I started learning to draw earlier this year and I’ve been relying a lot on free online tutorials. It’s amazing how many insanely talented artists have given their time to helping beginners get started.
The only trouble is, there are so many free tutorials that it can actually be a little tricky to sift through them all and find the absolute best. I appreciate everyone who spends their time creating free lessons, but the truth is that some of these tutorials are much more helpful than others.
That’s why I want to share the three free lesson sets that I’ve found most helpful so far. I’m not in any way affiliated with any of these creators, I’m just a huge fan of their lessons.
Three Great Resources
Proko (Stan Prokopenko)
Proko’s main focus is figure drawing, although the lessons cover plenty of fundamentals that transfer over to other subjects. He offers a free version and a paid version, but even the free version has countless hours of material.
There are over a hundred completely free videos available on his website, each with an accompanying written version of the lesson. Prokopenko is a professional art teacher, and it really shows in the quality of his instruction. He explains things in a crystal clear way, making it really easy to follow along. The lessons are well organized with a straight-forward progression.
Another thing that I like about these lessons is that he often brings in guest instructors who give their own variations on certain types of drawing.
The only real downside is the limited scope (almost all the videos are about figure drawing), but as I mentioned before, the skills I’m learning here are definitely transferring over to other types of drawings as well.
Dunn runs a YouTube channel focused primarily on pen and ink drawing, with a few watercolor lessons mixed in. It may sound like a narrow scope, but just like Proko, Dunn’s focus on the fundamentals makes his lessons much more widely applicable than they might first appear.
His pen and ink lessons really focus on seeing the basic forms underlying complex shapes. He teaches you how to see like an artist by literally breaking down his thoughts through series of drawings.
Dunn has a way of making incredibly complex concepts feel simple and easy to follow along with. His approach feels the most analytical and logical out of the three on this list.
He also has a set of books for sale, but I haven’t had the chance to check them out yet.
The biggest downside to his lessons is that they don’t follow as clear an order as the other two on this list. I recommend starting with his more recent videos, because they tend to be the best.
Draw A Box (Irshad Karim)
All of the lessons in this list focus on fundamentals, but Draw a Box focuses on them most intently. This website is all about learning the very basics of drawing, starting with which part of your arm should be moving and how to be more thoughtful about your pen marks.
These lessons are definitely the least “fun” of the three here, but they do a very good job of setting up a foundation for how to draw. I think there are certain personalities who could really power through these lessons day after day and improve rapidly, but for me, I like to just do a tiny bit every once in a while.
Draw a Box is incredibly clearly structured, explaining in detail exactly how you should progress through the lessons and when you are ready to move on.
Where to Start?
All three of these sets of lessons have been a great help to me so far. Since they all emphasize drawing fundamentals, any of the three would be a fine place to start.
I would recommend trying each, and seeing which clicks best for you. I’ve been switching between the three depending on what I’m interested in working on. Proko for figure drawing, Dunn for natural objects, and Draw a Box for…boxes. I don’t know whether this is the most effective approach, but it certainly keeps me from getting bored.
My personal favorite is Alphonso Dunn’s YouTube channel, because I love the style of his artwork and his instruction. Whichever you chose, you’ll be building a foundation that will help you in all of your drawings.