Im a beginner and don't kow where to start

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    My goal is drawing portraits, but more on a fantasy style or how I percieve people, I also feel attracted to using watercolors because I think it looks very beautiful and dreaming. I really would like to start drawing people, faces, maybe nature too, trees and forest, but it doesn't have to bee quite too realistic, I would love to be able to draw and paint allowing my imagination to naturally flow. I'm practising anatomy and learning human body but I know it will take me quite some time. I know I gotta practise everyday. But could you give me some advice, what should I practise more or go for?

    This are some examples of styles I like

    Get more practice photos

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    You can actually use watercolor for figure drawings. It’s not easy, and it can take a bit of set up to be able to make it happen. But it’s possible. It works best if you have a bunch of art boards prepared with stretched paper.

    The portraits you like are ones I’d describe as very “tight”. They’re using not very much water, very controlled washes, and there’s very little use of any of the weird stuff watercolor can do or the ways pigment gets strange. And as a new watercolor artist, i can promise you that there’s one thing you can depend on... watercolor likes to get weird. There’s nothing wrong with trying for a tight and controlled look, and many great watercolorists have worked that way. But as a newbie it can be really frustrating when things get weird.

    The third image feels like a particular kind of greeting card art in the US. (This is not an insult, Hallmark employs a lot of very hard working artists) It’s got a kind of formula to how it was built, and it’s very painstakingly constructed for effect. While the image relies on tightly controlled water and it might use a ton of masking fluid, it’s fairly easy to take it apart. Is using many of the same tricks and might be a good place to start exploring. The heart card might feel a bit cheesy but making a shape and filling it with water and then a wet in wet wash is exactly how the landscape got started. Then the rest got filled in in a similar way to the circle pictures in the tutorial.


    The best place to start is to settle in for a lot of practice.

    Class mode is really good for this - warm up and go through the short images. Learn how to pare down what you need to do quickly.

    You primarily shared portraits, but even the great portrait artists need to understand proportion and anatomy. So you do class mode on hands, portraits and full figure. I strongly reccomend commit to at least 1 hour session 2 or 3 times a week. Every week.

    Personally I do a 10 minute study every morning before I go to work. It means that even if I am exhausted and never make art at night I do 10 minutes a day and I get better and better.

    I strongly reccomend that you let go of the idea of painting totally out of your head. Those portraits you shared have both realism and fantasy, and the best way to get realism is to start with a model or a reference photo. You can start with the reference and wander all over the map. But if you don't start with a reference then all your images will look the same and your anatomy may not be accurate.

    If you absolutly must paint out of imagination and never use a reference photo then you need to work on memory skills as well. Because painting from imagination is actually painting from memory. So what I do to practice this is when I have a 5 minute pose I spend 2 minutes drawing while looking. Then I do a 2 minute sketch on a new page and not look at the model or the reference photo.

    I am attaching something Ira Glass shared and it's really important. He is talking about a different art form but it applies.

    "Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?

    A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.

    And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.

    And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?"


    Thank you for sharing that wonderful quote, Hornet. I have just started practising again after many years. When I was younger I thought I was good. Everyone told me how great my drawings were good. But I just never truly felt it. I never believed them. I was always disappointed with the results. And then I gave up. Now that I'm older, and I know better I understand what was happening. This quote captures it perfectly.

    I still have my old drawings. I look back at them from time to time, still disappointed. They really weren't very good. But now I feel like I'm better prepared to accept the disappointments knowing that every artist I admire produced a lot of mediocre work before they started to get good. The unfortunate truth is, it just takes work. Lots of hard work. There are no shortcuts and everyone has the ability, but few have the stomach for the work.

    So thank you for sharing. I'll reread again every time I finish a drawing and it's nothing like I wanted it to be :)

    Ateloiv, I saw a great video recently by Proko on youtube. He visited a comic con and went around interviewing some of the top comic book and gaming artists about the mistake beginners make. Top of the list was structure and anatomy. Almost all of them said to draw more, learn anatomy, focus on structure. You can see it here:

    Hope that helps!


    HornetofJustice, thanks for sharing something about your practice schedule.

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