Online Drawing Courses.
August 29, 2014 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I want to learn to draw. I'm middle aged with little (but some) time on his hands, and I want to learn to draw. I've started going to a local art circle, and this has demonstrations and live drawing, and that's great. However - I'm also looking for online drawing courses to give me a grounding in basic techniques and to force me to practice. I don't mind paying if it's worth it. Any recommendations for online courses I can take; websites I can go to and books I can read.
posted by zoo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

This book changed me from an 8yo drawing style to something more sophisticated in the span of only a few days, and I'm not even done the book yet.

It basically teaches you how to see what is really there and then draw what you see rather than what you think you see.

It was a revelation for me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:47 AM on August 29, 2014 [13 favorites]

I've enjoyed Sketchbook Skool which is run by Danny Gregory. His book The Creative License is also very good.
posted by shibori at 9:07 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're in luck! Almost anyone can learn to draw well, with enough work. Here's how:

Read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (linked in the first answer, as I would expect) and do its exercises. The neurology is somewhat out of date but the consistency of results is legendary in art-larnin' circles.

Sign up for as much life-drawing (IRL) of live models as you can. Shop around for a teacher who feels right to you; a great teacher here makes a huge difference. This is the most important thing if you ever plan to draw people, and is arguably a very helpful way to learn even if you don't. If you're feeling shy about your skill, study Right Side... first.

Read a book on colour theory and do its excercises. Don't really have a specific one in mind but I'm sure a search for Color Theory on Amazon will give good results.

If you're feeling confident, patient, and can get hold of a copy affordably (unfortunately very rare these days), read Accurate Perspective Simplified and do its excercises. Another legendary book among those in the know. No joke.

(If you can't find a copy, look up a good course/tutorial on drawing with perspective, starting from 1-point and moving up from there.)

Consider learning to use Photoshop, Illustrator, or perhaps e.g. a painting program like Sai - for creation or editing as you prefer. No particular recommendation on courses for that but it's not ultimately that complicated if you have a good grounding in the lessons above. If you go this route, a graphics tablet is a great investment. If not, a lightbox and decent-sized drawing desk are a great investment.

Practise practise practise practise practise. Draw the people and things around you. Copy pictures you like. Do more of the excercises in the books above. Experiment until you find things you enjoy drawing, and a style that you enjoy, so it isn't a chore. If in doubt, copy more pictures. Then more.

That's about all there is to it. Of course, it's the long-term habit of practising regularly that's the key, and the most difficult thing. If you want to be forced to practice, hire an art tutor or post to something like a Tumblr and get your friends to force you not to slack off. Make a big deal of it. Get a learning buddy. Promise your loved ones, make a big deposit in escrow against your success, whatever it takes. Good luck!
posted by Drexen at 9:26 AM on August 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Coursera has offered an Introduction to Art: Concept and Techniques class. It doesn't have any upcoming sessions, but it's possible they'll offer it again. They do have one of those watchlist/tell me when it's available buttons. I haven't taken this class, but have been impressed by other courses I've done through them.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:41 AM on August 29, 2014

For books I like:

Richard Schmid's "Alla Prima" or "Alla Prima II"
Easily the best oil painting book I've read, I could spend a day just practicing and thinking about the info/techniques he discusses on a single page. This book's expensive, so just get it from the library.

Andrew Loomis' books. Any and all of them.
I like all of his books for just plain pencil/ink drawing techniques, he's got about a half dozen. They're out of copyright which means they're cheap or free online, but still quite relevant.

Online courses:
My favorite online art/drawing course is Neil Fontaine's "Discover How to Draw and Paint Comics." Don't get thrown off by the word comics in the title, it's a course bundle of his introductory figure drawing lessons. He covers lighting, form, perspective, color, proportional drawing, etc. (I think there's also some photoshop stuff thrown in too.)

Here's the link to the course on Udemy (it's $29 there):

Here's a link to a coupon code to get it for $7:

Neil's videos are video captures off of his computer, so it's very easy to see what's going on and he keeps everything in real-time (i.e. he doesn't fast-forward through the drawing process). He also includes drawing exercises (which could be done digitally or with pencil) at the end of each section and if you post a completed exercise to the course website, he'll give you feedback and you can see other completed exercises that people have posted too.
posted by Chicoreus at 12:40 PM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Drawing on the Right is a good starting point. If you've moved beyond it or already done it I really like Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing. He introduces some very helpful techniques and the examples in the book are well done and easy to follow. I have been recommending the book to my students for years.

You probably already know about Wet Canvas? Lots of stuff there.
posted by Cuke at 8:11 PM on August 29, 2014

You might like this Sketchbook Project (, Sustainably Creative (, or Pikaland (

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is excellent.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:03 AM on August 30, 2014

I have taken seminars with Marshall Vandruff in the past, and not only is he incredibly talented with a super cool resume, he's the best teacher I have ever had. Period. You can get 7 hours of his seminars for $12.

I don't normally self-link to stuff here, but here are some pages from my sketchbook from a draftsmanship seminar a few years back. Three hours earlier I couldn't have drawn an XKCD comic. I have no other connection to him, but my enthusiasm for his teaching is not unique; many people take his courses multiple times.)
posted by Room 641-A at 2:25 PM on August 31, 2014

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