how to become more confident in your lines?

Home Forums Practice & Advice how to become more confident in your lines?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by DeepFriedDurian 1 year ago.

  • Subscribe Favorite
  • #29844

    Long story short I've been drawing my whole life since childhood, but I'm still very bad with my lines (everything, basically). Maybe it's due my laziness overall, maybe,, but I think there can't be another reason for this lack of progress. Been drawing digitally since '12 year but.. Well, everything is shown in the link here -
    Sometimes (if not all the times) I hate how bad I am at drawing. Recently (there was an attepmt long time ago with practice tho in '19 year ( - for comparison)) I thought that I should resume my daily body sketching and seeing only this gives me a headache.. I guess I need a reassurance that with daily stuff like this things will be better with time /_ \ But my problem is that I think I'm not thinking (haha..) when I'm drawing. As long as I can remember I always was more of a ''copying'' artist who only tried to capture the outside line and not the inwards overall, I don't know how to start doing the right thing Q_Q Another problem is that I'm very impatient with the art itself, lines are so loose and incomprehensible most of the times. Please, every word of advice will be appreciated!

    • emhopam edited this post on June 25, 2023 2:40pm. Reason: added additional link
    • emhopam edited this post on June 26, 2023 12:08pm. Reason: changed link
    Please support Line of Action

    Support us to remove this


    Very common problem to have! Sketchy lines are great for exploring a figure on a page, when you don't know what you want to draw or you are drawing from imagination. I know I fall back into the habit of drawing them pretty often. There are several things you can try in order to practice deliberate lines. And remember, when you practice deliberate lines, its going to feel worse before it starts to feel better. So don't be too frusterated when you drawings don't look as lively as your sketchy versions and stop and adjust if you find that your current technique isn't working.

    Technique #1: Ghosting lines. Before you set you pen down on the paper, practice the motion just above the surface. Then when you feel you've found the correct line, thats when you press down and make it.

    Technique #2: Use a thicker brush, preferably using black. Thin light lines hide mistakes. Plus they do what I call the "sketchiness" effect; the tiny thin lines look lively and deliberate because your eyes gravitate toward the correct ones while ignoring the lines that don't. A good technique for doodling, but you aren't practing getting the correct line with your first(ish) try. A thick brush or pen make it so mistakes are impossible to ignore. This one will make you feel like a DUNCE for first few times you try, so don't get too frusterated and try to be deliberate with your lines.

    Technique #3: One I discovered quite recently on my own. Not one thats perfect for every scenario, but great for practice. Mark your start point with a little dot, mark your end point with a little dot, then draw the line connecting the two. The line should not be more complicated than a straight line, a curved line or an S shaped line. You can put down as many dots as you like before you start to connect them, I like to pop them onto several landmarks so I know the positioning is roughly correct.

    As someone who has also struggled for a long time with artwork, I know what you are going through. Only this past year have I felt like I've progressed at all and the key to that has been reflecting on my studies, looking at my artwork and acknowledging the parts I did well and what parts I needed to work on. Critiquing others has helped a ton as well. Your gestures have a ton of energy, I can tell you've done them a LOT. Your observation skills are well developed, you just need to learn to refine it.


    Thank you very much for your feedback and priceless advices. Separate thank you for the words of encouragement I will try my best and will try all the techniques and hope that I will find a suitable one. Yeah, in the beginning it's always bad, but bad times are replaced by good ones after difficulties, right qwq Sending you the strength to continue this path of the samurai in our difficult task of self-study. You (we?) got this!


    Good evening, emhopam, and welcome aboard, I'm Polyvios Animations, and how are you? Nice job on your very first attempts on your posing, acting, and dancing poses, because of how much vitality and energy you can and will get away with your scribbly, hairy, and spontaneous lines. Please keep those up, but your line quality all looks like or seems like too cowardly and timid and uncertain in terms of their execution. How would you care to go for 5 minutes of 30 second poses, if you haven't already?

