Creating Art: 6 Tips for Smooth, Confident Lines
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Choosing the right tool
  2. Practicing basic line work
  3. Maintaining steady breathing
  4. Drawing from the shoulder, not the wrist
  5. Using guidelines
  6. Keeping a consistent pressure

Creating art is like telling a story, and the lines you draw are your vocabulary. One of the key aspects of mastering artwork lies in refining line quality. The ability to create clean, smooth, and confident lines can transform a good sketch into an extraordinary one. In this blog, we'll explore six practical tips to help you improve your line quality and bring more life to your artwork.

Choosing the right tool

Just like you wouldn't use a hammer to cut a piece of wood, it's important to choose the appropriate tool when you're working on refining your line quality. The type of tool you use can have a significant impact on the lines you create.

Pencil vs. Pen

For beginners, it's often best to start with a pencil. Pencils offer a lot of flexibility—you can easily erase and adjust your lines, and they come in a variety of types. A 2B pencil, for instance, is perfect for sketching out rough ideas, while a 4H pencil can help you achieve those crisp, clean lines. Pens, on the other hand, are great for confident, bold strokes. Unlike pencils, however, they offer little room for error, which can be intimidating for some, but an exciting challenge for others.

Quality Matters

Remember, not all tools are created equal. Cheap pencils or pens may not provide the smoothness or consistency you need for quality lines. It might be a bit more of an investment, but purchasing high-quality tools can make a significant difference in your artwork.

Digital vs. Traditional

In today's digital age, you might also consider using a digital drawing tool. Programs like Procreate or Adobe Illustrator come with a multitude of brush options, allowing you to adjust the thickness, opacity, and even the texture of your lines. Plus, going digital provides you with the benefit of being able to easily undo any unwanted lines—an option you don't have with traditional tools.

In conclusion, each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best one for you depends on your style, comfort level, and the specific needs of your project. So, don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. Remember, the goal is to refine your line quality and create clean, smooth, and confident lines in your artwork.

Practicing basic line work

Whipping up a gourmet meal requires a firm grasp of basic cooking techniques. Similarly, crafting exquisite artwork requires proficiency in basic line work. Let's break down some of the fundamentals you should be working on to refine your line quality.

Mastering Straight Lines

Believe it or not, drawing a straight line can be one of the trickiest tasks, but it's an essential skill in refining line quality. Instead of trying to draw the entire line in one go, try breaking it down into smaller segments. Connect these segments to form a larger, straighter line. Start practicing with shorter lines and gradually increase their length as you gain more confidence.

Curves and Circles

Smooth, confident curves and circles add elegance to your artwork. To practice, start by drawing small circles, then gradually increase their size. Don't worry if your circles aren't perfect at first—remember, practice makes perfect. The key is to keep your hand moving smoothly and follow through with the stroke, just like a golfer follows through with their swing.

Angles and Intersections

Angles and intersections add complexity and depth to your drawings. To practice, start by drawing a series of parallel lines at different angles. Then, create intersections by drawing lines across them at various points. This exercise will not only improve your ability to draw straight lines, but also help you understand how lines interact with each other.

By dedicating time to these basic exercises, you can significantly improve your line work. As you continue practicing, you'll find that your lines are becoming cleaner, smoother, and more confident, which is exactly what we're aiming for when refining line quality in artwork.

Maintaining steady breathing

Now, let's shift our focus from the hand to the lungs. It might sound odd, but steady breathing is actually a vital part of refining line quality. Let's take a look at how your breath can impact the cleanliness and confidence of your lines.

The Breath and Line Connection

Here's the deal: when you hold your breath while drawing, your body tenses up. This tension can impact your hand's fluidity, making your lines shaky and uneven. By maintaining steady, relaxed breathing, you can keep your body—and your lines—smooth and steady.

Breathing Techniques for Artists

Try this simple technique next time you sit down to draw: inhale deeply before you start a line, then exhale steadily as you draw it. This can help you maintain a consistent pace and pressure, resulting in cleaner, more confident lines. If you're drawing a longer line or a complex curve, try breaking your breath—and your line—into manageable segments.

