How can I learn to draw?


#1

I know, I know…“practice”. But how should I practice? 4 hours per day? Classes? A tutor? Books? YouTube?

I just thought it’d be interesting to hear from the artists on the forum, so I guess the title of the thread should really be: ‘How did you learn to draw?’.


#2

Not exactly a professional artist here, but I’ve noticed that it is possible to improve your drawing skills by drawing (or trying to draw) simple sketches of characters from books or maybe from your own story.

I even started making short animations from those sketches, and that helped me a lot.

Of course, you could always try watching tutorials on youtube, there are literally thousands of videos about learning how to draw :grin:


#3

I’m not sure if one single answer could satisfy this question…

Do you want to draw cartoons, abstraction, realism, etc.?
Different art forms require different approaches for improvement.

For example, drawing cartoons might only require constant practice and a possible reference of another cartoonist’s style, but realism (in addition to heavy amounts of practice) would require a reference of the object being drawn (no, you can’t draw realistically without a photo reference or model under appropriate lighting conditions, it simply is not possible for the human brain) along with knowledge of the different lead types required for darker shading (among other things).

In addition, realism would require some knowledge as to how light interacts with the properties and textures of objects.
For example, light could produce a certain “sheen” when applied to skin, but typically would not produce the same effect when applied to wood.

So, depending on how you’d like to draw, you may find that you’d not only need practice to improve your skills, but you’d also need to study in order to improve the overall quality of your art.

Practice a bunch, practice everyday, practice whenever you get the chance to practice.

Books, YouTube, etc. can definitely help you, but deriving skills from observation can be difficult without natural talent (or acquired expertise); a good teacher could take you very far.

It’s sorta like being a good gentleman; get a general idea of the history of art and the various artists, their techniques, etc. and take what you can learn from those artists.

Also, make sure to show your art to other artists; don’t just hide it away.
Your peers and superiors can help you improve your work by pointing out the flaws in your art.

(Make sure their criticism is actually helpful, though; if not, punch 'em in the face.)


#4

Take a bunch of papers and draw whatever comes to mind. Shapes, symbols, tribal, seriously anything , then try expanding upon it.

Other than that find a picture you just love and recreate it ( recreate not copy ).
Are you satisfied with the picture before you ? no ? then try to add more from the original until you are.

This is for hand drawing tho so i can’t say whatever it’ll help you if you are using a program to draw


#5

Just by drawing and drawing and drawing.
Take a piece of art you want to make, trace it a few times, then try to freehand it. I’m not saying I’m a great drawer either, but that’s how I’ve found any success personally.
Take something you want to draw, try to copy it until you can copy it, then find your own way of doing it. That’s how the old masters learned to paint, so that seems a sound strategy.


#6

I always just found a picture I liked, and redrew it on my sketchpad, if I don’t like it I’ll erase and redraw until I give up on it, if I give up on it I find a less detailed picture and do the same. it helps you learn techniques, but it helps much more to show others your work and talk about how to make it better. once you get skilled enough with it, try getting better materials.
or at least that’s how I got into art.


#7

I asked someone who draws stuff since I’m super bad at drawing and this was the list that he gave. Hope these ebooks can help you.

I still think that drawing something simple then moving to something else will be better.

Drawing Lessons by Julia Gabriel
The Art of Drawing Animals by Nolon Stacey
The Art of Drawing People by William Powell
Basic Figure Drawing Techniques by Greg Albert
Mastering Manga with Mark Crilley by Mark Crilley


#8

I have been drawing for fun all my life, but I haven’t devoted serious time to practice (until recently) and so I’m still struggling to perfect a technique.

I took figure drawing/life drawing in college, which was very helpful. (That’s the one where naked people sit there while you draw them.) Learning musculature and anatomy is essential for realistic poses and proportions on a clothed figure. I still sketch out the body of a character before adding clothes on top.

I also took a design class (various 2-D media, mostly digital.) It helped me with visual space, positive/negative space, and other things that are wildly helpful designing comic panels.