    So, the real roadmap behind this constructive critque, is because you can, you shall, and in the future, you will have been the most boldest, braver, and much decisive with your line mileage and quality in your lines of action and rhythm.

    So, when it comes to do more practicing of lines of action, kindly look into the PDF of the Vilppu Drawing Manual here. This has tons of inspiration and influences here, along with the quicker 10-second sketch to be the most intuitive in your lines of rhythm and tempo of the sketches.

    Good luck.


    Good day, Polyvios Animations, and thank you for the welcoming x) I'm fine, what about you? I'm glad that you noticed those dance moves. I really enjoyed doing those studies at that time x) Maybe that's the key and I should continue sketching some dance moves for fun and for study of course :D Thanks a bunch for your advice and kind words! I will definitely scrupulously look through that book and do 5 minutes of 30 second poses or even more. 5 minutes sounds ideally for the day when you are already a little tired, but practice is still needed, sadly today is just that day. But we keep going only forward ᕦ(o_oˇ)ᕤ
    upd.: did some 30 sec sketches and those 30 seconds go by really fast. this time is not enough to draw all the details for me lmao
    where the dash - it is the designation that this sketch was made with more than 30 seconds -

    • emhopam edited this post on June 27, 2023 3:14pm. Reason: punctuation editing
    • emhopam edited this post on June 27, 2023 3:52pm. Reason: attached today's practice

    Much cleaner lines this time!

    I still see some line searching scribbles on several limbs and that crouching pose just plain doesn't work. This was a clean 5 minute practice so I don't expect you to successfully implement all of the advice recieved by our critiques, but its important to look at the work you make and judge what worked, what didn't work and if you are making the necessary adjustments. (Figures did work! Enjoy the little successes you made along the way)

    If you have only a short amount of time to draw, make your goal for that session be extremely specific. While "Just Draw" is the mantra that every teacher tells a student to get better, its just not great advice to act and improve upon. You are going to get that "spinning your wheels" feeling that way if thats how you do your studies.

    I just saw another student do this and I thought it was brilliant. If you are drawing on paper, write on the corner exactly what you are trying to adjust, fix, implement or develope that session. For example, it could be something like "Finish the whole body before adding details!" It serves as a great visual reminder so you don't slip back to old techniques and when you look back at your work, you remember what you were trying to work on that session, so you aren't bothered by it not being as developed as your older style. I think this would be a good way to focus your short practice sessions. Just remember to keep the message short and easy to remember.


    Greater job on your most boldest and confident lines, emhopam. Way to go, and please keep up the greatest works, but these all seem a bit too stiffest on the line of action side. How would you please go for 6 minutes of 29 second figures and other stuff, using only our custom timer, and using the vertical flip? (360/29≈12 pose sketches flipped vertically)

    The logic behind this constructive critique is because you can, shall, and will be able to draw the most exaggerated lines of action and rhythm in your poses and gestures and expressions, all while having lots of fun gesture drawing. If your goal is to make the most exaggerated lines of action, then bring it on. For most all details, look into the 2 PDFs on on the Drawn to Life series by the late Walt Stanchfield (Disney Modern)

    Good luck to you and your current and future goals.


    Hey there, Emhopam

    Sooo I'm a little late to the party and it seems like you've already got alot of great advice on this thread so I'm going to give a mix of general art advice and practial tips in regards to your question. The first thing that caught my eye is that you seem a little discouraged and hard on yourself. We all go through these emotions and we all start somewhere. Don't feel bad about not being where you want to be. Developing art skills is a marathon, not a sprint. It's hard work and it takes a while. The fact that you are showing up and asking for help shows initiative and it takes grit to open one's self to a public online critique. You're doing good. You seem frustrated because you compare yourself to a version of you that you imagine should've been farther ahead than where you are. I could be wrong, but if that's not the case then I have some questions for you. Why are you frustrated? Is it because you want your art to be more than a hobby? Where do you want to take your art? What do you enjoy the most about art? These are not rhetorical questions, feel free to respond :)

    Looking at your drawings, I think you have alot of awesome erratic energy from the sketchy lines. That kind of look isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some artists utilize loose sketchy lines to one degree or another and it can look awesome. Intentionality is the key. The reason why those artists make the lines work for them is because they have mastered loose sketchy lines as well as clean linework. They know the effect they are going for and they know where, when, and how to use it.

