Whether you’ve taken up drawing as a hobby or are a full-time artist, or are somewhere in between, i.e., you love to draw and want to start making money as an artist, this post will help you learn how to get better at drawing.
I’ve been asked a lot of times if there is any secret to drawing well.
Yes, and no.
Drawing is a skill; it’s not a talent.
It is something that anyone (even a tiny monkey) can do, provided they practice.
Drawing well comes with a lot of practice.
It’s like learning to play an instrument or learning how to dance – you can’t get better until you practice.
Sure, there are plenty of ways to speed up your progress and actually become better sooner – but it does involve a lot of drawing.
I’ve been drawing since the age of three and now use my hand-drawn illustrations in practically everything – my blog posts, ebooks, courses, and videos.
Drawing is something that I honestly enjoy doing.
So, I feel privileged to talk about it and help you as well!
I’m happy even to have a blog that’s all about drawing so I can share everything about drawing with the world!
I did many things to speed up my progress in the last few years because I did take up a lot of drawing commissions, and I needed to be good, so I will be discussing those as well!
But before I get into the post, please take a moment to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I send all kinds of drawing tutorials, drawing worksheets, and drawing resources like courses and books:
It’s the perfect opportunity to get inspired and be consistent with drawing!
How can I improve my drawing skills – 9 tips for how to get better at drawing
1. Build a drawing routine
This may be very redundant and plain advice, but before I move on to anything else, you need to listen to me.
Draw every single day.
It’s okay to take a break once in a while. But try to draw a little something every day.
Let it be a sketch, a drawing exercise, some basic coloring or painting, some rough lines, or a doodle, but make it a habit.
How do you develop a drawing habit?
- Start with just 10 minutes every day.
- Watch a video or a course and practice a little.
- Draw something you love – like your favorite cartoon character or a person you admire, maybe a car or a bike, or a plant in your window. Draw everyday objects like a notebook or a coffee cup. Watch the way the light hits those objects and study how it looks.
Why do I say draw for only 10 minutes?
Because it won’t become too heavy for you.
Don’t sit for 2-3 hours drawing every day in the beginning – you’re going to burn yourself out.
Build the habit first.
Try to aim for 5-10 minutes every day for a whole month or two before increasing the time duration. Once you build the habit, you’ll never skip more than 2-3 days of drawing.
This is one of the best ways to get better at drawing – just practicing.
At this stage, I don’t want you to look at your drawings and throw them away if it’s imperfect.
There is no such thing as a perfect drawing.
We’ll have to draw 100 pieces of garbage to get to a good drawing. That’s just the way it is.
And no one gets better without drawing those garbage pieces first.
Finish the drawing. And then only move to a new one.
It’s okay if it’s not perfect! That’s just how it is.
And remember, you can draw anything. From the fingers on your hand to the most horrifying monster, your imagination can conjure – it can be anything. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on drawing a little something every day.
If you’re finding it hard to come up with daily prompts, use this book for daily prompts – it will help!
If you’re looking for a book to inspire you, I highly recommend Sketch Daily.
2. Do not compare yourself to anyone else
Everyone’s journey is different.
Unfortunately, social media can really ruin it for us in terms of comparing our work to others.
It’s natural that someone will be better.
And even if they are, it’s alright! They may have been practicing for months or years! You have no idea how many drawing hours they’ve put in or what circumstances they’ve been through to get to where they are.
So, please… do not compare yourself to others.
However, compare your work to your own!
Look at your drawings from 3-6 months ago and see how far you’ve come.
Pat yourself on the back, and then look ahead!
Now that you know that you’re getting better, use that inspiration to move forward!
Imagine if you could come this far in half a year; where will you be three years later?
Let me show you my progress as an Illustrator.
In these four years, I learned:
- Basic Anatomy
- How to put together multiple reference pictures to create a unique piece of art
- Color Theory
- How to develop my unique Illustration Style
And yes, all of this is possible if you draw every day and compare your work to your own.
I talk about how long it takes to learn drawing here.
3. Experiment with different mediums
When I first started, I got myself the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils as they are honestly the best pencils to work with, and I used a Strathmore Drawing pad because the paper is lovely for pencil sketching.
I loved pencil sketching when I first started.
If you are getting into pencil sketching and want to get better at this, you’ll need the following tools:
But as I grew up, I liked experimenting with different mediums.
I went through a stage of drawing only with blue ballpoint pens, and I was able to work on my cross-hatching technique.
And for the past few years, I’ve only been working on digital illustrations because it’s super easy for me. If you’re looking to learn more about digital art, then refer to these posts:
- How to become an Illustrator from scratch
- How to start Digital Art + An easy guide for beginners!
So, experiment with mediums but don’t switch all the time. Stick to one thing for a while before you move.
The idea is to familiarize yourself with drawing with a pencil on paper first.
4. Practice gesture drawing
Many people just want to learn how to draw cartoons without understanding human anatomy or gesture drawing.
You need to know the rules before you can break them.
So, practice gesture drawing and study anatomy before you start narrowing it down into cartoony drawings.
What is gesture drawing?
Gesture drawing usually involves drawing many lines that indicate the shape and action of a human body. It consists of loose lines that try to convey as much information as possible in very less time, like 10 seconds to 5 minutes.
