Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer



Accurate drawing for beginners – tutorial


For some, it can be a bit of a slog learning how to draw. This month’s tutorial is ideal for those who have always wanted to be able to draw but can’t get the accuracy, or as a practice in recognising shape and training the eye to depict what is actually there for those with a little more experience. I was taught this method whilst at college 11 years ago and have used it regularly ever since.

You will need:


  • A reference image (your own printed photograph is ideal, alternatively you can use free image sites – be aware of copyright)
  • A pencil (I use HB/2B for drawing)
  • A fine-liner drawing pen (optional)
  • ruler
  • paper


Take your reference image and draw a box around it, with a little space around the image. It’s easier to use whole numbers; mine was 12 x 14 cm.



Measure 1cm marks along the top and bottom of the box, then draw a line using your ruler to join them.




Repeat step above along the remaining sides of your box, so you are left with a ‘grid’, which you should then number per square (e.g mine is 1-12 and 1-14 – see picture below)




You now need to draw your grid on your plain paper. Make it the same size, with the same amount of boxes. So mine would be 12 x 14 cm, with each box labelled 1-12 and 1-14. Now it’s a matter of ‘transferring’ what you see in your reference image to your piece of paper.


Work square-by-square, concentrating on how much of each square the image takes up.


Below you can see how the piece progresses, stage-by-stage. (Darkened to show pencil better)








Once you’ve finished transferring your image, you now need to rub out the numbers and lines surrounding it. I recommend Derwent eraser pen as it’s easier to get into nooks and crannies. Eraser pencils are available, as well as battery-operated eraser pens, however i feel the most purse-friendly and best working to be this eraser pen.


step6 This step is optional, but if you like a defined outline, then now is the time to carefully draw around your image with a fine liner. Normal fine liners can ‘bleed’ so it’s best to use pens intended for drawing. I use Pilot DR drawing pen in either 01 or 02. They’re widely available, including from Amazon and The Range as well as WHSmiths and Hobbycraft.



The above method can also be used as an exercise in gaining practice with colour mixing. Below is an example which I have held on to since my college days when I realised the grid system has huge potential to allow novices to develop not only an eye for seeing accurate shape and space, but also allow you to home-in on each individual square, rather than the whole picture, meaning more attention is paid to the components of a painting/image, rather than the image as a ‘whole’, which can be daunting. Painting and drawing is all about adding bit-by-bit.

Left: A section of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘The Annunciation’ Right: Colour study 2008 Hanna-Mae Williams


See what I created using our little robin friend! Perfect for kids and colouring fans, get a unique wipe-clean Christmas card here: Folksy shop


Some Wednesday words of wisdom


When working on a fine-detail drawing, to get an extra sharp pencil point use both a sharpener and then gently run a very sharp craft knife over the tip. I use Kum Extra Long Point Pencil Sharpener and Jakar Hobby Knife.





If you use turpentine to thin your oil paints or oil pastels, a cheaper yet just as effective alternative is to head to the DIY section/shop and look out for ‘white spirit’. Price comparison: Winsor & Newton ‘Artists White Spirit’ (turpentine) from The Range – £7.99 per litre. Wickes ‘White Spirit Low Odour’ – £1.90 per litre. Note: Please follow environmental/safety advice provided with turpentine/white spirit.



Save jam jars, marmalade jars, coffee jars etc. Especially if you are using oils/water-mixable oils, you will need to replace water jars several times a year as grime builds up.




I was delighted to discover B pencils that exceeded the usual 6B maximum you often get in sketching sets, yet, in my personal experience 7B-9B pencils offer not much more depth. To get deeper shadows, try cross-hatching using a fine-liner. I use Pilot DR drawing pens in 01 and 02. BE WARNED: Use a light touch to avoid crushing the nib!


And whilst on the topic of fine-liners…don’t be tempted by pens that aren’t designed to be used in art work as they may bleed. Some things are ok to scrimp on, whilst others in the long run will cost you more. Plastic palettes and rulers – yes; paper, brushes, and mediums in general – no.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: