Learn to Draw Well and Create Whatever You Want
I always wanted to learn to draw, but one of the most frustrating things I ever experienced was asking people “How do I get better?” And every person who answered me said the same thing, “Just draw.”
I hated that response. Of course, I knew that I needed to draw more, but what was I supposed to draw? How was I going to improve? What was I missing in my artwork? What I really needed was someone to sit down and talk to me and explain in detail how to improve, but most of the time that isn’t the case.
For the most part, when someone offers to help you learn to draw, they are either teaching you how to draw in their specific style or helping you go over the fundamentals.
However, there are millions of resources online and all of them can be conflicting. Depending on the tutorial you choose or the artist you admire, you may be learning how to paint when what you really want to do is make manga or learning how to do traditional acrylic art when you really want to make detailed scenes with charcoal.
So, the question is, how do you learn how to draw well, achieve what you want and be happy with what you’re drawing.
Important Tips for Beginner Artists
Before you even pick up a pencil, you need to figure out the type of art you want to do. One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my art journey was using every tutorial I could find. Being a jack of all trades means nothing if you don’t even know your basic fundamentals, but knowing your fundamentals can be difficult when you don’t have a goal in mind.
I love manga and black and white comics. When I realized what I wanted my style to be, it was a lot easier to create pieces. I was able to take the fundamental information I learned and apply it to pieces that made me happy.
Not only did I learn a lot more after choosing an art style I liked, but I was also more than happy with my work, no matter how they turned out. On the other hand, when I learned painting and other art styles, I struggled a lot with how the pictures turned out, particularly because it wasn’t a style I was interested in pursuing.
If you really want to find success with art, choose what you want to create. Look at what inspired you to be an artist and choose that as the basis for your learning.
Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with making a mistake or choosing a different style. Experiment and see what you love to do. As long as you keep drawing, you will eventually find something that makes you happy to create.
Learn Fundamentals of Art
There are a few fundamentals that you need in order to make your artwork look amazing. Keep in mind that you may not need to know all of these fundamentals extremely in-depth. While learning anatomy is good, you don’t necessarily have to memorize every bone and muscle to create good art. Take your time, practice the fundamentals little by little and you will learn to draw eventually.
Form – Creating 3D Shapes at Any Angle
The first fundamental of art is form. Form is all about creating shapes. If you want your work to look less flat and more three-dimensional, then form is your first step to achieving that goal. Through learning form, you can create things that look realistic and alive, even on a flat piece of paper.
If you want to learn how to draw form, practice by drawing shapes. Specifically, draw cubes, pyramids, cylinders, and other shapes of that nature. Don’t just be satisfied with drawing the shapes the same way, experiment, make the shapes bend, stretch the shapes out, play with the form a lot.
If you can master form, you’re well on your way to being an amazing artist.
Perspective – Adding Depth to Your Art
The other technique you must have a good handle on is perspective. Many people struggle with perspective. My suggestion is to start on one-point, two-point and three-point perspective. Once you get the handle of those, you can make pretty much whatever you want and improve on it.
Don’t worry, there are a dozen free perspective tutorials on YouTube. Below we’ve provided a few to help you get started.
I know it can be hard to understand, especially the first time seeing it, but I promise you that it will click for you someday. It may take a while, but the best thing you can do is keep trying. If you find yourself stuck or things aren’t looking the way you want, I recommend watching other artists on YouTube or Twitch use the technique.
Value and Lighting – Rendering to Bring Your Art to Life
Every artist struggle with one or more fundamentals of art and this one definitely made me struggle more than any other. Value and lighting is all about rendering, which ranges from the values you choose to picking your light source and so much more.
THERE IS A LOT to cover when it comes to value and lighting. There are amazing artists that still make mistakes when it comes to lighting. As always, you can find free videos on YouTube about value and lighting.
