3d sketching

3D Sketching: A Comprehensive guide to get you started

3D Sketching: A Comprehensive guide to get you started

Do you want to learn how to draw realistically?

Do you often see 3D shapes/drawings and wonder how one draws them?

Well, then you are absolutely at the right place!

In this article, we will have a look at a comprehensive step-by-step guide to 3D sketching. This will help you improve your current skills or begin your first 3D sketch. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional, this article is for you!

If you are a beginner, I suggest you also read  Sketching Basics: A beginner’s guide

Before we dive deep into the article, I want to make you aware of the GoSocial community. This is a perfect place to make friends with similar interests. You can share your expertise and collaborate with ease.

GoSocial also hosts a variety of workshops. They are a great way to improve your sketches. 

Now let’s come back to 3D sketching. But, first, let’s understand what 3D sketching is.

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What is 3D sketching?

Well, that’s pretty simple. You may be knowing about 2D sketching. The primary difference between a 2D and 3D sketch is that a 2D sketch involves only length and width, whereas a 3D sketch also requires volume. 

A combination of length, width, and height makes 3D sketches look realistic.

3D sketches allow you to create different perspectives and optical illusions. For 3D sketches, shading and blending are essential. 

You must be thinking about what all do you require for 3D sketching. Well, not much; a little enthusiasm and practice are enough. You might not be so good at the start, but eventually, you will see yourself improving with time. 

3D sketching – Materials required

To sketch in 3D, you need the same supplies as to sketch in any other way. This will include:

  1. Drawing pencil sets
  2. Sketchbook
  3. Eraser
  4. Sharpner
  5. Drawing Pens/Ink (colorful if you want to make colorful sketches)

You may also try a 3D pen. 3D pens allow you to write and draw in multiple dimensions. This happens with the pen hitting the plastic, which cools when released on support. The 3D pen consists of two types of plastic – ABS or PLA. The choice depends on the kind of 3D project that you are making.

ABS is a material that cools instantly and is suitable for making curved lines and geometric shapes. PLA takes more time to cool and thus takes longer to solidify. However, it responds well to support such as cardboard or ceramics and is helpful in 3D writing. 

Which 3D pen should I choose?

While choosing a 3D pen, there are some factors that you should consider. These include:

  1. Design and weight of the pen – essential for accuracy
  2. LCP display
  3. Price 
  4. Brand

3D sketching – Step-by-step guide

Having gathered all the material now, it is time to begin sketching. However, before we do that, let’s take a look at what you should do.

Get the perfect setup

If possible, get a bigger drawing board than the paper you use for sketching. Also, ensure that your line of sight is perpendicular to the drawing board. If this does not happen, one side of the paper will be closer to your eye, and the drawing will become distorted. The best way to avoid this and get the perfect angle is to keep the drawing board on your knees. 

Break down objects into shapes

Sketchbooks show how complex objects are broken down into shapes. This makes drawing the sketches easy. The trick is to observe it closely in order to recognize the different shapes it takes. This will help you build objects one after the other and get a fantastic final 3d sketching design.

Begin with basic shapes

If you are a beginner, you should always begin by sketching basic shapes. This can include cubes, cylinders, cones, etc.

Not sure where to begin?

Read this article – how to draw 3D shapes to learn more. 

Bring perspective into the picture

Perspective is a technique to draw a 3-dimensional image. Basically, like a drawer, you look at a scene from your point of view (perspective) and then draw the image. As a drawer, you see the big things in front of you and the smaller ones far away and try to reproduce the same thing. This helps to create a more realistic sketch that is very close to what the eyes see.

If you already have some command over basic 3D sketching, try face drawing. Not sure where to start? Check some great tips on face drawing -How to draw a face?

Shading patterns

The use of shading and lighting helps you to create fantastic 3D sketches. Draw dark lines to give a shadow effect effortlessly. You can also lighten one part of the sketch to provide a 3D effect. Try the cross-hatching techniques to create more realistic 3D images. Cross-hatching involves drawing parallel lines very close to each other at a certain angle. 

Veiling is another technique that you can use in your 3D sketching. Veiling involves drawing faint lines with a pencil by dragging them on the paper smoothly. 

There are different shading techniques – hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, blending, etc. What is your favorite style? Well, to determine this you must practice a lot. Try 3D sketching an object, say a tree, in different shading styles to see what suits you the best. 

Draw whatever you see

The key to the most amazing 3D sketches is keeping them natural. Sketch whatever you look from your naked eyes. Try to reproduce the subject in your environment the way it is. Don’t go by the name of the object but look for the angles, lines, and shapes within it. Give proper shades to the corners and play with the dark and light shades to give a natural real-life experience to your sketches. This will surely bring some amazing 3d sketch collections to you.

If you find this problematic, another good technique is to turn the image upside down. This will introduce a fresh perspective and help you see beyond the real object. In this way, your brain will shift towards the creative right brain side, and you will be able to create the designs differently. 

Joining Gosocial’s workshops will help you in 3D sketching. Learn how to join Gocial’s workshops. 

Draw the negative space

Draw the negative space when you see the object. This again is an excellent step as drawing the negative space helps the right brain take the wheel from the left brain. 

Bring emotions with your sketches

A line is not always a line. You can sketch in a way that introduces communication through your sketches. A line can be angry, calm, or sad, and more depending on how you draw it. Though your emotions may or may not be interpreted correctly by the audience, you can always try and include them as much as possible. 

Vary your lines

All of your lines need not be the same way; vary them. For example, shifts in the width and darkness of your lines create a dynamic sketch that is visually interesting. In the beginning, this can be difficult, but with practice, you will be able to put marks of different kinds together to produce a cohesive 3D sketch.

Control your edges

One important aspect of 3D sketching is controlling the edges of your sketch. There are four different techniques to define objects’ edges – thin, hard, lost, and undefined. Solid borders come from thin and hard edges. Lost edges are when the edges are not explicitly defined, and they naturally blend with the background. Undefined edges may or may not be understood by the viewers. You can combine all these edges to produce a fabulous 3D sketching masterpiece. 

Create an optical illusion effect

Have you seen images jumping out of the picture?

Yes? Well, it is the optical illusion effect that drives this innovation.

For creating an optical illusion effect, you need to distort the image that you want to sketch. To begin with, you need a camera to capture the image that you wish to sketch. Next, distort the object that you want to sketch with the help of computer software. Now draw the object in the correct proportions by using a grid system for reinforcing the 3D impression cut out the outline of the drawing. To achieve the right volume, fold the sheet or use multiple sheets of paper. 

Draw Quickly

This might seem odd but many artists suggest that the best way to draw realistic 3D images is to wrap them up quickly. This gets your mind to concentrate on the actual sketch rather than worrying too much about the outcome. Try doing this by setting up a 3-minute timer and finishing your sketch within this limit.  

Now build your creator website and mobile app in under 5 minutes on GoSocial without coding. Click to start for free.


3D sketching is a perfect domain of art and if you like drawing, you must give it a shot. 

Remember that Rome was not built in a day. Don’t try to be hard on yourself and achieve great sketches quickly. Give some time, be patient and keep practicing. Start with simple 3D shapes and drawings to gain some confidence. Once you master the basics, go for complex shapes and drawings. 

Watch online videos, engage in communities, become part of 3D sketching workshops to polish your skills. Don’t know where to begin? Why not join GoSocial’s superb community and workshops for a mind-blowing start? Also, there are various expert GoSocial challenges that you can take and prove your mastery. So don’t wait, begin now!

Have fun Sketching!