The Artful Sketch: Learn How to Create Step-by-Step Artistic Drawings

The Artful Sketch: Learn How to Create Step-by-Step Artistic Drawings

by Mary Phan


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Handmade Artwork to Inspire Your Creative Life

Take your love for hand lettering, coloring, and doodling to the next level with this easy guide to creating gorgeous sketches by hand. Artist Mary Phan has toured North America teaching luxury sketching workshops, and she now reveals her simple yet big-impact techniques for everyone— from beginners to experienced designers. You’ll learn to draw 14 exquisite sketches, featuring fully illustrated, detailed step-by-step instructions to ensure a frame-worthy result from your very first sketch!

Follow along with Mary’s simple, foolproof sketching process: drawing in basic shapes with a pencil and ruler, bringing the scene to life with brightly colored art markers, and outlining with black ink for the final details. From each tutorial, you’ll have your own impressive work of art to share as a gift, send as a card, share on social media, use in your business, or display in your home. No matter how you use it, this book will give you the tools and inspiration to fill your life with more color, beauty, and creativity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624146077
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 501,595
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

MARY PHAN is an artist and the founder of Very Mary Inspired. As the creator of The Sketchbook Series, she has taught sketching workshops throughout North America. Mary has been featured in Utterly Engaged, The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Flutter Magazine, and many more publications. She lives in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Read an Excerpt



The Creative Environment

It is important to have an inspiring space to sketch in! It should feel open; not stuffy, cluttered, or messy. When I sketch, I look for areas that have nice natural lighting. At home, my desk sits near a window. If I'm out and about, I might find a table in a bright café or set up outside. All of these spaces help my creative workflow and put me in a clear state of mind.

Take the time to create a workstation or creative space just for yourself. It should be a quiet place in which you can take refuge after a long day — a sacred place for you to create. Make it your own; be as creative, playful, or colorful as you wish. This space should reflect your taste and style. Have fun with it since this will be a place in which you can expect to escape.


I have an "inspiration wall" next to my work area at home, and I encourage you to make one as well. I change up my inspirational wall seasonally or depending on the project that I'm currently working on. Start by coming up with a theme and choosing a color palette. Next, tear out inspirational images from magazines (i.e., fashion, interiors, art, food magazines) or printing images from online to hang on the wall. For example, when I was thinking about this book, I envisioned Palm Springs meets Paris. I wanted fun, fresh, and bright colors, but also the sophistication of Parisian culture. Pull images of travel, art, places, locations, landmarks, fashion, florals, layouts, and scenes that center you back to your big vision or cohesive story. I also chose a color palette that felt summery and fresh, and with that, imagery that reflects those colors. Choosing a theme can help gather inspiration and help you stay inspired and focused when your ideas run out. I also like to hang artwork, fabric, color swatches, and things that I pick up on my walks, such as leaves or even dried flowers. The inspiration wall reminds me to be creative and often helps to jumpstart my next piece. Remember, there's no right or wrong here — just have fun! If you don't have a specific project you are working on, pull images that inspire you at the moment. If there's a reason why an image or object inspires you, then post it to your wall, too.


Spend a bit of time to organize your space and desktop. Consider your art supplies the foundation of how to produce great art. Find fun containers, cups, or jars to store your supplies. The key is to be able to find what you are looking for and maintain the tools you'll be investing in. Take care of your art supplies, and you'll see they will last longer. Learn how to properly store your brushes, pens, pencils, and erasers. For my markers, I like to have them displayed so I can see the cap colors. Make sure to store them away from direct sunlight so they don't dry out.


With your space all set, it's time to grab the proper tools and materials. For practicing the lessons, I suggest using an 8½-inch-wide by 11-inch-tall (21.6 × 28-cm) sketchbook or sketchpad. I've listed other types of paper on the following page that you can use once you are ready to apply the sketches on something to gift or even to celebrate your artwork.

Each artist uses different tools. For this book, I focus on using specific art markers, but feel free to use other types of mediums and brands to your liking. If you'd like to invest in the exact brand and colors I use to produce the results in the book, then you'll find them referenced at the beginning of each lesson.

Below is a list of supplies with my favorite brands:


• #2 pencil (Palomino Blackwing)

• 0.5mm Pentel mechanical graphite pencil

• Clear 12-inch (30.5-cm) ruler


• 01/02/005/008 Micron waterproof black pens

• Le Pen (gray)


• Copic markers


• Gold & white gel pens

• White color pencil


• Clicky eraser

• Kneaded eraser

• White plastic/vinyl eraser

• Gum paste eraser

• Pencil sharpener


There are several types of paper to choose from. I suggest going to a local art or craft store and looking for a smooth paper to start with. You'll find paper made just for sketching or mixed media in various paper thickness and paper weights.

