Sketch Before or After Applying Gesso? 9 Tips to Get You Started

When it comes to sketching with gesso, there is no right or wrong answer. It ultimately depends on your personal preference and the type of project you are working on. Generally speaking, most artists prefer to start with a base layer of gesso before sketching. This helps to create a smooth surface for drawing and painting, as well as providing an even canvas for other mediums like inks and markers. Gesso also acts as an excellent primer for acrylic paints, allowing them to stick better and last longer.

Alternatively, some people may prefer to sketch first and then cover their artwork with a layer of gesso afterwards. This can be beneficial if you have already created detailed pencil drawings that need protection from erasing and smudging. Applying gesso in this manner will seal the sketch, so you can be sure it won’t be damaged or ruined when working with other mediums on top of it.canvas

Overall, there is no right or wrong way to use gesso when sketching – it all comes down to personal preference and the type of project you are doing. Whether you decide to apply a layer of gesso before sketching or after, the important thing is that your artwork looks great and lasts for years!

Should I Gesso before Sketching?

When it comes to sketching on canvas, many artists prefer to use a gesso primer before they begin sketching. Not only does this provide a smooth, even surface for your sketches, but it also helps protect the canvas from damage over time. In some cases, you may find that gessoing before you sketch makes it easier to erase mistakes or make changes as you go along.

However, there are times when skipping the pre-sketch gesso is beneficial. If you want an aged or weathered look for your artwork, for example, not priming with gesso can help achieve this effect. It’s important to remember that if you choose not to gesso before sketching, you’ll likely have more difficulty erasing mistakes.

HOW TO USE GESSO IN YOUR DRAWINGS (drawing tutorial) | Chris Wilson

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question – it all depends on your artistic goals and preferences. If you want to achieve a smooth and professional-looking sketch, then pre-sketching gesso is the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a rougher look with added texture and depth, skipping the gesso step may be best for your artwork. Experiment with different combinations until you find your preferred method!

Do you prime a canvas before Sketching?

The answer to this question depends on whether you are using a traditional or modern canvas. If you use a traditional canvas, such as linen or cotton, then it should be primed with gesso before sketching. Gesso is an acrylic-based primer that provides a smoother surface for drawing, and also helps prevent the paint from seeping into the fabric of the canvas. Modern canvases typically come pre-primed and ready to go, so they do not need to be gessoed first.

When working on a prepared canvas (whether primed with gesso or simply pre-primed), you can begin sketching right away. It is important to remember that sketching should always be done lightly and with minimal pressure, as this will make it easier to erase and correct any mistakes.

If you are using a traditional canvas that has not been primed, then you should first apply several thin layers of gesso before sketching on it. This will ensure a smoother surface for your drawing and also help prevent the paint from seeping into the fibers of the canvas. After applying each layer of gesso, allow it to dry thoroughly before adding additional layers or beginning to sketch.

In conclusion, if you are using a traditional canvas (such as linen or cotton), then you should prime it with several thin layers of gesso before sketching on it. However, if your canvas is already pre-primed, then you can skip this step and begin sketching right away. Happy drawing!

Can I use pencil over Gesso?

Yes, you can use pencil over Gesso. Using a pencil after applying Gesso can help to add more details or refine the overall look of your artwork. However, using pencil on top of wet Gesso may cause smudging and make it difficult to erase any mistakes. To prevent this, allow the layer of Gesso to fully dry before adding any additional layers of graphite or colored pencils. If you plan on adding multiple layers of pencil work, then it is best to lightly sand in between each layer for a smooth finish. Additionally, consider layering the various types of medium from lightest to darkest when working with both Gesso and Pencils; this will ensure that all aspects are properly blended together.

To get the best possible results, experiment with different techniques and materials to find what works best for your particular artwork. Have fun and enjoy creating!

Is it okay to Sketch on a canvas before painting?

Yes, it is ok to sketch on a canvas before painting. Gesso is used to prepare the surface of a canvas for painting and provides an even and stable foundation for colors. Sketches can be done prior to applying gesso or after gesso has been applied and the surface has dried. Doing so will give you an idea of how your painting will look once completed, helping you make decisions regarding composition, color choices, etc.

