How to draw everyday

  • I'm a high school student who longs for a life in illustration. The advice I hear from all the top artists is "Draw when ever you can!" I want to but once I grab my sketchbook I don't know what to draw.

    Dose anyone here have any advice on what to do now? How do you draw everyday? What do you do to improve?

  • I've learned over the years long as I'm drawing SOMETHING, I'm probably improving. So, don't think too hard about it. You can draw anything you see around you. If you don't know what to draw, start by copying art that you love. If you want to draw like someone else, copy what they do. It's okay, you don't have to show anybody. But eventually you'll absorb some of their style and make it into your own. You'll also learn a lot.

    If you can, find a friend who likes to draw too. Make up stories with them, create characters. Maybe even short comics. That was the number one thing that kept me drawing in high school. You have to make it fun for yourself.

    And lastly, if you have a hard time drawing every day because things don't turn out the way you want them to...that's okay. You should EXPECT that to happen. But every bad drawing you make gets you a little bit closer to the good ones.

  • The

    @Ben-Migliore said in How to draw everyday:

    Dose anyone here have any advice on what to do now? How do you draw everyday? What do you do to improve?

    The way you draw every day is to simply grab your pencil and draw. If you don;t know what to draw simply start moving the pencil around and see what happens.

    A while ago I realized I had become lazy and had not been drawing much at all. I set a goal of 100 days of drawing every day. Then it became 200, a year, two years. I made it to 1987 days in a row and then ended up in the hospital where I couldn't draw for a week! It crushed me because I really wanted to get to 2000 days in a row.

    Since then I have taken a small break and will resume starting from Day 1 on April 1st.

    You get better at anything by doing it over and over.

  • Pro SVS OG

    The most impactful habit on skills-growth is to grab a "something" you feel you struggle with (hands, gesture, faces, whatever), procure a reference source (there is a huge number of pose books and an even larger number of anatomy books) and just start re-drawing the images (or drawing from the photos if it is a pose book) from page 1 onwards. I have done this with a variety of anatomy books (never quite made it to the end, but that does not matter), various pose books (digital and paper versions), sketchbooks from Disney artists (trying to learn stylization and simplification), facial expression books, etc...
    Another very useful exercise is to choose an animal every week and do at least 20 drawings of that animal. You can collect 20 photos of any animal on google in about 3 minutes.

    I know people want to draw their own ideas all the time - I used to do the same. But the truth is you need to learn and continuously practice the basics before you can draw your ideas convincingly. Doing illustration is like composing music, I think. You do not sit down and write a new masterpiece if you haven't spent many years studying the rules of music-making and all the music that has already been composed....

  • @Ben-Migliore I know the feeling of not knowing where to go on a blank page... Sometimes I like to watch DVDs and freezeframe them on a scene (even if it's not a killer scene) and draw that. Another trick is to get an old book from a store and draw right over the words in the book. The psychology behind this is that the words underneath your drawing take away from the "fear of the blank page" - you can also use snippets of text from the pages for inspiration on what to draw.

  • @Ben-Migliore I'd take all these replies into account. Don't get hung up on thinking about being stuck like another commenter said move your pencil. Take people of your daily interaction/ people you see that look interesting everything from a old dude with no butt and suspenders and bottle cap glasses to young kid walking down the street with their buddy turn them into animals you think they resemble. Some one might look like a fox some one like an elephant I personally look like an emaciated horse who had allot of coffee. Google time periods like 30's 50's etc draw big simple shapes turn them into things, work big down to finite in terms of objects. I personally like doing "tons of thumbnails" because they are quick and you can spot good compisition fast! If you haven't taken the comp class take it. Find resources on rendiering/ color and light and study them to improve you rendering. Yippy almost to much to do to much to take in!!! Slow down catch breath relax now exhale.... Draw. Whew I'm exhausted. You are going to do great, let's get to work!

  • @Tyson-Ranes @Bob-Crum @smceccarelli @jimsz @Perrij
    Thank You All!!
    I think that anyone could read through and realise that everyone easily has one answer, which is just to draw! Although the concept is simple by principle, I'm so happy with the response you guys gave. I'm new in the forums and all of you sounded like you genuinely wanted to help by giving your advice. I 'll be sure to not get caught up and to just keep drawing.
    Thank you again!

