Lessons & tips

Self-taught artists face many challenges. What do you study next if you don't know what you don't know? How do you ensure you aren't practicing bad technique? What is the normal rate of progression? Use these resources to find the knowledge, inspiration, and ideas for homework you can assign yourself to keep improving.

First time here? We recommend starting with our interactive drawing tutorial.

Other resources: Loish just published a tutorial on digitally painting female faces

The super talented artist Loish just put out a very thorough tutorial on how she goes about digitally painting female faces in her particular style. She is known for a slightly cartoony style and rounded female figures with large, expressive eyes, and gorgeous command of color. I know many of you reading this blog are admirers of her work! So if you want to see Loish's process... Continue reading

Improving technique: Be the master of your pencil

There are two extremely common concerns that are expressed to me through email, comments and forum posts, that both have their answer in better control over how much weight you place on your pencil when drawing. The first is being unable to go from under-drawing construction to completed work without seeing the "messy" under-drawing peeking from underneath. The second is being unable to produce anything... Continue reading

Improving technique: Starting to use colour in your life drawings

At the beginning of the year, I asked you what your artistic challenges were. An enormous number of you confessed to not knowing how to get started with color! Kenzo & Mayko from http://www.lovelifedrawing.com/ stepped up to the plate to provide this wonderful primer on getting started with color in your figure drawings. Thanks so much, Kenzo & Mayko! Be sure to check out http://www.lovelifedrawing.com/... Continue reading

Other resources: Animal Painting and Anatomy

Animal Painting and Anatomy by Frank Calderon was perhaps my first experience with critique. As a child, I drew with enormous enthusiasm. Eventually, my parents gathered up some of those drawings and proudly sent them to my grandmother. Continue reading

Deeper understanding of anatomy: Digitigrade animals don’t have “backward knees”

Today, I'd like to address one of the most common mistakes that new or young artists make when they start drawing animals: "Backward knee" syndrome. This is one simple tip, but if you haven't discovered it yet, it's going to make a world of difference. "Digitigrade" is an animal that walks on its digits, or toes. digitigrade animals include canines, felines, elephants, birds, dinosaurs and more. Humans,... Continue reading

Deeper understanding of anatomy: Drawing realistic mouths

Someone recently shared this photoshop tutorial with me about "drawing realistic mouths". As impressive as the digital techniques they showcased were, I thought it could also serve as a wonderful illustration of facial anatomy. Watch the tutorial, then meet me below the embedded video for some discussion of the lessons we can take from it. https://www.youtube.com/embed/C5p1B2Z9hKQ?rel=0 The mouth... Continue reading

Improving technique: Giving good critique

When to give critique Someone has asked you to critique their work? Wow! That must mean that they think you are talented, intelligent, and all around wonderful. Good on you! But hold on! As flattering as it is, don't automatically say yes. The person asking you for critique is someone actively looking to improve their work. They may be committed to practicing to improve in the problem areas that... Continue reading

Improving technique: Benefiting from critique

One of the hardest - and most important - skills for an artist to master is taking critique. It can sting to hear that there are flaws in your hard work, and the natural impulse is to shut down, become defensive, and try to explain away issues in the work as not your fault. A favorite refrain of people who are having trouble taking critique is "this was just a quick sketch." But no matter how... Continue reading