When sketching on a canvas before applying gesso, ensure that you use light pencil lines that won’t show through the paint layers when finished. If necessary, erase any unwanted lines with a kneaded eraser before beginning to paint. Once you’ve completed your painting, you can always apply a light coat of gesso over the entire canvas to even out any imperfections.

If sketching after applying gesso, use a soft graphite pencil or charcoal. Lighter lines can be used as they won’t show up as easily when painting over them. The same is true for erasing unwanted lines – ensure that you use a kneaded eraser for precision and accuracy.

Sketching on a canvas before or after applying gesso is an effective way to plan your painting and help make decisions regarding composition, color choices, etc. Just remember to use light pencil lines and make sure all sketches are erased before beginning to paint. Good luck!

Can I draw on Gesso?

Yes, you can draw on gesso. However, it is important to remember that the surface of gesso is much more absorbent than a traditional drawing surface such as canvas or paper. This means that the pigment won’t last long and will be easily smudged. Therefore, if you plan to sketch on gesso before applying other layers of paint or texture, it is best to do so lightly with pencil or other non-permanent media. If you decide to use permanent media such as ink or gouache, you may want to consider using a fixative first in order to prevent smudging and enhance color intensity. Additionally, keep in mind that painting over your pencil sketches after they are complete will cause them to partially disappear, depending on the opacity of your chosen paint.canvas

Once you have finished sketching or otherwise preparing your surface with gesso, you may begin painting over it. Remember to use a varnish or a fixative in order to preserve and protect your artwork. Additionally, be sure to take proper safety precautions when using any chemicals or products associated with art-making.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your finished piece will last for many years to come!

Is it okay to Sketch before painting?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to sketch before painting. This can be a great way to plan out your project and ensure that you have all the right elements in place. Sketching allows you to experiment with different ideas, test out compositions, and figure out what colors will work best together. It also gives you the opportunity to correct any mistakes without having to start over with a fresh canvas!

When sketching before painting, it is important to use an appropriate surface for your sketches such as paper or cardboard. You don’t want to use materials like wood or plastic which could create texture on the canvas and potentially interfere with later steps of the painting process.

Canvas Priming Lesson

Once your sketch is complete, you’ll want to apply a layer of gesso (or other primer) to the canvas. This will create an even surface and provide a barrier between your painting and the canvas. Gesso also helps to prevent paints from seeping into the surface of the canvas, resulting in a smoother finish with no hard edges or lines where colors may bleed together.

Overall, sketching before you paint can be a great way to get creative and experiment with different ideas without having to worry about making mistakes! With some proper planning and preparation, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful artwork that is sure to wow any viewer. Good luck!

Can you write on top of Gesso?

Yes, you can write on top of Gesso. Once it is completely dry, you can use pencils, pens and markers to draw or letter on the surface without the medium smudging. After the initial sketching is done, you may consider using a light layer of gesso over your work to protect it from damage. This will also keep any lines or markings in place while working with other mediums such as paint. However, if you plan on using more permanent paints like acrylic or oil paints, then it is best to apply the gesso first before sketching out your design so that they have something to adhere better to! This will prevent any paint from seeping through and distorting your finished piece.

It is important to note that while you can write on top of gesso, it may be more difficult when compared to writing directly onto the uncovered canvas or paper. The consistency of gesso makes it slightly tougher for pencils to create sharp lines and for markers or pens to produce an even color tone. If this is a concern, then consider sketching out your design first before adding any gesso. This will give you a better idea of how the mediums look on the surface before any application of sealants like gesso. Once your sketch is where you want it and set in place, then add in a thin layer of Gesso to protect your work and keep it looking new!

How to get a smooth finish with Gesso?

