How to Get Better at Drawing?
For some, drawing skills come as naturally as breathing, however there are also those who need to practise drawing to improve their sketching prowess. There is no shame in needing to work on your drawing abilities, and every good artist, even those with a natural born talent, should still be looking to expand their expertise, but what are the best ways to get better at drawing? If you are looking to improve your drawing ability, then here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Finding subjects and a drawing style that you enjoy or admire is a great first step in your artistic development. Whether you love drawing anime and cartoons, realistic drawings or even abstract arrangements, finding your niche can allow you to then familiarise yourself with basic shapes, figures and patterns that you will use often. After all, becoming at expert at a particular skill is often just matter of how many hours you have spent practising and repeating, just as Malcolm Gladwell once stated ‘researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours’. So be sure to find yourself a nice sketchbook and set aside a specific time during the day or week for your drawing practise.
Warming up before you start drawing is perhaps something that not everyone would consider as important, after all, we are not playing football here right? However, developing a simple warm up before you start sketching can not only improve your hand and arm dexterity but it can also develop the efficiency and accuracy of your hand-eye coordination over time. Of course, a drawing warm up does not need to be complex. All you need are your drawing tools (this can be a variety of different drawing tools if you want – anything from graphite pencil, charcoal or pastels) and a clean sheet of sketching paper. A great little exercise to try is to look at your face in the mirror and draw your own portrait without lifting your pencil from the page, creating a contour drawing of your reflection. Or you can simply fill your page with a wide range of textures and arrangements in a set time of 10 minutes. These sketches can include basic shapes, objects and continuous line drawing, any form of doodling that will help promote creativity is great warm up for not only your body but also your mind.
Perspective and proportion are things that many artists are likely familiar with, particularly if you are looking to improve realism in your sketches. Simply put, perspective is the angle from which you are viewing an image, object or subject and proportion is the relationship between height, width and depth. However, though these concepts are easy to explain, they can be some of the toughest skills to master and you will really need to hone into your observational skills to enable improvement. One thing that can help is looking at things in real life, seeing how they move and exist in correlation to other objects around them. For example, if you are looking at figure drawing, it can be useful to go to art classes that focus on life drawings so you can see the subject before you as you draw.
Of course, attending drawing classes with trained professional art teachers is also a fantastic way to expand your skill set. Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back to university or school full time, but just participating in a few professionally run drawing sessions at a local community college or even watching a few online drawing lessons (there is plenty of free digital content out there to watch and learn from) can expand your abilities tremendously. Online content can be brilliant, though the wonderful thing about joining a class in person, is that you will have a teacher that can help identify your weaknesses that you may not be aware of. Plus, you will be surrounded by other artists and perhaps even a few friends that you can bounce ideas off and develop your skills with. After all, conversation is a completely free and accessible tool that you should take advantage of when it comes to your art work.
When it comes to getting better at drawing it is very important to be intentional. Getting better at something is always a challenge so you must make the commitment and have the drive to do it, as these things certainly do not happen over night. You need to be willing to accept and be open to criticism, and take advice as ways to improve rather than an undesirable opinion about your work. You need to commit to challenging yourself, as it is very easy to stay snugly in your comfort zone but progression only occurs when you push yourself. But also, remember to have fun. Whether you like to draw anime, fashion or realism, it is only by enjoying the process of learning can we make real improvement in our abilities. Ultimately, enjoyment is the backbone of progression as an artist, so never settle for less!