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.

Deeper understanding of anatomy: Animal leg anatomy cheat sheet

We've spoken before about that oh-so common artist's mistake of believing that some animals have "backwards knees." But in that original post, we only discussed "digitigrades." Digitigrades are animals that walk on their toes, with the "sole" of their feet off the ground, like cats and dogs -- this leads to the common myth that they have "backwards knees," as their ankles are easily mistaken for knees... Continue reading

Fellow students: 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... Continue reading

Improving technique: 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... Continue reading

Other resources: Overview of life drawing techniques and methods

Paintingdemos.com just published an article that gives a bird's eye view of many different common life drawing techniques. Their overviews link to more in-depth explanations of each technique, so if one appeals to you, you can quickly find more information. They even mentioned this site and referenced one of our articles! Check it out at http://paintingdemos.com/life-drawing-techniques-and-methods/... Continue reading

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. Her response? To send me back this book, along with a letter kindly pointing out where my weak areas were as an artist and how I might go about improving them. As a... Continue reading