However, the best way to study value and lighting is to do a few studies. When you are just starting out, studies are one of the best ways to get a good understanding of values. Don’t go straight for drawing from imagination, you can study values by drawing portraits and from life.
Look at where shadows are being cast, find your light source, look at the way the light and shadows bend over your subject. By taking some time to figure all of these things out, you will be able to greatly increase your drawing ability.
I spent a long time avoiding value and lighting and it is one of the main things that kept my work from going from decent to great. If you are really serious about creating quality art, you should look into value studies.
Anatomy – Draw Any Person or Animal You Want
Okay, there are some people that will argue that you don’t need to learn anatomy. While that may be true in some cases, if you want to get a career in art then you will need to learn some form of anatomy. Do you remember earlier when I told you that you should pick a style, this is why it is important.
If you want to create really detailed, realistic pieces, then you will need to learn a lot of in-depth anatomy. I suggest starting from the skeletal structure, working your way to the muscles and then learning to draw the form.
For people that want to create less-detailed work, then you should still learn anatomy, but not as in-depth. For example, artists that are making cartoons while be creating characters with simplified forms. Because of that, you should understand anatomy to a basic extent, but you more importantly want to make sure your form skills are strong enough to consistently draw characters in simple shapes.
A good tip for learning how to draw people, is to use perspective. The human body is a three-dimensional figure and applying perspective can help you get the right position of the arms, legs, shoulders, etc.
Try experimenting around and using perspective and anatomy to create characters. You may just be surprised by the result.
Composition – How to Plan Out Drawings Make It Come Out Better
Have you ever had an idea for a drawing, but when you started putting pen to paper it didn’t quite look right? That is where composition comes into play. Composition involves bringing together all the pieces of a finished piece to create something that is appealing to the eye.
For example, if you were drawing a person in a cave, where would they be? Would the person be walking into the cave confidently? Could the person be sitting at the entrance of the cave near a fire? Is the person be huddled in the corner of the cave? What is the lighting like? Is it dark and scary? Is the lighting bright and warm? All of the pieces of a picture help define the composition.
Composition is hard to teach because it involves so many of the other fundamentals that you have to learn. If you want to work on your composition skills, consider making thumbnail sketches. Thumbnail sketches are little pictures created that allow you to get a rough idea of what your picture will look like.
Through the use of thumbnail sketches, you can plan out your image and confidently start it knowing that the composition will get your point across. Preliminary sketches are a major aspect of ensuring that your final product comes out the way you intended.
Finding Your Art Style
A lot of new artists want to find their art style. It’s a question that comes up a lot and you may be wondering how to find yours.
Again, if you ask any artist that is even halfway decent, they will tell you that you shouldn’t worry and your art style will come naturally. I agree to that to some extent, but if you really want to craft your art style and define what makes it unique there is something you can do.
The trick to creating your own art style is to find other artist that you like and see what elements of their art do you enjoy? Do you enjoy an artist’s brush work? Are you interested in the way an artist inks their drawings? Interested in the way a particular artist draws human anatomy? Take all of those different elements from various artists and combine them into a unique style.
After you combine those elements, refine them with practice and you will eventually have your own style. You will notice this in many different mediums. There are tons of comics, but every artist has a unique style that shines through.
Don’t worry about being unique or original. As long as you are creating your artwork that comes from your imagination, you are creating something unique. Drawing isn’t about being the most original person in the world, but about creating. If you keep that in mind, your style will shine through in no time at all.
Dealing with Art and Creative Block
Okay, so you have decided you want to learn to draw and you are well on your way to become an amazing artist, but one day you wake up and you can’t come up with anything to draw. You just aren’t feeling quite like yourself, but you know that you have to get something down on paper, after all most professional artists suggest you draw every day to improve.
So how do you overcome art block and really make something that makes you a little proud. Well, luckily for you there are tons of things you can do. Below is a list of different methods professional artists have used to overcome art block.
