Illustration Tips & Tricks: Beginner Drawing Tips

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      Animation Pagoda StaffAnimation Pagoda Staff
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      Drawing Supplies

      The medium you use is up to personal preference, but it is recommended to practice with a multitude of styles. Pencils are the standard, but there are also special drawing pencils that vary in hardness and line weight. Charcoal is useful for value shading, Pens, brushpens, and markers create bold lines. Pastels, watercolors, paints, and watercolor pencils are used for typically used for more expressive color compositions. Fixative sprays, primer treatments, and art erasers can be used to prevent smudging and correct mistakes.

      Pencils.com: HB Graphite Grading Scale

      The Virtual Instructor: Pen and Ink Drawing Techniques

      The Virtual Instructor: Drawing Papers and Surfaces


      Sketching and Doodling

      The best way to improve drawing skills is through practice. Drawing something every day helps keep the creativity flowing. Many artists regularly meet with groups of fellow artists to practice drawing and expose themselves to different styles and ideas. Social media makes it easier than ever to share ideas online.

      Carry a pen and a notebook with you and doodle something everywhere you go. Random sketches are good for documentation or generating ideas. Life studies are also recommended.

      Being able to sketch quickly will greatly increase your work output. Most artists spend 15 minutes to an hour completing a sketch. Setting time limits for each sketch helps develop good workflow. Drawing quickly also forces the artist to sketch loosely instead of wasting a lot of time focusing on planning or details. Artists tend to obsess over trying to fix one drawing instead of just moving on to create something else. If you want to spend additional time cleaning up a rough sketch into a finished piece, it is always possible to do so, but in general never spend too much time on one drawing.

      Sketch Dailies: Daily Drawing Prompts

      Sycra: Iterative Drawing – The Fastest Way to Improve

      Kerby Rosanes


      Reference

      Whenever you see an artist who creates something really amazing and wonder how in the world they made that, the answer is usually by using references. Artists draw upon lots of different sources for inspiration, and they use reference guides to help visualize technical details. Artists who are able to draw without references have developed visual memory by drawing from reference so many times that it now comes naturally. Most artists do a lot of research and preparation before starting a final piece, and they have compiled large reference libraries to draw ideas from.

      Baylee Jae: Helpful Books for Artists

      Cartoonblock: How To Sketch Iron Man


      Proportion

      It is also possible to draw without using references by memorizing formulas and proportions. This tends to work better with cartoons than trying to draw something realistic from memory. In general using references will make drawing easier, but knowing proportions is definitely an asset. Proportion rules can be intentionally tweaked to produce very stylized designs.

      Mark Crilley: Disney Vs. Manga- Facial Proportions Compared


      Anatomy

      Artists study anatomy in order to better understand form and movement. In the past, artists used to have to dissect cadavers to better understand muscular and skeletal structure. Luckily, through extensive medical science documentation that’s not really necessary today. It’s pretty easy to find accurate diagrams, models, and books of both human and animal physiologies. Live reference figure drawing is typically preferred over photos or static statues.

      Pinterest: Character Design References


      Line, Contour, and Gesture Drawing

      In the heydey of 2D animation, animators were able to sketch cartoon characters very rapidly. 3D animators adjust every control handle individually in a time consuming process. The approaches may seem like polar opposites, but any aspiring animators should try to learn gesture drawing, even if you only want to work in 3D modeling. This will help create more dynamic and expressive poses.

      Animators and designers are very detail-oriented people, which can often lead to over-fixation on trying to adjust every single part of a project until it is perfect. This leads to a conservative style that isn’t as exaggerated or as stylized as it could be.

      Sometimes it is best to let go of inhibitions and just do things fast and dirty. Sketching quickly in very loose strokes will help improve your ability to draw contour lines. Try sketching in pencil or a light blue marker underlayer, then go over the rough lines with a marker or pen so that you can build up the confidence to draw smooth curves without going back to erase lines.

      Gesture Drawing Tips by Normand Lemay

      Sycra: How to Draw Interesting Poses


      Elements of Art and Principles of Design

      It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these guidelines, or keep a printed out copy next to your computer or workspace. They form the core underlying theory behind all types of design.

      The Virtual Instructor: Art Fundamentals



      Vladimir Kush

      Illustration

      As long as there has been writing, people have used pictorial imagery to accompany and enhance the words. Most illustration is intended to convey a story. Illustration styles are incredibly diverse since no two individuals will draw exactly the same. Illustration is not bound by any rules, so it can feature subjects from the imagination. One thing that remains true for all good illustrators is that they draw and practice nearly every day to keep the creative ideas flowing. They also draw inspiration from lots of sources.

      Traditional illustration artists have transitioned well into the digital painting era, as digital tools can be used to touch up artwork and improve workflow without sacrificing the integrity of the hand-drawn aspect. However, there is a lot of extremely talented competition.

      CGSociety: Rob Chang- 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Artist

      Kate or Die: How Should I Get Started Making Comics

      PBS Offbook: The Art of Illustration

      Vladimir Kush

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