Artist demonstration: how to get ready to draw

Keen to draw but don’t know where to start? Warm up your muscles and enliven your senses as you prepare to draw with artist Curtis Holder. Watch as he demonstrates some of the playful techniques he uses to warm up for drawing, and shows how he sets up his workspace to make drawing as enjoyable as possible.


  • I’m Curtis Holder. I’m an artist. And today I’m going to show you how I get ready to draw.

    Now, you’ll probably need some paper, pencils, a rubber and a sharpener. I find drawing really exciting. So exciting that sometimes I don’t know where to start. So I’m going to show you some of the things I do to warm up, and hopefully that will help you enjoy your drawing even more.

    Now, most of the time I like to draw standing up because I like to move a lot. I like to stand back and I like to throw my arms around a bit. It’s just important to be comfortable.

    Before you start drawing, it’s always really important to make sure everything you’re going to use is pretty close by.

    Let’s talk a bit about holding your pencil. I hold mine like this. You could hold it like this, or you could even hold it like this and see what different marks you make. It’s up to you really.

    I’m going to show you some different marks you could make. And I’m going to use quite chunky pencils, so it’s easier to see. Erm, let’s see... You could try making just strokes like this. They could be even in space or they could be really close together. This is called hatching. I’m going to go over these lines. This is called cross-hatching.

    Another type of line you can use in your drawing is called spiralling. These are quite small. But I can do really big ones like that and I can make them curve as well as spiral. So now we’re going to start with some dots and dashes. It just feels so different to the sleepy spirals that I was making before.

    Up to now, we’ve been using coloured pencils, but let’s try a different material. This is some charcoal and instead of making the mark by putting this material down, we can make our mark by taking something away.

    I’m going to use this putty rubber, which is a little bit like modelling clay. It means I can make it into a fine point like that, or I can just have a really big, thick piece and I’m going to take away some of the charcoal. Just gives you a different type of line.

    It’s all about having fun, making lots of different marks and lines on your paper and really warming up all those muscles in your hands, ready to get set and do some amazing drawing.

    Why don’t you give it a go?

Learning objectives

  1. Pick up tips from a portrait artist.
  1. Discover creative warm-up techniques.
  1. Build confidence in drawing.

You will need

  • Paper
  • Pencils and/or charcoal
  • Rubber
  • Pencil sharpener