It turns out I can draw! So teach me how to draw.
October 5, 2020 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I have recently learned that I can draw. Given this information, I would like to draw. But I don't know how. Please point me to resources for how to learn to draw for someone who a Ted Talk has told can draw, but who up until now thought she couldn't draw. I'm not interested in photo-realistic sketch type drawings. I want like whimsical kids books type drawings.

As you know from my many picture book and photoshop questions, I like to make picture books for my son. Up until now I've been compositing pictures in photoshop. I have for some months been dreaming of making him a book where I DRAW the pictures? (either on paper or on computer or some combination).

So I now i know how to draw some side-view cartoony-faces. But I don't know how to draw a cartoony-face that looks recognizeably like my son. Nor do I know how to draw santa or reinder or ships or streetcars or Santa's workshop or whimsical landscapes. But the guy in the Ted talk said I can draw, so I want to. How can I learn? Like in the next few weeks.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
I found when I attempted to draw as an adult that the biggest obstacle to overcome was fear.

Les Animaux Tels Qu'ils Sont helped me just get my pencil moving. (It's in French but it's almost all diagrams.) The animals are neither photo-realistic nor particularly whimsical, but I thought they were good practice.

Have fun!
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

When you go to an actual art school, one thing you learn from is copying. Not as plagiarism, but as studying the style of whatever artist you like. You can draw a grid over a copy of an artwork in order to see more accurately where the lines go. I've seen the graffiti guys do the same thing.
posted by mumimor at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

There's Ed Emberley

I did a quick search for "You can draw" and "How to draw" books and there are so very many of them! You might try looking through the options for styles you'd like to emulate.

Youtube also has a few million tutorials. I'd just search for "how to draw X" and look for someone whose teaching style I enjoyed.
posted by trig at 12:58 PM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm about a month or so ahead of you. So, in a very similar position but I've started in on some of this. Here's what I've found:
  • I started off with 'Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain' by Betty Edwards. I started with this because I had it in the house. It's not a bad place to start IMO.
  • Then I moved more into online stuff. I started going through 'The Great Courses' Learning to Draw course, because I can get it through my library (and on Kanopy). I really like it, though I've slowed down on it because, well, I've been busy.
  • Also online: This New Master's Academy course is free and looks very good. I'd like to work my way through it as well.
  • There's a reddit guy who runs drawabox (subreddit: ArtFundamentals). I'm going through this. It's a LOT of work. I'm just about finished the 250-box challenge, and it's taking me hours to get through it.
  • And I also just discovered free courses from a guy at which look pretty good to me. I started going through some of them last night.
Watching this thread for more suggestions!
posted by zipperhead at 1:00 PM on October 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

in these trying times I had fun with:

Let’s draw Star Wars:

and, the Disney - How to draw:
posted by alchemist at 1:38 PM on October 5, 2020

This Udemy course is what finally got me drawing again after not drawing since I was a kid.

There's not, like, anything super special about it, but he covers important foundational concepts using really plain language, and it worked for me and has definitely improved my ability.
posted by mekily at 1:54 PM on October 5, 2020

Be ok with making really bad art. Like just scribbly ass. If you aren't ok with making bad art, you won't make any art. You only get good at making art by making it. So you have to make the bad art. If you enjoy the process of making art more than the result, you'll have fun making bad art.

Set aside time to draw instead of saying you will create a drawing. So ten minutes a day, not one drawing a day. You feel accomplished by completing the task when the time runs out, instead of disappointment that you don't like your drawing. You don't need to like your art to improve, you just need to make it.

And, yah, just follow along with youtube tutorials to get the ball rolling. There's millions of them. As you get into it you'll find more and be able to start narrowing in on styles and artists you like.
posted by Dynex at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2020 [11 favorites]

Just as a data point: drawing cute, stylized, recognizable characters is in many ways more difficult than drawing realistic figures. I'm not saying don't do it (please do it, it'll be fun!) but just warning you in case it feels surprisingly difficult to achieve something that looks like it should be simple and easy. Most children's illustrators and cartoonists have spent time studying things like perspective and anatomy.

The How to Think When You Draw series of tutorials is fun. And I want to second the suggestion to do some tracing of styles that you like. It's a useful exercise.

Have a good time!
posted by wintersweet at 3:32 PM on October 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

I make whimsical kids’ book-type drawings. The thing that leveled up my skills the most was life drawing.
posted by the_blizz at 2:42 AM on October 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

PS: check out Danny Gregory.
posted by the_blizz at 3:01 AM on October 6, 2020

Lots of cheap paper, like a note block, a non 'art' pen like a felt tip pen, or ballpoint, which you can't erase, and a situation where you're relaxed and not thinking too hard about drawing: with friends, watching a series or in between things, in limbo.

That saved me from being taught to draw at Fine Art school. And got me drawing again the way I used to draw as a kid.

Ignore: perspective (it's a useful design drawing convention, but that's not what you want to do), rational viewpoints (you don't need to represent things as they would appear in the 'real world').

Instead try to imagine, and embody your characters, or whatever you're drawing. Giggle if they're giggling (you might not want to do that in public, yet).

Ignore books on 'cartooning' (there may be exceptions). They will attempt to teach you the most stilted form of drawing, depending on unimaginative crutches such as bulbous noses.

And draw as though you were signing your name. That's the loosest non 'drawing' mark you generally make with a pen.
posted by BrStekker at 12:51 PM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Joy Sikorski has written a few books that break down drawing in a similar way as your presenter (loved his video!).
posted by ersatzkat at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2020

Learning to draw has been my social distancing project, so I have thoughts. Some resources I like:

• Mark Kistler: You Can Learn to Draw in 30 Days. Accessible, fun exercises. More cartoony than fine art, so I think this could really work for you.
• Betty Edwards: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Good exercises, a strong belief that drawing skills and creativity are accessible to everyone — there's a reason it's a classic. It also includes an emphasis on pop neuroscience which I found grating, but ymmv.
• Bert Dodson: Keys to Drawing: my personal fave. Well-balanced and thoughtful, but definitely more about fine art/sketching rather than cartoon style.
Draw a box (mentioned above) online drawing lessons. Will improve your line quality. At a certain point I stopped because it's a more technical style of drawing than I personally want to do, but again, ymmv.
• Youtube channels. I've just hit the tip of the iceberg here, but so far I've found useful stuff with Alphonso Dunn, Proko, and Zoe Hong (she focuses on fashion illustration but also has good general advice).
• The two AskMeFi questions I've found most useful are here and here.
• I've also found it useful to dramatically step up my consumption of illustration on sites like tumblr and Instagram. Find illustrators you like, and redraw and study their work. It'll teach you a lot about line quality, proportion, rhythm, etc.
• Dynex nails it above: the most important thing, if you're the sort of person who struggles with perfectionism at all, is give yourself permission to be terrible! Mercilessly toss away anything you draw that makes you self-conscious about your amateur status. You will get better!
posted by TayBridge at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Legendary cartoonist (and now art professor!) Lynda Barry's recent book Making Comics sounds like it would be absolutely perfect for you. It's brilliant.
posted by Sublimity at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2020

Double-ultra-seconding Mark Kistler. You Can Learn to Draw in 30 Days is the book that has made the biggest difference in improving my drawing. (Betty Edwards's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is also great, but Kistler's approach seems a lot more direct to me - the lessons are a good length, and build on each other really well.)
posted by kristi at 2:07 PM on October 10, 2020

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