Quick Sketching Guide: Master Speed Drawing!

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 15 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

Are you looking to improve your sketching speed and create stunning artwork in no time? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various techniques and tips to help you sketch quickly and efficiently. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, these methods will help you enhance your drawing skills and master the art of speed drawing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover how custom shapes can save time and add visual interest to your sketches.
  • Learn how filling a blank canvas can boost your creativity and encourage spontaneous sketching.
  • Understand the benefits of limiting your brushes and focusing on shapes and design.
  • Explore the use of the gradient tool to add depth and color to your sketches.
  • Build your own photo library as a valuable reference for your speed drawing sessions.

Use Custom Shapes for Quick Sketching

According to concept artist Alex Olmedo, custom shapes are an invaluable tool for artists looking to improve their speed drawing and painting techniques. By creating abstract shapes and experimenting with them, you can save valuable time and infuse your artwork with visual interest. This technique can be applied to both speed drawing and painting, allowing you to develop a more efficient workflow while maintaining accuracy and creativity.

By getting familiar with basic shapes, you can streamline your sketching process. Begin by practicing drawing circles, squares, triangles, and other geometric forms until they become second nature. These foundational shapes then become building blocks for more complex compositions.

Olmedo suggests incorporating custom shapes into your sketches as a starting point. Instead of facing the daunting task of sketching an entire scene from scratch, you can utilize shapes that already convey the essence of the subject matter you’re trying to depict. This not only saves time but also frees up mental energy for the finer details.

By employing custom shapes, you can create quick and accurate sketches that serve as blueprints for more detailed work. You can adjust and refine these shapes as needed, adding depth and dimension to your sketches. This technique allows you to focus on the composition and overall structure of your artwork before diving into intricate details.

Implementing custom shapes also encourages experimentation and creativity. By manipulating and combining different shapes, you can come up with unique designs and unexpected results. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of traditional shapes and explore abstract representations. This approach can lead to exciting discoveries and add a touch of originality to your art.

“Custom shapes offer artists the flexibility to express their ideas in a fluid and efficient manner. They serve as a strong foundation for speed drawing and painting techniques, helping artists achieve their desired results quickly and accurately.”

Alex Olmedo

Remember, custom shapes are tools to enhance your sketching process. Experiment with different shapes and see how they can be integrated into your workflow. The key is to embrace the freedom and flexibility they offer, allowing them to unleash your creativity while saving you time and energy.

Example of Custom Shape Integration:

Custom Shapes Usage
Circles Create organic forms, such as heads, planets, or wheels.
Squares and Rectangles Outline buildings, vehicles, and other architectural elements.
Triangles Convey dynamic motion, such as arrows or bird beaks.
Polygons Construct complex objects, like machinery or futuristic designs.

By incorporating custom shapes into your speed drawing process, you can unlock new possibilities and achieve faster, more accurate results. Embrace their versatility, practice, and experiment with different shapes to develop a unique visual style that sets your artwork apart.

Fill a Blank Canvas to Boost Your Creativity

When it comes to quick sketching and speed painting, sometimes a blank canvas can feel intimidating. That’s where the technique suggested by illustrator Katy Grierson comes in. By using a big brush tool to fill a blank canvas with color and texture, you can tap into your creativity and let go of the pressure to create something specific.

This approach encourages more spontaneous and free-flowing sketching, allowing your ideas to unfold organically. Instead of focusing on the end result, you can focus on the process and enjoy the journey of creating art.

Whether you’re practicing speed painting or engaging in quick drawing sessions, filling a blank canvas can serve as a starting point for your artistic exploration.

How It Works

“By filling a blank canvas with color and texture, you provide yourself with a visual foundation to work on. It eliminates the fear of a white page and allows you to dive into the act of sketching without overthinking. This method has been a game-changer for many artists, including myself.”

Katy Grierson

By using a big brush tool, you can rapidly cover the canvas with bold strokes of color, creating an expressive background. This technique opens up new possibilities and sparks your creativity, as you have a vibrant base to build upon.

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Here’s an example of how to fill a blank canvas using a big brush tool:

Step Description
1 Open your digital canvas or prepare a physical canvas.
2 Select a large brush with a soft edge.
3 Choose a color that inspires you or complements your subject.
4 Start applying broad strokes of color across the canvas, covering the entire surface.
5 Experiment with different brush sizes, opacities, and blending modes to add texture and depth.
6 Allow the colors to guide your imagination and inspire your next steps.

By filling a blank canvas with color, you create a welcoming space for your ideas to emerge and evolve. This technique enables you to embrace the freedom of expression and enjoy the process of rapid sketching.

