Effective Practice

  • What I am struggling with as an artist trying to do the self-taught thing is coming up with an effective practice plan. Any assistance on this would be very appreciated, I have asked several people before and the answer ranges from "just draw" to "practice what your weak in" the problem with either of those answers is "draw what?" and "currently weak in most of it so where do you start?"

    So should one do line art/contour for say 30 days and then focus on areas that are obviously wrong (like perspective or ovals etc.) when do you move into shading/lighting? When do you jump in figure drawing?

    I do great when I am given assignments and things to practice (like in how to drawing anything series) but struggle to develop an effective plan to really get strong at drawing with light/shading.


  • If you haven't taken any of the classes yet, Jake Parkers "How to Draw Everything" is a great place to start and there are some really good assignments to download and practice. Especially if you're struggling to get started. Then move on to the other foundational classes.

    As for practicing on your own, one suggestion is start compiling images from artists that you like and would like to emulate. Pinterest is absolutely great for this. Trace their work, try to recreate it and elements of it in your own drawings. Draw things your'e interested in. Make a list of things your would like to draw well {example: animals, cars, robots, monsters etc.) and then get to it.

    Another suggestion might be , Find every tutorial you can and practice the techniques until you have them down really well. Again Pinterest is a great resource for this as is Youtube. But the best one is of course SVSlearn.

    Everything will be frustrating and look bad at first, but don't get down on yourself. Every great artist started there too.

    Hope that helps

  • All great advice thank you, I think I am just over complicating it. I am IT by day and so used to Step 1- 10 type of approaches to learning and accomplishing things. I am looking for that same ting but I think with art it is perhaps different.

    Maybe what I am looking for is what is a more effective way to build foundation skills, meaning before working on lighting need to get contour down first, after that then do shading/lighting, then do figure drawing, then do x then y and z. Versus doing some contour, some lighting, some figure, etc.

    Bet is all just depends on comes down as you stated what type of work I am trying to actually complete and working on those pieces. Again appreciate the advice.

  • For me, (maybe other people are different) learning this stuff is like exploring. You head out in a direction you want to go, but can't be afraid to go off course for a bit. I think the thing is that all the different aspects of learning art build on each other( you get better at contour while also improving your ability to see shapes and form etc.) so in a way you're kind of working all the different parts at once. If you like steps you could give yourself a day to focus on one specific thing like contour drawings and then another day on light and shadow or something like that. One thing I've discovered is that no two artists get there the same way. Just always come back to the basic principles and you'll be good to go.

  • Hi,
    I do not know what is the right way to do. But I will tell you about my practice 🙂

    In the end I think it is all about quantity and addressing the flaws. You suck at hands? You have to draw more hands. You suck at faces, you have to draw more faces. Try to get out of your comfort zone. Try different styles and techniques and new themes when you feel you are not improving.

    This is what I do:

    1. identify what you want to learn next. it can be anything, a technique, some subject. I usually take down notes when i draw and notice I really suck at something
    2. challenge yourself
    3. Complete the challenge as fast as possible(while not cheating yourself) and
    4. move to the next subject or what really motivates me is to do something more finished(like 3rd thursday digital painitng) where i utilize what I learned

    Examples of my challenges
    50 hands - I used my hand as a reference
    50 portraits
    50 portraits from different angles
    sketchbook of 1-5 minute gesture drawings
    50 Shoes
    50 clothes
    Do a 3rd thursday every month

    And here is a video for more practice ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu3ulVhO3z4
    And one example of project from Jake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxa01j9Ns7o

    Concerning your problem with order. I think it does not really matter. Draw something you like. You like dragon, draw a dragon. Then lookup a picture of dragon somebody you like drew. And find out what he did better than you, If you are as critical as me, it well be overwhelming number of areas to work on... anatomy, perspective, light, color, background,... now you have to choose one thing and practice it, one that is achievable and that will push you further. Give yourself an exact goal, like 50 drawings. Then you can try to redraw your previous picture and see if you improved.

  • Appreciate the additional responses, will take it all into consideration and really try to shift into the mindset that there is more than one way to get there, its the journey/path that counts not necessarily the destination and push myself out of the comfort zone to grow.

  • I was where you are so I came up with a few very clear projects to keep me going. All of them tend towards one bigger project, which is building up a good portfolio for children's illustration. So: I have my goal, I have my preferred medium (drawing with pencil then colouring digitally) and I kind of have found "my" style, at least a style that I'm really wishing to develop (that last one was the longest to find, and it's only by observing other artists and trying myself that I got somewhere satisfying - so far)

    • I do the "design 100 somethings challenge" from jake parker and I've chosen to draw children to get me practised since a I want to do children's illustrations
    • I take the courses here and I practice with the assignments, it's a good way of drawing without really thinking "so, what will I draw?!"
    • I conceptualize my portfolio with words and a clear plan of what kind of illustrations should be included: this gives me ideas of actual illustrations or little stories I could try and develop
    • I just sketch in my sketchbook, randomly, but I still find it hard to "let go"
      all these are exercises that will bring me closer to my goal and at the same time keep me busy and practising without thinking too much of the so-called inspiration
      hope it helps!

  • basically, I suppose it's all about giving yourself your own assignments 😕

  • Appreciate the insight and responses Audrey, I agree I think this is a wall or hurdle I have to get over to push myself more into developing that art habit and stretch myself. So different than IT, but in a good way 🙂

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