Vanquish Studio


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The Three Types of Practice

The biggest thing any new artist will hear, or anyone else trying to improve their craft, is  “you need to practice.” Practice isn’t just plugging away and drawing anything. It should have direction and focus, otherwise, you will lose sight of the end goal and procrastinate. Or worse yet, draw and draw and see little improvement for a lot of work! In my opinion, there are three types of practice: inspirational, intentional, and reflective.

INSPIRATIONAL PRACTICE
Inspirational practice is the easiest of the three. This is where you look at other people’s art, read books, watch movies, or do anything that gives you an idea for a project. Draw inspiration from everyday life. Look at other people’s sketchbooks, read magazines, check out Art Station or other online galleries, look at comic books, manga, anything to give you ideas! Take the time to research styles and artists. Inspirational practice can take place anytime, anywhere.

INTENTIONAL PRACTICE
The second form of practice is intentional practice. What I mean by this is that instead of just drawing anything, have a plan, an intention. Specifically target areas that you need to work on. For example, I find drawing the male figure infinitely easier than drawing women. Why? It’s difficult for me to make women look muscular but not manly. When I practice, I women1would draw a preliminary sketch and then look at it. Next, I would examine the areas I need to work on. DON’T CLOBBER YOURSELF! Use constructive criticism when critiquing your work to keep it helpful and positive. Negativity will only make you want to quit.

If you look at the sketches to the right you’ll notice I need to work on my construction and my proportions. Now that I know what to draw, I can do it with direction and purpose. I can draw women’s bodies and concentrate on construction and anatomy. I now have a direction for practicing.

During practice time, I’ll draw just the construction of the form: spheres, cubes, cylinders. I can practice using comparative measurement to check my proportions. I also know that I need to work on my anatomy. Since I have trouble drawing women’s hips I know to practice anatomy specifically concentrating on the torso, legs, and hips. Once I feel comfortable with those elements, I can move on to other elements like arms, hands, foreshortening, etc. My point is, I have a specific intention when I practice. I’m not drawing endlessly with no focus.

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
The last type of practice is an important one and often times overlooked, or done hastily, and that is reflective practice. That is, after you draw critique your work. Don’t rip it to shreds. Instead, be realistic and practical. Use constructive words to describe your art. For example, don’t say, “My women suck!” That doesn’t help you to improve: too negative and not specific. I like the stance of each character (in the sketches above) and I think that my figures are looking more fluid and less stiff. I do, however, need to get better at basic construction, specifically proportion and foreshortening the arms and legs. Being reflective helps you to pinpoint what you need to improve and not get discouraged. Remember to be constructive in your criticism; stay accurate and objective.

Look at older art you drew and compare it to your newer stuff to see your progression. Look at other people’s art that you admire and compare it to yours: What’s alike? What’s different? How can you adjust your drawing? Always remember to really look at your art after you create it and reflect on the process as well as the end result.

GOOD LUCK!


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How to Practice Drawing

Start Drawing

Okay, so from my last post about drawing (which was about a week ago) I did a pre-assessment and determined that I needed to work on drawing the female face and head. I especially needed to work on the eyes, lips, and hair. So to get started, I got started! I drew a few female faces and heads WITHOUT any help of any kind. I tried to draw from my memory and imagination. Needless to say, it was a dismal failure.

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As you can see I made the eyes cross-eyed, the jawline is STILL too heavy, and the hairstyles are off. Whatever you do, don’t throw out your bad drawings. I really wanted to toss out these early sketches but I didn’t. The only way to grow and improve is to look at them, examine your mistakes, and make corrections in your drawings. I can easily tell from my early sketches that I’m not proficient enough to draw from memory. I need to get some reference material. But if I had chucked them out, I wouldn’t reflect on them. Don’t be afraid to examine your mistakes.

Use Reference Material

Okay, I definitely need to look at some images of women’s faces and heads before I go any further. I decided to check out some magazines and focus on drawing women whose faces were turned at an angle. I also decided to look at a few drawing books so I can better understand the structure of the face and head. As I draw, I’m focusing on making the jawline more feminine, sultry eyes, and a decent hairstyle (at least believable) so that is my focus area. Of course, feel free to change your focus area as needed.woman1

My new drawing is a lot better than the ones I tried without looking at reference. The eyes aren’t crossed anymore and the jawline is a little better. The lips are definitely better than the drawing without reference. I still need to work on the hair and make it look more natural. In the sketch below I tried to add some shading to the figure as well. I like the hair on this sketch and I’m getting more comfortable making the hair more flowing.

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Getting Closer

Remember NOT TO GIVE UP! It is going to take some time before you get really good at a particular skill. I’ve been sketching 30 minutes a day to work on my women’s faces. I definitely think I’ve been improving but if I crumpled up all my old failures I never would know that! As painful as it is to look at something you really don’t like, that is the best way to see improvement. This final image is what I got after a couple of days of practice. If you scroll up and look at the first attempts you can definitely see some improvement. This was only a week of practicing and I can see some changes in my drawing already. I will continue to practice using reference material as well as apply anything I learn in the two books I’m reading about drawing. So, since I’m not proficient enough yet, it’s back to the drawing board.

KEEP PRACTICING until you get better, or at least comfortable, but do you see how critiquing your work can help pin-point exactly what to practice? That way you aren’t drawing something you already are good at and you can focus your efforts on what you really need to work on!

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