Most people use models or reference drawings. I am usually drawing things or people that don’t exist, so I can’t do that as much. But I did spend years while bored in class drawing my hand in various poses. Practice doesn’t just develop your eye, it helps with the fine motor skills needed to use tools and brushes.

The right process and tools for what you’re trying to do is essential. I sketch in pencil (I like mechanical pencils), use a light board to do an ink version with more detail (on a new piece of paper meant for ink, so it doesn’t smudge or bleed as easily). Then for a concept drawing I add silver contrast lines over the black ink, or for a finished panel I scan it and color it using PhotoShop and an Epson pad/stylus. Simple!


#10

well, the only artists who ever had influence on me were my family. my grandpa was a pretty great influence on me, he wasn’t exactly a full time artist, but he made signs and did art as a hobby, and plenty of his works are fought over throughout the family. but then my sister was another big influence, possibly because every one of her paintings or drawings told a story, (although, in a way it was almost like she had a model for it all, considering that when she still used to draw, she had an untreated case of schizophrenia(don’t worry she’s got it handled now)).


#11

My favorite visual artist is Alphonse Mucha. He did primarily commercial art, and his private projects were usually personifications of various things. He has a style that’s sort of a cross between realism and something out of a fairy tale - intricate, idealized, and an aesthetic that affects how I draw my comics.

Dancing (from the Arts series):

The times of day:

Close-up of one of his faces (from the Seasons series):

Full Seasons series:


#12

Well, personally I started out just plain tracing stuff. And no matter what some people might tell you, that’s as good a place to start as any. At the very least it will give you a basic idea of how things are supposed to work. You can’t build something out of nothing, after all.
Then I started trying to copy without tracing and doing drawings off the top of my head.

But yes, practice is the only way. Tutorials are a good way to learn stuff, but I’ve gotten just as much progress out of just studying other artists’ works and trying my hand at it. Sooner or later you start to notice things about other people’s drawings and paintings, things non-artists probably don’t, like the linework or the shading or the colours, and then you can try to emulate that.

Learning to draw is an incredibly long and drawn-out process and it never ends. You will never reach a point where you can say ‘yep, I’m done, now I can draw’ because as soon as you’re satisfied with one thing, you’ll notice something else you could do better. I’ve been drawing for most of my life and I still dislike 90% of my works.


#14

i really, really don’t understand why so many people are recommending tracing just because they started out that way, and i started out with tracing, myself. you will learn symbols. you will learn how to trace efficiently. you won’t learn much about how things actually work or how to apply any of the knowledge you gain over time, though.

the important part of copying someone else’s works is to learn why exactly they made the decisions they did–why this stroke is like this, why the shading is like that, why they made these color choices, things like that. you will learn far, far more about how things work if you observe and emulate instead of trace–if you’re so focused on copying everything perfectly, you’ll just be doing it mindlessly without a care for why things are the way they are. the worst thing about that is that nothing you draw will truly be yours–you won’t have your unique way of doing things, your way of applying your experience to the canvas. like, even if you’re just doing studies (which is essentially copying what you see), you’ll still be able to put things down as you see them, emphasizing your strengths, your style, and what you find appealing about your subject, and with tracing you simply don’t have that.

don’t make tracing your only learning tool when you’re a beginner. tracing is most certainly not going to teach you much you can’t learn with better methods. though, all that said, tracing is efficient and can be used well, particularly in comics and animation, but the vast majority of these people certainly aren’t beginners and know how and when to utilize it.

set aside some amount of time to just draw–every day, every couple days, whenever you can. start with lines. start with stroke control and line weight. start building basic 3d forms (like cubes and spheres) in perspective. start working with some simple lighting. start working with gesture. i’m more than happy to help or point you towards resources–and i’m told i’m a decent critic, too, if you’re ever wanting that kind of direction.


#15

well I didn’t really mean fully focusing on an exact copy and tracing, I just meant it more like, use a image to try to make another image, but I agree with the rest.


