18 Tips to Improve Your Drawing Skills - Ben Heine Art Blog

18 tips to improve your drawing skills

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For a person to become a good artist, their drawing skills must be sound regardless of whether they are new to the industry or experts. Clean drawings help to sell out the artist behind the work, and if they are doing it for commercial purposes, they may end up landing lucrative deals, which explains why any given artist needs to seek skills on improving their drawing skills. Good drawing ideas are not enough for excellent work, through necessary technical work, an artist can achieve long-term drawing skills. Mastering drawing skills is the basis for artists or painters willing to make a living with their work. Therefore, this article aims at discussing the eighteen tips for improving your drawing skills.

1. Draw simple things around you

Start with drawing ordinary and simple things. For a beginner who wants to perfect drawing, it is advisable to start with the immediate environment. Draw simple everyday things and remember to keep a diary of each day’s work so that with each new day, you can aim at improving the mistakes made on the previous drawings. It is also advisable to start with sketches from photos to act as a work foundation. When working with a picture, it is easier to see the edges, the angle, and the shapes.

2. Challenge yourself daily, work hard

Artists Ben Heine and Sebastien Del Grosso - Sketch Fight

It is necessary to exercise drawing daily to improve speed and drawing coordination. Developing warm-up routines is essential for artists because it helps the hands and the arms to work better than before. An artist who is used to daily drawing can identify mistakes and weaknesses in their drawings, work upon them when exercising, and eventually develop perfection. Developing a positive attitude towards the drawing work enables people to personalize their work and enjoy the process. It also encourages one to create time for the job because of the pleasure of drawing. By becoming committed, an artist can develop better skills.

3. Observe! Observe! Observe!

Be an observant person. An artist is supposed to be very attentive to everything, whether a simple line or meticulously detailed drawings. Just looking at the form of pictures an artist comes across helps them learn many things, and they can also see where they make mistakes in their drawings and correct them out of observation. Usually, for any artist to test their drawing skills, it is advisable to look at something, maybe an object or a person, and then try to draw what they saw. The method gauges the ability of the drawer to observe and keep memory and how fast they can trace their work from the basic observation. When drawing, think about things like the composition, the anatomy, the perspective, the light, shadows, etc. Every drawing is a composition of lines, shapes, and shades.

4. Know where the light comes from

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The light dictates everything in visual art. Always be aware of where the light comes from. Know how to place you shadow, there are no shadows without light. Make sure that the light sources correspond to the light source of your drawing. The arrangement of light is a great way to show what’s important in an image. Take a look at the Renaissance paintings… And the next time you watch a movie, look for dramatic effects with light.

Shadows are very important for giving volume and a 3D side to the elements you draw. To put it simply, if the light comes from the left, the shadows etc. will be on the right and next to the object and conversely if the light comes from the right the shadows will be on the left and next to the object.

5. Emulate and implement

Reference your drawings from other artists’ work. When an artist uses another artist’s drawing to make their own, it serves as a learning tip. Copying another person’s work may sound peculiar, though, but someone can learn a lot from copying. They understand better what aspects are necessary for the artwork to look realistic.

6. Use references

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You should never hesitate to use references. Without them, your drawings will lack accuracy, precision or realism. In terms of form, this does not prevent you from styling your drawings, but it is important to draw from references.

In terms of content, to ensure the unique and original character of your drawing, avoid drawing the reference as it is, ideally mix 2 or 3 references to create a truly original work. You can do a traditional collage or a digital one if you have images or make a small installation if you have objects.

References should not diminish your creativity, they are just there to help you master your drawing. The mathematician uses numbers and theorems to develop his ideas, the musician uses musical notes to compose, the draftsman uses references to express ideas.

7. Take drawing classes

When one gets into drawing classes, the teacher becomes a guide. They can quickly notice their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore the teacher can work towards strengthening the solid points and eradicating their shortcomings. Besides, in a class where the drawing students are more than one, one can learn from others, which is immensely beneficial in
improving observational skills. You can learn a lot from Ben Heine’s YouTube video tutorials on drawings.

8. Maintain a sketchbook

Image 5 - Sketchbook Ben Heine Drawing tips

A sketchbook tells a story and monitors your drawing skills and evolution. From scribbles to elaborate art, a sketchbook helps displaying your idea generation skills, demonstrates your ability to draw, helps improving your creativity, allows you to show an interest in a wide range of styles, topics, and projects. Take your sketchbook everywhere you go. Experiment with different techniques. You don’t have to stick to one style. Mixed media is a good way to show a range of skills and to demonstrate your flexibility and imagination.

