Unit 1: Outline Drawing – Student Sheila Russell Perry’s Story

Drawing in outline is one of the most important foundation skills in art.
Follow the journey of DrawPj student Sheila as she masters the fundamental skills taught in this unit.

Unit 1 Outline Drawing

Unit 1: Outline Drawing is the first in a series of six course units which together form the Complete Drawing Certificate Course.

On the pages that follow you can see the entire journey of DrawPj student Sheila Russell Perry, as she completes each exercise and project. Building her drawing skills with every lesson, Sheila has now graduated from the course and regularly sells and displays her beautiful artworks in exhibitions.

You’ll also see the helpful comments, critiques and genuinely caring support provided by her wonderful instructor Tannis Trydal.

The level of support shown here is the same kind of one-to-one feedback that you will receive when you study with instructor support at DrawPj.com.

The Drawing Lessons begin…

In the pages that follow you will see that the course begins very simply. Remember no experience is necessary for this course, so you’ll start with just your very first lines and take it from there.

*Editors note – At the time of Sheila’s studies DrawPj was in the process of introducing video screencast feedback. As Sheila moves through the units you’ll see this method of critiquing used more often. Video screencast feedback is now regularly used to comment upon student work.

We are very grateful to Sheila and Tannis for allowing us to publish their entire DrawPj journey together, here on the following pages.

DrawPj Student Sheila Russell Perry

DrawPj Instructor Tannis Trydal

Welcome to Unit 1 – Outline Drawing


Hi Sheila,

My name is Tannis and I am your personal instructor. I just wanted to take a moment to pop in and welcome you to the DrawPj Academy and your complimentary instructor support for the first three weeks of the course.

When you are ready to submit your exercises, please email them directly to me at tannis@drawpj.com so that I can help you to gain the most from the course.

As Stuart has mentioned already, I critique Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays Mountain Standard Time ( MST). I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta Canada. If you have a question or need clarification about your course or your exercises, you are welcome to email me anytime. I will answer as soon as I am able to.

I’m looking forward to seeing your week 1 exercises


Hi Tannis!

I have just started today with my self portrait. I’m very excited to do this course. I’m a teacher and have the summers off so I can devote a lot of time to this! I’ll send my assignments next week! Thanks


Hi Sheila, How wonderful to have the summer off! That’s fantastic! I’m looking forward to seeing your week 1 exercises:) The main thing is to have fun:)


Assignment Unit 1: Week 1 – Demonstrate Sketching Technique


Hi Tannis, Here’s my first week.

Pencil drawing demonstrating sketching technique 1  Pencil drawing demonstrating sketching technique 2


Hi Sheila, Wow, the curves and shapes that you’ve created using your new sketching stroke are absolutely gorgeous! You’ve demonstrated that you fully understand how to hold your pencil and use the sketching technique correctly. Beautiful work! I’m looking forward to seeing your week 2 exercises.


Assginment Unit 1: Week 2 – Complete Six Pencil Strokes


Hi Tannis,

Here’s week 2. I am considering getting clutch pencils. Where would you recommend getting these? Thanks!


Hi Sheila, Clutch pencils are fantastic. You should be able to buy them from an art store, otherwise you can order online. Amazon might have them.

By the way, your exercises didn’t come through. When you have a minute can you resend?
Thank you


Sorry I thought it went through. I ordered clutch pencils from Blicks!

Pencil drawing showing six different pencil techniques


Fantastic, I think that you’ll like the clutch pencils:) Your pencil strokes are fantastic 🙂 Beautiful work, Sheila!

Tutors comments for the six pencil techiques

You are practicing all six strokes correctly, congratulations. Here are just a few suggestions

Shading-well done! I’m happy that you had a go at blending too! The main thing is to create an area of even tone with no patchy areas. You’ve done very well, with just a little bit of patchiness but this is great for now. You’ll have lots of opportunity to practice your smooth shading technique when you study unit 2.

Unevenness is generally caused by using uneven pressure. Be sure to keep your wrist stiff as you shade back and forth, you can rest the outside of your hand on your paper however put a piece of tracing paper below it to protect your work. Suitable paper is important too, but we’ll talk more about that when you begin studying the shading unit.