Gesso is a great medium for priming and preparing surfaces before painting. It provides a smooth, even finish and helps protect the underlying surface from damage. But how do you get that perfect, smooth finish? Here are some tips:

  1. Start with a clean surface – Make sure your canvas or paper is free of dust and other particles so the Gesso can adhere properly. You may want to give your canvas a light sanding to remove any bumps or ridges before applying the Gesso.
  2. Apply the Gesso in thin layers – Applying the Gesso in thin layers will help ensure an even coat and reduce streaks or brush strokes. Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next one.
  3. Use a brush with soft bristles – Using a brush with soft bristles will help you achieve an even finish without leaving any visible brush strokes. Start in the center and work your way outwards in overlapping circles, keeping your movements slow and steady.
  4. Sand between layers – You can also sand between layers of Gesso to get rid of any bumps or ridges that may have occurred when applying it. This will help ensure a smooth surface before you begin painting.
  5. Sketch before applying Gesso – If you plan to sketch on top of the Gesso, it is best to do so before applying the primer. Drawing directly onto the gesso after it has been applied can cause it to crack or flake off.

Following these steps will help you achieve a smooth finish with Gesso, so your painting will look its best. Keep in mind that the time and effort put into preparing the surface is often what makes or breaks a good painting!

Conclusion: By following these tips and taking the necessary precautions, you can get a smooth finish with gesso before starting your painting project. Doing this extra preparation work will ensure that your painting looks its absolute best when finished. No matter if you choose to sketch before or after applying gesso, make sure that you take the time to do it right for an impressive result!

How many layers of Gesso should an artist use?

The amount of Gesso that an artist should use depends on their individual needs and preferences. Generally speaking, one layer of Gesso is enough to provide a smooth surface for sketching. However, some artists may find it beneficial to apply additional layers of Gesso in order to achieve the desired level of texture or protection from outside elements such as dust and dirt. Additionally, if there are any major irregularities on the canvas that need to be addressed before sketching, multiple layers of Gesso can help fill in these areas for a more even finish. Ultimately, the number of layers you choose will depend on how much time you want to spend perfecting your piece and what kind of look and feel you’re going for.

What is Gesso? How to use Gesso on Acrylic Painting! step by step Narrated Video

In general, it is recommended to sketch after the Gesso has been applied and dried. This will ensure that your sketches are as clean and precise as possible since any bumps or irregularities on the canvas will have already been smoothed out by the Gesso. Additionally, using Gesso before sketching can help prevent smudging or fading of your pencil marks as they will be better protected from outside elements when sealed with Gesso. However, if you prefer to work without any intermediary layers between the canvas and your artwork, then you may find it more convenient to sketch before applying Gesso. Regardless of which order you choose to follow, make sure that you give yourself enough time for both steps and that each layer is properly dried before moving on to the next. Doing so will ensure that your artwork turns out as beautiful and professional as possible!

Do painters use pencil first?

The use of a pencil in painting is largely dependent on the style and preference of the artist. Some painters may choose to sketch out an image before starting with paint, while others may prefer to begin painting directly onto their canvas or surface. Gesso is a type of primer that can be used to prime a canvas for painting, and it is typically applied after any sketches have been created. This allows the painter to refine their work more easily and also helps colors show up more vibrantly when added later on. Thus, whether or not you choose to use pencil first will depend on your own personal preferences as an artist!canvas

Can I paint over Sketch?

Yes, you can paint over a sketch with gesso or acrylic paint. However, it is important to keep in mind that painting over the sketch will likely alter the original drawing. Therefore, it is recommended to use a light touch when applying the gesso or acrylic paint and not to press too hard on the paper while working. It is also important to make sure that the surface of your paper is clean before you start painting so that no dirt or debris gets stuck between layers of paint.

Gesso can be applied after sketching if desired; however, this may obscure some details and make it more difficult to add additional elements later. Therefore, many artists prefer to apply gesso prior to sketching in order to create a more consistent surface for drawing. Acrylic paint can also be applied over a sketched image; however, it is important to allow the sketch to dry completely before applying additional layers of paint. This will help ensure that the colors remain vibrant and true to the original sketch.

Overall, painting over a sketch with gesso or acrylic paint is possible; however, it is important to take care not to alter the original drawing too much. Additionally, make sure that you are working on a clean surface and that your base layer (gesso or acrylic) is completely dry before adding additional layers of paint. With these considerations in mind, you should have no problem creating beautiful finished pieces using both gesso and acrylic paint.

Happy Painting!

What do artists do before painting canvas?

Before starting to paint on a canvas, most artists will take some preliminary steps. These steps can include sketching out a plan for the painting, gessoing the canvas, and applying primer to the canvas.

