Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Warming up to sketch? Here are some benefits


Anybody who has spent time amongst first responders such as firemen, paramedics, military personnel and athletes of all levels (and Chicago winters for that matter) will know that practice, drills and a proper warm up are an essential part of being ready at a moment's notice when duty calls. Practice keeps the team in shape and alert for whatever comes their way. It also lets the team leaders work out the details on how the team will communicate and perform with each other so there is clarity and simplicity across the group. Another part of the practice and drills are in becoming familiar with all kinds of probable scenarios the team may face in real life-or-death situations so that they do not panic under pressure.

Am I suggesting that sketching requires warm up and practice to prepare for life-or-death situations? Not unless you are faced with the eleventh hour of turning in your final project for master's thesis or a big client presentation. What I am suggesting is that there may be some value in warming up your hands and brain before you attempt your sketch. 

Here are some of the main benefits to warming up. What are some of your warm-ups?


  • getting yourself in the right frame of mind
  • learn to search for a scene that resonates with you
  • look for a story to tell and create a sketch that tells that story


  • loosen up your wrist and arm
  • increase your range of motion
  • quick studies that help synch up the hand and eye coordination
  • play around with basic shapes and scale


  • practice making mistakes on purpose
  • try out new ideas without fear of messing anything up
  • test out your drawing tools, make sure they are in working order and find out how they will behave on certain papers


  1. Such a great post! Great and useful ideas discussed with humor! Love it! Thanks!

    1. Thank you Alex. I had a lot of fun with this and perhaps that is what you picked up on.

  2. Great tips and advice as usual plus all the the great illustrations that you create so well!
    This was not immediately Bly helpful but fun.
    Now I'm "fired" up to sketch!

    1. Thank Susan as always. I needed this warm up before the recent Field Museum event. I arrived late and had to catch up pretty quickly. While I was stuck on my delayed train, I should've taken that time to warm up. I'm glad I fired you up to sketch!

  3. I really appreciate this article! Especially the tip to draw from the shoulder! I always had troubles drawing smooth long lines. Drawing from the shoulder is giving me so much more control. Thank you!!!! - See more at:
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