Limit Your Brushes for Efficient Sketching

When it comes to speed painting or sketching, concept artist Donglu Yu suggests a unique approach – limiting your selection of brushes. By working with a limited range of brushes, you can encourage yourself to think more about shapes and design, rather than becoming fixated on brushstrokes. Although it may take some time to adjust to this new method, it can greatly enhance your sketching process in terms of both speed and efficiency.

With limited brushes, you’ll be forced to prioritize the fundamentals of your artwork, such as composition and form. This approach not only improves your sketching speed but also strengthens your understanding of design principles. By focusing on shape rather than the intricacies of individual brushstrokes, you can develop a more instinctual and streamlined sketching process.

Although it may be tempting to have an extensive collection of brushes at your disposal, Donglu’s recommendation encourages artists to break free from the constraints of relying on specific brushes and encourages more creative experimentation. By adopting this efficient sketching strategy, you’ll find yourself relying more on your artistic instincts rather than the brush itself, ultimately leading to more unique and engaging artworks.

An image showcasing the power of limited brushes in efficient sketching

Use the Gradient Tool to Add Depth and Color

When it comes to adding depth and enhancing the overall composition of your sketches, concept artist Massimo Porcella recommends using the powerful gradient tool. By employing this tool and selecting different colors for each part of your sketch, you can create a visually striking piece that captivates the viewer’s attention.

The gradient tool allows you to seamlessly blend colors together, adding depth and dimension to your artwork. By strategically applying gradients to specific areas of your sketch, you can create highlights, shadows, and a sense of three-dimensionality.

By experimenting with different gradient combinations, you can achieve various effects and moods in your sketches. For instance, a warm-to-cool gradient can convey a sense of depth, while a vibrant rainbow gradient can evoke energy and excitement.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to use the eraser tool in conjunction with the gradient tool. The eraser tool can help you blend colors together smoothly, creating a cohesive and harmonious result in your sketch.

Below is an example of how the gradient tool can transform a simple sketch:

“The gradient tool is an invaluable asset in my artistic workflow. It enables me to quickly add depth and color to my sketches, elevating them to a whole new level. Experimenting with gradients has unlocked a world of creative possibilities for me.” – Massimo Porcella, Concept Artist

Example of Using the Gradient Tool:

As seen in the example above, the gradient tool has the power to bring sketches to life, transforming them into vibrant and visually captivating artworks. Whether you’re working on character designs, landscapes, or still-life sketches, the gradient tool can add an extra layer of depth and visual interest to your creations.

Next time you sit down to sketch, don’t forget to utilize the gradient tool and unlock its potential for enhancing your artwork!

Build Your Own Photo Library for Reference

When it comes to enhancing your quick sketching and speed drawing skills, having a diverse and extensive photo reference library is a game-changer. Creative director James Paick understands the importance of having a wide range of references at your fingertips. Whether you’re taking your own photos or exploring online sources, a well-curated photo library can provide endless inspiration for your sketches.

Paick suggests delving into both natural and architectural elements to expand your creativity. By studying different landscapes, capturing the unique details of buildings, or observing the play of light and shadow in everyday scenes, you can add depth and realism to your artwork.

With a photo reference library, you’ll never run out of ideas or struggle to find inspiration. Instead, you’ll have a wealth of visual resources to guide your quick sketching and speed drawing endeavors. So, start building your photo reference library today and watch your artistic skills soar!

“A good photo reference library is like a toolbox full of ideas waiting to be brought to life on paper. The more references you have, the more versatile and imaginative your sketches become.” – James Paick

Benefits of Building Your Photo Reference Library:

  • Endless inspiration for quick sketching and speed drawing
  • Access to a wide variety of natural and architectural references
  • Enhanced realism and depth in your artwork
  • Expanded creativity and imagination through diverse visual resources

Allow Boredom to Spark Creativity

In the world of quick sketching, embracing boredom can sometimes be the key to unlocking your creative potential. Jesper Friis, a renowned artist, suggests that allowing yourself to experience moments of boredom can actually inspire new ideas and fuel your artistic process. By breaking away from your usual routine and experimenting with unconventional methods and materials, you can discover unique textures and innovative concepts for your sketches.

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One way to spark creativity is by exploring unconventional tools. Friis recommends trying out different materials and experimenting with their application on unexpected surfaces. For example, you can try painting on a scanner or using everyday objects to create textures in your sketches. These unconventional experiments can lead to unexpected results, adding a personal touch and distinctiveness to your artwork.