Sketching is often done as one of the first steps in creating a painting on canvas. This allows artists to map out their ideas before committing them to paint. Sketching also helps with composition, color choices, and other important elements that may not be apparent when looking at an empty canvas.

After sketching out the image, many artists will then apply layers of Gesso to the surface of their canvas. Gesso is a type of primer that helps prepare the surface for painting by smoothing out any irregularities, such as bumps or ridges. Applying Gesso also helps to protect the canvas from absorbing too much paint.

Once the canvas has been prepared with sketching and Gessoing, artists may then apply a primer coat of paint. Primer helps seal the canvas and provide a uniform surface for painting. Primer can also help prevent colors from bleeding into one another when mixing them on the canvas surface.

Ultimately, it is up to each artist to decide what order they would like to do these steps in. Some might prefer to sketch before Gessoing while others might choose to do so afterwards. It all depends on personal preference and the type of painting being created!

Can you draw on clear Gesso?

Yes, you can draw on clear Gesso. It creates a unique textured surface for your artwork and is great for adding depth and detail to your drawings. Clear Gesso also provides an excellent base for watercolor or acrylic paints, as the paint will not seep into the paper beneath it. However, if you want to create a smoother drawing surface, we recommend sketching over white Gesso instead of using clear Gesso. White Gesso has a thicker consistency that can help give your artwork more even coverage across the page. When sketching over white Gesso, make sure to work quickly so that the paint does not dry out before you finish your drawing!

Make Your Canvas SMOOTHER Than Paper

When working with either type of Gesso, it’s best to sketch before applying the gesso. This will make sure that your sketches stay crisp and that any paint you apply afterwards won’t cover up any of your lines. Once you have finished your sketches, then you can start to layer on the Gesso to give your artwork a unique texture and depth! Ultimately, it’s up to you as an artist to decide whether clear or white Gesso is more suitable for your project.

Happy drawing! 🙂

Is Gesso ideal for texture art?

Gesso is an ideal medium for texture art, because it provides a very stable surface and allows you to create interesting layers of texture. You can apply Gesso directly to your canvas before painting, or use it as a base coat before working on top of it with other materials. Whether you choose to Sketch before or after applying Gesso will depend largely on what effect you’re trying to achieve.

If you want the final piece to have a more textured look then sketching first may be the best option. This way, your sketches will remain visible underneath the Gesso, giving your work an extra layer of depth and visual interest. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a smoother finish then Sketching after applying Gesso will help to create a more even and consistent look.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to sketch before or after Gesso is up to you. Experimenting with both options can help you decide which technique works best for your particular project. With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to create texture art that looks beautiful and professional!

How long should you leave Gesso before painting?

When using gesso as a primer for your painting surface, it is best to leave the gesso to dry completely and cure before painting. Depending on the type of paint and the conditions in which you are working, this may take anywhere from several hours to overnight. If you’re not sure if your gesso is ready to be painted on, test a small area with some water – if it beads up then it still needs more time to dry and cure. In general, however, you should give your primer at least 8 hours before starting any painting work.

It can also be helpful to sketch out your design onto paper or canvas first before applying the primer as this will help you determine where colors should be placed, where shadows and highlights should lie, etc. However, it is important to note that you should not draw directly onto the canvas before applying the gesso as the pencil marks can show through once the paint has been applied.

Once your gesso has been given time to dry and cure, then you can begin with your sketching and painting. This way, any mistakes that are made while sketching or applying paint will be covered up by a fresh layer of primer if needed – making corrections much easier! With these few simple steps in mind, you’ll be sure to have beautiful artwork each and every time. Good luck!

What is the rule of Sketching?

Regardless of whether you sketch before or after gesso, the rule of thumb is to keep the sketch as light and loose as possible. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, just enough details that help you trace over it later when applying color with paint. You can use pencils for sketching, as well as charcoal and pastels. Take your time and get creative! Try different mark-making techniques to make interesting lines and textures in your artworks. When you’re finished, erase any extra lines or smudges until you have a clean canvas ready for gesso application. Happy creating!

Do painters draw first?

Painters have different approaches to their work, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some painters prefer to draw the outlines of their artwork first and then add color or texture with paint. Others prefer to begin painting directly on the canvas without any initial sketching.

