We all want to be better at drawing, but many people think drawing talent is innate. It is not the case at all. With care and patience, anyone can learn to draw better.
Part 1 of 3: improve your drawings
Step 1. Draw everyday
You have to train yourself to become better. Famous artists around the world will tell you the same, and training is a sure-fire way to improve your drawings. Even if you only spend a few minutes a day sketching, your brain will focus on your art and you will learn new techniques.
Step 2. Take a sketchbook with you everywhere
If you always have a small notebook with you, you will have the opportunity to draw anything, whether it is people on a bus, natural landscapes or even towering city panoramas. You must practice to become better at drawing so give yourself the opportunity to practice anytime.
Step 3. Buy a collection of pencils
Pencils are classified according to the hardness of the lead and the thickness of the line. Pencils bearing the H indication are increasingly hard and allow fine and clear lines to be made. Those with the indication B allow you to make thicker lines darker.
- In a good beginner pencil case sold at an art store, you should find 4H, 3H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 3B, and 4B pencils.
- Experiment with your new pencils to see the effect each one produces. Observe the differences between the lines and try to use different pencils for different drawings.
Step 4. Experiment with texture, color, and gradients
Take a few pages in your notebook to see how your pencils deposit color, how you can color gradients and blends with your fingers or a tissue, and how to shade simple spheres. You have to understand how your material works so that you can make better designs. You should also use the right pencil depending on the type of line you want to draw.
Draw three or four lines and practice doing gradients. How can you use each pencil to fade from white to black in a solid line?
Step 5. Take drawing lessons or study art theory
Although many young artists believe they can learn to draw on their own, there are various techniques that can only be imparted by an experienced teacher. Take the time to work on perspective and proportions and draw from live models. Spending time in an artist studio with a teacher will help you spot and correct your mistakes much faster than working alone.
Ask an art store, an animation structure or a cultural association to find drawing lessons near you
Step 6. Draw from photos or other drawings
You should never trace another artist's work and pretend it's your own, but you can learn some very useful techniques by hand-copying photos and drawings that you admire. Since a drawing is already in 2D, you won't need to worry about perspective and you can focus only on lines and angles.
- Practice copying classic drawings in order to learn the techniques of the great masters. Da Vinci was king of human anatomy and you can learn a lot from his drawings.
- Never decal, because you wouldn't practice drawing, you would just draw lines.
Step 7. Draw upside down
If you draw upside down, you won't be able to think about how the design should look and you will be forced to draw what you really see. You will get similar results by drawing from a reflection in a mirror or by practicing with distorted or modified images in Photoshop.
Step 8. Study your sources
To draw precise outlines, it is not enough to look at a picture online. The best artists and art teachers use books, live models, and studies to better understand what strokes they need to draw. It certainly depends on what kind of drawing you are doing, but any artist should ditch their sketchbook every now and then.
- If you do portraits, buy an illustrated book on human anatomy, or take drawing lessons with live models.
- If you draw animals, spend a day at the zoo with your notebook or buy an illustrated book on animal anatomy.
- If you are drawing landscapes or urban scenes, buy a perspective book to help you create a good effect of depth in your drawings.
Step 9. Buy a wooden mannequin for drawing
These small standing mannequins are articulated so that they can be positioned however you want and they have perfect human proportions. Therefore, they can be useful when trying to draw a person in a complex position. Simply place the mannequin in the desired position and use it to make your sketch. You will add the details to the character later.
- If you can't get a mannequin, use a skeleton in a biology room to learn the correct proportions.
- There are also models of hands, heads and skeletons that correspond well to human anatomy. However, these items are often more expensive.
Part 2 of 3: perfecting the outline drawing
Step 1. The outline drawing is made up of lines only
Contours are the lines that enclose the drawing. There is no shadow or gradient, only lines. It is essential to know how to draw good outlines, because they are the ones who give the shapes and proportions to the final drawing.
Usually, the outline is the first thing you do in a design
Step 2. Draw guidelines
Beginner artists often skip this step and dive right into the drawing, but it is very important if you want to make precise drawings. For example, if you are drawing a large landscape, start by drawing light lines so that the drawing is divided into three horizontally and vertically. You should have nine squares on the sheet. This will make it easier to frame the scene and place each element in the right place to give you landmarks as you work.
Step 3. Start by focusing on the proportions
The proportion is the difference in size between two objects. For example, if you draw improperly proportioned arms and legs, your drawing will look awkward and lopsided. Close one eye and line up your pencil with the object. You must have an outstretched arm. Use the pencil as a ruler and mark the length of the object with your thumb. You can then compare that length with that of other objects in your drawing or even use your pencil to mark the precise length on your drawing sheet.
You can also help yourself with your guidelines. In which square between the guidelines should the object be? Should it fill the entire page or only a third?
Step 4. Draw construction lines for each drawing before moving on
There is nothing worse than halfway through a drawing before realizing that the subject has an overly short arm. Good designers avoid this kind of problem by tracing all the main lines of the design at the very beginning. Draw simple shapes to mark the proportions of each item. For example, draw an oval for a person's head, a rectangle with rounded corners for the torso, and elongated ovals for the arms and legs. Adjust these shapes until you are comfortable with the position and size of each element.
- Draw these lines very lightly so you can erase them later.
- Draw a small circle or dot at each joint to help you assign specific poses to the arms and legs.
