These last few days I received some requests on how to get started at drawing and illustrating and it brought me back to years ago, when I made my first sketches. I was really enjoying it, but I felt that my characters suffered from some problems and I didn't know how to fix them.
I now understand that I was looking at wrong things and I needed to see them from a different perspective. This is centenly something you learn with experience, but it seems so obvious in hindsight.
So here I am, sharing some advice to those who are starting now.
Starting with the right foot
Ever heard of the 10k hours rule? It supposedly takes about that many hours to be a true expert of anything. That's a lot of time! It really helps to have the motivation to see the long journey though. If drawing is one of your passions, go ahead and don't let it scare you.
The further you go advance, the easier is to see for what it really is: a journey you can take a step at a time, with lots of personal rewards and growth.
Practice, practice, practice
We definitely need lots of practice and the best way to get better fast is to learn in loops, but that's by definition repetitive and kinda boring. That's where the passion kicks in to help us out.
First thing we want to do it is make every paint or draw a masterpiece, trying to grasp everything at once, but that's hard and it's probably not the best approach. On the other hand, focusing on smaller goals, breaking it down the process and excercise with lots of repetition, makes it easier to digest.
So, instead of trying to make a fancy fantasy scene with lots details each time, try to make exercise sessions once in a while, where you focus on one thing only, like hands, feet, apples, paws.
I can recommend an amazing tool for this, it help me so much and I used it for an insane amount of hours: line-of-action.com.
Draw with your brain
I used to think that drawing was a matter of physical skill: I needed to learn the gestures and exercise my hands to get better. And while this is true to some extent, the improvements I made weren't nearly enough. Why?
Drawing is more exercise for the brain than the hand. While the act is driven by the hand gestures, the content is not. Drawing real-world things require skill of observation and understanding of the physics that sorround us. Light reflects on surfaces, cameras lenses have different angles of view, anatomy have strict proportions, and so on.
The good news is that these are not specifics to drawing, as it applies to Cinema and entertainments industry. You can find endless material online.
But the most important thing is: just look around yourself and learn to observe and analyse.
A tool is just a tool
You often hear that is not the Camera that makes a good Photographer. You can give a crappy old camera to a professional and they will still shot awesome photos, while you can give me an awesome expensive camera, and they will always look bad. :(
Tools don't really matter. They can help, and they will, but it's never a blocker for anything. I often found myself thinking that I needed better tools to accomplish better art, but I was either missing the point or giving myself an excuse out of frustration.
I just wish I didn't waste any time and energy in this and use whatever I feel comfortable with, within my budget and taste.
Don't be touchy
Internet is a wonderful place where everyone agrees and say only nice things to each other... ..right? Jokes aside, it's important to go past bad comments, haters and trolls, while looking for feedbacks. They can make you miserable and question yourself, but they don't really know any better.
I try to look for communities where people is genuine and kind, where you can ask for constructive criticism and feebacks, without having to wast any energy in the internet game. Same is for real life, although it might be trickier depending on one's background.
Approach feedback with an open mind, and try not to be over-defensive as it might blind you from oppotunities to grow.
Draw for fun!
Making the time to draw for fun is essential for me and my productivity. It keeps up my morale as I don't need to worry about all the things related to work: budget, deadlines, constrains, having to improve, and so on. It's just liberating, and I get to let my creativity flow freely.
Whereever if you are in this awesome jounery we're all on, take the time to draw for fun and enjoy it. It will relax you, give you new ideas, appreaciate your progress adn nurture your passion.