• Take a Walk – Taking a short stroll around your neighborhood or city is a nice way to clear your head and get inspiration for your art. A lot of times, artist feel like they have to sit at their desk and toil away, but that is far from the case. Some of the best artists go out on adventures and improve immensely because they are inspired by the little things they’ve done around their own neighborhood. It is also a good opportunity to take some pictures for reference for future pictures.
• Set a List of Rules – Sometimes the freedom to create anything can actually be the biggest setback. Set some rules to keep you from getting overwhelmed from the infinite possibilities. Try drawing art pieces using a specific color or medium. Set a time limit and see how much you can finish in that short amount of time. Design a character for a story and then draw that character in specific poses. These are all ways to help you practice, challenge yourself and overcome art block.
• Force It! – This isn’t always advisable, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just put pen to paper and see what happens. Everything you draw doesn’t have to be good. I’ve filled tons of sketchbooks with bad drawings, half-finished studies, random smiley faces, you name it. Every picture you create isn’t a precious resource so don’t be afraid to draw badly for a little while. If anything, do it intentionally.
• Go Outside Your Comfort Zone – Have you been dreading the day you finally have to learn how to draw hands? Are you tired of drawing characters without their feet being on the page? It may be time you go outside your comfort zone. Practice drawing something you aren’t happy with. Not only will it kickstart your drawing, but you will also expand your skillset so you can draw more complex things in the future.
• Redraw an Old Piece – Take something you’ve drawn a few years ago, the further back the better and see how much you’ve improved. Take a look at the piece and point out what mistakes you made when you were just starting out. This is a great way for you to see how far you’ve come and acknowledge that you truly have improved.
• Hang Out with Friends – If you are a homebody, you may not have been spending time with others. This can be particularly hard when you’re no longer in school and have to go out of your way to socialize. Being social is a good way to get your creative flow going. Hang out with some friends or go to a place where you can connect and meet people. If it is available, I highly suggest checking out some local art classes.
• Get Tidy – Clutter can have a big impact on your ability to get art done. Not only does cleaning up help get your brain up and active, but it also helps you get into a work flow. Consider reorganizing your work space.
• Get Inspiration from Other Artists – If you find yourself inspired by other artists, look at some of their artwork. I like to watch speed drawings of some of my favorite artists on YouTube to get back into the groove of things. Note! If you are a person that tends to compare your artwork with others, you probably shouldn’t do this. Don’t put yourself in a position where you will start to look down on your own creations.
• Read and Play Games – Don’t think that the only way for you to get inspiration from artists is by looking at other drawings. There is art all around you. If you love to read, pick up a good book. Maybe you can draw the characters based on their description. If you are like me and love to play videos, consider checking out a game and getting into the lore, note what the characters are wearing, how they interact with each other, it may inspire you to make something that you weren’t able to come up with on your own.
• Draw Badly and Make Mistakes – Learning to draw doesn’t mean making as few mistakes as possible. Learning to draw means making all the mistakes and learning from them. There is a thing called “Deliberate practice” which is practicing something over and over again until you get it right. So, draw something, draw it wrong and then draw it again. Minimize your mistakes and you will improve a lot.
• Set a Goal – Similar to giving yourself rules, setting a goal is a great way to get your art in gear. I personally like setting certain goals like “create a scene,” “tell a story in a picture,” “draw x in x,” anything that I feel would be a challenge. Note! Setting a goal does not mean setting yourself up for failure. If you set a particularly difficult goal, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t make it, just try again another time.
Finding Help from Other Artists
If you really want to improve your artwork, one way to do so is to find help from other artists. You can do this through a number of ways. One way that really worked for me was joining Facebook groups. There are tons of art Facebook groups where people will give you free critiques and criticisms.
However, you should always be careful of who gives you critiques on your artwork. Not everyone’s opinions are valid. If someone points out a stylistic aspect of your art that you like, you do not have to change it. A rule of thumb is to look for criticisms when it comes to technical work and consider suggestions some people may have to help you improve it, but don’t let someone make you feel bad about a piece you’re proud to have made.
