5.2 Profile Freehand Sketch

In this class we learn

  • Doing freehand sketching
  • Please read the whole lecture first

In the previous lectures we practised a lot with measuring and working in a precise manner. By now you will have noticed the level of precision that is needed to reach a likeness. There is only one way to achieve the ability to reach likeness: practise, practise, practise. It is unrealistic to think this ability can be conquered by doing 1 or even 5 drawings. It is also unrealistic to expect we can reach this by looking at a video or read some stuff.

We offer the classes but you need to cover the miles, in other words: please repeat the same drawing 5 times at least and you will notice you will grow in your abilities.

You will probably be shocked now, but unfortunately I have no other message than to be honest with you. What you saw and practised till now is not extremely difficult, it does not need any talent! It just needs perseverance and dedication and moving forward in a steady, slow manner.

Please be merciful to yourself. You will grow quickly.

Freehand sketching

The precise measurements will be continued for a few more lessons. The goal of this is to train your ability to distinguish small differences. In other words: you will grow in 'seeing'.

Freehand sketching however needs to grow also. So in this lecture we will do the same profile plate through freehand sketching.


We associate freehand sketching with quick drawings. And yes, once we are experienced this is a fast way of making drawings. Problem is that speed and precision are always fighting with each other. The faster we go, the more unprecise our drawings tend to be. So please try to hold down your speed.


Some principles never change, also in freehand sketching we need to know the height and width of our drawing. Using the helplines is also very useful. So please go to the exercise

EXERCISE 1 - Establish the width and height

  • Stick the profile plate on your drawing board
  • With the help of a ruler draw a block around the widest sizes of your first profile on the original plate, top row. (see photo)
  • Stick some cheap drawing paper next to it and make sure both plate and paper are lined out precisely with the rim of the drawing board.

Continue drawing on your drawing paper:

  • Without the use of a ruler draw your vertical and horizontal helpline on your drawing paper. Try to match the height of the horizontal helpline with the one on the plate.
  • Now step back 3 steps from the easel.
  • Just by looking try to check if the crossing of the two helplines are at the same height as the one on the plate. If not, please correct and check again until you are sure.

Establish a block

  • Now without the help of a ruler draw a block to establish the correct height and width of your drawing on your drawing paper.
  • Now step back and hold your BBQ-pen vertical (with straight arm and BBQ-pen straight vertical, always use the same arm and eye).
  • With your BBQ pen check height and width to make sure they are equal to the size and place of the example plate.
  • Please check and correct until you are sure.


  • Now start sketching your drawing line by line. Hold your pencil at the end and only support your hand by touching your drawing paper with your little finger or do not support your hand at all. This will feel very awkward, unconfortable and unstable. You are in need of 'building muscles' to gain control. This can only be done by consistency and exercise.
  • After drawing each line, please step back a few steps and check the angle of your line with the help of the BBQ-pen. This can be done by also checking at which point the BBQ-pen crosses the lines of the block. In fact through establishing the block you created another 4 helplines.
  • When your drawing is finished clean it up by erasing and making the lines thin. This forces you to be precise on where your line is.
  • After cleaning up stick your profile plate on a window and stick the drawing on top of it. Now you will see how accurate you are in this moment in time. Don't despair, you will do better next time!

Just for you to know. When you do this 'line by line' procedure you will quickly grow in accuracy. After a few times you will be able to do more lines in one go before checking. It is just a moment in time that we work in this way.

To get the most out of this please repeat this exercise a few times.

Complete and Continue