Step 5. Slowly add detail to the outlines
Add a more complex layer at each step. First, draw the guidelines and draw stick figures. Second, add simple shapes by defining precise poses. Then draw permanent strokes on the outlines so as to connect the joints, add facial features, etc. You have to draw the permanent outline of the body by connecting the joints in such a way as to obtain an identifiable shape.
- Once you are happy with the new strokes, erase the light construction strokes below the drawing.
- Work slowly and tracing each stroke carefully and erasing anything that doesn't suit you. The outline must be precise if you want to improve the final drawing.
Step 6. Draw the larger item first and work your way up to the smaller one
Never start with the details. Once you've completed the basic outlines, it's time to get down to the details. This is where most artists go wrong: from the start, they put all of their time and energy into the small details and don't think about the bigger proportions.
Step 7. Work on perspective
This will allow you to give a realistic depth effect to the scenes you draw. It is the perspective that gives the impression that distant objects are small and nearby objects are large. To make realistic drawings, the perspective must be precise. You can work on it using a vanishing point. Place it at the farthest point on the horizon (for example the position of the Sun as it sets). Draw straight lines starting from this point so as to define the size of the objects: any element close to the point is far away and therefore smaller, while any element far from the point is close to you.
Draw two diagonal lines starting from the vanishing point. All of the items that fit right between these two lines are the same actual size, but the perspective makes them appear to be different sizes
Part 3 of 3: perfecting shadow play
Step 1. Shadows give relief to objects
It is the shadows that give dynamism to the designs and prevent them from appearing flat. Shadows largely contribute to the impression of relief in the drawings. But light and shadow techniques are difficult to master, especially if you are trying to draw something from memory or from your imagination.
Shadows may also require strokes. Think about the two little raised lines between your nose and your upper lip. You could draw strokes to draw them, but they would be too sharp and not realistic. Instead, try to draw them in a softer way: make slightly dark areas around the lines so that they stand out in the darker parts
Step 2. Think about the light sources
Shadows appear in places that are exposed to less light than others. The shadows in your drawing will be defined by the direction of the light, the type of light, and even the time of day. Shadows appear on the opposite sides of the light. For example, if you put a ball down and illuminate it with a light coming from the right, the left side of the ball will be darker. If you draw this ball, this is the part you need to shade.
Step 3. Observe the edges of the shadow
A shadow can fade at the edges more or less gradually. Think about the effect of Chinese shadows: when you have your hand close to the light and the wall, the line between shadow and light is clear. When your hand is further away, the shadow gradually fades into the light. However, all shadows have slightly blurred boundaries. This is the main difference with outline drawing: making shadows requires blurring their outlines.
- Direct light sources like spotlights and bright sunlight create harsh shadows with sharp outlines.
- Indirect light, distant light sources, several different light sources, or cloudy conditions result in much less pronounced shadows with blurred outlines.
Step 4. Draw out the shadows before you begin
Outline the shadows with light strokes before you start filling them. This way you will know where to stop.
- Define the brightest parts: where is the brightest light? Are there any reflections?
- Delineate the shadows: how far do the shadows go on each object?
- Outline the strong shadows: are there any dark shapes created by light (such as a person's shadow in the sun)?
Step 5. Make gradual transitions
The art of shadow play consists of gradually changing the amount of light from one area to another. Start with light shading by coloring the entire object with as light pencil strokes as possible. Go over the design a few times, gradually filling in the darker and darker areas, one shade at a time.
Step 6. Blur the shadows
This is the best way to draw realistic shadows that aren't too sharp. Use a piece of paper, your finger, or light pencil strokes to spread the dark areas towards the lighter areas so that they blend into each other. Most pencils only allow you to fade slightly while charcoal drawing allows you to blur shadows considerably with your fingers.
Step 7. Practice shading simple objects
Set up a simple “still life” to practice making shadows. Just place a few common, easy-to-draw objects (a ball, small boxes, bottles, etc.) under bright light. Draw the outlines of the objects and then practice adding the shadows as you see them.
- As you become more proficient, add transparent objects, more complex shapes, or a second light source to work on more difficult shading techniques.
- To work on a more advanced technique, make shadows in old children's coloring pages (which usually consist of simple outlines).
Step 8. Learn the different types of shadow play
The most realistic form is shadows that gradually and evenly fade, but there are various shading styles depending on the artist and drawing style. For example, in many cartoon drawings, cross hatching or dots are used to create shadows. However, the basic principle remains the same: the more marks there are, the darker the shadows. Experiment with various shading techniques to find the one you like best.
- Hatching: shadows are formed by straight parallel lines. The closer together the lines, the darker the shadow.
- Cross hatching: shadows are made up of oblique lines that intersect. The further apart these lines are, the brighter the shadow. This technique works well for shading an element that has strokes, like hair or fur.
- The dotted lines: the shadows are made up of small black dots. The more dots, the darker the shadow. In very dark areas, you may not even be able to see the dots.
- The circular gradient: draw small overlapping circles with a pencil to fill the shadow. The more time you spend drawing circles in an area, the darker the area will be. This is often the best way to make pencil shadows.
- Experiment with your mistakes. It is possible that a stroke you made by mistake will make the drawing even better afterwards. If you compromise while drawing, you will discover techniques that will help you become more proficient.
- Go to an art gallery and browse works by artists you admire online for inspiration.