About Kim

Hi, I'm Kim. I built these drawing tools to keep myself in practice after I graduated from college. Over time, they've become more popular than I had ever imagined. During the day, I'm a web developer, and create websites for businesses & non-profits.

Better pause, animal categories and more

A major new patch was released for the drawing tools today! This release includes:

  • The pause button no longer puts a dialog box in front of the image, so you can now feel free to pause on images that capture your fancy and spend as long as you want finishing your drawing if you wish.
  • Better image pre-loading, so you don’t waste precious drawing seconds waiting for each image to load.
  • A loading spinner when you do have to wait for an image to load, so it’s clear the tools are working and haven’t crashed.
  • A fix for the iOS image resizing issues, where images frequently got cut off on iPads and iPhones. If you used to suffer from this issue but no longer do, please let me know this patch worked for you!
  • Break messages no longer advance the photos.
  • Break messages now include the exact recommended break length, instead of just showing it in the “time left” timer, to help you stay on schedule for your at-home class.
  • The faint black background that is meant to make the timer easier to see no longer goes away if the image does not have a photographer credit associated with it, meaning it’s easier to read the timer no matter what image you’re viewing.
  • Forums on small screens (mobile phones) will now show you who the last person to reply to a topic was, so it’s easier to tell if you’ve gotten a response without opening each topic.
  • Better categories for the animal drawing tool
    • The “All but insects & other creepy crawlies” option has been restored
    • A new “All” option that gets you all animals of all kinds has been added.
    • When you click “Only show live animals” it no longer erroneously tells you “no images fit this criteria.”

With all new code, there’s always a chance for new bugs. If you encounter bugs and issues with this new version, please post about them on the Support Forum, or submit a bug report via the contact form.

If you enjoy this update, please consider supporting us. :)

EDIT 5/19/2018 6:20 PM PST: A second patch has just been released to address a bug that prevented class mode from advancing beyond the 30 second warmups.

ArtByCe’s Line of Action Tutorial

We got featured on ArtByCe’s Youtube channel! I love this video not just because Ce says some very complimentary things about the site ;), but because she shows her whole sketching process. This is different than the technique I personally use and recommend for 30 second drawings, but is just as valid. I hope watching her work gives you ideas for your own practice sessions.

You’ll note that she very boldly works in pen, meaning no erasing possible!

Patch released to address black screen bug

For those using Internet Explorer, especially older versions, there’s been a bug in the new version of the tools that can cause the photos to not display correctly, instead persistently showing a black screen.

We just released a patch meant to address this issue for Internet Explorer. You may need to clear your cache and refresh your browser in order to get the fix.

A second patch that will remove the dialogue box that hides the image while the tools are paused, add better control over what types of images you want to draw, and a few other convenience updates is in the works; I’m anticipating its release before the month is out.

Thanks to everyone who has reported issues and come to me with suggestions for improvement!

New year’s drawing resolutions

Just in case you missed it a few weeks ago, here’s our recommendations for new year’s drawing resolutions:

We’re coming up on a new year, and you may be thinking about writing some new year’s resolutions for yourself. This is a perfect time to set some goals for furthering your artistic practice as well.

Remember, the best goals are specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. Check out this article for more on setting good goals!

Here’s some challenges we recommend you try out in 2017:

  1. Start every day for a year with 5 minutes of 30 second gesture drawings, or 4 minutes of 120 second drawings. Post the results to your blog, your Facebook, or even our forums.
  2. Do a 100 drawings challenge, where you draw 100 of the thing that gives you the most trouble – hands, mouths, hips, the male (or female) figure, foreshortened limbs, wombats. Whatever you most avoid drawing, draw more of it!
  3. Sit down with your calendar and block out time to do 3 30 minute drawing classes per week, with the tool of your choice. If 3 isn’t realistic for your life, try 2 or even 1 — then guard that time and make sure your practice is a priority.
  4. If you’ve been too nervous to ask for critique on your work, commit to asking for feedback at least once a month, and using that feedback to guide your practice. Here’s our guide on how to benefit from critique, and here’s a link to our critique forums.
  5. Start every day for a month with the pencil value mastery exercise.
  6. Pencil a monthly themed drawing challenge into your schedule. Here’s some to consider:
    • Inktober (Daily drawing in ink in October)
    • NaNoManGo (draw 30 pages of Manga in 30 days, June or November)
    • NaNoDrawMo (Draw 30 pieces in a month, November)
    • Know of another challenge that should be here? Let us know in the comments!