• Travel sketchbook, any size

• Notecards

• Blank postcards

• Loose sketching paper

• Journals, notebooks, calendar books


Subject and purpose go hand in hand, so it's important to determine why you are sketching. Are you creating an invitation to a birthday party? Are you documenting your travels? Are you guiding a design? Are you creating a gift for someone special? Once you settle for the reason you're sketching, you'll find inspiration can come from all sorts of places.


1/ Find natural light whenever possible.

2/ Wear comfortable clothing; avoid chunky or dangling wrist jewelry.

3/ Hold your pencil in a natural position.

4/ Draw the base items first, and start with simple shapes — squares, circles, rectangles.

5/ Details should come last.

6/ Sketch lightly.

7/ Don't be afraid to use your eraser to get rid of those mistakes; the beauty is that you can always start over.

8/ Adjust your grip; sometimes you'll need to hold your pencil firmly and other times you'll need to loosen up.

9/ Apply color in one direction.

10/ Apply different pressures to your pen to achieve different line weights, and to finish off your drawing.



Learn Basic Structures with Guidelines

Have you ever walked into a stationery store, picked up a birthday card and thought how great it would be if you could sketch this for your mom, dad, brother, sister, or friend? I love personalized cards and have a feeling you do, too! This first chapter shows you how to sketch a cake and a fancy dessert station. I have a feeling you'll be creating lots of greeting cards after you walk through my lessons! I can't wait for you to dive in!


Some of my favorite things to sketch are cakes and desserts! I once thought I'd be a cake baker, but soon realized I would rather sketch cakes than bake them. I'm inspired by all the amazing bakers who are artists in their own right, putting so much detail and texture into their creations. I hope you'll enjoy this citrus cake sketch. Once you go through my cake lesson, try incorporating your creativity to create different cake designs. Take some of the techniques and create your own versions. You might find that some ideas will come easy and others require research for a visual reference to add to your cake sketch.


• 8½ × 11-inch (21.6 × 28-cm) paper/sketchbook or 5 × 7-inch (12.5 ×

1/ Start by drawing a baseline about 4 inches (10 cm) in length. Then draw a vertical line 6 inches (15 cm) at the center point. This is our midline, or centerline.

Next, draw a box that is 3 inches wide by 5 inches tall (7.6 × 12.5 cm) centered on the previous baseline; this is going to be our "bounding box." A bounding box defines the width and top of the cake. This creates a box that frames the cake. The scale is important to make a note of so that the cake is not too wide or too skinny.

2/ Make a mark every inch (2.5 cm). Then draw horizontal lines across those marks. Draw a box to represent the bottom layer cake. Leave the base section empty, as that will be left to draw in the cake stand. The cake layer box should come in about 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) from each side of the bounding box. Drawing the bottom tier first allows you to build layers on top of your base layer.

3/ To create the next layer, draw a box on top of the first cake tier. The box should come in about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) from the previous layer. Draw another box on top of the previous box. This box is ¼ inch (0.6 cm) narrower than the previous box.

Your top tier cake will be the narrowest layer of all, measuring ½ inch wide by 1 inch tall (1.2 cm × 2.5 cm). When you're done, you will have a four-tier cake. Make sure that the space on the left and right sides are equal distance. This spacing will ensure that the cake is in proportion.

4/ Now, to create the base of the cake stand, draw a thin line underneath and parallel to the first line. These two lines should be the same length and extend across the edge of the bounding box.

5/ To create the cake stand, draw a convex curve. Using the centerline as your reference point, start the convex curve about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) on the left side of the centerline. As the curve comes down toward the centerline, come in about 1/8 inch (0.13 cm), and finish the bottom of the curve back at ¼ inch (0.6 cm) from the centerline. Mirror the convex curve on the right side of the centerline. Extend the base of the cake stand on both sides about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Notice the subtle incline of both lines. Add a tiny vertical line on both sides to complete the edge or foot of the cake stand.

6/ The next step is to draw circles as placement guidelines for the fruit. Draw circles at the corners and places where you want to place your groupings. This fruitcake is made up of kumquat oranges, lemons, limes, and oranges. Think about their sizes in relation to each other. Oranges are the largest, indicated by the largest circle on the cake; kumquat oranges are about the size of your thumb and have an oval shape. Placement of the fruit groupings occurs in the middle of a layer or at the corners. Alternate and stagger the placement of each layer to show variety. This creates interest in your sketch.

7/ Next, draw the side of a lemon. The side of a lemon looks like a large leaf or football. Now add leaves and stems to your lemons. To create a cut lemon, draw half of a circle to represent the side wedges.

8/ Two of the cake layers will be unfrosted, exposing the layers within each layer. This is called a "naked" cake, which is a preferred style of cake among those who do not like frosting.

To draw the thin layers in between each cake tier, use a ruler to draw evenly-spaced double horizontal lines across the cake layer. In between each of these layers is frosting to hold the layers of cake together, but the outside will lack frosting. We will alternate the layers between "naked" and traditional "frosted" cake.

