Unable to draw anything other than a stick figure.......

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Felidire 11 years ago.

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    Any advice is welcomed. A friend referred me to this site to practice drawing anything.

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    Check out this YouTube Video. It's long but worth the time spent.



    This one might be more relevant.

    How to Get Started if You Haven't Drawn Before


    Chase: How ? It's Ok if you need motivation but I don't believe drawing or painting can be taught without a variety of solid demos that show the beginning the middle and end. If you can't get beyond linear drawing and you want volume, then you need to work on understanding that all shapes with volume are made up of infinite contours. For some this is instinctive, but for others it needs to be taught, and this requires self motivation and work. The net provides infinite possibilities for learning just about anything, or just wasting your time. The link I provided is a demo that shows one way to take a stick figure and make it visually interesting. There may be better ways to solve the problem but this at least gave Aelankaelyn a start. The rest is up to him (her).




    Okay, the bad news first:

    Believe me, I have tried to make things easier for myself when it came to drawing in a million ways and watched even more tutorials on how to draw. I won't deny that knowing about certain techniques is very helpful and a lot easier than figuring them out on your own, but just watching a video or kowing a method won't make you better and it will not make drawing any easier!
    That is a hard lesson to learn (It was for me at least). You have to produce a ton of crap to make any progress in anything.

    Let's take a look at art:
    You see, many of the better artists out there have been drawing stuff since they were little. When you're small, you usually don't realize the stuff you're doing looks horrible. You just draw because it is fun. When you draw for several years though, you still get better at it, even if it is just on a motoric level. By the time they start to compare themselves with others, they're often good enough to not think everything they did so far is crap.

    When you try to start drawing as an adult however and you've already seen paintings like the Mona Lisa it's a different story. You think "Wow that's awesome I wanna do that" and try it yourself. So you sit down and you try to draw a face and after 2 minutes you have one circle that is suppesed to be the face and two ellipses that are supposed to be eyes and you think "Oh dear lord, that's horrible I have no talent at all" and quit again.
    There are many reasons for that (mainly its our brain trying to simplyfy shapes because that makes things easier to recognize). What most people don't realize though, is that pretty much everyone who can draw started at that point, and it was through hours and hours of drawing that they got to where they are. Now that sounds horribly discouraging, I know. That's why we're all here though.

    The 100-method described on this page is a good way against the demotivational effects of "everything I make sucks" If you don't know already: The method involves picking a specific goal and then doing 100 drawings on that (3 a day) to improve in that one field. This works because trying to improve everything at once withouth having a clear goal is pretty much suicide.
    You're porbably thinking right now "Well yeah, easy for you to say, but I can't work on proportions when I have no basics at all yet"
    Remember what I said earler? There are no shortcuts. The good news however is, that there are different ways to think about the problem, like the 100 thingy. If you can't draw ANYTHING yet, then start with the most basic things. Try to fill sheets of papers with parallel lines or actually round circles to get your motoric abilities up a bit, then try to draw humans (or whatever you aim to draw). It WILL look horrible at first, I promise you that. Try to get a reference. A model would be best, but hardly anyone can have a nude model in his room posing for him/her an hour each day, so pictures like in the tool on this site are of help.

    The thing I am trying to say is: Draw and ignore that it looks horrible! Make 100 pictures and then compare YOUR first picture with YOUR last picture. I am almost certain you will see an improvement. When you have developed some basic skills, you can start looking at tutorials. They will NOT help you before you got some practice!

    Looking at tutorials without having any practice at all will result in something like this:

    So to sum it up:
    _Nobody ever started good! (And nobody shows their earliest work to the public which is why people believe they were awesome from the beginning...)
    _Learning how to draw is a slow process. Especially your early works can be frustrating as hell and may make you want to quit (but drawing something is less complex than driving a car actually. You just need practice. You didn't expect to be a perfect driver on your first driving-lesson either didn't you?)
    _ It doesn't matter what your stuff looks like as long as you keep at it! (Nobody will care about the crap you produced in the beginning, but the only way to get good is to draw a ton of stuff. Don't despair over bad early results, just keep going!)
    _It doesn't matter what you are trying to draw either. Everything will help you improve (simple shapes like cubes and other geometry may be less frustrating than trying to draw a face or human beings right away though)
    _When you feel like you improved a little, start looking at beginner-level tutorials on perspective and how to construct stuff. You'll find it a lot more helpful because now it'll awnsear questions you asked yourself while you were drawing stuff and getting the answear will help you improve.
    _HAVE A GOAL! I can't stress this enough! Working without a goal is the most demotivational thing. That is why we often find work boring as well. We have no goal and no purpose! If you do drawing as a hobby, you have no goal set by somebody else either, SO SET ONE YOURSELF! "I want to improve my proportions within 50 drawings" Something clear and concrete!

