Start trading in those stick figures for figure drawing.
Crayons and drawing are synonymous with early childhood education, but many people fall away from art over time. For some, it’s a matter of interest, but often that dropoff is fueled by a belief that an ability to draw is an innate talent. It’s something you have or you don’t. In truth, it’s a learned skill, one built over years of consistent practice. If you have the passion and commitment, you can take your knack for scribbling in the margins to a dedicated drawing practice.
You have to start drawing somewhere, and you can start where you are: sketch the world around you.
“Draw what’s in front of you. No matter what you do, your act of trying to capture what’s in front of you will help,” editorial artist Chris Kindred says. “Every single bit of effort counts. There is no such thing as wasted effort in drawing.”
From flowers to figures, whether it’s a fellow commuter on the subway or a dog at the park, you are surrounded by models you can use to hone your skills. Kindred recommends keeping a sketchbook on you wherever you go so you can practice any time — or even grab your tablet for on-the-go digital drawing.
“Every single bit of effort counts. There is no such thing as wasted effort in drawing.”
“Do life drawing. A lot of cities and colleges offer classes to the public that are actually really cheap,” artist Mildred Louis says. “It’s a good idea to understand what goes into building that structure. The more you understand proportions, the better you can mess around with them if you want to go super stylistic or more realistic — build that basic foundation first.”
Download and install brushes from artist Kyle T. Webster, and get step-by-step instructions on how to adjust them before beginning your experimentation.
See artist Chad Lewis go from reference sketch to colored comic book panel in this quick guide.
Sit down with illustrator and designer Logan Faerber as he draws and colors character illustrations while answering questions from the Behance community.
Your study and practice might be something you do alone, but don’t hesitate to seek out insight and inspiration via Behance and the Adobe YouTube channel — featuring advice from artist Rob-zilla and many others. While the practical application of drawing skills is essential, absorbing the work of others can be informative and help fuel your imagination.
There’s no avoiding it: learning to draw well takes practice. Putting in the time to get over the beginner hump can be tough.
“At first, because things don’t always come naturally, it can be discouraging and frustrating,” Bartel says. “But that’s always how it goes when you’re learning something new. So just practice, practice, practice, and don’t give up.”
You can begin simply by getting to know your own drawing.
“Practice, practice, practice, and don’t give up.”
“Try to draw the longest lines you can without assistance — abandon the ruler,” Kindred suggests. “That way you build confidence in what you’re drawing.” Another exercise he suggests is to draw as many lines as possible through a single dot. It’s all about becoming more and more familiar with your work. “Those are exercises that I do to get comfortable making marks,” Kindred says, “Because you’re going to make a lot of them as an artist.”
As with going to the gym, growing these creative muscles can feel repetitious, but that repetition builds on itself. It’s important to go beyond what comes naturally and get out of your comfort zone as well.
“A lot of what people point to with my artwork is faces, but that used to be a thing that I didn't like drawing at all,” Louis says. “I started doing a lot of exercises where I focused on drawing different facial features and different facial expressions. It definitely helped me develop how to draw faces and make it less painful.”
“Do those things that feel fun to you. Do the things that feel right, that feel natural, and always be chasing that feeling.”
And while working to improve in places will round out your skill, remember that practice is a means to an end — and that end is creating drawings and art that you can be proud of. “Do those things that feel fun to you,” Kindred says. “Do the things that feel right, that feel natural, and always be chasing that feeling.”
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