For the starting artist, one of the most daunting tasks is to gain and improve the baseline skill of drawing. There are fundamentals that need to be accomplished, but there are also small tricks that you can use to boost your performance and gain new insight.
- Mirror it. Looking at your own drawing from the same perspective for an extended period of time can make it difficult to spot the minor imperfections that a brand new viewer could pick out in an instant. That’s why it’s a good idea to check any drawing that you do in a mirror, or if drawing on an electronic tablet, to just reverse it with a painting program. You will notice problems right away, including issues with proportion or symmetry, that may have otherwise gone ignored.
- Change your tools. A strange hint that can supposedly boost your thinking abilities; brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. How does this one work? Using something that you’re not familiar with will engage your mind, and possibly improve its plasticity, allowing you to consider new perspectives and ideas. The same is true of art; if you find that you’ve hit a stumbling block with a piece, consider trying a completely new medium. If you’re used to using pencils, try pens. If you’re sick of paper, experiment with a drawing tablet and a computer.
- Map it out. Using shapes to illustrate important figures that can be detailed later will give you a much stronger concept of where certain parts of that figure will land on the page. Even simple circles and squares are enough to create the concept of space on the paper that your mind can fill in the blanks on. You’ve probably seen this method done with simple character figures that are used in popular art, but they do actually allow you to draw more quickly and with a higher rate of accuracy if you know the approximate dimensions of the figure beforehand. Drawing these shapes is a step in the process.
- Be adventurous. Changing your tools for the job is one way, but what about drawing without much preparation, or drawing a brand new type of figure that you don’t normally draw? These are also ways that you can begin to illustrate weak points in your own style, or even strengths that you never knew existed. If you tend to draw living figures, why not take a crack at technology, or machines? The further away from your comfort zone you go, the more room you have to expand.
- Mistakes will be made. It could be argued that the real value of art is in its inherent flaws, and how they are utilized. Even abstract art can have its problems with color balance, and it’s important to note which “mistakes” are actually part of a piece’s character. You would be surprised at how many classical art pieces actually have a flaw tucked away in them.