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  • Writer's pictureAmy

All my drawings end up in the trash.

FAQ: How do I start a sketch. I keep messing up and throwing out my drawings. Is there a better way?

(Copy of Louis Darling's Ramona Quimby illustration)

Hey! Lots of people have this problem. You start a drawing. Something goes wrong (because you're human) and you throw your drawing out. Lots of discouragement and self doubt ensues.

Here are some tips and things to remember to prevent drawing depression:

1) Sketch LIGHTLY

If you’re drawing, start with a sketch. Like a LIGHT sketch. The closer to the bottom of the pencil (like the graphite part) the darker and harder your lines will be, which equals harder to erase. Therefore, using the end of your pencil (close to the eraser end) will help you draw lighter. It takes getting used to but, trust me.

(Helpful videos listed below)

2) It's all about PLANNING

It’s all about planning. So

A) don't make your first draft your “final” draft. Just like writing

B) your sketch should start by planning out the space (like when you make a happy birthday sign and then run out of room bc you didn't plan).

Also starting with LARGE shapes then getting more and more detailed. For instance, if you’re drawing a face, don’t draw the eyes before you’ve planned out the actual shape of the head. If you're drawing a whole person, don't start with their head.

(Helpful videos listed below)

3) Some mediums are more forgiving than others

Yes, some mediums are more forgiving. In thicker mediums like with oil or acrylic, once they dry you can paint over them. Whereas, with watercolor (even though you work in layers) it’s not really going to allow you to paint over mistakes as well. However, I love love watercolor because it’s gorgeous and it’s also a pretty cheap and accessible way to learn how to paint. (So is acrylics but I don't love acrylics). I learned how to paint by using those Crayola watercolor sets for kids bc they are super bright and you don't have to know how to mix color.

4) Copy Copy Copy

Even professional artists are looking at objects or images. For instance, I have an idea and I pose the subject, I take a picture and I work from the picture. Unless you're an abstract painter, the human eye needs a reference to work from. Practice makes better. If you want to get better you gotta practice. Copy master works, copy art that inspires you, copy google images, copy celebrities, copy your cat sleeping in the sun. (if you copy someone's work for practice. ALWAYS give them credit. ALWAYS ALWAYS. It's important. See how I credited my sketch of Ramona, it's easy.)

In Conclusion

Maybe you take my advice and you still mess up. That's okay. There's lots of paper. Be easy on yourself, you're new at this. I believe in you.

Drawing lightly + getting larger shape down first actually has a name. It's called gesture drawing. Here are some helpful videos:

video two:


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