Some artists may use a combination of both techniques. For example, they might first use a pencil to draw some basic guidelines for their painting, then fill in the rest with paint. This allows them to get an idea of how everything will fit together before adding any permanent color or texture.

No matter which approach you take, it is important to practice good surface preparation prior to beginning your painting process. Make sure that the canvas is clean and dry before you start to sketch or paint, and apply a coat of gesso if necessary. Gesso acts as an adhesive for the paint, and it can provide an extra layer of protection against wear and tear. It is best to apply gesso after any initial sketching has been completed.canvas

Ultimately, the decision of whether to draw first or jump right into painting depends on your personal preferences and individual style. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you!

Do you erase pencil before painting?

The debate of whether to erase your pencil lines before or after using gesso is an ongoing one among artists and art instructors. Generally, the consensus is that it is best to erase your pencil lines prior to applying a gesso primer. This allows for more even coverage of the surface and prevents any potential smudging. Additionally, erasing the pencil lines prior to priming will help minimize any inconsistencies in tone across a work due to the presence of graphite left underneath the paint layers. After a gesso has been applied, it can be difficult or impossible to fully remove all traces of graphite from the canvas. It’s therefore recommended that you erase any unwanted markings before painting with acrylics or oils. That said, erasing pencil lines after a gesso has been applied is not necessarily a complete no-no. Many experienced artists opt to keep their pencil lines visible and rely on the primer’s adhesive properties to help prevent smudging. Ultimately, it’s up to you as the artist to decide which approach works best for your preferred techniques.

Regardless of when you erase the pencil lines, it’s important to ensure that any erasures are done thoroughly and carefully in order to preserve the integrity of your work. Using an art gum eraser or kneaded eraser is generally recommended for this task, as these types of erasers are less prone to leaving behind marks or residue than other varieties. If using a kneaded eraser, it may be beneficial to also lightly brush away any eraser particles left behind using a soft paintbrush. Additionally, if your artwork is particularly delicate or intricate, you can use a microfibre cloth to gently erase the lines without damaging the surface.

In summary, the best time to erase pencil lines on a canvas depends largely on personal preference and technique. Most experts recommend erasing prior to applying gesso for optimal results, but it is ultimately up to you decide which path works best for your artwork. Whichever approach you choose, make sure that you take care when erasing in order to preserve the integrity of your work.

Environmental Protection & Energy Saving

The energy consumption of sketching before applying gesso is significantly less than that of painting after the application. In addition to using less energy, sketching before gesso also helps protect the environment by reducing air pollution associated with paint production and disposal. With fewer chemicals released into our atmosphere, we can breathe cleaner air and help minimize global warming. Furthermore, when you don’t have to apply a thick layer of paint after gesso, you use fewer resources overall due to decreased material usage and lower fuel consumption during transportation or shipping.

Moreover, sketching before applying gesso allows for reuse of canvases which reduces waste and conserves resources in comparison to working on new canvas boards every time you need to start a new piece.

Sketching before gesso is an easy way to make a more conscious effort for energy and resource conservation as well as environmental protection. By doing so, you also save money in the long run by reducing your need for supplies and materials. So whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint or just want to save some pennies, sketching before gesso is an excellent choice!

Safety Tips

  • When using Gesso or any other art medium, make sure to wear a respirator and protective eye wear.
  • Before starting your project, ensure that the area you will be working in is well ventilated.
  • Make sure to clean up spills and dust immediately as Gesso can cause respiratory irritation if left lying around.
  • When sketching prior to applying the Gesso, use light lines so they don’t show through after application.
  • It’s best to allow the Gesso to completely dry before painting over it.
  • Do not apply too much pressure when using a brush or roller as this may affect the final result of your artwork.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and care of the product.
  • Store your Gesso in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.
  • Be sure to keep out of reach of children and pets.

Basic Terms

Gesso is a primer used in art and design to prepare canvas, wood, or other surfaces for painting. It’s a white, chalky substance that helps to create an even surface for the paint or ink to adhere to. Sketching is the act of drawing out ideas on paper before using them in artwork.

When To Use Gesso?