  • I had this problem too. Here are some things I tried and the lessons I learned.

    1. There are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes you CAN'T draw everyday. I counted it as a win if I merely opened my sketchbook and held a pencil some days. If I didn't draw anything, I did think about drawing. Sometimes habits have to happen with the TINIEST steps.
    2. Doodling aimlessly (like when you did in school on the margins of your notes) is a good way to start. After you doodle plenty of pages you will see if you tend to gravitate towards certain subjects or ideas. Or you will be able to see if you really like patterns, or swirls, or certain line types. Do not discount doodling. Not every drawing you do needs to be carefully planned, carefully drawn, or a masterpiece.
    3. As it was said above, life drawing and things like perspective practice and lighting practice are great starters and very important. Do not neglect those.
    4. Creating a daily sketchbook habit is easier if you add some fun in. Do draw the things you want to. If you don't know what to draw, do like I did. I sat down with some paper and made a list. Start with one column. write down things that interest you. What do you like to read? What sort of music do you like? What are the things from your past that were important to you? What sort of objects/ people catch your attention in your daily life? Favorites: food, animals, etc. anything you can think of. break it down into subjects. Soon you will have pages and pages of things. I ended up with four pages, four columns when I finished. Then get a pair of scissors and cut those words out. Then throw them in a plastic bag that you staple to your sketchbook. When you get stuck, pull a word out of the bag and fill a page with drawings of that word. Or you can combine words. For instance, I ended up with "in a bottle" and "playground" when I just pulled words. So I will do a page of playgrounds built in bottles. After some time you will see what words you gravitate towards. Some words you will continually put back. (it is ok to put words back if you REALLY don't feel like drawing that word. But be aware WHY you don't want to draw that thing)
    5. Draw scenes from audiobooks or story podcasts. Sometimes when I am stuck but want to draw, I will put on a favorite audiobook or a podcast like Welcome to Nightvale and draw what is happening in that scene. It doesn't need to be perfect and I draw a lot slower than the narrator talks so I usually end up with one character, or maybe a setting, or just a scribbled idea, but it counts too. You can do this with song lyrics or pick out a fairytale or a story you like and draw from that. Not all of your ideas need to originate from you when you are sketching for fun and to build a habit. Just start with an older idea and see how you can twist it to make it yours. That is what creativity is anyway: a remix!
    6. If perfectionism is stopping you- say you draw something on a page and then hate it, don't tear that page out right away. go to the next page and draw for a while. Then come back to the drawing you hated at first and look at it again. If it bothers you still draw over it or paint over it or collage over it. These all count. Then draw more things in that page. I don't like to skip around in my sketchbook. I like to draw one page at a time. I will draw something and if I don't like it, mess around with it and fill things up in the margins.
    7. Not everyone has a perfect sketchbook like James Jean. Some of us have very ugly sketchbook but guess what- YOUR SKETCHBOOK IS YOUR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT. It doesn't NEED to be pretty because your sketchbook is where your raw material is for future projects. If you can keep that in mind, it makes it all so much easier to do every day.

    Hope that helps!

  • I think you have many great tips here! But I really think @smceccarelli 's tip is the most important. Doodling is OK, but you don't learn much by doing that. I spent years doodling without really improving. Then I started using reference ALL THE TIME - That is when I really started improving. If I don't know what to draw, I open the Instagram feed of my favorite artists and copy their work, or I google a random animal and draw it.

    I have 2 very useful apps by Stephen Silver to help me when I am on the go and only have my iphone for reference: one is his posebook - hundreds of various poses in all sorts of costumes; there is one app for male references and one for females. Here is the link, there a video of him showing how he uses it too!

    The other one is Character Design Shuffle - It basically gives you random drawing assignment. For example, Female Squirrel doing Breakdancing... Quite fun actually!

    I hope this helps!

  • I really like the "Iterative Drawing" convention mixed with "Quantity, not Quality". First and foremost, I recommend watching this and then reading this (I think everyone will like these links :)).