    I found this video by Proko- 6 Habits for good line quality- (

    ) and it pretty much sums up the tips I know on confident line work. I also think DrunkenElf made some really good points. Don't just draw more. Deliberatly practice and keep seeking feedback just like what you are doing on this forum. Something I would add for practical advice, make sure you draw more from the elbow and the shoulder. I'm not sure if this is an issue for you. Drawing from the wrist is okay for short marks, but the range of motion is limited and pain can ensue if you do too long. Keep your wrist and fingers immobale (trust me, never scrunch your fingers for drawing) and allow only the shoulder and elbow to move freely. If it feels awkward at first, just know that it will go away as you develop the muscle memory. The reason for this tip is that the elbow with the shoulder has a greater range of motion and thus you can make long continous flowing lines as well as good small marks. You can practice drawing from the shoulder by making a large circle and straight lines on a page with only the elbow and shoulder. Make some of them larger and some of them smaller.

    Some fundamentals to work on for better drawing-

    *This is not an exhaustive list and it is subjective. The fundamentals you choose to work on will largely depend on what you want out of your art. For example, a photographer and an environment concept artist will be concerned with composition but the concept artist will need stronger drawing skills to get a job. Furthermore, a hobbyist doesn't have the same pressure to improve as someone who's job is art. I'm not trying to discourage you from pursing a career in art; it can be fulfilling and it is worth it depending on what you want most and are willing to put up with.

    Observational drawing- being able to look at something and copy it. It is drawing what you see rather than what you think you see.

    Value- Lights and darks. this applies much to painting and drawing. It helps with making things feel clear and 3D.

    Form- How to make things 3D and understand the dimensionality of something rather than its outline (aka contour).

    Color- It's made of hue, saturation, and value. Value is the most important aspect of color and each element is linked to another. E.g. If you change the value of something it will alter the color.

    Storytelling- Let's go beyond just drawing something that looks realistic and lacks techinical imperfections. Let's say you draw an apple. What world does that apple live in? What has it been through? Is it half-eaten by a grumpy child? What do you want the viewer to feel when they see the appple? Storytelling is a confusing term, but people use it in the art world and we are stuck with it. I define storytelling in art as making art in such a way that it immerses the audience in the world that subject belongs in and creates a deliberate emotional response in the viewer. A great example of this is Miguel O'Hara's character design from Across the Spiderverse. He has a sharp and imposing shillouhette made of triangular shapes to invoke a sense of aggresion and the way they design his suit reflects the futuristic world he lives in. He wouldn't have the same impact if he was designed like a generic golden age superhero. In graphic design, the term "storytelling" is used differently. There is often no narrative, but it shares the same desire to create an emotional response to the audience through different artistic elements, like shape and color. Regardless of how the term is used, a bad drawing with an interesting idea is often times more appealing than a perfect image with no soul. However, good skills allow the artist to tell their story most effectively.


    The big question you need to ask yourself is this; why are you making art and what do you want to do with it? Do you want to become a designer? Maybe you have many fears and doubts that lead to indeciscion? Regardless, having a goal is crucial to creating a plan on how to practice. There will always be pros and cons. There will always be some kind of cost to pursuing art, even if its only the cost of a little time and energy. Knowing where you want to go will help you define what fundamentals you need to work on. As you seek more wisdom from other artists, I believer you'll eventually get where you want to. Keep running your marathon and I look forward to seeing where you go.


Login or create an account to participate on the forums.