9. Draw rope knots

Exercise drawing knots. Knots are believed to be the most challenging part of the exercise. They are also creative forms of drawings. Drawing a knot allows the drawer to exercise their full knowledge on creativity and drawing almost reaching an abstract level. It engages the mind and observation capabilities of the artist and enables them to define their know-how in drawing. Eventually, it develops a person’s technical skills in drawing because the drawer has to think about light, texture, proportion and composition. Drapes or clothes are also good subjects to train on.

10. Try freehand

Normalize drawing on a freehand rather than a ruler. Drawing on a freehand allows the drawer to develop their patterns and lines, which defines their work. It also allows to draw faster. It is vital to avoid using a ruler when drawing because it helps train a hand on being independent, and this is how drawing improves. Drawing freestyle and without ruler will make your art look more vibrant and unique.

11. Start painting

There is only one step between drawing and painting. Painting is a crucial step and it is often the next step after drawing as it sometimes involves more tools and is often more complex. Painting involves an observation process similar to drawing, however it also includes other complex parameters such as the management of tools (brushes, acrylic paint, watercolor, oil …), techniques (mixing colors) and dedicated supports (canvases, etc.). A good painter almost always requires good drawing skills. Painting will allow you to represent your ideas or the world around you in a different form, it can only be a rewarding experience and bring a breath of freshness to your drawing practice.

12. Use different shading effects

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Shading is used traditionally in drawing for depicting a range of darkness by applying media more densely or with a darker shade for darker areas, and less densely or with a lighter shade for lighter areas. Light patterns, such as objects having light and shaded areas, help when creating the illusion of depth on paper. There are various techniques of shading, including cross hatching, where perpendicular lines of varying closeness are drawn in a grid pattern to shade an area. The closer the lines are together, the darker the area appears. Likewise, the farther apart the lines are, the lighter the area appears. The most common shading techniques include: hatching, cross-Hatching, blending, rendering, random lines, stippling. Testing these different techniques in the same drawing can give a very nice result.

13. Master drawing techniques

Learn the basics of drawing. Mastering basic technical aspects in drawing is essential to improving your skillset. Drawing does not only involve drawing using a pencil. Think about the rules of perspective, shadowing, anatomy, proportion, composition etc. Any artist should also understand basic pencil skills to develop competence in drawing. The skills include how to hold a pencil or pens, draw in different ways, natural movement of the arm, among others. Learning such skills is essential in improving personal skills. You can also start learning how to make digital drawing with a tablet and specific softwares.

14. Avoid smudges

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Graphite and charcoal are the standard tools of drawing. When drawing, it is not a surprise to find that they smudged and stuck to the hands. If the artist is not keen enough, they may touch the drawing paper and transfer the smudge on the artwork hence spoiling it. To avoid this, an artist should put a cloth or a paper under the hand. It they are right-handed, they can also start their drawing from the top left corner of the paper and finish it at the bottom right corner. This are such simples trick but it will help to not destroy all your effort.

15. Time your pace

It is advisable for a person who wants to be good at drawing to monitor their skills with a timer. Since drawing is also about motion and speed, you need to consider imposing a time constraint. Set a timer for 30 minutes and draw an object, then another, and another. Then set the timer for 10 minutes and draw the same objects. And finally, 1 minute. You can compare the results. This method allows the drawer to focus on the general and most elements of the drawing hence improving their drawing skills.

16. Be inspired

Have a role model, a mentor, or someone that you will look up to for inspiration. Admiring the artwork of a particular artist enables one to work with focus, aspiring to become like the mentor or even better. Therefore, an artist is supposed to print drawings from their role models and then try to do like them or, even better, improving their overall drawing skills.

17. Draw on location

Drawing on location is also an excellent way to improve skills. If an artist wants to draw a landscape, it is advisable to visit the place and pull out the landscape image from a lively position. The method allows the artist to draw real things, make the artwork appear natural, and progress their drawing skills. It also enhances the observational skills of the artist.

18. Try out different tools

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Use a variety of drawing materials to find the preferred material. Any artist aspiring to be good in drawing is advised to use a pencil, gel pens, markers, and charcoal, among other mediums, so that they can know which material works best for them and the one that is easier to use for a perfect drawing. It can also lead to uniqueness in the style of drawing. You can also try changing your drawing tools or the grain or even the color of the paper you use to achieve different effects. Why don’t you start doing digital drawings with a tablet using sofwares like Corel, Photoshop or other ones? There are many tutorials about these specific softwares. Digital art is the future!

Conclusion

Good drawing skills are vital in expressing the world around you. There are many tips out there that an artist can use to improve their skills, but these tips would be useless if the artist lacks focus, determination and dedication. As an artist, you need to constantly learn and grow to be competent and remain relevant in the game. Remember that if you want to do masterpieces, you will also need creativity and imagination, reproducing reality is one simple thing that cameras or printers can do, changing reality is the next step.

Article: © Ben Heine

Ben Heine

Ben Heine

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