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Want To Improve Your Drawing Abilities? This Is What You're Missing

Art By Roberto De La Torre

So you want to improve your drawing abilities. You've scoured the internet for all the drawing courses, videos, books and info images you can find. You're a devourer of drawing know-how.

Heck you could probably teach this stuff yourself, that's how well-versed you are in it!

But you're not just book smart. You actually put this stuff into practice. Not like those other amateur's who are all read, watch and no-do.

If one were to take a browse through your sketch book they'd discover a plethora of anatomy and figure drawing studies; forms presented in countless perspectives, lit under endless lighting conditions.

I bet it'd be like looking at the scrawling's of a madman, obsessed with mastering every facet of drawing you could possibly think of. You're dedicated to your craft. Committed.

Yet, it feels like you've hit a bit of a wall. You've improved, yes. To a point. You can draw well, there's no doubt about that. But what comes next? Is this it?

A sense of monotony has befallen your craft - it's become a bit of a drag, and you're not quite sure why.

Why you feel a little disenchanted. Why the act of drawing is leaving your cup less than half empty. You're getting better. Making real progress. This stuff is working!

Shouldn't you feel better about it?

Every now and than you're harassed by a niggling thought, that you mind-crush as quickly as it spontaneously pops into your head - "Do I even enjoy drawing anymore?"

"Of course I do," you think to yourself. It's a reassuring half-lie to dampen any doubt, because you know something still feels off.

And you would enjoy drawing more, it's true, if you weren't missing the one thing you've been putting off ever since you found yourself neck deep in a sea of drawing education.

You'd actually enjoy drawing, for real, if you drew the one thing you feared most...

Something fun.

Wait, drawing isn't about having fun... is it? It's about getting better, faster; cycling through a continuum of how-to content until you become the ultimate comic art master.

Well that makes for a mighty compelling rationalization to avoid drawing a real work of art, that isn't just another study or exercise for the sake of practice - doesn't it?

Rationalizing The Fear of Failure

Your reluctance; the fear of failure that's holding you back from drawing something for the mere joy of drawing it is why you no longer feel inspired to draw.

All study and no play makes for a dull artist.

But why is drawing something fun, epic and/or cool freaking you out so much? Wasn't being able to draw muscle bound, super-powered heroes, beautiful heroines, and messed up lookin' villains why you got into this comic art game in the first place?


Okay maybe it was cyborg dinosaurs, medieval, sword-wielding warriors, sci-fi star troopers lighting up a bunch of grotesque aliens... something you dreamed of drawing once, a reason you decided to learn how to draw.

Well yeah, sure there was. To draw anything like that now though after all this learning, all this practice you've been doing for months, for years even, would be finely put to the test.

The sum of all that time spent with your head in the books, your eyes balls glued to the screen, watching video lesson after video lesson, culminated in a true-blue finished drawing.

What if it doesn't work out after all that? What if your 'fun' drawing ends up looking like total trash? What would that mean, what would that say about all the time you've spent trying to get good?

We're safe in training mode. Confident enough to pull off another study, to practice those fundamentals on repeat. While we're there, we're in the domain of the known. We've developed a safe drawing routine that's predictable, plays out smoothly - and puts no real pressure upon us to perform, because it's just another drawing exercise.

But to go out into the wild and truly test our might? Now that raises the stakes.

When The Rubber Hits The Road

I hate to break it to you, but the rubber must hit the road at some point. And believe it or not, drawing for fun is a necessary part of the learning process.

Because without it, guess what?

You'll be real good at figure drawings, brilliant at drawing bowls of fruit and cubes stacked on top of each other. Anatomy diagrams? Forget about it - you'll know human anatomy so well you could be a surgeon.

But comics, covers, a compelling illustration that evokes emotion, tells a story, mesmerizes the onlooker - that's a little more iffy.

See you've practiced all the fundamentals. You've gotten to know each of those all-important drawing principles intimately at this point. You know the tools. And you've been hammering away, swinging them around, nailing study after study - with no real idea how to build something with them.

That's why you're frightened.

There comes a time for every artist where their learning must also go through somewhat of an evolution. Your abilities will grow to a point, yet stop when the conditions under which your skills are honed reach their limit. So you have to expand your approach to learning, because for you to grow, new lessons must be endured.

And most of them reside in the act of application. Using the fundamental drawing tools you've come to know, and commandeering them to craft something brilliant.

You can't begin to fathom just how much insight you'll gain by jumping in the deep end and working on a comic book.

Not ready for that?

Doesn't matter, you still got to get in the pool - begin with a cover, or a character design if a fully fledged sequential is too tall of an order.

Comfort Is The Enemy

Comfort is the enemy of progress, and that's where you are right now. Remind yourself of the utility discomfort holds, know that while you feel friction during the drawing process your brain is strategizing, optimizing, restructuring itself to make you a better artist.

Use resistance as your compass.

You know what lurks in the dark. Go to it. Every artist faces their foes upon this journey, and it's only through defeating them that we're able to continue onward and reach our final destination.

You know what that destination is for you. It's the dream. The dream of being able to manifest the most awe-inspiring creations you could possibly imagine on the page. Trust in that, know it's an inevitable reality that will happen if you travel forth with the heart of an unyielding warrior.

Sharpen your tools with some occasional figure drawing studies and anatomy practice, certainly. Keep on doing those drawing exercises in between applying them to illustration. A warrior must continue training, even when they're not on the battle field to remain strong and resilient.

But realize that's not the be all and end all - it never was.

You honed these abilities for a reason. Now, it's about how you use them. Your technique.

It'll be hard. You'll make mistakes. That's how you know you've just unlocked the next tier of training. No one said it'd be easy, but don't let that shake your composure. Remember the dream. Hold fast.

I hope what I've written here has given you the courage to put your current level of ability to the test. Whatever the outcome, you're not perfect, and you're also not a failure. You are a work in progress, and like any other, patience, consistency and dedication are required to realize your full potential.

Remember that.


Cover Art By Roberto De La Torre

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