Learn to Draw Series

This is part 1 of the full Learn to Draw Series.

Learn to Draw: Part 1

TopHatch designer Lasse Pekkala shares basic sketching techniques, warm ups, and how to relax into your drawing process so you can sketch confidently.

Course Materials

Download Warm Ups Template - Includes PNG, PDF, .concept (iOS) and .concepts (Windows & Android) files.

Learn how to import and use your files below.


As you watch this video, we recommend you have a piece of paper and pencil or a digital tablet with a sketching app like Concepts on hand.

stylus isn’t mandatory but it does help. In Concepts, pencils are pressure and tilt sensitive with a compatible stylus and work great for natural shading. To change your tool on the tool wheel, tap the active tool to bring up the Brushes menu and find one you like.

See below for a list of tools used in the video.

Set Up

If you have a comfortable space you like to spread out and think or sketch in, go ahead and set up there. If you're out and about, bring some paper and a couple of sketching pens in your bag, or your digital tablet and stylus, and find a spot where you can move your arm, shoulders and body comfortably. 

If you’re using an iPad, you can watch the video and sketch at the same time using iOS’s split screen ability:

1. Open the video link.

2. Swipe upward from the bottom of the screen to bring up the command bar.

3. Tap+hold+drag your drawing app's icon and drag it upward to your preferred drawing side (right or left).

4. Expand it to split screen by tap+hold+dragging the inner side edge of the interface toward the center of the screen.

Sketching Tips

•  Make it a habit to warm up every day for 5 to 15 minutes before you draw. Try setting a timer and notice how you feel when you start sketching vs. at the end of the warm up. Sketch as long as it takes to feel comfortable and flexible. You should feel invigorated, not burned out.

•  Always visualize what you are trying to draw, first. Imagine the shape, how it might feel if you are holding the object, and what it might look like if you turn the object. Sketching is a visual exercise and this helps your mind become familiar with what you're drawing.

•  Before committing your ink to the paper, move your hand and flow with the shape you're trying to draw (for example, in a circle or line). You should let your whole arm, shoulders and body move with you. This is the kinetic part of sketching. Drawing is not just about your hand and pencil, it is about your experience with the object or idea.

•  Once you are comfortable with the flow of the shape, touch your pencil or stylus to the page and draw it using the same motion. Try drawing circles, ovals, lines, curves and other shapes so you get comfortable with many types of strokes. Remember that drawing big is just as important as drawing small. Use the included warm ups page to help you, and experiment in every direction on a blank piece of paper.

•  As with any skill, the more time you spend practicing, the faster you’ll make results. The same goes for sketching. Creativity in any field of communication, art or design is a muscle you need to warm up before deciding on a direction for the day. Some professionals warm up for an hour or more before tackling a serious project by loosely sketching, visualizing and brainstorming.

Course Materials

At the end of the video, download this sketching template and try these warm ups for a few minutes each day. You’ll be surprised both at how fun it is, and at how quickly you become confident with your motions and sketching.

You can print and sketch your warm ups traditionally, or you can import the file into a sketching app and draw digitally.

Download Warm Ups Template - Includes PNG, PDF, .concept (iOS) and .concepts (Windows & Android) files

Importing the File

Tap the download link and choose your file type from among the options. 

Downloading a PNG or PDF file:

1. Download the file and choose whether to save it to your photo roll or files.

2. Drag the file onto the canvas from your photo library or files, or use the Import menu to open the file.

Downloading a .concept (iOS) or .concepts (Windows & Android) file:

1. Make sure Concepts is already installed on your device - choose your app version here. Download the .concept (iOS) or .concepts (Windows, Android, Chrome OS) file on this device.

2. Tap open the file. This will bring up an option to Open In your app of choice. Tap Concepts.

3. The file will automatically open for you as a new drawing in the app.

4. Sketch right on top of the file or use layers to organize your work (below).


Concepts Drawing Tips

Using Layers to Track Your Progress

Layers can make your digital drawing a lot like a sketchbook. They are a great way to keep your warm ups all in one place and track how far you’ve come. Draw your warm ups for the day in one layer, sketch in a new layer the next day.

If you're using Concepts to sketch, we have an illustrated tutorial on using Layers here.

1. Once your homework file is imported into Concepts, open your Layers menu.

a. Tap Day 1 (it's pre-labeled for you) and draw if you're using the Concepts file.

b. If you've imported a PNG or PDF file, open the Layers menu. Tap the Automatic / Manual tag to change it to Manual. Tap + New Layer to create a layer above the image, and you’re ready to go.

2. The following day, open the file. Hide the Day 1 layer by tapping the eye beside it, then tap + New Layer. You can change the label to Day 2 by tapping on the active layer thumbnail and tapping the rename icon.

3. After several days have passed, check your progress between your first warm ups and your latest. See how far you’ve come!

Tools Used in the Video

  • 0:00 - Brush Pen Firm (82% opacity)
  • 0:03 - Pen
  • 0:06 - Dynamic Pen (20% smoothing)
  • 0:09 - Brush Pen Medium
  • 0:17 - Felt Tip Marker (10% smoothing)
  • 1:58 - Pen (8% smoothing)
  • 2:39 - Felt Tip Marker (10% smoothing)
  • 4:16 - Brush Pen Firm (82% opacity)
  • 7:33 - Spatter
  • 7:34 - Dynamic Airbrush
  • 7:40 - Spatter G
  • 7:52 - Brush Pen Firm (82% opacity)
  • 8:30 - Pen

Do you have questions about the tutorial? Please email us at concepts@tophatch.com and we'll be happy to help. Comments and feedback are appreciated!

Learn to Draw Playlist on YouTube

Learn to Draw Video + Course Materials by Lasse Pekkala