Over the years many people have come to me telling me how much they like my drawings and how much they would like to be able to draw themselves. I always ask them why they don´t try to learn how to draw, and usually, their answer comes down to either their lack of experience, their lack of knowledge about where to start, or even their lack of “talent”.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions regarding what it takes to be able to draw properly. My goal with this article is to set things clear and really give a clear and truthful answer on whether somebody with no drawing skills can learn to draw.
So, Can you learn to draw if you don’t have any drawing skills?
The answer is Yes. But with everything, it comes down to practice and perseverance. Drawing is like any other skill. You need to put a certain amount of hours and dedication in order to draw well.
I know this very well because I´ve been drawing for the last 13 years, and of those 13 years almost 10 of them as a professional artist, working as a Concept Artist and Illustrator for video game studios and editorial companies.
Do you need “talent” to be able to draw?
The general belief that you need to have the talent to be able to draw comes from the lack of understanding people has in general regarding developing artistic skills. People with no experience drawing, painting or sculpting see those skills like some sort of mystical inspired attributes some people possess.
In reality drawing, like the other artistic skills, is totally learnable by anybody. But it comes with a price, which is dedication.
If you wanna draw a parallel between learning to draw and learning to swim, both require from you some time investment and some effort. In drawing this effort is more intellectual, meanwhile in swimming the effort is more physical, but nevertheless, in both, you can learn the basics pretty fast.
The true challenge in drawing comes when you wanna push your skills to the next level and really want to become above average. This will require you to dedicate more time and effort to master this skill. The better you wanna become the more difficult it will be to reach the next level in your path towards improvement. This increasing level of difficulty along the way can be very frustrating, and at some point even demotivating. This is why in the beginning I told you learning to draw is all about practice and perseverance.
How long will take you to learn how to draw
It all boils down to which level of mastery you wanna reach as an artist.
Like I told you before, drawing basics are quite easy to learn and perform. Things like one or two-point perspective, or simple anatomy can be master in a couple of months.
The problem becomes when you are trying to draw more complicated images, like a character in a dynamic pose, like a character running for example, where you are drawing the character from a 3/4 view, with different parts of the body in different planes of depth, and on top of that each part of the body is doing a different thing compared to the other.
Being able to draw such an image successfully can take an artist a year to master. Yes, of course, you can copy but if you wanna be able to draw if from memory you are in for a long run of practice and perfection. Even if you copy a photograph, I can guarantee you it will take you quite a lot of practice to be able to copy it successfully.
I´m a firm believer in the rule of the 10000 hours of work in order to master a skill. If you were drawing 7 hours a day for every day of the year, it will take you almost 4 years to reach the 10000-hour mark.
The 10000-hour rule is just a standard number. For some people will be more houres for others less. It all will depend on different factors, but most will be related to how the artist is learning. If the artist is discipline, and practices anatomy, perspective, and rendering exercises on a constant basis his or her learning curve will be considerably shorter compared to an artist who only draws what he likes and never gets out of his comfort zone.
Tips to learn drawing in a faster paste
If you are willing to put the work and learn this amazing skill let me give you some tips that will help you shorten the learning curve:
- Practice anatomy and gesture pose, drawing at least 30 min a day using models. I wrote an article of the best sites for figure pose drawing, you should check it out clicking here.
- Learn about the value and the importance of shading to give volume and depth to your drawings.
- Learn to shade using a pencil. You have different techniques like hatching, crosshatching, etc… If you wanna know more about those techniques check the article I wrote on the matter clicking here.
- Go to real-life model sessions so you are not only drawing from photos. This will give a better understanding of anatomy and how light works in real life.
- Don´t be to attach to your drawings. Try to not overdraw on the image. if something is not working after 3 or 4 attempts just move forward and try something different.
- As soon as you can start learning about perspective and all it´s variations: one-point perspective, two-point perspective, three points, etc…
- Try to understand the things you are drawing not as objects or people, only as shapes with a certain volume.
- Don´t draw to close to the paper or canvas and try to look at your drawing from far from time to time. This will give you a more general vision of your drawing and how is looking as a whole.
- Use kneaded eraser for your drawings. It will be less destructive for your drawing´s paper and will make the drawing less dirty.
Author; Toni Justamante Jacobs, Senior Concept Artist and Illustrator