I am definitely one of many who believe that anyone can improve their art at some level. Especially if one’s putting in lots of effort while enjoying the actual process instead of the result. Doing it the same way as when we learned to write in elementary school, repeating until the lines come effortlessly.
I just love tricks and methods that makes sketching more fun and effective, and that helps you to really analyze things instead of brute forcing them. Some artists say that drawing is actually more about thinking, I totally agree. That feeling when leveling up is priceless.
Here’s my number one tip on how you can improve your drawings:
-” WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY?!” You may think for yourself. Isn’t that cheating? Or art theft?
Yes and no.
If you trace and copy a photo or piece of art and then claim it as your own, then you will be in trouble. Torches will be burning and pitch forks will fly. Our art career might get short, and one will risk whimpering in shame after getting exposed.
If you imitate to learn, trace photos, or others art to learn how shapes, proportions and anatomy works – then I would say that it’s totally fine. Just don’t forget to ask the owner for permission if you intend to show your studies.
Everyone has learned from somewhere else, just look at the video series “Everything is a Remix”. You’ll get what I mean.
Here’s how you can improve your drawings by tracing
This is how I do it. You can use this method with pretty much anything.
Let me demonstrate using photos of our beloved odd balls Zimba and Rosso.
Step 1. Gather the images you’d like to base your studies on. I picked these two.
Step 2. Add a new layer with low opacity on top of the images in Photoshop, fill it with a light color. Then create a third layer and draw your outlines. Keep it simple.
Step 3. Hide all layers except the one with your outlines.
Let the practicing begin! I started with some pencil studies.
Keep mimic and explore the shapes, and study how the relate to each other. How’s the distance between the eyes and nose? What size are the ears? And so on.
The more you study the actual subject, the better.
Eventually, once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you can start to push the SHAPEs around and come up with some really interesting character designs. All based on your recently gained knowledge.
You can apply this method both digitally or analogously
I use Photoshop to prepare my references. However, when I was younger, before the Photoshop era, I traced on overhead plastic….
And attached them to a window. That works well too ;)
Hope you found this useful. It’s a quite common method, but I thought that I should recommend it too. I trace all the time when trying to figure out a new or strange subject. It’s a true time saver!