8 Ways to Improve Your Drawing and Artistic Skills
Drawing is one of the most fundamental areas of art; in fact, many art colleges and universities offer a mandatory course in drawing for all students in their first fundamental year.
It's normal to be envious of those who have natural born talent, and can create a masterpiece in moments on a scrap piece of paper. Have you always been interested in drawing? With practice, determination and a few resources, you can become skilled in this art form too!
1. Start Small
Don’t expect to create a masterpiece on your first try. Remember that every great artist started out as an amateur. Start out by drawing simple objects, such as books, boxes or a stuffed toy. You can even try recreating logos from cereal boxes and other products. Remember that your initial drawings don't have to be perfect; be easy on yourself! Guidelines can become your best friend, and it's also recommended to use a ruler at this stage.
As your skills develop, you can practice drawing faces, and household items such as glass bottles, baskets and vases. Try drawing different subjects as well and pay special attention to details. Set up your own little still life arrangements, and look at them from all angles while drawing.
2. Follow tutorials and attend workshops
There are books on every aspect of art, including learning how to draw a variety of subjects: humans, objects, animals, buildings, comics – anything! These books can be found at your local library or bookstore. Also, ask your friends if they own similar books, and if they’d be willing to lend them to you.
There are also plenty of drawing and art tutorials online that you can follow along. The online art community deviantART is filled with tutorials and tips on every subject (including drawings, crafting and digital art) by users. You also check out video how-tos on YouTube and Vimeo.
Also, check your local newspapers for announcements for courses and workshops held by artists or at art supply stores. These artists often give beginner courses, which are perfect for those who are just starting out in the art world. These are great as you’d be in a classroom setting, and you can always consult the teacher directly when you are having difficulties. Sometimes you’re even able to attend the course teacher’s exhibitions at local galleries, which can be great sources of inspiration!
3. Ask an artistic friend
If you have a friend who is pretty good with pencil and paper, tell them that you're interested in learning or improving your drawing ability. They’ll most likely be glad to help you enter the world of producing art. Ask them for tips or suggestions, and to give you feedback on your drawings that you show them. You can also ask your friend for recommendations on which art products are best.
Also, with their permission, watch them as they are creating an art piece of their own, and the techniques and tools that they use. Observation is always a great way to learn, especially when it comes to the arts.
Practice, practice, practice!
This is a key way to improve your drawing skills. Get yourself a pocket sketchbook, and keep it with you so that you can make a few quick sketches while on the bus, waiting in a queue or on your coffee break at work. ‘Doodles’ are especially fun to draw!
If you're interested in drawing subjects such as animals, humans, landscapes and objects, you can practice sketching these. You can practice drawing a scene from a postcard or photograph, or while your pet is taking a nap on the living room floor, you can quickly sketch their sleeping position. If you're especially interested in drawing portraits, you can draw persons from pictures in magazines, or even personal photographs. If you feel adventurous, you can even do a self portrait, using a mirror as your reference. This is a great exercise in observing how the human face is structured.
If you have a willing friend, ask them to make poses while you draw them. You can even make it into a game: The person could pose for a very short period of time, and you can sketch as quickly as you can. It’s fun, and definitely helps your sketching skills.
Just keep at it; as the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect!”
5. Perseverance - keep at it!
Don’t expect your talents to become like da Vinci’s overnight; it does takes time and effort. Also, don’t push yourself to draw something to perfection, or to finish a piece by a specific deadline, especially if you're a beginner. Art, like all great things, takes time.
Sometimes, it's best to take a small break from your current artwork, especially if you’re beginning to get a little frustrated. Take a rest, and try again later. Watch a bit of television, or play a game on your cell phone. If you're busy with other more pressing things, you can take a few days’ rest from the artwork, and then attempt again later. It's better to take time off than persist continuously.
Taking a break will definitely brighten your mood, so when you return to your work, you’d be willing to give it another try.
As long as you’re willing to keep trying, and you do just that, your artwork WILL get better.
6. Practice observation
You can do this both when you are drawing, and going around in everyday life. Artists have very keen eyes for detail. Look at the way that light falls on an object, or how a corner of a box is shaped. Note how shadows can affect how the colour of an object looks. If you develop this into a habit, this will become easier when you are drawing from a still life, or drawing a person.
If you're drawing the human body, you'll definitely need this skill. Small details such as the shape of the earlobe or the space between the two eyes are vital if you want to draw a realistic looking person.
Here are some great deals on sketchbooks!
7. Buy yourself some supplies
Start by buying a sketchbook with good quality paper. Nothing can inspire you more to draw than having a brand new sketchbook filled with blank, inviting pages!
You can also use regular printer paper to draw on. Also, get some drawing pencils, sharpener, an eraser and a set of coloured pencils and markers if you are interested in colour drawings. If you're focusing more on drawing the human body, you can buy an artist’s mannequin; these are very useful, especially as a reference for a pose that you want to illustrate. You don't need to splurge on expensive supplies at this stage, but as your skills develop, you can occasionally treat yourself to a set of pencils, or a new sketchbook.
Stores like Michael's and even Amazon are perfect for finding art supples at great deals.
8. Branch out!
The art world is filled with many types of media and areas just waiting to be explored; it doesn’t stop at just drawing. If you find that you’re absolutely enjoying drawing, you can check out the other various aspects of art.
You can try your hand at sculpting pieces, or take a course in creating digital artwork with the use of a graphics tablet and computer programs such as Photoshop. Painting, scrapbooking, collage, pottery, crafting, animation...you’d be sure to find another phase of art to love.