Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.


Warm up by drawing

This activity describes a series of quick experimental drawing exercises that can be done alone or in combination.

Exercises like these are often done by artists to warm up as they begin their work. By following various fast methods of drawing, outside of traditional sketching techniques, artists can free themselves up from labouring over detail, instead picking out essential shape, line and emotions. The aim is not for 'perfect' finished drawings, but alternative representations of an object or person.

Below are just a few examples of artists' drawings. Many more drawings can be found on Art UK.


Each student will need:

  • a good supply of paper (a sketchbook, printer paper or sugar paper, or a combination of these, is fine)
  • a black biro
  • pencils (softer 2B and 4B are best, but HB is OK)
  • coloured pencils or crayons
  • a sharpener
  • a stopwatch (mobile phones usually have one)

Choose a subject

Allow your students to choose a person or object to draw (or assign them a subject). Alternatively, students may choose a sculpture from the Art UK website to draw. By clicking through to the sculpture they select they can see multiple photos of the sculpture, viewed from different angles.


  • Set a timer for four minutes. Draw your chosen subject without taking your pencil off the page. You'll find your drawing has some interesting qualities – don't cheat!
  • Draw with a biro in your less dominant hand (your left hand if you are right-handed, for example). This can be a challenge at first but be brave and give it a go. Time yourself again for four minutes. Your drawing might be quite strange, but you might learn to love it!
  • Choose two coloured pencils and draw your subject with both hands at the same time. This can be quite a strange experience to start with (as most people haven't done this type of drawing since early childhood), but stick with it.
  • Try simplifying your subject into the different shapes you can see, to make an abstract sketch.

Do you know someone who would love this resource? Tell them about it...

More Art UK resources

See all