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Thread: 9 Pieces of Advice for a Beginner (drawing)

  1. #1
    Three Trio Tres Member Rubisko's Avatar
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    9 Pieces of Advice for a Beginner (drawing)

    This is a short list of advice directed to anyone that wants or have begun learning to draw. All of the advice in this post is based on my own opinions, not on scientific surveys. They are a condensed version of most of the best advice that I have previously read or received, combined with my attempts to answer questions and give critiques about drawing over the last 12 months. I wrote this down as if it was directed to a past me, because I pretty much did the opposite of what Iím about to write here for the first two years.

    Before we get on with the actual list I would like to say, to those who donít know me, that I am not a master draftsman. I donít draw perfectly and I donít know everything. In fact I learn something new about drawing everyday. But maybe thatís the point, because this list is intended for people who are learning as well.

    1. Be honest
    The more you learn the more you will realize how much you have yet to learn. Beginners rarely call themselves beginners, and they neglect to study and learn the basics. Be honest about your abilities, you canít learn something if you think that you know it already.

    2. Be patient
    Rome was not built in a day. Drawing is a skill that requires lots and lots of practice, just like most skills do. So make sure to have fun along the way, donít be afraid to share your drawings; donít be afraid to be proud of your drawings. People that draw better than you will not laugh or flame you, as they were once were where you are now. They recognize your frustration and they will probably try to help you if they can. Unless theyíre assholes of course, in which youíll just have to ignore them.

    3. Be confident
    Drawing is just a way to communicate, like speaking. If you speak loud and clear then people are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Likewise, if you draw with simple and confident lines people are more likely to have a closer look at your drawings. As an added bonus, using confident lines will also give you an overall confidence in your ability to draw.

    4. Draw for a reason
    Whether a drawing is good or bad does not depend on how pretty it is. It depends on how well it manages to communicate the artistís initial idea. Make it a habit to define your goals for a drawing before you start it. If you manage to reach your goals then your drawing is a good drawing, no matter how pretty or not it happens to be. If you donít reach your goal than you will know why it didnít and you will be able to figure out some way to improve based on that.

    5. Avoid ďHow-to-draw ÖĒ tutorials
    It is much more important to know why someone drew something like they did than it is to know how they did it. If you know the ďwhyĒ you will be able to apply the same ideas to your own drawings whereas if you only know the how you will only be able to copy something that you have memorized. Invest your time in proper books and videos about drawing instead of the countless step-by-step tutorials found on the web.

    6. Draw something new every day
    It is better to draw at lest something every day than it is to sit with a drawing for ten hours once a week. (Of course both alternatives are better than not drawing at all)

    7. Avoid scratchy lines
    Even though this may seem bothersome at first it will allow you to draw both better and quicker once you have gotten the hang of it.

    8. Sit comfortably while you draw
    Lock your wrist and use your elbow and shoulder to draw. Sit straight and donít lean in over the paper as you draw. This will allow you to always keep the big picture in mind as you are drawing. If you experience that your drawings often tend to lack in proportion, symmetry or that they are simply curving around on the page then it is probably because you have bad posture as you draw. Sitting properly will also save you possible pain in shoulders and neck. If you are unsure about how you should sit I urge you to check out this video by FZDSchool. It covers a bit more than just ergonomics, but I don't see any reason to make a video of my own when there's already good material out there.


    9. When in doubt: Draw
    Sooner or later you will experience your first art block. An art block can be described quite simple as a lack of inspiration; you will have a hard time coming up with stuff to draw and you will feel dissatisfied with what you do manage to draw. This is perfectly normal, and you will most likely encounter art blocks throughout your life. Blocks can be caused by a number of things, but whatís important is that there is only one way to deal with them and that is to draw.

    That is the end of the list. I tried to keep everything short and to the point. I hope that at least someone will find it helpful, and if you have any questions just post them and I will get around answering you as soon as I can. Take care =D

    Also a thanks to Demonfyre, who helped me quite a bit with polishing this text up to something that's a bit more readable than my initial draft.

  2. #2
    About the artist block thingy, a relatively good explanation on one of the reason how it happens

    http://youtu.be/Qb0g_gWrNf8

    Also, regarding 5. Avoid “How-to-draw …” tutorials, this one is kinda debatable, certain things you wont be able to pick up from just books alone. For example a stylize hair drawing. It will be hard to learn by observing from life because some artist does it so uniquely. I personally thinks its ok to use these so long as you can benefit from it.

    Of course theres the whole "understanding" part that you will need to do along side with it as mention so that you wont be drawing from memory.

    Other then that great list! I would add one more though. "Ego" as that was my mistake >3>

  3. #3
    Regular Member BunnyVoid's Avatar
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    thanks rubisko. this one is really helpful.

    i should add that artist should always try to critic their own work in positive light. Most of us artists are so hard on ourselves that eventually it defeats the act of doing art itself.