Remember, the goal is not to produce a perfect piece of art but rather to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of your creativity. By embracing boredom and stepping out of your comfort zone, you can uncover hidden artistic potential and discover new techniques that will enhance your quick sketching abilities.

Add Complexity and Texture to Your Sketches

When it comes to sketching, adding complexity and texture can elevate your artwork to the next level. Illustrator Stephanie Cost suggests incorporating textures and custom brushes into your sketches to create more visually interesting and dynamic compositions.

Textures add depth and dimension to your sketches, breaking up the internal shapes and adding visual interest. Custom brushes, on the other hand, allow you to create unique and personalized brushstrokes that enhance the overall aesthetic of your artwork.

Fortunately, there are numerous online resources where you can find free textures and custom brushes to incorporate into your work. These resources offer a wide variety of options, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect texture or brush that complements your artistic style.

Benefits of Textures and Custom Brushes Example Image
Enhanced Visual Interest: Textures and custom brushes break up the flatness of your sketches, adding depth and dimension.
Unique Aesthetic: Custom brushes allow you to create brushstrokes that are distinctively yours, giving your artwork a personalized touch.
Versatility: Textures and custom brushes can be applied to various art styles and subjects, making them suitable for different creative projects.

By incorporating textures and custom brushes into your sketches, you can take your artwork to the next level and create visually stunning pieces that captivate viewers. Experiment with different textures and brushes to find the perfect combination that enhances your artistic vision and style.

Select the Right Photos for Photobashing

When it comes to photobashing, choosing the right photos is crucial for achieving a cohesive composition. Concept artists Alex Olmedo and Donglu Yu stress the importance of selecting photos with similar lighting sources and themes to seamlessly blend different elements in your sketch.

By spending time finding the right photos before you start photobashing, you can save valuable time during the drawing process. This allows you to focus more on the creative aspects and less on searching for suitable images.

  • Lighting Sources: Choose photos with similar lighting conditions to ensure that the integrated elements look natural and cohesive.
  • Themes and Styles: Find photos that align with the overall theme or style of your sketch to maintain visual consistency.
  • Resolution and Quality: Opt for high-resolution photos with sharp details to avoid pixelation and maintain the overall quality of your artwork.
  • Proper Licensing: Always use photos that you have the proper rights or licenses to use, ensuring you comply with copyright regulations.

By carefully curating a collection of suitable photos, you can streamline your photobashing process and produce more immersive and visually impactful sketches.

Experiment with Different Techniques

Experimenting with different techniques is a great way to push your artistic boundaries and discover new possibilities in your sketches. Concept artist Ian Jun Wei Chiew suggests exploring the various tools and features available in Photoshop to create unique and impactful compositions.

When experimenting with different techniques, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of composition, values, color, and lighting. These elements play a crucial role in creating visually compelling sketches that capture the essence of your subject.

By using existing tools in new and innovative ways, you can elevate your sketches to a whole new level. Let your creativity guide you as you break free from traditional approaches and find your own artistic voice.

“Experimentation is the key to unlocking your artistic potential. Embrace the unknown, step out of your comfort zone, and discover the magic that lies within your sketches.”

Your experimentation can range from playing with different brush techniques and textures to exploring unconventional methods of applying colors and blending techniques. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Sometimes, the most unexpected techniques can lead to extraordinary results.

As you experiment, keep track of the techniques that resonate with you the most. These can become valuable additions to your artistic toolkit, enabling you to create unique and captivating sketches that stand out from the crowd.

Remember, the journey of experimentation is as important as the outcome itself. Enjoy the process of discovering new techniques and honing your skills. Embrace the endless possibilities that experimental sketching offers.

Benefits of Experimental Sketching Examples
Unleashes creativity and artistic potential Combining different mediums to create unique textures
Expands artistic horizons and breaks from traditional approaches Using unconventional tools to apply colors and create effects
Inspires innovation and personal artistic style Experimenting with new blending techniques and brush strokes

Don’t Overcomplicate Your Storytelling

In the world of sketching, storytelling plays a crucial role in conveying your message effectively. However, it’s important not to overcomplicate your storytelling and instead focus on the key elements that truly matter. Donglu Yu, a renowned concept artist, emphasizes the significance of simplicity in sketching narratives.

When working on a sketch, resist the urge to cram a complex story into a single image. Instead, identify and prioritize the two or three essential elements that capture the essence of your narrative. By doing so, you can ensure that your message is clear and impactful.