9/ On top of each layer is a caramel sauce that drips down the sides of the cake. With your pencil make sure to draw in squiggly lines, varying from long to short, to create a natural drip/drizzle.

10/ Now take your kneaded eraser and pull off the heavy dark lines. You can also use your kneaded eraser to erase the centerlines and bounding box. Make sure to leave behind only the things you want to color. Don't forget about all the corners where your fruits are sitting in front of. You want to make sure to erase those lines since the fruits sit in front of the cake. Now you have a clean cake ready for coloring.

11/ The following are colors that I used for my sketch. You can use whatever color combo in which you feel comfortable. Throughout the book, you'll see me reference Copic markers, my medium of choice. You will want to start with the lightest shade first, and then apply the next shade of color. I started with E50, which you can see on the base cake layer. Using the brush tip, color in one direction, and move from left to right. Make sure not to let the marker sit on your page, as it will bleed through the paper.

12/ Add a slightly darker shade (E53) by coloring over the first layer. However, let the first color layer show through. Decide which direction the light is coming from. For this sketch, the sun is coming from the top right side of the cake. You should leave a little bit of white on the right side as this shows a bit of highlight. Make sure to color in one direction, from left to right.

13/ To color in our limes and leaves, use a light shade of green (YG03). Use a sweeping motion when coloring the leaves.

Next, use a slightly darker shade of green (YG23). This is to show the second tone of the limes. When coloring the limes and leaves, just color enough to show a middle shadow.

14/ Color in the lemon with a light yellow (Y11). Just like the limes, to show a midtone, choose a slightly darker shade of yellow (Y08). Since the light is coming from the right side of the cake, the shadow will be on the left side of the lemons. Make sure to color in the midtone on the left side of the lemons.

15/ Now color the kumquat oranges and oranges with the light shade of orange (YR16), leaving a highlight or white space on the right side of the fruit(s). If you wait for the marker on the page to dry, you can create a darker tone by going over it again with the same color.

Color the caramel dripping using the lightest tan tone (E50). Use a darker color (E53) to shade it in.

16/ For any part of the cake that is white, I recommend using a light shade of gray (C0). Since there isn't a white marker, you'll want to choose a light gray to show the shadow. Use gray (C0) to shade the left side of the cake stand and any white parts of the cake, since the light is coming from the right side. Also, color in areas that may cast a shadow such as underneath the caramel drips. Then choose a slightly darker shade of gray (C2) to show two tones in the shadows. Color over the initial gray tone. Apply light pressure using the brush end of the marker. Allow some of the first gray (C0) to be exposed.

17/ The final step is to ink our colored sketch. This step is important to make sure it pops off the page! Using the 01 black detail pen and a clear 12-inch (30.5-cm) ruler, outline the cake and cake stand. Take your time through this finishing step. Apply medium pressure, as you will notice that the heavier the pressure, the thicker your line becomes. The less pressure you apply, the thinner the line becomes.

18/ For more delicate and finer details, use a thinner point black detail pen (005) and outline all of the fruits, leaves, caramel drizzle, and cake stand. Apply light to medium pressure and keep a steady hand. For added texture, draw in stipples onto the whole lemons and draw a thin inner circle to show the lemon/lime rinds. To draw a cut lemon/lime, imagine slicing the wedges like a pie or pizza. Don't forget to draw in the centerlines on the leaves to show the veins.

19/ For a less dramatic finish, use a gray detail pen (such as Le Pen) to outline the caramel drizzle. By using a gray detail pen for the finish in this sketch, it allows for the dripping to be more of a background detail instead of the main detail. Think of the black detail as the main character and the gray detail as a supporting character in the overall sketch.

20/ To avoid the cake falling flat, add textures to the final sketch. Use one of your black detail pens to draw diagonal lines on your cake stand edge. This technique is called crosshatch. Add stippling to your lemons for more detail (see Resources). Using your darker shade of gray (C2), draw "S" shapes on each side of the cake stand to show stylized shadows.


Excerpted from "The Artful Sketch"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Mary Phan.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
The Creative Environment,
Creative Inspiration,
Storage and Displaying Your Art Supplies,
Tools and Materials,
Finding Purpose,
My Top 10 Tips for Sketching,
Learn Basic Structures with Guidelines,
1. Creative Cake,
2. Dessert Station,
Go with the Flow,
1. Floral Abundance Centerpiece,
2. Plant Trio,
3. Garden Oasis,
Combine Structure and Loose Sketches to Form a Scene,
1. Parisian Pâtisserie,
2. Poolside Getaway,
3. Majestic Desert Glamping,
Building Blocks for Creating One-of-a-Kind Art,
1. Home Sweet Home,
2. Inspired Desk,
3. Autumn Mantel Arrangement,
Applying All You've Learned to Events,
1. Birthday Fun,
2. Happy Holidays,
3. Dinner Party Tabletop,
Resources — Skill-Building Exercises and Drawing Techniques,
Inspiration Sketches,
About the Author,

Customer Reviews