    Okay, I think that's it from me. Hopefully that helped a little bit.


    Hi Aelankaelyn,

    At the moment I'm reading " the new drawing on the right side of the brain" by Betty Edwards. (It's called new but actually it's a book from 1999) It teaches you how to get rid of drawing what you (think you) know instead of what you see. I just started reading but if you believe the results from other students they show in the book it should be a real kickstarter in learning how to draw!

    Good luck, and don't forget: drawing should be fun don't get too focused on the results just yet.


    Hey aelankaelyn,

    First and foremost, what do you want to draw? Without knowing what your aims are, it’s hard to know what advice to point you towards. ‘Anything’ is a little broad ;)

    As the previous replies have probably shown you, there are as many methods for drawing as there are artists. The one constant is ‘practise, practise, practise. Then practise some more.’ Vyse’s post is fantastic, and take the warning to heart: at first, you will suck. Everyone does. You just have to be determined and work through it :)

    illographer’s suggestion to read “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards is an excellent idea. There’s a lot of psychology discussion, but it’s a great primer for learning how to draw, rather than drawing something specific.

    If you want some suggestions on what to start off with, keep reading. Otherwise, feel free to skip the rest of this post, and good luck with your drawing!

    2D Shapes

    To start out, help to train your eye and hand by drawing straight lines, curved lines, circles and squares freehand—without using rulers or compasses. Keep drawing them until you can draw these shapes accurately without any guides or tools. These shapes serve as the building blocks for most ‘how to draw’ guides, even the ones on this website, like this gesture tutorial on breaking the human form down into lines and basic shapes.

    3D shapes

    Once you get the hang of drawing 2D shapes, start turning your circles and squares into cylinders and cubes; this is the basic beginnings of perspective. Mix in some shading and you’re starting to render.


    Shading is pretty simple and just requires a sharp pencil to start off; draw with it, and notice how the lines change as the lead grows blunt. Sharp pencils are excellent for thin, precise lines but terrible for laying down large areas of shading. I find a flattened edge works best for large areas of shading, working in diagonal lines or close loops to put down smooth areas (to avoid the scratchy criss-cross lines and marks that show where one stroke ended and the next started). Less pressure gives a thinner, lighter line; more pressure gives a thicker, darker line. Start off with the lightest greys, and build them up with gradually darker and darker greys (also refererred to as ‘working from lightest tones to darkest’) and put in your darkest grey or black shadows last.

    Direct Observation/Still Life

    The easiest way to understand shading is to study from direct observation, which I haven’t seen mentioned yet. Choose an object and try to draw it just as you see it. Most people start out with fruit or flowers since they’re simple shapes and don’t usually involve too many reflections!

    Draw your object from a variety of different angles and notice how the shapes change depending on the viewing angle. Use a lamp in different positions to light your object and observe how the shadows and highlights change, depending on whether the object is lit from above, or from the sides, or from behind. This helps practise different light sources.


    If you have the chance to draw people directly, through a model, joining a  life-drawing class, or just having friends that don’t mind, DO IT. Photographs are useful references, but nothing beats being able to draw something from life.

    Some people can find direct observation quite tedious, so listen to your favourite music and stick with it :) The more you practise your drawing, the faster you’ll progress. Play around and explore and see what you like.

    If I can help clarify anything, just post here and I’ll try to explain in more detail, or find more information for you. And anyone who read that whole thing can help themselves to a cookie!


    You just have to keep on drawing complete junk, again and again and again... It's horrible when everyone else that you know is already good at art! It would totally kill what little motivation I could conjure up. XD

    Something else I picked up on - if you sit there, drawing disgustingly-misproportioned pictures repeatedly, (making the same mistakes and not learning from them), then you'll progress like... 50-times slower. You gotta show people, ask them to critique or redline sections of your work, etc.

    I've had such a hard time trying to improve that i've started compiling certain reference pics, and each step that I've taken 0where I noticed instant improvement.

    Also, we don't know how good you are - you said "practice" not "learn" so i'm assuming you already have some skill at drawing?

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