Another great resource to use is your friends. Again, be careful with the friends who you show your artwork to, but still they are great resources to give you a fresh perspective on what you’re creating.
If you aren’t quite sure if you’re ready to share your work to the world or the intended audience, ask a friend to take a look at it and give you feedback.
How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Drawing
The first thing I ever looked up when it came to art was how long does it take to learn how to draw. I thought if I had a hard number that I would be able to define my entire life around it. That isn’t the case.
Some people can pick up on certain fundamentals better than others. Some people have the freedom to do intense learning and study and others have to find free time between school and work in order to create. Everyone has a different art journey.
Many of the professional artists I’ve seen have claimed that it took them anywhere from 3 – 10 years in order for them to achieve the results they wanted and they are still learning more and more every day.
Again, if you want to get good quickly, I suggest sticking to a particular style and working on your fundamentals. There are different aspects of different mediums. For example, learning how to paint and learning how to draw comics requires different sets of skills and you are doubling your workload by trying to do it all.
Experiment with other styles from time to time because that helps give you a fresh perspective, but try to stick to one particular style while you are starting out so you can see the benefits of your efforts more quickly.
Learn to Draw – How to Stay Motivated
Here is the long and short of it. Motivation is for suckers. If you think every amazing artist that you have seen is always motivated to draw, I have another thing for you. There are times when artists struggle to drag every line across the page. Some artists aren’t even motivated but they have some obligation or desire to keep going.
Don’t think about staying motivated. If you wait for motivation, it will take a long time for you to improve and you may not be able to overcome a lot of the struggles you are facing. When inspiration strikes you, draw as much as you can as long as you can.
However, when inspiration doesn’t strike you, that is not a good reason to stop. Even when you’re uninspired you should still take a moment, open up your sketchbook and get something down on paper.
Once you build that habit of drawing every day, it will be hard to break it. Don’t worry, it will happen for you one day, you just have to stick with it and you will learn to draw in no time.
Learn to Draw – Video Tutorials for All Types of Art
While I would love to say that I am the end all be all for learning to draw, I am far from the best person to learn from. If you aren’t satisfied with the information you receive, always go to the source. With that being said, I am going to list some of the resources I used for learning to draw. All of these resources aren’t necessarily amazing, but they did help me get to where I am today.
YouTube Channels for Learning to Draw
Okay, I know we live in a digital age where most people don’t like to read. In fact, I am certain that you haven’t read most of this post. So, I will indulge you show you some of the videos and YouTubers that I used to help me learn how to draw and give you some tips when it comes to using their resources.
Proko – Every major art website suggests Proko’s YouTube channel for learning how to draw anatomy. However, I think a lot of people skip the figure drawing and gesture courses that provides. If you are NEW to art and I mean BRAND NEW, then I think you should start with following his gesture work. Learning gesture drawing is a good way for you to understand how the body works and moves and helps you break things down into simple shapes. Fundamentals Needed: Form – This is a good way for you brush up on your form. If you can draw gesture through your basic shapes, then you are well on your way to creating some amazing art.
Circle Line Art School – I love this YouTube channel. If you want to learn to draw visually, then this is a great channel to get your information from. Circle Line Art Studio shows you exactly how to do specific things, such as #D buildings, cities in perspective, rooms, etc. You can learn a lot from watching these videos and they are well under 10 minutes. If you are really interested in drawing backgrounds and landscapes, I suggest using this channel to see how things are done. Fundamentals Needed: Perspective.
Mark Crilley – Probably one of the largest manga artists in the U.S. that you will find online. Mark Crilley successfully published his own graphic novel series that was highly inspired by manga and anime. If you want to know how to create work that is inspired by that style or you want to create more realistic work, then Mark Crilley’s videos are a great way to get started. He also covers the fundamentals relatively well, so you can start your art career straight from his page. Fundamentals Needed: Teaches Fundamentals.
