- Muscle Memory
- On references
- Art Isn't A Competition
- Perspective versus Skill
- Patience and Kindness
- Finished, not Perfect
First of all, a foreword that I am not an expert, nor a trained teacher. I am entirely self-taught, off of how to draw books and studying photographs and art as well as the occassional tutorial off of Deviantart. I have never gone to an college, or art school, and don't plan to.
This page is just full of some advice and tips that might help you be more comfortable with drawing as an hobbyist or for occassional commission work. Not necessarilly for a full-time or part-time job, since that's not my area of expertise.
Learning and Muscle Memory
It's good to practice a lot, and to look at references a lot. That's why I have good muscle memory-- I draw a lot, and I often draw animal parts (like paws and faces) a lot because I have an vested interest in these.
I also tend to pay attention to any references or unique poses that come across my scope (which tends to be pretty quick)! However, I tend to be able to commit things to my weird catalog-like memory of anatomy, which means I understand things a bit quicker than some people (but slower than others).
But that doesn't make up for a lack of practice, so I keep up on it frequently, doodling out things (albeit from memory, frequently crosschecking references from time to time). Keeping things fresh in my memory - and muscles - helps a lot!
Where do I get all of these resources from? Where did I learn my color theory? There's lots of places. Google is your friend for references, particularly of animals--but be careful too; people tend to like posting grotesque pictures as well, so if you have an queasy or weak constitution for that kind of thing, please ask an friend who is absolutely okay with looking at these to sift through good ones for you.
Animal sites, and wikis, are good too, though they also have that problem too, since the animal planet is pretty grotesque from times to time. That's just nature for you!
The tl;dr of this little blurb here is look at references a lot, and they are NOT CHEATING AT ALL even if you use them during drawing a lot for poses or making sure this arm is the right way. References are your friend as an artist, and in no way are they cheap, and anyone who tells you otherwise is being a jerk.
Basically, practice a lot. I got to where I am by looking at stuff a lot and not giving up on studying things I'm interested in.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of people suffer from what I call chronic "perfectionism," where they have to make every single line be beautiful and perfect, and undo a lot. I broke myself out of that habit a long time ago, so I draw a lot quicker as a result, and me not being such an perfectionist about every line or every single move I make helps my speed.
It also helps my confidence too, weirdly!
Look for artists you like, and look at their art to see what you like about their art, and what about it makes you want to keep going. Let that feeling keep you going, because you're going to get better every single day you draw even just a little bit.
But, remember that art is not an competition. Treating it like it is, and being derogatory toward yourself (especially to other people you like as an artist) can be pretty awful to have to deal with from both sides. Imagine if someone came up to you and said "Wow, I can't cook like you, you make me want to quit it at all" despite them being pretty alright at it and you being so very happy to encourage them to keep going. That's what you do to other people when you're derogatory to yourself and treat it like an competition.
On the matter of treating it like an competition; people get better every single time they draw, so there's no real way to "catch up" - there is only progression for you yourself. You may not see yourself progressing, but see others', despite you yourself progressing. Additionally, people progress and get better at different paces, so that's all the more reason not to treat it like an comptetition.
That's why! Source here.
This is basically what "art block" is, and an visual graphic (as well as explainatory text) on the matter of why sometimes, you feel like your art is good and you're improving... and other times, you feel like you've hit a brick wall and can't really see much improvement despite you drawing a lot.
Your drawing skills, and perception, are playing tag and catch-up with each other, but both are constantly getting better. One just tends to outrun the other for a period of time.
Realizing this helped me be a lot more okay with my art overall, because I can just chill out on an bad art day and go "hey, okay, it's just my anxiety and my perception being off. I'm not necessarilly getting worse at art." ...Because I really aren't.
And you aren't, either.
Being angry at yourself because you didn't draw every day isn't a good thing. It actually discourages you, and can put you on what's called "tilt" -- you're already feeling frazzled, so whatever you try is going to look even worse to you, and worse, and you'll get more and more frazzled.
It is absolutely, 100%, valid - and encouraged, even - to take breaks. A lot of people don't finish their drawings in one day. Heck, a lot of people legitimately have months in-between their large paintings, because it's very draining.
You do not have to draw every single day, and applying that to yourself is a bad plan. You are not obligated, or required to. If you want to, that is fine - but do not force yourself, or pressure yourself to; you will only end up detesting it.
Be kind to yourself too, please. Don't put yourself down because you didn't draw one day, or didn't "do well".
As a disclaimer, this applies to occassional commission work, comics, and hobbist art, or even just an small job to make cash on the side. Not your main job or main way of getting wages for living. I do not have experience with these, and all of the things here may not apply for that either, since it's literally their livehood. But it's still not good to get burnt out, even when it's your job.
This is another "perfectionism needs to be combatted" bit, but a little more directly targeted. If you don't finish any art, because you have to make it perfect, you will be very much disappointed in yourself. It's better to have something be imperfect, but finished, so that you can improve on it next time.
People who tend to only try 100% to make a thing perfect all the time tend to stagnate a lot, because they're so hung up on it that they can't really move forward to make progress.
The more you finish, the more practice you get -- and sometimes it's even fun to post wips and let others see your process!
It's good to remember that other people aren't you. They don't know what the finished product "should" be. So if you're trying to be perfectionist to impress them... Don't. It's pointless, because they have absolutely no idea at all what the finished product in your head was like.
"But I know what it is!" I know. But you have to come to terms that sometimes, you should just go ahead and do it anyway, with what skills you have right now, and see how far you can get, instead of holding off. You can always redraw it later, and it can become a great series of redraws to show how far you've improved.
Like these 3 groudon pictures, for example, from me. Oldest to newst from left to right. 2014 - 2015 - 2016. And I'm even better now, too!Back to Top
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