I remember being in life drawing when I was 17. I was struggling so much to draw what I could see. It frustrated me to the point that I wanted to throw my pencil down and give up.
After seeing my frustration I remember my teacher telling me a fascinating fact. At the age of 12 our brains have reached a stage where we understand the world around us. When we can’t draw that world exactly as we see it we get angry. 89% of people give up on drawing at this hurdle. That is why most peoples drawing skills are the same as they were age 12. We never tried to improve.
I was in my life drawing class trying to push through this barrier when my teacher showed me a famous sketch of a lady. I have no idea what it was but it was beautiful.
He told me to take it home and copy it. This shocked me. Surely copying is wrong!
This is when I discovered the artist secret. Everyone copies. Not original work obviously but to learn how to do those fantastic drawings even Adres Deja copied the greats to harness their skills when they were starting out.
It seems quite obvious when I read it written down. As a young children most artist spend their days copying comics or the cartoons on TV but as a (almost) grown up it didn’t seem like an option I could use. It seemed weak and sneaky.
Of course there are still problems with this method. You can become too use to someone else’s style and not create your own and you might also rely to heavily on seeing the drawing instead of thinking about what it is you need to achieve but as long as you use it as a teaching aid it will improve your drawings beyond belief.
During University I was lucky enough to live with a lot of 2d animators. Each one possessed drawing skills I would have killed for. I started off the year being determined to improve. After drawing every day and copying my favorite artists I could see a noticeable difference. My drawings no longer represented something a drugged monkey would do.
Unfortunately as time went on and my job became hectic drawing took a back seat.
I look at the drawings I was doing a few years ago and I wish I’d kept up with the work since drawing is definitely a skill that needs practice.
Since living in Korea I have had a lot of free time to draw and although my level is still awful, I’m getting there slowly.
One of my favorite things to do, especially if I’m going on a long trip, is I print out drawing mood boards.
In ‘Word’ I copy and paste photos, illustrations, logos or even clothes I like the look of.
I carry it in my sketch book and when I get the chance I use it to firstly, help me practice and secondly to inspire me to draw something I can be proud of.
Its my own personal printed ‘Pinterest’.
My advice to anyone who’s itching to regain or gain their drawing skills is to print out some of your favorite images. You won’t have to waste time wondering to yourself what to draw on that daunting blank page and most importantly it will be a guide.
A silent teacher there to help. It is something I’ve done ever since I was 17 and I would recommend it, even to great artists. If you know you are in the mood to draw animals then print of a collage page filled with photos of animals and maybe some different artist’s representations of them.
P.s Make sure if you are copying that your practice drawings are just for you. Once you are only using them for inspiration then share share share.