How to hold a pencil for drawing

how to hold a pencil

Learning the proper way to hold a pencil is the first step to drawing great sketches. I'll show you a few different ways of holding the pencil and the advantages of each position.

Why is this so important? In order to make our drawings look like our subjects we need our pencil, hand, and arm, to work together in a smooth fluid motion. This allows us to draw clean correct lines and shape that best describe our subject.

Think of your pencil as a finely crafted rapier (think Zorro’s sword) and you’re learning to wield it like a master swordsman. The more control and precision you have over your pencil, the easier it is to draw exactly what you want.

Don’t worry! With a little practice you'll get the hang of this in no time.

The 2 main methods of holding a pencil

Method 1: The Underhand Method

This is the way I would like you to hold a pencil most of the time. It forces you to draw with your whole arm and not just your wrist. You can draw anything holding the pencil this way, long straight lines, elegent curves, large shapes, small shapes, anything!

  • Grip the pencil gently with your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.
  • Let the knuckles of your ring and pinky fingers glide along the surface of the paper as you draw.
  • Let your hand, forearm, and elbow do most of the moving. Your fingers and pencil should remain relatively still.

It might take you a little while to feel comfortable holding the pencil this way. But after some practice I think you will love the results you get.

how to hold a pencil: underhand position

Method 2: The Writing Method

You can try this method after you have gained some confidence with the Underhand Method described above.

Hold the pencil between your thumb, index, and middle finger like you do when you write. But unlike writing where the fingers and wrist do most of the moving I want you to draw with your whole arm like in the Underhand Method.

  • Grip the pencil as you would when writing.
  • Let your pinky knuckle glide along the surface of your paper as you draw.
  • Move your hand and forearm when you draw. Your fingers and pencil should remain relatively still.

This method offers a bit more control for detailed areas. It’s also more practical for smaller drawings, like in your sketchbooks.

how to hold a pencil: writing position

Experiment with both ways of holding the pencil until you find the position that works best for you. Learning how to hold a pencil takes some practice but it's well worth it.

Now, let’s put your new pencil skills to use in the next lesson.

Lesson 2: Line drawing and simple shapes

› Lesson 1: How to hold a pencil


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