Sketching and basic shapes


Aside from writing instructions for computers, I am also very passionate about making art. In this blogpost I shall give you an insight into the process that goes into me making a sketch from a reference image. This process description entails a full step-by-step breakdown and emphasizes the importance of getting the basic shapes that make up a figure and their position correct. If you want to see the completed artwork, let me know on any of my social media channels.

The reference image

One of the platforms with a lot of inspiring media for artists is Pinterest. While I was casually perusing Pinterest one day, I stumbled across the image below. Since I’ve always had a penchant for winged fairy creatures, I thought I’d give sketching the angel in the top-left corner a good, hard, try.

Basic shapes

In the voyage of constant learning and experimentation, that constitutes the craft of creating digital/analog art, I discovered very quickly that attempting to draw a figure from basic shapes is essential in making any sort of sketch that can serve as a basis for an colored-in artwork. This not only gives you a good idea of anatomical details and the proportion and location of different anatomical features of a figure, but also constitutes a solid foundation for any starting sketch. The key to making this exercise successful is trying and trying again until you think basic shapes like circles, ovals, rectangles, etc. are where they should be. I’ve broken the figure down in the way you see below.

Extending the basic shapes to make the different components of a figure

After you have made the basic sketch out of basic shapes, one would usually proceed to connecting different shapes and make them resemble the components of a figure. By components I mean different bigger scene components, such as limbs, the head, the region covered by hair, arms, legs, clothing items, etc. In this stage one is trying to make the basic shapes that one drew in the previous step into the bigger components that constitute the scene one is trying to draw. By scene I mean all the different items in the reference image(s). These items can be different people, animals, buildings. This step is halfway to the finish because one is filling out the scene one is trying to draw but omitting the detail such as eyes, noses, whiskers, leaves, and other more detailed components of a scene. In the image below you can see how I moulded the basic shapes from the previous screenshot into something resembling our angel figure from the reference image.

Filling in the deets

Depending on the level of complexity and expressiveness you wish to reach for a certain scene, this step is the penultimate step in having a sketch that can then be colored in. In this step you would fill out smaller details such as faces, clothing folds, creases in hair or the ground, things that make the scene feel alive to the viewer. Depending on how far you would like to take this step, you could also fill in regions with different markers for yourself to mark where you need different colors later on, if and when you should color your artwork. In the case of my angel figure from the reference, you can see how dead and generic she seemed in the screenshot from the previous step but now feels alive and is even showing a bit of attitude.


In terms of the sketch, this is pretty much all there is to the process. What I have left out, of course, is the constant refining and improvement a sketch undergoes in any stage, sometimes obsessively. If you are interested in making art or make art yourself or just wanted to be entertained, I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe you learned a little bit. If you want me to color my sketch in and elaborate on the process, let me know on any of my social channels. You can find those on the "Socials" page of this site.

Angel Dollface