Drawing is a beautiful art form that can calm your mind as well as produce wonderful imagery.
Although people often say that an artist is born with talent, in reality, it takes years of practice to produce stunning displays.
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out, or have sold millions of drawings, there are always ways to improve your skills and reconnect to forgotten methods.
Today, we will show you 15 tips to improve your drawing skills, and we will also help you maintain what you have learned already.
Practice makes perfect, but before you can start you need to know where to begin.
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15 Tips To Improve Your Drawing Skills
These tips will help you if you are new to drawing or want to enhance your current skill level. If you find the instructions are too easy for your ability, add in your own spice to push your drawing capabilities.
Our advice will start off simple, and then explain why these methods will improve your skills. With this knowledge, you can adapt the suggestions to fit your style.
Although there are some people, like Sarah Michelle Gellar, who can draw the perfect circle, we aren’t aiming for that perfection in this exercise.
Instead, we hope to get your fingers moving without judgment.
To get the process going, start drawing lots of circles as quickly as you can.
Don’t judge your results, and instead allow your fingers to move. You can even swap tools every now and then to produce different shapes.
Drawing circles can help your mind and movements develop easier dexterity. It enhances your motor skills and teaches you to draw freely, and trust your instincts.
You may also notice a level of calm come over you almost as if you are going into a meditative state.
Once a page has been covered, you should notice how easily your movements can manifest.
This can be a great warm-up exercise before beginning a project, as you get used to trusting your creations without judgment.
Circles can be used in many different drawing techniques.
It can create an atmosphere of fun when placed in the background of an image, the feeling of exclusion when the background circle has a hard border and can be used to create animals too.
Getting comfortable with your circles can have a knock-on effect when drawing these details. Knowing how to distort your circle to create an eerie backdrop is all part of the learning process.
It has been proven that doodling can help you concentrate on a task, so when you feel your motivation slipping, bring out your sketchbook and start making nonsense drawings.
To really boost your skills you should dedicate around 30 minutes a day to doodling.
The process can help you visualize ideas, experiment with structure, or even allow yourself to find methods that you didn’t think about before.
Just like with the circle, we don’t want you to judge the images that you recreate. The idea is to just keep going.
The more you doodle, the more you will be casually developing your skills, and as we said before the practice can help you concentrate on other tasks.
We wouldn’t recommend spending hours doodling, as your simple drawings might turn into a massive project.
That isn't our aim here. Instead, the process is simply meant to help you practice shapes and try out ideas.
You may even find that you create something so unexpected that it becomes a staple in your drawings to come.
Draw Ordinary Things
If you want to draw something using the realism style you should start by choosing everyday objects as your muse. Pick an object that you think is achievable but interesting and make your attempt at drawing it.
The first attempt won’t be great, and that's okay. This process is about enhancing your drawing, not getting it right the first time.
Once you have finished your first attempt write down the method of creation technique which was helpful. You should also make a note of what you found hard.
Try to draw the same object again every day. Each time you complete an attempt, note what was successful and what was a struggle.
You may find that grids can help you visualize the space more, or that shading is something you need to work on. With each attempt, you will notice how your work is improving.
If you get to a point where you are satisfied with the final outcome, move the item into a new location to create a new image. Maybe your mug now has a flower in it.
Perhaps, the table has been turned to a new side. Or you could even experiment with adding in backgrounds to your sketches instead.
Using a grid sketchbook, separate areas of the pages into sections. In each of the sections draw different patterns, but do so without planning.
This freestyle creation will feel like doodling, but with more of a purpose.
Sometimes when you are drawing a piece, you don’t know what to fill the background up with.
It’s times like these that you bring out your sketchbook and flick through the drawings of your past. Bring up your patterns to see if they can be helpful.
When you look through the doodles, you may notice something which matches your current idea. The border around the focus images could use one of your patterns.
Patterns, unlike normal doodles, can be a great spacefiller.
Having patterns created and waiting can be the perfect inspiration for your drawings in the future.
Drawing your patterns freestyle makes your work seem more vibrant and unique.
If you want to use guides, such as a ruler, then you will be adding more boldness to the piece, but too many straight lines can make your art seem false - as if a computer made it.
Calligraphy is the art of writing letters and words. Just as your computer can type in different shapes, you can too. Using different styles of letters can produce different emotions and thoughts.
Experimenting with different calligraphy styles can help you tap into a variety of drawing techniques to create the same effect.
For example, looping words can create a sense of grace, extravagance, or bubbly personality.
Getting the balance between goofy and elegance can be tricky, but with practice, you can realize what shapes create which feelings.
Once you manage these slight differences, you can add them to your sketches of people to see how those same shapes can create the subtle personality you hope to achieve.
As with the rest of our advice, you should practice your calligraphy as often as possible to reinforce the delicate changes which you can add to your artwork.
This is another sketchbook exercise. Drawing faces can be difficult, but as with everything you need to practice the art to get better at it.
Before you start, it’s important to remember that every face is different and no one has a symmetrical shape.
When you start drawing, you may notice that one eye looks a little wonky, but someone in the world may have that same wonky expression.
As always, we aren’t aiming for perfection, but attempting to find improvements.
Using a large grid journal, try drawing different faces in each box. You can either let your imagination go wild and see what creations you can come up with, or you can search for images of crowds online.
Taking inspiration from crowds means you get a glimpse of the person such as their glasses or their mouth shape, but you often don’t see the whole face.
Having a partially covered muse can help you avoid comparing your end creation with the original subject. Instead, pick up their stand-out feature and build your own person from that.
Using this method, you should be able to create different features. By the end, your page should be filled with a naturally unique crowd of heads.
Draw Challenging Shapes
Challenging shapes can be anything. To one person it could be the faces we mentioned before, to others it’s buildings.
Whatever you find the most frustrating or difficult should have a whole sketchbook dedicated to it.
The more you draw something the less difficult it will become. You will get used to the strange shapes, and understand how the shading contrasts the paper.
The more you attempt it, the more likely you will find a helpful method to draw the shape.
Make a note of everything that worked well in the last sketch, and everything that didn’t work.
When you try again, you can lean into the positive techniques and either adjust or avoid the methods that didn’t help.
Never avoid something completely though, as every attempt can shed a new light on the drawing.
As your skills improve, you will find it easier and easier to draw this challenging shape. And by the time you finish the sketchbook, you may even begin to enjoy the art you have created.
Remember to put your pencil down when the art becomes too frustrating, though. As you don’t want to discourage yourself from drawing in the future.
Mandalas don’t have a set definition or meaning, but it is usually created through circles and shapes which start in one area and expand out. Each expansion is mirrored around the whole circle.
Its purpose is to reflect nature and the universe, while also reflecting our inner self.
To draw a mandala you start in the middle of the page with either a circle, star, or square. You then build outward in a freehand motion, being sure to create a symmetrical outcome.
When it comes to improving your art, mandalas can help you visualize reflections and help you see perspectives in your work.
Drawing “S” shapes in the mandala means flipping the letter around to create a less common shape.
Managing this unusual pattern can help you visualize how reflections manifest and how each shape could be mirrored.
These patterns can be added to your doodles for the day, or become a type of meditation between ideas. Whenever you create them, try experimenting with colors and unusual shapes.
You may find yourself drifting into a kind of meditative state as you experiment.
Draw Your Surroundings
If you find yourself in a rut when it comes to creativity, but your urge to draw is still with you, sit down in a comfortable space and draw your surroundings instead.
The creation doesn’t need to have meaning, it doesn’t have to be amazing, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, really. All you are doing here is kick-starting creative energy.
When you focus on the coach, as you draw your mind might begin to wonder about the fabrics tying it together. On this tangent, you may start practicing stitching patterns to create the same shape.
By the end of the session, your couch drawing may not be finished, but you have created a whole array of fabric sketches to help you try the couch again.
Soon the couch becomes your muse as you attempt more complex drawing techniques to depict the realism in your drawing.
Of course, this is just an example of what you could do. Trying to draw something is more creative than waiting for inspiration to strike.
Your surroundings are all you need, as a subject to mimic is available at every glance.
Knots can be a difficult subject to draw, especially if you create them with no end pieces. Instead, they simply loop in with each other.
The idea behind practicing loops is to help you consider depth and movement.
You should start small with one loop that goes around. Once that is created consider how a second loop could interact with the first. Perhaps it goes over the top of one end, and under another.
To make the “over” loop look as though it is laying on top, you’ll need to erase the areas around the first line.
After your first couple of attempts with creating and erasing lines, you can try making knots without using an erasure.
Instead, you have to think ahead and consider where each line would go. This is the challenging part as you have to think ahead.
For this method you should start small again, only creating a couple of knots. As you develop this skill you can create more and more tangles in the knots.
You can use this technique to show details on clothing, create optical illusions, and add texture to an image.
To some this technique is enough to show their skills as a drawer, to others, it is a tool to create the image they desire.
Work On Your Observation Skills
Artists are meant to be observant people by nature. We take in our surroundings and see the details which make up the beauty.
It’s these details that capture atmosphere, create depth, and sprinkles in a story to the canvas.
Working on your observation skills will help you reconnect to these details and find more beauty and meaning in the world around you.
Simply picking up a leaf and noticing the way the vines travel up the spine while allowing the light to push through the green colors can be a magical experience in itself.
You can use this skill to find inspiration and to add the same level of magic to your work.
On the flip side of this coin, you can use your observation skills to point out where the magic leaves your work. The mistakes you make could add to the imagery or it can break the immersion.
Figuring out where the issue lies can help you adapt your work and find a more harmonious location for shading, shaping, and colors.
Doing this will enhance your artistic eye, eventually allowing you to correct as you go before you put too much effort into an element that won’t work as well as you hoped.
Awareness Of The Importance Of Light
Light is one of the most important elements of visual art. Without it, your work will look flat, but use it wrong and something will feel off.
Knowing where the light comes from will help you figure out where to put your shadows.
Shadows are the aspects of your drawings that create depth. Knowing how the light interacts with the area can tell you where to find these shadows.
For example, looking at a thick candle can show you just how subjective light can be.
The wick will burn brightly at the top of the candle, showing extreme light to any object around it. However as the wax is thick, you should see instant shadow to the sides and below this light source.
Assuming the candle could shed light all around, could be why a drawing seems distorted.
If you are unsure where the light should be, recreate your subject in front of you, and notice how the shadows touch each object.
If you struggle with this concept, play around with the idea of light in your sketchbook. Create an easy subject, and repeat the drawing 10 times.
Then shade in each depiction with the light coming from a different angle.
At the end of the exercise, you should have 10 3 dimensional drawings, each showing a different side of your subject.
Experiment With Different Shading Effects
Just as light can change your drawing from flat to 3 dimensional, the way that you shade can add texture and depth.
Normally shading is used to show just how dark an area is, light shading allows the viewer to see some of the details while dark shading shows the emptiness of the area.
However, the use of cross-hatching and contouring can produce different illusions. Contouring, for example, can give an extra shape to the object you are drawing, whereas cross-hatching ads texture.
Stippling can suggest small divots in the object, while lines can suggest scratches.
Depending on the texture you want to portray, each shading effect can offer different illusions to your work.
In your sketchbook, practice using each effect on the same item. Just like with the lighting activity, this can show you how each effect changes your perspective on the subject.
Draw On Location
Whenever you go on a trip, be sure to draw while you are away. Seeing a new environment and creating art with these unexpected sights can push you away from your safety zones.
Your room, your home, and your local areas will eventually become “normal” to you, but the new landscapes that you see will be like a whole new canvas.
If you normally use a picture as inspiration for your drawing, go to the area and see the landscape for yourself. The outside can help you capture energy and magic around you.
You can try adding your drawing to the landscape, showing it as it is, or you could attempt creating unexpected images as they mix in with the area.
Whatever you are trying to portray will be more difficult than you’re used to, simply due to the newness of the world around you. However, challenging these difficult areas will enhance your skills overall.
Use your observation techniques to find something unusual and interesting about the area, and see how your natural instinct reacts to what you are seeing.
This could be the perfect time to see how your new skills are working or to practice concepts you are still struggling with. Try to draw people, views, animals, and movement.
Not only are you creating a memory, but you will also be drawing things you don’t often see.
Experiment With Different Tools
To help you spread your skills you should experiment with different tools.
You may find that you work great with pencils already, but giving charcoal a go or picking up a marker could allow you to try new techniques that you haven’t attempted before.