Kienan Lafferty – I discovered this YouTube channel quite a bit ago and while he doesn’t upload very much, he does help explain how to streamline your art process. Streamlining your process, using references correctly and so much more all goes into making a great piece in an efficient amount of time. If you are stuck on figuring out how to go from start to finish with a fully colored and detailed picture, then I suggest watching some of his videos. I especially recommend his videos for learning things like lighting and dynamic perspective.
Marc Brunet/Cubebrush – For my digital painters out there, this is a good resource for learning how to draw a bit of everything. Marc Brunet even offers an art school that has a full curriculum if you want to learn everything you need from the comfort of your own home. He teaches you a lot of fundamentals and the videos are a bit longer so you can gain some in-depth knowledge on what you would like to do for your artwork.
Of course, there are tons and tons of different artists on YouTube. These are the ones I refer to the most, but if you know of any other YouTube artists that help people, let me know in the comments below and I will add them to the list.
Learn to Draw – Books for Learning the Fundamentals of Drawing
I know we live in a society where videos are everything, but I swear that you can learn so much from using books. Books are an incredible resource for learning to draw and they are really useful because they are full of information.
Most of the 10 minute YouTube videos you watch use books as reference for their teachings. Even a lot of classes that you take have information that originates from books and then is refined by the teacher. By reading a book, you can get a lot of the information you receive from online resources straight from the source and they are a lot cheaper as well.
Just imagine that you spent 20 bucks to learn how to draw excellent anatomy instead of spending hundreds to have someone tell you how to draw the head in perspective. If books aren’t your thing, then it is more than fine for you to skip this section, but consider it if you ever find yourself unable to get the information you need.
Andrew Loomis Drawing the Head and Hands – The Loomis method is one of the most common methods used for drawing heads. Tons of major artists, both amateur and professional use this highly revered method to drawing heads and faces. Use this Loomis book for getting started with drawing heads. Also, consider his other book, Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, which is another resource for beginners that want to learn how to draw people.
Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet – There are tons and tons of anatomy books out there for artists and quite frankly they are all pretty in-depth and difficult, but once you get the hang of them they can be really helpful. I highly suggest Anatomy for the Artist, which breaks things down part by part.
A word of advice for new artists out there. Give the book a quick read through and take some time to study it, but keep it primarily as a reference. You don’t have to memorize and learn all the parts of the body to make good art. Having a good understanding of them with reference is enough to get you where you want to be as an artist.
Force: The Key to Capturing Life Through Drawing – This is my favorite art book for a lot of reasons. One of the most important things for an artist, more important than anatomy even, is capturing the gesture of a picture. Force helps define how to capture that gesture and get a good understanding of poses. Through the force book my drawings have come out much more fluid, less stiff and more appealing to the eye. I highly recommend it for new and young artists who want to understand why their drawings look cool when drawn a certain way. It is well worth the price.
Perspective Drawing Handbook – For less than 10 bucks, you can start learning how to draw perspective and add tons of scenery to your art. Perspective is a key component for people that want to draw more than just characters and wish to create complex scenes with multiple buildings from different angles. This handbook gives you the core concepts of perspective and will help you get started on your journey.
How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination by Scott Robertson – Once you’ve gone through the Perspective Drawing Handbook or you have gotten a good feel for perspective, I suggest getting this book. This is the book that will really help unlock your ability to draw just about anything you want when it comes to environments.
There is a lot to learn and it can be intimidating, but don’t try to get through it all in a single day. Learn from the book little by little and one day you will be able to master perspective and create amazing artworks.
These are just a few books to help you get started. There are tons and tons more books out there for you to choose from. If you want something specific, such as a book on creating comic book art or a book on painting, comment below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more specific information.
Anyone can learn to draw, but it is a lifelong journey and it takes years of hard work and practice, but anyone can do it and make something beautiful, it is all just a matter of sticking to it!