    On "Ego"... I view it in both positive and negative ways. Ego can drive a person to succeed (too proud to give up on trying) but at the same time it may be the cause of downfall (too proud to accept own shortcomings or sometimes we can really be as good as we imagined. This may lead us to give up entirely). Anything too much is harmful, so ego should be fed in moderation.
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    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    I remember a movie director who said "if you are going to sell your movie to a big studio, you need to believe that its the biggest shit ever and that if they don't support you, they are the only losing". Its seems weird, but actually having a big ego or pretending to have a big ego its a big deal, its basically what keep people from not doing commissions or not showing their work to everyone. So the mater of confidence it might be a big deal, probably not for the one starting to draw, but for people who can do things (probably not the best), it might mark if they are going to get in or outside the industry at the end.

  5. #5
    Ruler of the Seventh Empire GunZet's Avatar
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    Yea confidence is pretty big, though having so much to the point you're an asshole usually doesn't end well unless you're already broken into your field and damn good at what you do (even still, nobody likes a dick).
    <My comic
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  6. #6
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    I agree, you need to have the confidence to believe what you do is big and that its good, but at the same time be humble enough to take critics, to keep getting better and accepting the reality of things.

    I come to the conclusion that you have to use masks or you just need to be a really good asshole. Because the dichotomy that the world ask to you is just quite brutal.

  7. #7
    Ego and confidence are 2 different thing. Its great to have confidence in your work and in what you do, but ego on the other hand, most of the time it just makes you feel good about your work and be completely blind to see that you suck hard core in reality. Im talking for a beginner artist point of view here of course.

  8. #8
    Three Trio Tres Member Rubisko's Avatar
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    I like this discussion, because even though there are a difference between being confident and just having a big ego it's pretty hard to draw a line between them. However, I don't believe that having a big ego when you just start out is completely wrong; when I began to draw I had a pretty big ego myself and I believe that this is true for a lot of beginners. The reason for this is probably that most people begin young, and the only people they have to compare themselves against are their friends and schoolmates. And in comparison with their drawings we feel that our own drawings are pretty darn awesome. But if you are honest to yourself, and realize that you have a lot to learn you will be able to overcome this flaw and start to improve pretty quickly. So I don't want to say that it's wrong to have a big ego as a beginner, because it is not really their fault. What really matters though is that we come to terms with this fact and start to better ourselves.

    There is also the danger of doing exactly what BunnyVoid says and be intimidated by other peoples skill. Doubting yourself is just as bad as being over confident and I believe it will inhibit your progress greatly. But if you make sure to draw for your own reasons, and set your own goals to pursue you will be ok. Everyone is different after all, and we all have different ambitions and reasons to draw. Don't compare yourself with people that have ambitions way above your own. I would like to emphasize that having different ambitions than, for example, mine is perfectly fine. There are people who work incredibly hard to become doctors, or musicians or olympic athletes. It is just a matter of choice, and and being able to draw well don't make anyone a better person than someone who chose to do something different with their life. (I would also like to say that I'm 23 years old, I never worked as hard as I do now when I were a teenager)

    Quote Originally Posted by doghateburger View Post
    Also, regarding 5. Avoid “How-to-draw …” tutorials, this one is kinda debatable, certain things you wont be able to pick up from just books alone. For example a stylize hair drawing. It will be hard to learn by observing from life because some artist does it so uniquely. I personally thinks its ok to use these so long as you can benefit from it.

    Of course theres the whole "understanding" part that you will need to do along side with it as mention so that you wont be drawing from memory.

    Other then that great list! I would add one more though. "Ego" as that was my mistake >3>
    I agree, this is a bit of a gray zone. However, what I mean is that when I began to draw I read a lot of how-to's online, but even though I was able to make my art a bit "shinier" it didn't help me understand the fundamentals behind it. In hindsight I realize how much more I would have learned by reading "Fun With a Pencil" instead of spending all that time following step by step tutorials to draw a realistic eye, or using photoshop filters to make something look a bit more like metal.
    But I agree that as your understanding of the fundamentals increase you will gain more and more from reading how-to's. They are not redundant, they are just not really aimed to someone that has just begun to draw.

    It also makes me quite happy to see your discussion, it took me a while to put the op together and I'm glad that it was not in vain <3

  9. #9
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doghateburger View Post
    Ego and confidence are 2 different thing. Its great to have confidence in your work and in what you do, but ego on the other hand, most of the time it just makes you feel good about your work and be completely blind to see that you suck hard core in reality. Im talking for a beginner artist point of view here of course.
    You see, for me, most people in Buenos Aires have a huge ego (not everyone, but its kinda the brand of the city), but for they its confidence. Probably for you it would be ego too, and probably for another person would be confidence too, or probably for someone with big of an ego they would be shy. Ego and confidence are not easy to distinguish in a communicational level, the transmitter is going to show his/her confidence, but is us, the receptors who are going to judge it, and at the end big part of the perception of Ego and Confidence come from a misunderstanding. And this makes it also hard to distinguish in a personal level as you don't know how your confidence might be taken.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rubisko View Post
    I like this discussion, because even though there are a difference between being confident and just having a big ego it's pretty hard to draw a line between them... So I don't want to say that it's wrong to have a big ego as a beginner, because it is not really their fault. What really matters though is that we come to terms with this fact and start to better ourselves.
    Isn't it weird to state: "you shouldn't have a big ego as a beginner" and then say "but its okay, we all had it in the beginning". It would make more sense saying "we all have placed our ego in the beginning, but we had to move it away".

