Lesson 1: Lines, Ellipses and Boxes
Start out by drawing a long line with a shorter one across it marking out its middle (roughly). This long line is going to be the minor axis we use to align the ellipses we draw later.
It's worth mentioning that you should use a ruler or straight edge to draw these two lines. The ellipses will be freehand, and we want to focus on one thing at a time.
Along either side of the long line, draw an arc. This can actually be pretty difficult - it may be easier at first to just draw the arcs first and then place a line in between them. Alternatively, if you can find a large circular object, or something else to help you draw those curves, by all means, go ahead. Again, we're not practicing our freehand curves right now.
You'll find that in between these two arcs, we've created a sort of funnel shape.
In the space inside of the funnel, draw your ellipses. Strive to keep them aligned to the central minor axis line, such that each ellipse is cut into two equal, symmetrical halves down their narrower dimension by it.
Optionally, you can try to get the degree of your ellipses to increase as you move outwards from the center - keeping the middle one at a low degree (very narrow), and towards the outside, much more circular. Again, this is optional - you don't need to worry about this if you're still struggling with the alignment of your ellipses.
Purpose of this exercise
This exercise is really about getting used to the use of the minor axis line, as well as continuing to work on getting those ellipses to fit snugly within a set space. These are both principles that are used heavily in lesson 2, so we want to start getting a firm grip on them now.
Mistake: Not aligned
This is easily the most common mistake I see in this exercise. As mentioned above, one of the core elements of this exercise is getting used to your ellipses aligning to the central minor axis line. You want to make sure that the minor axis cuts each ellipse into two equal, symmetrical halves, down their narrower dimension. Here you can clearly see that they're slanted and cut unevenly.
Mistake: Being too loose
Do your best to keep your ellipses snugly within the funnel shape. Here many of these ellipses are spilling out beyond the funnel.
As we get into organic forms in lesson 2, this is going to be rather important, as we'll be using similar techniques to simulate the illusion that we have curving lines running along the surface of forms to make them look more three dimensional. If those lines spill out of the form however, that illusion will be easily broken.
Whew, I'm almost done. Just one exercise left before I can move onto.. boxes? Damnit.
Come watch me struggle through this last bit of nonsense.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
This is a remarkable little pen. Technically speaking, any brush pen of reasonable quality will do, but I'm especially fond of this one. It's incredibly difficult to draw with (especially at first) due to how much your stroke varies based on how much pressure you apply, and how you use it - but at the same time despite this frustration, it's also incredibly fun.
Moreover, due to the challenge of its use, it teaches you a lot about the nuances of one's stroke. These are the kinds of skills that one can carry over to standard felt tip pens, as well as to digital media. Really great for doodling and just enjoying yourself.