Are You a Lazy Artist If You Just Make Line-Drawing Portraits?

drawing the face sample 2Learning how to sketch line drawings helps you develop strong techniques. Unfortunately, some more experienced artists might look down on you if you are a beginner and can only make line drawings. It’s sad to say, but I’ve known a few artists in my day who forgot what it was like to be a beginner. These artists won’t hesitate to criticize your work, calling you lazy for not “following through” with a completed portrait, or even worse, undermining your existence as an artist altogether! (For the record, though, most artists of any skill level are very supportive of their fellow comrades who are beginners =).

Drawing an image in basic lines, especially when you are trying to maintain proportional accuracy, can be challenging in its own right. Drawing simple lines is a well-known technique used by many famous artists throughout history. If you have a natural desire to be a portrait artist, but you can only make line drawings for now, do not underestimate the power of these simple drawings!

Complexity Grows with Experience

Go to Google and do a search of anything related to “pencil portraits” and you will undoubtedly be blown away by the incredible attention to detail in the results. You may feel like an inferior artist if you are still learning how to draw people in lines alone.

Even though you may find it frustrating when you realize your sketches or simple line drawings may not look as complex as the shaded drawings you view online, you will discover that natural desire, combined with practice, reaps positive rewards. Instead of negatively comparing your efforts with the accomplishments of more experienced artists, learn to master the skills needed to make better line drawings. Take heart in the knowledge that you are mastering the foundational skill needed to complete the same works you see when doing those Google searches!

On the Importance of Learning How to Draw Simple Lines

Although you may admire shading, contour and other special techniques, you need to know how to draw basic lines before you can proceed to more complicated drawings. Different line drawing techniques help you improve your skills. Here is a fun set of warm-up exercises:

  • Try blind contour drawing for fun and creativity. Gaze at an object and draw lines on your sketch paper without looking at the drawing. You may find it surprising when you view the results.
  • You can also try your artistic hand at 30-second to one-minute gesture drawings that capture gestures in a flash.
  • When you want to develop speed, try the continuous line drawing technique in which you direct your pencil without ever lifting it from your drawing paper.

Take Lessons from These Prominent Artists

Henri Matisse is known for bold and thick contour lines that did not emphasize details. If you want to sketch simple drawings with lines, learn from the basic gesture drawings sketched by Matisse. Known for his basic sketches of female figures, Matisse utilized gesture drawing techniques.

You may find it worthwhile to study line drawings by Pablo Picasso. Viewed by artists as an expert in abstract art, Picasso’s The Bull shows how he sketched 11 different lithographs from complex to simple drawings until the final drawing looks as though it is extracted from all complexities.

Pop artist Andy Warhol made use of the blotted line technique along with freehand artwork. Warhol also liked to experiment with mechanical drawing techniques. Andy Warhol is known for his simple drawings that depend on artistic lines.

Carne Griffiths is an artist who dares to experiment with different mediums ranging from vodka to tea resulting in daring, bright colors. Griffiths uses drawn lines with painted marks while rendering a layered effect.

Known for a moody temperament, Vincent van Gogh was a Post-Impressionist painter who drew at least 1,000 drawings to better himself as an artist and as a remedy for his chronic depressive moods. If your ultimate goal is to paint, take a lesson from Vincent van Gogh by practicing drawing techniques first.


Leonardo da Vinci made use of parallel lines and vanishing points in his many sketches. Known for his anatomical drawings and action sketches, Leonardo da Vinci was an artist who made use of various techniques that included repetition and copying small objects from paintings sketched by famous masters.


Laziness is a Matter of Perspective

You may decide to draw line drawings that are devoid of shading, contour and blind contour techniques. Indeed, some of the famous artists throughout the ages are known for pure drawings that contain lines without any extraneous features.

Bear in mind that you are not a lazy artist simply because you want to specialize in drawing portraits that concentrate on lines. It takes skill and patience to learn how to draw people, even if you decide that you want to focus on the basics. The best thing to do is to practice drawing numerous sketches from photographs and real life objects. Once you are ready to sketch more complex portraits, you will have gained mastery in basic techniques that are going to help you sketch detailed drawings. Who knows? Your artwork may gain more attention if you devote yourself exclusively to line drawings!


  1. As soon as I can I’ll practice some line drawings.
    Thank you for this article.

  2. Just starting in earnest to practice drawing

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