Are you going to try a new year’s drawing challenge? Let us know in the comments, or give us a full progress report on the forums.

A drawing challenge for 2017

We’re coming up on a new year, and you may be thinking about writing some new year’s resolutions for yourself. This is a perfect time to set some goals for furthering your artistic practice as well!

Remember, the best goals are specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. Check out this article for more on setting good goals!

Here’s some challenges we recommend you try out in 2017:

  1. Start every day for a year with 5 minutes of 30 second gesture drawings, or 4 minutes of 120 second drawings. Post the results to your blog, your Facebook, or even our forums.
  2. Do a 100 drawings challenge, where you draw 100 of the thing that gives you the most trouble – hands, mouths, hips, the male (or female) figure, foreshortened limbs, wombats. Whatever you most avoid drawing, draw more of it!
  3. Sit down with your calendar and block out time to do 3 30 minute drawing classes per week, with the tool of your choice. If 3 isn’t realistic for your life, try 2 or even 1 — then guard that time and make sure your practice is a priority.
  4. If you’ve been too nervous to ask for critique on your work, commit to asking for feedback at least once a month, and using that feedback to guide your practice. Here’s our guide on how to benefit from critique, and here’s a link to our critique forums.
  5. Start every day for a month with the pencil value mastery exercise.
  6. Pencil a monthly themed drawing challenge into your schedule. Here’s some to consider:
    • Inktober (Daily drawing in ink in October)
    • NaNoManGo (draw 30 pages of Manga in 30 days, June or November)
    • NaNoDrawMo (Draw 30 pieces in a month, November)
    • Know of another challenge that should be here? Let us know in the comments!

Are you going to try a new year’s drawing challenge? Let us know in the comments, or give us a full progress report on the forums.

What happens if 30 seconds isn’t enough?

Reconsider what “enough” means.

Many artists get caught up in this idea that they need to produce a “sketch” in each 30 second window of time, and this becomes an impossible goal if in your mind a “sketch” is actually a semi-complete picture in pencil.

Relax; you are doing just fine. Almost no one can actually get a “complete” drawing done in 30 seconds. That’s actually the point — by giving yourself such a short window of time, you are forced to make cut-throat decisions about priorities, and stick to them. It demands that you prevent yourself from getting sucked into the “interesting” or “fun” details that leap out at you when you look at an image, and instead, absorb and capture the direction and energy of the complete figure as quickly as possible.

If all you get in your 30 seconds is a single line that defines the flow of energy/the weight of the pose, that is a success. If you get a few “bubbles” down that define where the hips and torso are in relation to one another, that’s perfect. You are doing gesture drawing like the masters.

Before you begin your gesture drawing practice, take a deep breath. Remind yourself: You do not need to have something that is recognizable to another person at the end of those 30 seconds. You DO need to try and make a clear decision about what you see in that pose AS A WHOLE, and make one or more marks on your paper that record that decision. These are not drawings you’re going to put on the wall, these are exercises in perception that you do to “warm up” and put yourself in the right state of mind before you attempt those longer poses.

There is no mistake more common for new artists than to get stuck in the “details” trap, to leap immediately to what is “fun” or “interesting” or what they think will make them “better” in the eyes of others, diving into shading or spending minutes or hours painstakingly rendering a particularly pretty set of eyes or hands only to discover when they’re done that that beautiful detail is out of proportion with the rest of the body, or at a bizarre angle that disrupts the flow of the pose, or a hundred other mistakes that come from seeing the individual parts instead of the flow of the whole body. It takes a more seasoned eye to be able to resist working in detail and instead start with much more generality. Gesture drawing practice can help get you there.

In class mode in our tools, the 30 second and 1 second series of poses that serve as a warmup, no matter what length of class you pick, are there to help you approach those longer poses with the same eye for seeing the whole first, for putting details in the context of a larger line and flow.

My advice if you are worried that your 30 second drawings don’t look like anything: Stop worrying. Start putting a single line down that captures the direction of the spine. If you have time, bubble in the placement/angle of the hips, ribcage and head. If you have more time, add some lines for arms and legs. Don’t have time? No problem. You’re learning more than you realize.