The use of gesso prior to sketching can help create an even base layer that is more receptive to pencil and pen marks. Many artists opt to apply gesso after their sketches are complete as it provides protection from smudging and fading over time. Some materials such as wood require multiple layers of gesso before sketching in order for the paint to adhere properly.

When To Sketch?

Sketching is best done before gesso is applied as it allows artists to experiment with various ideas and iterate on them without having to worry about the paint adhering to the surface. It also helps to create a sense of purpose by giving direction for the painting or drawing. Sketching after gesso has been applied can be difficult, so it’s important to plan out your artwork before starting the process.

In conclusion, it is up to personal preference as far as when Gesso should be used in relation to sketching. Some artists prefer using Gesso prior to sketching while others choose to apply it afterwards. However, both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s best to experiment with both before deciding which works best for you.

Best Practices for Working with Gesso and Sketch

When it comes to getting the best results from using Gesso and Sketch, there are some important steps you need to keep in mind.

5 tips you should always do when using acrylic paint,Clive5art

First, it’s recommended that you apply a thin layer of Gesso on your canvas before beginning your sketch. This will help protect your surface from damage as well as provide a smooth foundation for drawing or painting. Additionally, the texture of the gesso will give your artwork additional depth and dimension.

After apply the gesso coat, let it dry completely before starting work on your sketch. This is especially important if you’ll be working with water-based media like gouache or acrylic paint. If you start sketching before the gesso has dried, you may experience smearing or blurring of your lines.canvas

When sketching, it’s best to keep it light and loose. Use thin layers of graphite or thin markers to get a good outline before adding details or shading in with thicker media. This will help prevent mistakes from being made as well as give you a better idea of how your finished piece will look.

Finally, be sure to use quality materials for the best results. Invest in high-grade gesso and reliable art supplies for optimal performance. This will ensure that your artwork looks great and lasts for years to come!


How should I use sketch and gesso?

For the best results, sketch your design on the surface first before applying gesso. This will create a clear outline for you to follow as you apply gesso. Gesso can also serve as a priming layer that will help protect the surface of your canvas or board from paint and provide a smoother finish. After applying gesso, you may want to go back over it with more detailed sketches if desired.

When should I use Sketch and Gesso together?

Sketch and Gesso are often used in tandem when preparing an art project. The combination is ideal for producing a smoother, even finish on any painting surface, like canvas or board. Sketching before applying gesso ensures that your design is accurately outlined on the surface, providing a helpful guide when you begin working with paint or other mediums. Gesso also helps protect the painting surface from damage or wear and tear over time.

Is it necessary to use Sketch and Gesso together?

Although sketching and gessoing are often used together for best results, it is not always necessary. In some cases, you may choose to skip sketching altogether and simply prime your painting surface with gesso. This can work particularly well if you plan on creating abstract art projects without precise outlines or a specific design in mind. However, if you have a more detailed project in mind, sketching first can be helpful in achieving the desired result.

Will Gesso damage my Sketch?

Applying Gesso over your sketches should not cause any damage as long as you follow proper technique. Be sure to use thin, even layers and let each layer dry before adding another one. This will help ensure that your original sketch is preserved beneath the gesso layer. Additionally, it is important to use a suitable primer when preparing a painting surface; this will ensure that both the sketch and gesso stay secure for years to come.


In conclusion, it is important to consider your own artistic process when deciding if you should use gesso before or after sketching. Depending on the type of artwork you create, different approaches may be more beneficial. In general, if you are creating a detailed piece that requires precise lines and shading, then it may be best to apply gesso beforehand so that your paper is ready for your desired level of detail. However, if you prefer a looser approach where sketches can be redrawn several times with ease, then applying gesso afterwards may suit your needs better. Ultimately, the choice is up to you and what works best for your individual style and goals!






2 responses to “Sketch Before or After Applying Gesso? 9 Tips to Get You Started”

  1. Nicole Avatar

    Do you have any tips for applying gesso smoothly without leaving brush marks?

    1. admin Avatar

      Yes, try to use a soft-bristled brush and apply thin coats of gesso in even strokes. Also, make sure to sand the surface lightly after each coat has dried completely to remove any brush marks before applying the next coat.