    Instead of stressing out trying to make ONE perfect subject (quality), you will instead draw hundreds of imperfect versions of the subject, but always learning something new (iterative quantity). After that, you will be able to draw UNLIMITED perfect variations of the subject. <- make sure you always review every drawing and correct your mistakes in the next one/add something new in the next one, otherwise it won't be "iterative", it will be "blind" practice.

    Every drawing is a preparation for the next one, so don't focus on pretty pictures on daily practice.

    It is no use if you keep blindly drawing something for the sake of "practice everyday" without correcting your mistakes, without learning about them and without improving upon them. So the iterative drawing + "quantity not quality" makes you draw the same subject dozens upon hundreds of times. But applying what you learned in the previous drawing and fixing it. Then since you are focused on quantity, you will draw, for example, a billion eyes iteratively, with just a little fix here and there, until you master it.

    “The ceramics teacher announced that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. At grading time, a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.” and Drawing isn't about trying and trying until something nice turns out. If your drawings look bad, there's a reason for it. You need to find it and solve the problem, not go and create a situation in which this problem will not be visible. You won't become a chess champion by facing only players that are easy to beat.

    EDITED - these are my notes and annotations that I extracted from the video:

    • Creating bridges between the analytical and intuitive sides of the brain.
    • The intuitive brain is not struck in this world where everything has to be explained and measured, like the analytical one.
    • Do not get struck in one way of doing things (creative freedom)
    • Example: Instead of creating a whole body, create 20 heads, changing positions, etc ITERATIVELY, checking defects and correcting them next. With this you will get a lot of mileage and muscle memory.
    • Wait a day, analyze, see what’s right and wrong, and do again.
    • Iterative: not about making a finished image, it is about developing the brain, from purely analytical to intuitive mileage
    • Analyze and make better guesses of the first item you draw in the series, then keep iterating it
    • Also focus on iterating a single item many times instead of doing for instance: a person, a tree, a skull, choose one, let’s say a very specific tree and keep iterating it by your own, analyzing it, until mastered.
    • Another example: don’t draw 20 different eyes in a page, instead, repeat the first eyes 20 times, BUT analyzing and improving one by one until perfected or until you feel it is right
    • Pages and pages of iterations
    • If using references (, don’t copy. Study and analyze based on your drawing, what is different / let’s try again / what I remember etc. Also try this day and then wait until next day and try again from memory, or comparing to previous day.
    • Draw pages and pages, BUT ANALYZE WHAT YOU ARE DOING, WHY AND HOW CAN I IMPROVE IT and then draw again improving. And keep improving and analyzing. Instead on relying on tutorials and everything else that tell you what to do. Figure it out yourself.

  • SVS OG

    @Bob-Crum That's interesting. When I was a little girl with 5 sisters and one brother (later two), we all liked to color and draw with crayons. We did ti so much! My mom used to spread out the newspaper want ads on the hardwood floors and dump the crayons out and we would draw over the small print 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @NoWayMe Character Design shuffle! Ha! That sounds good!

  • One thing that always helps me draw is to have an ongoing project to work on. That way you can see tangible progress towards a finished product. That could be a multitude of things. You don't need to start with something huge, think about what area of illustration you enjoy the most and find a project/product that accentuates that. A Drawing Challenge, a Comic Book, a Children's Book - anything that gets you excited to draw!

  • Scribble until you find something. Basically just throw down some lines and then think of something to turn it into (not a face) and start drawing over top. You will find yourself creating goofy characters and objects that can be refined into real items. As far as doing it everyday you need to make an actual time for it and stick to that time.

  • sorry if I repeat what others have said, I don't have time to read all the replies. but here are a few things I do (on top of my head):

    • draw what's in front of you (even if it's boring. once you start, you might find yourself tweaking what you see to make it look more interesting, that's when creativity comes out)
    • do anatomy studies (hands, feet, nose, preferably what you need to improve). I love this website to practice and sketch
    • keep a list of things you would like to draw, styles or media you would like to try: whenever you look at other people's work, you probably think "oh I'd like to try this some day", so whenever you think of something, write it down, because when you have no inspiration, these ideas never come up then!
    • do master copies and value/composition studies: any artist you admire, work that caught your attention, do it. a pinterest account is great for that, you can pin whenever you see something and come back to it later, when you need it
    • practice drawing a character consistently: you can go back on a character you've drawn before and draw it from different angles, face expressions etc...

    eventually, something will come out of that: whether is unblocking your creativity, improving your skills or creating something new and exciting
    Giuseppe Castellano recently gave an art tip on twitter, that I really liked:
    • Buy a cheap sketchbook.
    • Title it: Bad Drawings Only
    • Use a cheap pen/pencil.
    • Draw freely

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Some good suggestions here.