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To enhance the visual impact of your sketches, consider dividing your canvas space into smaller sections. This technique allows you to create a more iconic composition, drawing the viewer’s attention to the most important aspects of your story.

Here’s a quick exercise to help you practice speed sketching:

  1. Choose a simple narrative or theme for your sketch.
  2. Identify the two or three key elements that effectively tell your story.
  3. Divide your canvas into smaller sections to create a visually compelling composition.
  4. Using quick sketching techniques, capture the essence of your narrative in a limited amount of time.

Remember, storytelling in sketches is all about simplicity and impactful communication. By focusing on the essential elements and employing effective composition techniques, you can create visually compelling sketches that captivate and engage your audience.

“Simplifying your storytelling in sketches allows you to focus on the essentials and create powerful visual narratives.” – Donglu Yu


Practicing efficient techniques and implementing key strategies can greatly enhance your speed drawing and sketching abilities. By utilizing custom shapes, exploring textures, and building a reference library, you can unlock a world of creativity and improve your speed and accuracy. Limiting your brushes and focusing on essential storytelling elements will further streamline your process.

Speed drawing and speed painting offer enjoyable and effective methods for honing your artistic skills within time constraints. Embrace the challenge and embrace the joy of creating art rapidly. With dedication and practice, you can master the art of speed drawing and sketching, opening up new possibilities for your artistic journey.

So why wait? Start your speed drawing journey today, armed with these valuable techniques and tips. Unleash your creativity and witness the transformative power of rapid sketching!


How can I sketch quickly?

To sketch quickly, you can utilize techniques such as using custom shapes, filling a blank canvas, limiting your brushes, and utilizing the gradient tool. These methods can help you improve your sketching speed and efficiency.

What are some sketching techniques for speed drawing?

Some sketching techniques for speed drawing include using custom shapes, experimenting with different brushes, and incorporating textures and custom brushes. These techniques can help you create dynamic and visually interesting sketches quickly.

How can I improve my sketching speed?

To improve your sketching speed, you can practice using efficient techniques, such as using custom shapes, exploring textures, and building a reference library. Additionally, limiting your brushes and simplifying your storytelling can also help improve your speed and accuracy in sketching.

How do custom shapes contribute to quick sketching?

Custom shapes are useful tools for quick sketching as they allow you to create abstract shapes and save time while adding visual interest to your sketches. By getting familiar with basic shapes, you can draw more quickly and accurately.

How can filling a blank canvas boost creativity in quick sketching?

Filling a blank canvas with color and texture using a big brush tool can help you let go of the pressure to create something specific and encourage more spontaneous and creative sketching. This approach is useful for both speed painting and quick drawing sessions.

What is the benefit of limiting your brushes for efficient sketching?

Limiting your selection of brushes when speed painting or sketching forces you to focus more on shapes and design rather than brushstrokes. While it may take some time to get used to this approach, it can significantly speed up your sketching process.

How can the gradient tool enhance quick sketching?

Using the gradient tool to add a base color to your sketches can create depth and enhance the overall composition. By choosing different colors for each part of the sketch and using the eraser tool to blend them together, you can achieve a more cohesive and visually appealing result.

How can building a reference library help with quick sketching?

Building a photo reference library by taking your own photos or finding images online provides you with a wide variety of references to inspire your sketches. This resource allows you to explore different natural and architectural elements, expanding your creativity and providing a valuable source of inspiration.

How can boredom spark creativity in quick sketching?

Embracing boredom and experimenting with unconventional methods and materials, such as painting on a scanner, can lead to unique textures and ideas for your sketches. These creative experiments add a personal touch to your artwork and can ignite new levels of inspiration.

How can textures and custom brushes add complexity to sketches?

Incorporating textures and custom brushes into your sketches can break up the internal shapes of your composition, adding complexity and visual interest. There are many free resources available online for different textures and brushes that you can utilize in your quick sketching process.

What is the importance of selecting the right photos for photobashing?

Selecting photos with similar lighting sources and themes is crucial for creating a cohesive composition during the photobashing process. Taking the time to find the right photos for your sketches can save time and effort during the drawing process.

How can experimenting with different techniques improve quick sketching?

Experimenting with different techniques in Photoshop allows you to use existing tools in new ways, opening up new possibilities and developing unique compositions. However, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of composition, values, color, and lighting to create impactful sketches.

How can storytelling in sketches be simplified for quick sketching?

Instead of trying to convey a complex story in a single image, focus on the two or three most essential elements and communicate them effectively. Dividing your canvas space into smaller sections can help you create a more iconic and visually compelling composition in quick sketching.