    Anyway, the ego is always there, its basically why most people start drawing; have you seen most new members on mt who want to do mangas? They all start with "I want to make a manga and get published on shonen jump", basically a desire from the ego (double one), of what they want and dream, but it has no notion of what each of one of those words mean and what would it take. We start by our own ego, and some people never over come this, while others edit their thoughts to what they want, but also what they want to give; "I want to tell a story" and then another is going to come to "I want to tell a story for kids", its still ego, just reformulated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubisko View Post
    There is also the danger of doing exactly what BunnyVoid says and be intimidated by other peoples skill. Doubting yourself is just as bad as being over confident and I believe it will inhibit your progress greatly. But if you make sure to draw for your own reasons, and set your own goals to pursue you will be ok. Everyone is different after all, and we all have different ambitions and reasons to draw. Don't compare yourself with people that have ambitions way above your own. I would like to emphasize that having different ambitions than, for example, mine is perfectly fine. There are people who work incredibly hard to become doctors, or musicians or olympic athletes. It is just a matter of choice, and and being able to draw well don't make anyone a better person than someone who chose to do something different with their life. (I would also like to say that I'm 23 years old, I never worked as hard as I do now when I were a teenager)
    My cousin wanted to play guitar and sing. After a while she realized that she would never be as skilled as her friends, so she thought "why would I keep doing this". If everyone would think that way then no one should aim to do what they want because there is only going to be someone better.

    There is also a fear of incompetence; we fear not be good, not being able to do things or that other people might do it better than us. And again, if we don't believe we can do things, no one will believe in us. We need to have the ego to keep trying no mater what, but also be enough grown up to self realize our own capacities and aspirations on the "right way".


    Also, I have never had a big ego in what its my drawing. For a long time I never signed my work, never named it (the more "arty pieces"), never show it to people and I still have a bunch of stuffs that are just gathering dust. You know, no one will know you have any aspiration of you don't show your stuffs, no one is going to believe you can be good if you don't believe it yourself and no one is going to support you if you can't support yourself. Now I have way more confidence that what I used to have, but its still not enough, I still don't see myself doing commissions, showing my work to more professional people, show my most personal work (its hard for my to show feelings, but I'm trying my hardest to do it on comics) and already the idea of uploading on my DA disturbed my (even so I'm aware the flow of people is really low). As I see, you need confidence, you need ego, not in a overwhelming amount, but just enough to make other people believe you can do things, if not you are going to end like my cousin, not knowing what to do as everyone are better guitar players and singers.



    On the tutorial subject, I guess its all depends on what you want, if you just want to doodle sonics or anime characters, tutorials are the right thing. But if you really want to draw, you should dodge them.

  10. #10
    Super Senior Member Demonfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClockHand View Post
    Anyway, the ego is always there, its basically why most people start drawing; have you seen most new members on mt who want to do mangas? They all start with "I want to make a manga and get published on shonen jump", basically a desire from the ego (double one), of what they want and dream, but it has no notion of what each of one of those words mean and what would it take. We start by our own ego, and some people never over come this, while others edit their thoughts to what they want, but also what they want to give; "I want to tell a story" and then another is going to come to "I want to tell a story for kids", its still ego, just reformulated.
    I do somewhat agree with what you have been saying about ego and confidence however I disagree that the majority of artists are born from ego, I think that Ďegoí (or at least in the context itís being used in) is something that manifests itself later on in the cycle (Albeit earlier for some and maybe for others not at all). I am not disputing that ego isn't rife in beginners, actually I believe this is the case based on observation and my own history, I just don't believe that their reasoning for wanting to become an artist is only based on ego, and more so the desire/dreams of becoming something they love, which is strangely innocent. I choose to look at it more like... when you are a child and you want to become a medic, or an astronaut, etc etc etc and then later on you either get closer and your life diverges in either path of thought; "wow, I am awesome at this" (the foundations of ego) OR they give up/gain a sense of realism and battle on.

    As for this idea that 'Wanting to be a mangaka' is egotistical, I don't really think that is the case, but more a case of unrealistic and not well thought-out ambition. I mean, im sure there are many people that want to tell their story and maybe by chance they also read manga, so naturally they put 1 + 1 together; "I will become a mangaka.", I don't see how this is derived from 'ego' or belief that they are far superior to everyone else. However I totally recognize to be human is to be egotistical, you had to believe yourself to be the best or how else would you survive in the world? Just my thoughts on the matter, maybe I take too kind an opinion on the subject, but that remains to be seen.

    The rest I agree completely with.

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