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What Should a Beginner Start Drawing?

What do you draw to get started on your artistic journey? Sometimes beginners worry that they’re drawing the wrong things, whether that's influenced by what’s around them or by what others tell them. Is it wrong to just draw fanart all the time? What if you don’t draw realism? Here’s what beginners should start drawing, and why!

What should my child be drawing as a beginner?

A side by side of two artworks, one from the past and one from the present.
Student artwork from our art mentorship program, 4 months apart.

Art instructors will tout the importance of the basics, such as starting to draw with shapes and learning the colour wheel. In a classroom setting, that’s what’s most important, but in their spare time, kids should be drawing whatever they want!

Learning art comes in two forms -- learning the physical basics, and learning to love the craft. In art classes, children will learn to draw with shapes instead of outlines, and how to work through planning their creative process. But outside of that, they’ll most likely choose to draw characters or settings from their favourite movies, shows, or games in pop culture, coming up with their own stories, or drawing what they see around them. Most of the time it’ll be for fun and enjoyment, and arguably, that’s far more important than the basics alone.

💡 Tip: Be wary of art classes that just show children how to copy things -- that limits creative expression and restricts conceptual and original thinking.

What materials should I buy to get started?

A multitude of art supplies organized in a rainbow.

There are a few simple basics we recommend purchasing first if you’re really in the dark:

  • Pens/pencils

  • Markers

  • Pencil crayons

  • Multimedia sketchbook

  • Erasers

  • Paints (acrylic or watercolour)

  • At least 3 different sized brushes (round and flat)

  • Canvas boards

However, every artist has a medium/mediums that they gravitate towards. As a child, I loved working with pencils, pencil crayon, ink, construction paper, and plasticine. As an adult, I mostly work with graphite, ink, marker, and digitally, but the money that was spent on materials went towards what I had an interest in. You don’t need to spend money on materials that your child may not use. See what they have an interest in -- I was given oil paints when I was seven, and I may have used them once before shelving them and never using them again. Observe what your kids are interested in, and if they want to experiment with different materials, that’s when you should make the purchase.

You also don’t need to spend tons of money on the best materials first. Children tend to want stationery that’s a little more fun -- I certainly had fun drawing on coloured paper and with cool looking pens! In fact, I still use pens that are a little more fun. Even though they’re not top of the market, they feel more fun to work with. If you have a budding digital artist, many good digital art programs like Medibang Paint Pro are completely free, and beginner art tablets work just fine.

💡 Tip: No need to buy the most expensive thing on the market! You can always “upgrade” to a better quality set when your child reaches a creative milestone, and use it as motivation!

The creative journeys of artists at Winged Canvas

Winged Canvas is chock full of professional artists, and we all started by drawing different things. Here are a few examples of our artistic journeys, starting off with my own!

A fan comic page (age 9) vs A page from Jessie's comic "Say Hello, Greyson!" (2021)

I grew up surrounded by artists of all kinds, including musicians, visual artists, writers and culinary artists. So it only felt natural to want to pursue art myself! When I was really young, I started with doodles of elephants, unicorns, and varying Nintendo characters. However, my all time favourite thing to do was staple a few sheets of paper together and write my own stories and comics, whether they were fanart or original characters. Fanart of the games I played and anime I watched had a huge impact on my artistic journey, and it’s what I drew constantly for a good decade of my life.

To be totally honest, I never really got serious about my art until I hit around 13 or 14 years old, even though I’ve been drawing since I was in diapers. Basics were never important to me, but I found a SERIOUS change in my art once I actually began to learn them. For the majority of my life, I believed I wanted to be a game artist since I grew up with video games. But after a year of studying it in college, I learned that at heart I was a storyteller. Currently, I find myself specializing in character art and comics, coming full circle to when I was a kid!

A childhood drawing (age 2-3) vs. Professional pre-production artwork (2015)

Yeri is one of our digital art and animation instructors! Growing up, she mainly drew people, most notably her grandmother and grandfather. For most of her childhood, they were the ones who looked after her since her parents were busy with work or her youngest sister. She also grew up drawing a lot of puppies -- her grandfather had a dog that gave birth to a litter of 5 puppies, so she would draw them and show them to as many people as she could!

Yeri also grew up inspired by cartoons and anime, and that became the catalyst for her current career as an animator. She began her animation career in the UK, and lived in London for around four years and worked as a background artist and animator for a few studios. Currently, she continues to freelance as an animator!

Jay is one of our graphic designers, and an art mentor specializing in design! Growing up, he was influenced by a slew of games that he played, such as Pokemon, Fire Emblem, or Super Smash Bros. But along with the fan art, he also focused on drawing hands, stills, and 3D shapes.

He continued to further his artistic skill throughout highschool, and graduated with an acceptance into York/Sheridan’s joint design program. Currently, he continues to work as a graphic designer with experience in corporate branding, lettering, photography, illustration, and UX/UI design!

A childhood drawing (age 6) vs A personal painting (2021)

Fei is our creative director and founder of Winged Canvas! She grew up within an artistic family, and considers herself lucky enough to be encouraged to pursue and practice art. Her favourite things to draw as a kid were Disney cartoons, along with enjoying writing and illustrating stories.

As she grew up and knew she wanted to be an artist, she was encouraged to draw more from observation. As a teen, all she wanted to do was draw portraits of her favourite movie stars, and was obsessed with drawing realistic eyes. However, she wishes she drew more freely as a child without reference, and wished she created her own original characters rather than just copying everything around her.

Initially, Fei went to post secondary school with illustrating children’s books as her career path. However, she ended up falling in love with graphic design and communication arts, because she was able to advocate for causes and create a bigger impact. She worked as an art director in design and advertising for years, and finally realized that her first passion is teaching, so she founded Winged Canvas in 2013!

Arruniya is one of our art instructors for kids, specializing in art foundations. As a kid, she would constantly ask her aunt to draw pictures for her so she could learn how to draw. Her aunt would often draw palm trees and beaches, which Arruniya later realized resonated with homeland and familiar imagery. She would draw pictures over and over to try and master her understanding of various concepts including landscapes and people. Her fascination of interpreting the world only grew from there -- art was the interpretation of the world, ideas, thoughts and feelings that communicated our experiences in it.

Arruniya continued her art through high school and undergrad, graduating from OCAD university before becoming a certified teacher! She currently practices exploring what creativity means and how it can be communicated in different ways.

At the end of the day, art is all about enjoyment and the freedom to express and create! Your child should enjoy what they’re doing when starting out and when continuing their artistic studies. If you know a budding artist, check out our beginner drawing and other virtual classes to help that love of art grow while still learning the fundamentals. If you’re a teacher, take a look at our school workshops and our free resources for teachers to teach your classroom the fundamentals of art!

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