    Some more basic advice is to simply make time (like a week) to actually figure out what you want to draw. This is part of the process. If you skip it, everything after that becomes difficult because you are sitting there staring at a blank page.

    Sketching just what is around you is sort of lazy and super boring (IMO). Take a week and gather the coolest, most interesting stuff you can find and put it in a notebook. Then use it as inspiration when you sit down to draw. You can do master copies, or just start on a theme and run with it. Space ships, robots, tree houses, city scapes are all things that get me going. What is it going to be for you?

  • Pro SVS OG

    I thought I had nothing to add to this thread, until I read Lee´s post - which reminded me of something.
    I used to draw from posebooks, cover-to-cover (I still pick them up sometimes). I have always been interested in drawing people more than anything else, but going out and sitting in a coffee shop to draw happens too rarely. So I bought posebooks (there are a zillion out there, even some with different focus, like "children" or "action poses" or "sports") and just drew from them, one page after the other. Some have the same pose from 6 or 8 different angles, which is even more interesting. You can even use a timer and set it as short as 3 minutes per pose (short poses are a staple of live drawing). When you can draw without thinking what and learn something in as short as 3 minutes, there are no excuses for not doing it 😉

  • i dont get your question tho u said u dont know what to draw(dont have any idea), but i feel like u dont know how to draw( dont know how to start ). if im wrong im sorry and stop reading right now.

    if u dont know how to draw here is some tips

    1.first watch finished not perfect of jaked parker 😃

    2.maybe 30 mins before u go to sleep just find some refs u like i try do draw them by basic forms try to break them by boxes, spheres, cylinders,...

    +draw outdoor with sketchbook (dont buy expensive buy the cheapest u can find)

    1. U dont need to draw by your memory that thing for professional or at least forget it for now

    2. 2 kind of sketchbook u may wanna consider
      -A4 sketchbook is great 😃 u dont usually forget at a coffee shop a in a restaurant 😃 easier to draw details
      -small sketchbook really easy to carry around draw quick because u dont need to do the details... your drawing will be really rough if u dont draw well....
      up to u use whatever u want to make u feel comfortable

    3. Find some refs u like to draw and keep them inside/near your sketchbook maybe u wanna write down drawing process in your sketchbook 😃 i have my own drawing process and i always follow it
      +basic forms/shapes
      +center line/curve/...
      +perspective or contour lines
      +rough drawing
      +clean lines/ink

    • crosshatching/marker
    1. if your draw not good dont find some thing complex just find something simple to draw ( walk before run)
    2. if the place very crowd and u really afraid of ppl look at your drawings then do some straight lines, circles, curves(help your line work better) or 1,2,3 point persp

    basically if u want to do drawing or designing for living just draw anything on any piece of paper u can find( and dont wast paper tho try to fill up) dont wast time
    hope it help

  • @lee-white said in How to draw everyday:

    Some good suggestions here.

    Some more basic advice is to simply make time (like a week) to actually figure out what you want to draw. This is part of the process. If you skip it, everything after that becomes difficult because you are sitting there staring at a blank page.

    Sketching just what is around you is sort of lazy and super boring (IMO). Take a week and gather the coolest, most interesting stuff you can find and put it in a notebook. Then use it as inspiration when you sit down to draw. You can do master copies, or just start on a theme and run with it. Space ships, robots, tree houses, city scapes are all things that get me going. What is it going to be for you?

    Thanks so much for your suggestion! I have a bunch of inspiring artwork on folders on Pinterest and Instagram that I'd love to pull out. I'll try and start, and after a while I'll possibly post a thread here on how it turned out. Thanks again.

  • @linhb Thanks! I love that video from @Jake-Parker! This will definetly help

Log in to reply