Practice Makes Perfect

Of course, like any other skill, breath control takes practice. Start by incorporating these techniques into your basic line work exercises. Over time, you'll find that your breath syncs naturally with your movements, helping you create clean, smooth, and confident lines in your artwork.

Remember, art is about more than just the movement of your hand—it's a full-body experience. By paying attention to your breathing, you can take a big step toward refining line quality in your artwork.

Drawing from the shoulder, not the wrist

Let's pivot towards another technique that plays a pivotal role in the process of refining line quality: drawing from the shoulder, not the wrist. This may seem counterintuitive, but let's explore why this is so important.

Why the Shoulder?

When you draw from your wrist, your range of motion is limited. This can result in tight, constrained lines. On the other hand, your shoulder offers a much wider range of motion, allowing you to create long, flowing lines with ease. It's all about allowing the larger muscle groups to take the lead.

Developing Shoulder Drawing Skills

Starting to draw from the shoulder might feel strange at first, but don't worry—it gets easier with practice. Here's a simple exercise to help you get started: Try drawing large circles on a blank sheet of paper, using only your shoulder to guide the motion. It's a great way to work on developing those shoulder muscles and train them for bigger, bolder line work.

Pace Yourself

Remember, this is a gradual process. Don't rush yourself or get frustrated if it doesn't feel natural right away. Just like maintaining steady breathing, drawing from the shoulder takes time and practice to master. But once you get the hang of it, you'll notice a significant improvement in the smoothness and confidence of your lines.

In the journey of refining line quality, it's not just about the lines you draw but also about how you draw them. Drawing from the shoulder allows for more fluid, confident strokes, taking your artwork to the next level.

Using Guidelines

The next strategy for refining your line quality is the use of guidelines. Guidelines may seem like an extra step, but trust me, they can be your best friend in creating clean, smooth, and confident lines in artwork. Let's dive into how this works.

What are Guidelines?

Simply put, guidelines are light, sketchy lines that you draw as a frame of reference for your final lines. They help you plan your composition and maintain proportions. These lines are usually erased after the final lines are drawn, but their impact remains in the quality of the work.

How to Use Guidelines

Start by lightly sketching the basic shapes of your subject. Don't worry about details at this stage. The goal is to get the overall structure and proportions right. Once you're happy with the rough sketch, you can start refining the lines, adding details, and erasing unnecessary guidelines. It's like having a road map for your drawing journey—you know where you're going and can navigate with confidence.

Benefits of Using Guidelines

Guidelines help you maintain consistency and balance in your drawings. They also reduce the risk of making major mistakes in the final stages of your work. And the best part? Your lines will be much smoother and more confident when you have a clear path to follow.

Remember, refining line quality is not about drawing perfect lines right off the bat. It's about using tools and techniques—like guidelines—to help you create the best lines possible.

Keeping a Consistent Pressure

Now that we've got a grip on using guidelines, let's talk about another important factor in refining line quality: maintaining consistent pressure. This is a small detail that can make a big difference in creating clean, smooth, and confident lines in artwork.

What Does Consistent Pressure Mean?

When we talk about pressure in drawing, we're referring to how hard or soft you press your drawing tool against your paper. Consistent pressure means maintaining the same level of hardness or softness throughout your line work. It's the secret sauce to smooth lines and balanced shading.

How to Maintain Consistent Pressure

Start by choosing a comfortable grip on your drawing tool—a relaxed hand is more likely to apply even pressure. Practice making lines with different levels of pressure and pay attention to the result. Then try to replicate the line quality you like best. It might take some practice, but it's definitely worth it.

Why Consistent Pressure Matters

Consistent pressure can help you achieve a more professional finish in your artwork. It can prevent your lines from looking shaky or uncertain, and it can also help you create more realistic shading and textures. In short, it's a game-changer for refining your line quality.

So, there you have it. Keeping a consistent pressure is one of those tips that can seem small, but trust me, it can dramatically improve the quality of your lines. Give it a try and see the difference it can make in your artwork.

If you want to further improve your line work technique and confidence, don't miss the workshop 'Line Work in Comics' by Agamsujenkins. This workshop will help you master the art of creating smooth, confident lines in your drawings, particularly in the context of comics. Expand your skills and elevate your art with this fantastic resource!