Broad strokes- Perfect… well done on making such nice bold strokes!

Chisel stroke- Beautiful work… you’ve created some lovely strokes here. True chisel strokes have a wide base and a tapered end like the ones at the letter A. I can see that you’ve prepared your pencil correctly, all you need to do is lift up as you end the stroke.

It’s almost like making a check mark. Make sure to place the ellipse (that you created on the graphite portion) flat to the page when you begin the stroke.

Fine lines- Awesome… make sure to sharpen you pencil often… otherwise as your tip dulls, the line widens
Hatching- Beautiful… love how your strokes are tapered… beautiful work!

Cross hatching- Very good! Cross hatching ( and hatching) are challenging to master, but it just takes some practice. Think parallel lines as you go and magically it’ll begin to


Assignment Unit 1: Week 3 – Complete the ‘Old Hayshed’ landscape drawing


I’m so glad to be taking this drawing class. I always want to continue to learn and develop. And I’m learning so much already! I scanned this assignment, but noticed the small tree didn’t scan in very well. I tried to adjust the contrast on several scans to see if it would help but it didn’t. So that’s a very fine line tree!

Landscape pencil drawing of 'The Old Hay Shed'


This is stunning, Sheila! I absolutely love it! You’ve used all of your new pencil strokes beautifully to create this lovely drawing. I am so impressed with the beautiful dark tone inside the shed Many students are afraid to create dark tones but they are so important in gaining a 3 dimensional image. This is really an amazing accomplishment! All in all, a very successful realism drawing.

I think though, what I really enjoy about your drawing is the mood. I can hear the grasses swishing and the birds singing, it is a very calm setting and I am drawn in. Beautifully done! I hope that you share it on the drawpj community facebook pageJ

The trees are wonderful! Your chisel strokes are excellent and are successful in creating the illusion of leaves in the trees. Try adding a few leaves out into the background as if the sun is just catching one here and there. The faraway tree on the left is great. The lighter, smaller leaves and make it appear farther away than the others and that adds to the illusion of depth. The lines here are very fine. As you’ve mentioned the scan didn’t pick them up but that is ok.

The shading on the tree trunks is simply outstanding The shrubbery behind the hayshed is gorgeous. You’ve created some lovely subtle transitions and tones. Fine lines in this area are beautiful.

You did very well using the smooth shading technique inside the hayshed. I love the dark tone you’ve created! The tin roof is believable. Great broad strokes. The hatching and cross hatching are excellent too. The grasses are simply stunning! Your strokes taper beautifully and the way you’ve added some larger ones overtop of smaller ones is excellent. The strokes are spontaneous and I love how you’ve varied the direction. Outstanding!

Congratulations again on a fantastic drawing, the first of many more to come!


Assignment Unit 1: Week 4
– Scribble gesture drawings
– Basic shapes and variations


Here is my next assignment. I hope I have everything that’s required. Let me know if I missed something.I wasn’t sure if I needed to send the scribbles or not. By the way, do I need to send my portrait to you? I did it before I started this class. Thanks!

Scribble gesture pencil drawings  Pencil drawing of basic shapes


Hi Sheila, well done! Please do send your pre instruction drawing to me when you have time. You’re doing very well!

Beautiful work! All of your shapes look great, I just have a couple of suggestions for you:) It would be great to send me your gesture scribbles:) Whenever you have time, would be great. I know they ‘ll be perfect, but I like to keep everything on file:)
You are doing really well in the course! Have fun with next week’s exercises!

Exercise 1- Scribble gesture drawing When you have time, you can send me your gesture scribbles. They don’t have to even look like what you are drawing. Just try to capture angles and energy; it is a great way to warm up!

Exercise 3 – Halving exercise Beautiful! All of these are perfect, your comparison skills are very good already!

Exercise 4 – Sketch 4 shapes and variations

I love how you’ve put some of the shapes together to create some lovely different objects! Very creative!

Squares and rectangles- Excellent!

Circles- Most of your circles are excellent… the main thing to keep in mind is to be sure to position the horizontal guideline in the middle of the vertical guideline. So that all 4 quadrants are the same.

