Don't have an account? Click here to Register! Forgot password?

Let's Learn to Draw!  (Read 583 times)

Posted on 05 Jan 2017, 10:10:30

Welcome to the drawing thread! This post is intended to be a starting page for anyone either interested in learning how to draw or polish up on their skills, as well as being a self-referential tool for myself as I develop myself. I hope it'll be of some use and it would be great to see others participate!

Right off the bat, let's dispel the most striking misconception about art in that it's reserved just for individuals who have some God-given talent or genetic disposition that grants them the ability from the time they learn to hold a pencil. Nope! Drawing is 100% a learnable skill. Just as you wouldn't be able to solve a complex mathematical formula or bench-press a significant weight without working your way towards it, art is the same in that you first need to learn the foundational skills that can be gradually built upon to reach your intended goals. Some catch on faster than others or can better grasp concepts to give them an early advantage, but even if you can't draw anything more than a stick-figure, you can absolutely learn to do so.

As for the other misconceptions, here is an article that dispels most of them and will hopefully encourage you to discard whatever mental hurdles you have holding you back. The only limitations you'll have are what you impose on yourself, and just like everything else in life you'll go far if you're patient, passionate, and receptive.

Assuming you're a complete beginner, one of the best examples to put to rest the idea of being unable to draw or progress is an exercise using a portrait of Igor Stravinsky by Pablo Picasso, which was popularized in "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. The book itself is filled with psudo-science jibberish but the point of the example is a great one, and if you're having doubts in your ability then do the basic exercise below.

Grab a sheet of paper and a pencil, and draw the upside-down image of Stravinsky to the right (click on the picture to see a bigger version of it) - start from the top and gradually make your way through the image, and focus on nothing but the lines in proportion to the other lines without thinking of what you're drawing. When you're done, turn the page around and compare it to the portrait the right side up.

Chances are, you'll find that the image looks pretty close to the original because you weren't thinking about the picture as a person and instead deconstructing it into a sequence of shapes and lines - which is exactly what most experienced artists do! Instead of seeing an eye as an eye, you'll learn to identify the shapes and contours that make up the eye instead and their relation to other shapes that compose the surrounding areas - and with the foundational understanding of construction you'll learn as you progress, you'll soon be able to lay the right kind of groundwork to construct the ideas in your head from.

Reiterating from the last paragraph, If you want to draw anything moderately interesting you'll need to start learning foundational skills to break objects down into basic shapes for easier construction. It's tempting to want to jump right in and let your imagination run wild, but shortcuts and details won't save a picture that has the groundwork fudged so this is the most important step in your learning process. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's break it down into more approachable sections.

Anatomy & Construction

A solid starting point is to read through the various books by Andrew Loomis, particularly "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth" and "Drawing the Head and Hands". Most of these books were written in the 30's or 40's, but prove that good information is timeless as they're often cited as the go-to resource for anyone learning to draw - while the rights of publication were lost for several years so obtaining copies of the books was problematic, they're now readily available for purchase on Amazon or can be downloaded for free from archival websites like this one in PDF format.

Alternatively, Stan Prokopenko started a video series a few years back that presents drawing in an approachable way using a lot of Loomis' methods. He updates his Youtube channel frequently and I honestly cannot recommend these videos enough to anyone looking to hone their skills, and just watching the first video on drawing the head (embedded below) should open your eyes to the concepts of construction to build off of.

Another awesome resource for drawing that focuses more on digital art is Matt Kohr's Ctrl+Paint. If you're starting out you might want to stick with traditional media at first, though if you have a tablet and access to Photoshop this is a fantastic way to learn both basic and more complex skills specific to digital painting.


This is something I admittedly put off for ages, but once I got a better grasp of it my skill-set became infinitely more versatile. Perspective applies to every single object from a mug on a desk to a sequence of buildings viewed down a long road, and the same is true for drawing people as it assists with proportion and portraying dynamic poses more accurately. To start with, learn how to construct boxes and cylinders in one-point and two-point perspectives, and for further elaboration check out Norling's "Perspective Made Easy" for a good introduction.

For more  advanced guides you'll want to look up the video series by Scott Robertson or the amazingly extensive guides by Erik Olson. Of course, free alternatives are also available on Youtube if you're on a budget or don't have a CGPeers account, though I can honestly say that the two resources mentioned are well worth the investment.

Color Theory

I'm going to cop out on this section and say there isn't anything I can talk about on this subject that isn't mentioned in the video below, so go grab a drink and watch it all the way through (even if you're just skimming through this guide with mild interest, it's a very insightful video).

I'll expand on this section as I learn more about it myself as I still have a lot of ground to cover here.

Light, Shading & Form

Illustrating light is one of those things that's easy to grasp but often challenging to get right in practice. Proko has a video guide on the basics of lighting which you can watch here, but aside from that I suggest you try drawing from life - Ctrl+Paint had a nice idea for this in buying a bunch of expendable stuff from a dollar store, spray-painting them with matte and glossy black paint, then drawing them on your desk with a lamp positioned from various angles. You have a lot more control over the lighting this way compared to if you were just drawing from other reference images and you should understand the concepts much easier.

Practice, practice, practice. This doesn't mean just drawing constantly, but instead drawing with the intention of identifying flaws and areas you're weak in so that you can gradually improve on them - respect your own ability by not taking shortcuts, pay attention to things you're not good with so you can refine them, and constantly update your visual library while challenging yourself.

Hands are a good example. A lot of beginners hate them due to their complexity, and if you're struggling to draw them properly it's likely due to a lack of understanding in some area - so go over guides, break them down into basic shapes, and draw from reference images until confident enough to assemble them on your own. It's very important that you stay patient and receptive during this process and you don't give into the temptation of shortcuts or get complacent with being able to draw them right in just one way, as it'll just slow you down in the long run.

For further elaboration, check out the video below from Ctrl+Paint!

After you've digested all the info above, you'll need the discipline and dedication to see this through. This is where my own objectives come into the guide aside from just providing information to others - now that I've got this started, I'll be updating it at least once every week with my progress to make sure I stay committed, and hopefully encourage others do eventually do the same so we can share and help stay motivated.

Even if you don't draw, hope you found this post interesting to read and comment on it!

References & Useful Links

Anatomy - Stock Photos, Poses, etc...
Icons in the section headers used from Freepik.

Posted on 16 Oct 2017, 11:28:00
Adding a couple of resources here for future reference!

Came across DesignDoll recently which is basically a virtual mannequin that you can pose as you like to create your own references. The model viewer smooths out movements using basic physics to ensure fluidity, and it has a free version available to try it out! There's also a complementary site called DollAtelier that offers a huge library of pre-made poses, which is useful both if you use the app and not.

Next up, has just started a "How To Draw" section which gathers all user-submitted art tutorials into one nicely-organised page. It's mostly focused on anime, but is still worth checking out even if to just find inspiration or pick up some new techniques.


SMF 2.0.4 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2013