups are often overlooked, but if you are planning a large piece that requires precision and detail, warm-ups can help get you into a creative mindset, exercise your drawing muscles and improve focus. Some of these exercises, such as drawing by moving the shoulder only, can act as reminders to artists to not to be too stiff with the way they hold the pencil and move their arms. Drawing by moving the shoulder, instead of wrists, allows artists to create larger lines and circles more accurately.
Gesture drawing exercise
A fantastic drawing exercise for portrait artists, is creating multiple quick gesture sketches. The aim of a gesture drawing is to capture the movement of the subject with a line of action, sketching the basic anatomical forms in different positions. In a gesture drawing, detail is omitted and artists mainly focus on the basic shapes of the body. Practising drawing gestures can help bring future portrait drawings to life.
Drawing hacks to try
Kirsty Partridge Art talks artist through several different drawing hacks they can use to optimise their own process. From using mixed media, such as Pan Pastels with coloured pencils to speed up drawing times, to brushing graphite or charcoal powder on the paper to draw backgrounds and make fine blends. Find more exciting hacks in the video!
An important part of developing an art style and honing your drawing skills, is in allowing yourself some free time to experiment and enjoy the process. Leave some time for doodling and get a sketchbook that you can just draw whatever you feel like in it, without judgement from yourself or without plans to share on social media. In this video find 50 fun doodling ideas, take them away and create them in your own style!
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