The best way to practice gesture drawing is to look at photos of people in dynamic poses and then draw that as fast as possible using only lines.
Yes, you’ll have to convey movement with lines!
It’s hard to explain via text, so refer to this really in-depth tutorial video to understand what I mean by gesture drawing.
As for learning Anatomy, here is a lovely book that I currently use to help you practice human anatomy.
5. Be diligent with your learning
It’s alright to learn by yourself.
There is no harm in doing that.
However, if you want to learn fast, then learn from others.
See how others draw.
Take shortcuts by watching their techniques and following their tips.
I sped up my drawing progress by buying these drawing books and watching multiple online courses.
And they’re not that expensive either.
It’s a much more inexpensive option than doing an entire art degree. And it’s faster too!
When I was creating comics, I knew I had to learn how to draw people because they comprised most of my work. So, I took multiple online courses to learn how to draw expressions, faces, and human beings in general.
These courses are seriously inexpensive, and I highly recommend them:
- How to draw people from your imagination
- Draw female characters in ProCreate
- Figure Drawing for Beginners
6. Understand perspectives
Perspective drawing is basically giving objects depth.
Objects become smaller at a constant rate when they move further away from us.
And understanding perspectives and then conveying that depth is important when we draw.
Once you start practicing drawing city scenes or landscapes, you will get better at understanding perspectives.
This will help you draw from memory or imagination, and you will not require a photo for reference.
If you are a beginner at drawing, watch this video on Youtube that explains perspective drawing:
7. Understand lights and shadows
After you’ve begun to learn how to draw figures and objects just using simple shapes and lines, you’re going to have to learn how to shade.
Shading is essential because this is what provides depth to your drawings.
And although it involves a lot of observing and shading in layers, it’s not too hard if you understand how light and shadows work.
I suggest getting this Shading Techniques book to help you understand pencil shading so that you can make your pencil sketches “real.”
Once you understand how to shade with pencils, start practicing.
Draw whatever captures your interest. It’s okay to spend days on a drawing or a sketch. Just focus on drawing 30-50 minutes a day to develop your skills.
There is also a great course that will help you understand how to add light and color to your drawings.
Carry a small plain notebook like this one wherever you go.
Sit in a crowded cafe or on a park bench.
And just observe.
Draw what you see. Draw people in their natural form going about their daily routine.
Do this exercise once a week.
It will help you familiarize yourself with drawing and understand a lot about observing and drawing. Take time to fall in love with this process.
It will really help you become a very rounded artist.
There is something to drawing from real-life other than always using pictures and photos as references.
9. Learn to love the process of drawing
Drawing is a skill that can only be improved if you genuinely enjoy the process.
Every time you draw, don’t focus on the destination but enjoy the moment. Focus on what you’re doing at that very moment.
Take pride in every stroke, every scribble, and every scratch.
Become more mindful when you draw.
Yes, it can be challenging and there will be a steep learning curve initially, but just enjoy moving your hand and watching the art appear on your paper.
Work towards a goal of getting better every day.
Enjoy the time you spend learning different techniques and practicing various art forms.
Drawing, like learning an instrument is a beautiful skill that will make you very happy if you appreciate it for what it is.
And at some point, if you want to make money with your art, you totally should!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is drawing talent or a skill?
As an artist myself, I can honestly tell you that drawing is a skill.
It’s not something that just comes to people. You have to have an innate passion for drawing to get better and become a skilled artist.
Anyone can become an artist and master drawing – it just depends on how many hours you put into it and how much you work on this skill.
2. How many hours should I draw a day?
If you’ve never drawn continuously before and you really want to become an artist, I recommend starting with 10-15 minutes every day.
Just focus on building the practice.
After 2-3 months, steadily increase your drawing duration to 30 minutes and more.
By that time, you should have gotten the hang of drawing, and you can slowly practice for more hours a day, and by then, you will have already built the habit, so it should be fine!
3. Is it okay to take a break from drawing?
Drawing definitely requires a lot of creativity.
And yes, sometimes you can run into creative blocks. But try a few methods to overcome those blocks before taking a long break.
It’s okay to take mini-breaks. But if you’re just getting into drawing, don’t take a break for longer than two days.
Even if you’re scribbling something on your drawing pad, it’s okay.
Just don’t let go of the habit.
It’s only your consistency with drawing that will help you become a better artist!
Drawing isn’t easy, especially at the beginning, so don’t give up if your work doesn’t look perfect.
I hope this post helped you understand how to get better at drawing if you are a beginner.
If you enjoyed this drawing tutorial, you might enjoy these other blog posts!
- How to draw without a reference
- How to find your art style when you’re a beginner artist
- 13 signs you were meant to be an artist
- How long does it take to learn how to draw? (Explained)
- How to become a full-time artist without a degree
- 13 drawing mistakes most beginner artists make
- 9 drawing books for beginners
- Fun drawing gifts for children under 10 years old
- 13 easy ways to make money online as an artist
- 13 reasons why people like drawing + drawing benefits!
I highly recommend checking out Domestika’s Courses because they have courses on almost anything you want to learn, and they’re structured beautifully. It’s very well organized, and their website is super fast.
Their app is lovely too. You can download the classes and watch them offline, and the best part? Once you buy the course, you own it forever!
Use my personal coupon code STRAYCURLS-10 during checkout to get an additional 10% off!