Triangles- Beautiful!

All of your basic shape variations are awesome! Beautiful work… even your ellipses are well done. That is the shape that is the most challenging to draw and many artists don’t take the time to learn to draw them. So congratulations! I just have a couple of suggestions…

Tutors comments on basic shapes drawings

I’ve drawn over a couple of yours to show you how well you did! At A, the horizontal line isn’t quite in the middle of the vertical line, but you’ve opened up the mouth and risen up on a gentle slope beautifully! At B, the vertical guideline needs to be straightened, but you’ve drawn the lines beautifully. At C, the mouth might be a bit too wide for the overall height of this ellipse.  Notice that the line flattens out at the top. Where as it should rise up on a gentle slope all the way to the highest point.

Overall … a successful first attempt at drawing this difficult shape. Excellent work!


Thanks for the feedback Tannis! I sure appreciate your thoughtful comments. I am not afraid of feedback and really want to learn all I can. I am learning so much already! . I thought I sent you a scribbles file too. There were 2 files that I sent you yesterday. If you didn’t get it I can resend it. Sheila


Fantastic Sheila… perfect, they were there. Keep your exercises coming… you’re doing really well!

Assignment Unit 1: Week 5 – Frog Dog construction drawing


Well here’s the latest to keep you busy.

Pencil construction drawing of the Frog Dog

*Editors note:
At the time of this critique DrawPj was testing out recorded screencast commenting. Screencast commenting is now commonly used by our instructors whenever in-depth feedback is required.


Hi Sheila, I have something special for you:) We are testing out ‘video commenting’ and so I’ve prepared one for your frog dog part A- Please see the link below and I’ve also attached a file of it for you. Please let me know if you have any problems.


Awesome! I’ll check on it after sending this Frog Dog part 2.

Completed pencil drawing of the Frog Dog


Brilliant! That was very helpful to have the video commenting. I love the way technology can help with this kind of learning. Kudos to you for being willing to use it.Glad you liked it!


By the way, your part B of your frog dog is excellent! You’ve drawn all around the shapes beautifully. I am especially impressed with how well you gained the little curves in the toe areas. Awesome… keep going!

Assignment Unit 1: Week 5 – Draw 3D shapes


Hi Tannis! Here is the second part of the assignment for Week 5. It’s 2 scans.

Pencil drawing exercise of 3D shapes Pencil drawing exercise of 3d shapes 2


Hi Sheila, Awesome work! Please see the link:) Keep going!

Assignment Unit 1: Weeks 6 and 7 – Copy a Pattern


I’m a little confused about the next lesson for weeks 6 and 7. I’ve completed the Figure 2 pattern, but not sure if I’m supposed to add the bird’s eye into that square or in a separate square.


Hi Sheila, the square with the birds eye is just a demonstration for plotting dots along curves taking 2 measurements for each. You can have a practice in a new square… also, the blue wren is one of your choices for the final project, so this information will help you if you decide to draw it. Otherwise it is just information. You only need to submit the fig. 2 pattern. Then you will choose one of the many images provided beginning on page 13, as your final project.


Thanks Tannis. Here’s exercise 1.

Pencil drawing of a grid pattern


Hi Sheila, This is excellent! You’ve demonstrated that you know how to copy the pattern in a square using the grid method… I just have a couple of suggestions.

You’ve used the grid method of comparing to measurements along the sides of your square beautifully to gain excellent accuracy. I think you’ll do very well on your final project.

I just have a few small suggestions for you… Make sure that the lines for the grid are straight

On your square here, the lines are on a bit of an angle. This hasn’t caused significant outages, but it is just something to keep in mind. I am really impressed with how well you copied the curve… curves can be very confusing… so well done!

Instructors critique of the copied grid pattern

At the dots at the letter A and B can be moved down just a wee little bit. And at the letter C, the dot can be moved to the left as shown. Measure down from the top from just past the 1/8 way mark… Awesome work!

At D, the line should be moved down. Measure out from exactly the 1/8 way mark. Excellent work!

Good luck with your final project. Based on this exercise, I know that you’ll do really well 🙂 Have fun!

