I figured I should share a few things that I’ve found out myself as an artist and have pretty often end up telling others looking for tips. I’ve heard a lot of advice on here from artists, but a lot of it is pretty common stuff, which is important and good, but here’s some more to add to it.
- Trying to draw people*? Stare at them.
I don’t mean this in a creepy way, just pay attention. As an artist you should always try to take in what’s around you. Make a conscious effort that if you’re around others to take in how their arm bends when they’re holding something or how their back slopes when they slouch and the way the light hits their skin. See how their pants fold when they sit and how their sleeves bunch up at the elbows.
Regardless of your style or medium, having a good understanding of what you’re drawing helps make your art look more natural and less awkward. A clothing fold in the wrong place or an arm bent the wrong way is a clothing fold in the wrong place and an arm bent the wrong way whether you’re drawing hyper realism or a huge-eyed sparkly anime drawing.
*Note that this is the same for anything you’re drawing really, if you draw dogs then go out and look at dogs. Not just photos of dogs but watch videos of dogs and see how they run and sit and wag their little doggy tails.
If you’re drawing a fantasy creature or just anything that doesn’t really exist look at what it’s based on and strive to understand it’s various parts. One part snake one part human? Go study both parts.
- Draw to practice.
Usually spend 3 hours on a drawing? Take it down to one and draw three things instead. Then draw two things an hour, then four things an hour. Nose is off? Don’t spend time fixing it, just finish the rest and move on and resolve to have the next drawing have a better nose than the last. Let the motions become second nature to you, let yourself begin to feel how an ear is drawn rather than the technical side of things.
The more you draw something the more you’ll figure out how it really looks and works. You’ll just know where to put the eyes rather than erasing them and moving them around.
This really ties into the point above because once you SEE how something should look you need to learn how to transfer that to your art.
Of course I don’t mean give up on spending that time to make a really nice piece, but every so often you have to just let yourself go and draw to learn rather than draw to produce.
- Like a style? Devour it.
Don’t get discouraged by artists you think are better than you, look at their work, understand it, dissect it, and figure out it is that you like so much about it and then see what you can make of it.
Once you’ve got an idea of how it works then make it yours.
I don’t mean trace, and I don’t mean copy them. If you like everything about their work that’s fine too but don’t go off completely copying someone.
Find yourself various influences, a stye of eyes from one person and the colouring technique of another. Mash it all up and smooth it out and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find something you really like in your own art.
Let me end this off with an example of my own art, the way I draw noses is a crappy job of trying to understand another artist’s way of drawing them and getting it completely wrong. The thing about that though? I’ve kept up that way of drawing them and people tell me they can recognize my art because of the noses I draw. It’s become my own style.
I’d still like to draw noses the way that artist does but eh, you win some you lose some.
So I guess that’s about it for right now, I really never meant to type this much but it sort of just happened. Oops. I hope this is helpful to some of you out there.