For example, you may find that shading with a pencil is difficult, but mixing charcoal into your work adds an element of depth that you couldn’t achieve before.
It may be that the methods you find difficult become easier when you change mediums, or that the style you often use changes with the new tool.
Changing your technique like this stops you from getting stuck in a creative block. It can inspire you to create images that you may never have thought of before, and push your artistic ability into a new era.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to improve your artwork is to continue practicing.
We have already suggested a couple of tasks that you can do daily or weekly to keep enhancing your skills, however, there are a couple of additional suggestions we’d like to give too.
There are moments in our life when we have to wait. In that time of waiting we can be distracted by our phones and scrolling through social media, we could be reading, or we could let the boring take over.
Instead, we suggest drawing in these moments of quiet. You can draw while on the train, while you wait to pick up the kids or while the barista is making your order.
These little moments of quiet can be all you need to practice your skills. You can sketch what you are thinking about during the day, or the little unique moments around you.
Doing this allows you to harness your skills without taking up your time.
These little and often practices are all you need to perfect the little frustrations you might have with your art.
Invest In A Sketchbook
To make sketching a daily habit, you need to have a sketchbook. This means more than just any old notebook lying around your home, but a book dedicated to your art.
Whenever you have an idea to draw, sketch it out in your sketchbook first. The key to maintaining this creativity is to keep adding to it daily.
Eventually, you should add the work to a canvas, but using your sketchbook means trying out all the styles and concepts in your head before finalizing it.
There are lots of different sketchbooks for you to try. Some are completely blank, others have grids to help you visualize your layout, and some are thick so the tool you use doesn’t seep through to another page.
Consider your style, needs, and tools before committing to a sketchbook, as you may end up buying a page that doesn’t protect or help you as it should.
We suggest drawing in the book as often as possible. Even if you only apply doodles, it is more protective and helpful to your skills than doing nothing until inspiration strikes.
Remember sometimes doodling is enough to produce a wonderful idea.
Draw Things Out Of Your Comfort Zone
This doesn’t have to be a daily activity, but you should try to draw something out of your comfort zone every once in a while.
This could mean changing your materials and tools, opting for a disliked subject, or changing the style you normally go for.
Simple things like this can either reinforce your love for the current method or allow you to try and push through your boundaries. For example, many people don’t like drawing horses.
Their muscular form and odd body shape make it obvious when your proportions are off. However, being able to conquer this uncomfortable subject can allow you to add horses into the background of your work.
You can add their muscular shape to other animals, and learn to manage strange proportions in other subjects. Whenever you learn something, you never pick up just one skill.
Everything you learn can be used and re-purposed in other elements of your art.
Ideally, you should go out of your comfort zone every time you hit a creative roadblock. That way you can learn something new to boost your creativity.
Take Time Out Of Your Schedule To Draw
Lastly, you should schedule a time to draw. We have already mentioned adding doodling to the list of things to do while waiting, but ideally, you should have a set time for active drawing.
It could be a weekend treat after dinner as you wind down for the day, or an after-work delight mid-way through the week to boost your passions.
Whenever you decide to add drawing to your list of daily activities, be sure to stick to it. Keeping to this routine will allow your skills to improve much faster than if you decided to draw just when the moment takes you.
Without structure, you can easily not pick the pen back up until months or even years have passed.
With that much time away from the paper, you could lose the skills that you had learned and have to re-train yourself to get back to your skill level.
To avoid that happening choose a day in the week to draw and use that time to connect with your creativity.
The scheduling will keep you on track and before you know it, your art will feel more profound with every month.
As you expect, practicing is the best way to improve your drawing skills. However, it isn’t the only way.
To really get into your stride and find the artist within, you should be doodling every day whenever you are waiting for something.
As we said before, doodling can help you concentrate, so don’t feel bad if you need to doodle while listening in a meeting.
Not only are you going to be more focused, but you will also be able to practice some sketches at the same time.
You should have a book dedicated to sketching. When you draw something, make a note of what went well and what needs improving.
Knowing this information can help you figure out the best methods for you.
Trying new tools, shading, and lighting techniques can also help you build texture into your drawings.
Trying these new techniques whenever you feel a dip in creativity can help you push past any inspiration blocks while you continue to improve upon your skills.