#16

Yesterday I did the first layout for a six page section. So basically, scribbled stick figures, some shapes, and dividing the dialogue between panels. The first pass is like thinking out loud for artwork; it helps me figure out what’s not working before I spend serious time drawing it.

Then usually the rest of my process is the same as I described above (also, individual panels are drawn on separate pages and then shrunk in PhotoShop to whatever size I need them, it’s way easier to get the little details right that way.) But for this issue I’m working with another artist, who’s going to use the sketches and some character art to put it together from there. He’s the one drawing most of the comic, so that will keep the style consistent. It’s a superhero comic, and the parts I’m handing off to him are the two sections with my characters (10-12 pages overall, we’re going back and forth on the layout.)

Then I’m also trying to finish up and get out another issue which I’m writing and drawing (the debut issue for my primary cast) but since I don’t need to collaborate with anyone for that, it’s not on as tight of a deadline. I don’t recommend deadlines until you’re more comfortable drawing, but practicing a bit every day can’t hurt.

p.s. - More art advice that you seem to have already grasped: look at lots of art. Cartoons, comics, paintings. Find stuff you like. It will be stored somewhere in the back of your mind and will help you instinctively grasp stuff like perspective, color use, and light/shadow.

P.p.s.: tracing works really well when used on your own art. A light board isn’t much; about $20-$30 for a basic one like I use. You can also use a glass table with a lamp under it (basically the same thing.) Trace the parts of your sketch that you like and redraw the rest. You can also use this to fix proportions, etc. without erasing your first try.


#17

Just start drawing, have a sketch pad, grab a pencil and practice when you have a spare moment. Start with something you enjoy.

In saying that I personally find it much easier to have a photo or other picture of what I’m trying to learn how to draw in front of me to help get the proportions right. You don’t need to copy it but having it there will remind you where things need to be. Not a huge fan of tracing to learn from scratch to be honest, I never did find it useful but everyone’s different. (I have seen tracing taught as a means to learn but I find it just helps me copy lines rather than think about where the lines actually need to go). What I sometimes do find helps, is breaking stuff up into a series of lines and shapes for simplicity.

Another site I’d recommend checking out is deviantart.com in the resources section. Lots of free guides of all different sorts on how to draw in different ways, they’ll probably be something useful there for you.

Classes can be helpful but outside school I’ve never taken any. If you have a good instructor that could give you helpful feedback it’d probably be great, if you don’t click with the teaching style though you’d be better off trying something or someone different.

Edit- actually just as another thought, if they teach graphic design at your school I found that even more helpful than art class. It helps teach you structure and how different components of a picture are linked together to help create the look you want. Of course you also have to learn how to design buildings, but it’s worth the trade off even if architecture isn’t your thing.


#19

More of a pencil kind of person but do dabble sometimes :slight_smile: I kind of like painting with coffee lol. It’s actually good fun (Although not kind to your brushes).


#20

I LUV art discussions so very fun to learn.
I’m a self taught digital artist, and from what I’ve learned is that there are any number of ways to learn how. The key is to find what works for you and what doesn’t, mistakes are your best teachers. BUT in this respect I say references are key in learning the craft.

Proportion anatomy dynamics and lighting are right their in real life examples and if you draw from that and incorporate all of it you’ll have a well rounded skill set. This is how I’ve learned, and I pick up things from everywhere I go and all the art I see, if there’s a little flourish or style of something in a drawing I like I try to emulate and figure out what makes it tick. Modify and change it as needed.

By using real life refs you can see obvious mistakes much easier than if you free hand it.
Tutorials are epically handy to have experience from other artists is very good.

but essentially your first steps are to develop motor skills and muscle memory and you do that practicing proper techniques long smooth lines. even painting trust your eyes and hands to work together don’t watch the head of the brush or the tip of the pencil, instead look at where you want them to go, kinda like driving in a sense of hand eye co-ordination. Funny how that falls into place.

and eventually you’ll be able to put together some pretty cool stuff.
As evidence I can draw enjoy one of my older works:)