Final Project Unit 1: Weeks 6 and 7 – Completed Outline Drawing


Hi Tannis, here’s my final! This was hard! I did another one first, the rose. But I had made all markings into lots of tiny squares. Then looked at the directions again and realised that I was defeating the purpose of the lesson. So I did another one to make sure I was learning this process the way that it’s intended.

Grid Method Pencil Drawing  Completed pencil outline drawing


Congratulations Sheila on a lovely drawing and graduating from unit 1!

You’ve done very well with all of your exercises and you should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished so far:)

I will prepare a special graded document for you.. they take longer to prepare but I’ll try to get it to you as soon as possible.
So now….on to shading and form! So excited:)

Suitable paper for the smooth shading technique is very important for this next unit… it can’t be too textured otherwise the graphite won’t get into the dips… if its too smooth, it’ll slide off. The weight is important too. Many papers will work, but we know that the ones listed in the supply list give students excellent results. If you are purchasing water color paper, purchase ‘hot’ press not ‘cold’ press. Cold press is too textured. Look for a minimum weight of 140 lb or 300gsm. If you have any questions, just let me know.

I wish you all the best in the shading unit…have fun!


I have some bristol 100lb and hot press 140 lb watercolor paper. Maybe I’ll do a comparison between the two to see which does better handling the graphite.


Hi Sheila, I think the 140lb smooth watercolor will probably work the best:) Bristol is good too but I’ll be able to give you more info once you’ve sent me your week 1 exercises.


In regard to the paper that I have been using, it has been the 140 lb hot press. I had tried 2 different times in doing the value scale on the bristol paper in Unit 2 and just didn’t like the results I was getting. So then I switched to the hot press and it seems to be better but I do notice some quality issues with trying to get a smoother transition with the shading. The watercolor paper I have been using is Fabriano Artistico and I didn’t like how it handled for watercolor so I thought I would use up what I had for this drawing class. But I am wondering if it’s not any good for drawing too! I also have noticed that I get like little globs of dark graphite on the paper. I don’t know if this happens because of the paper or from my pencil, or from my technique. I’m leaning more towards the paper. I have some Arches 140 lb hot press that I will try out. But it will be after the Week 2 because I’m almost done with that one too! Since I am a watercolor artist I do know the importance of using quality materials. I am using the derwent pencils and the faber castell clutch pencils. Thanks for all your help Tannis!


Hi Sheila,
Well done on a fantastic outline drawing and on graduating from unit 1. I have attached your graded document and also your Certificate of Completion for unit 1… once you collect all 6, you’ll receive your drawpj certificate. This is a fantastic achievement, and you should be very proud of what you’re achieving.
Cheers, Tannis

Extract from graded document

At the end of each instructor supported unit, the instructor grades the final project, provides a written critique and issues a certificate. Below is an extract from the graded document for Sheila’s outline drawing of ‘Tulips in a Tub’.


Well done Sheila! Congratulations on a wonderful ‘Tulips in a Tub’ outline drawing!

Overall, I can see that you have used the grid method correctly. It’s great to see all of the little dashes and dots that you used to help you achieve a very accurate drawing, congratulations! I am very pleased with how well you’ve captured the curved petals. Curves are very tricky. Angles are tricky too, but you’ve captured most of them correctly.

Tutors critique of final outline pencil drawing

This is a very challenging image to draw because there are quite a few curves and angles to capture. Overall this is a very successful drawing and you should be very proud of your accomplishment!

You’ve captured the angles of the stems beautifully and the shapes of the petals are very good too. I’ve drawn over a few of the shapes in the petals to show where some refinements can be made.

Here are a few areas to study a little bit more…

A- Adjust angle
B- lines missing
C- Study the shape of the tip of this petal. Capturing small details such as this can make a difference in your final drawing. Remember to look at your reference image 80% of the time and your drawing 20% of the time. Use your artist’s language to help you to compare one thing to another.
D- Study the shape of this leaf more in the original image in your notes
E- Refine the shape of the ellipse

Excellent work overall! Congratulations again on a fantastic drawing and on graduating from unit 1! I wish you all the best in Unit 2!


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