I'm "new", haven't drawn since high school, and can't draw a circle.

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  1. #1
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    I'm "new", haven't drawn since high school, and can't draw a circle.

    Okay, so I realize that these types of threads are probably the least liked, but I don't really know where else to start. I checked out the NEW HERE? SPEAK UP! - a beginner's guide thread and saw that for questions about "art, drawing techniques, etc." to look here. I've done some searches but that hasn't really helped a lot...probably because I'm not too sure what I should search for. Plus, this forum is HUGE! It can be a bit overwhelming as lame as that may sound.

    So here's the deal, I really really want to draw. I can't explain it any better than that. I don't really have anything specifically that I want to be able to do. Do I wish I could make money off of drawing? Who doesn't. But I'd like to just be able to sketch something and it look remotely like what I was trying to draw. I used to draw way back in middle and high school but I didn't have the appreciation for it that I do now and I never kept it up. Now, I try picking up a pencil, try to draw anything and it's like the pencil and paper are laughing at me. I feel like I can't even draw a circle. (Yes, I've tried.) And I'm a bit of a perfectionist so it's basically like I'm my own worst enemy.

    I've never been the best at learning entirely on my own. In other words, when I have a teacher, instructions, or just a little direction I do a lot better than when I try to do something like this on my own. However, due to some major health problems I've had, I literally have no money to spend on any classes at the moment. What I do have is free time because of having been sick. So I got that going for me.

    Where does anyone recommend I start? I've tried a couple of books, but it seems like I always end up where I started...trying to draw a circle and hating it.

    I would greatly appreciate any advice at all. Even if it's just something like "Go look at this other person's thread".

    Thanks for taking the time to read all this.

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  3. #2
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    Just draw anything that's lying around. You're going to draw a load of crap to start with because you are so rusty. Learn to really look at things and don't guess.

    Why waste time on drawing a circle if you're not ready for it? There is no exam for you to pass. You have to train your hand-eye co-ordination to improve and that comes with practice. Start a SB here and post your attempts, comment on others to get some feed back. Listen to what you're ready to learn and leave the rest for later. And have some fun doing it.

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonsushi View Post
    Plus, this forum is HUGE! It can be a bit overwhelming as lame as that may sound.
    Oh no, this place is huge & daunting at first. Even the FAQ's are pumped full of information. But you'll get used to the place in time.

    Anyways, I'm kind of in the same boat. I took 10 years off drawing and recently started again. You lose a lot when you go a while without practicing, eh?

    Perfectionism is just something you're going to have to get over. I'm learning that myself. If you don't you're going to spend your time beating yourself up and getting discouraged early on when you're still learning.

    I don't know any good threads here yet, exams have been taking up all my time. And I'm not sure on books either. I'm sure many others here can point out some good ones though. However a couple things I have started doing are:

    1) Are you in a post-secondary school with an art department? I went to the chair of the arts dept at my college with pretty much the same question you have on "Where do I start?" and he said it was a shame that I'm graduating this year (I'm not an art student, I'm in IT) because he would have let me sit in on the art classes whenever I had time. Might be something you could look into.

    2) Draw everything you see. That dude sitting at the bus stop, the coffee cup on your desk, it doesn't matter what it is, just try and draw it. I carry a sketch book with me, and while waiting for the bus or w/e I'll pull it out and just start drawing. People, things, whatever.

    3) In my city, the art gallery offers weekend courses for cheap. Like $170 (CAD) for adults. You mentioned not having money right now, but it's something you might look into in the future.

    *** EDIT ***
    Correction: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Don't remember who it's by). I picked this up for like $20 at my college's book store. Haven't had a chance to really dive into it, but just from skimming through it I found a lot of useful information.

    Last edited by sarinn; April 29th, 2010 at 09:02 PM.
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    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Don't remember who it's by).
    It's by Betty Edwards. Yes, that's a pretty good one to start with if you're starting from absolute zero. Maybe try starting with that, and then see what drawing books are in your library, and try all of them (some may be useful, some may not be, but it could be a cheap way to get started, anyhow.)

    There's a bunch of essential books listed here, too, though not all beginner-level: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=152626

    I always end up where I started...trying to draw a circle and hating it.
    Why in the world are you trying to draw a circle? Most artists can't draw "perfect circles" anyway, they use a compass or a circle template or something.

    Instead of trying to draw perfect circles (an exercise in futility), you'd be better off trying to draw things around you. Maybe start with very simple still life exercises (just an apple or a banana or something, simple shapes to start with.) Then move on to drawing everything else (people, landscapes, buildings, animals, etc.) Yes, your first efforts will be dreadful, but you shouldn't worry about making a perfect picture yet, just keep drawing. And drawing. Eventually it'll get better, but give it time, you won't see instant improvement.

    If the main problem with getting started is motivation and struggling with perfectionism, then maybe the FIRST thread you need to check out is the motivation thread - this one here: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=138102

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    Perfection is the enemy; you know what perfection is good for? Nothing. It is simply something standing between you and doing/finishing something. Itís an imposable, not very well defined, piece of rubbish that needs to be laid to rest.

    Now stop drawing circles and lamenting over the failure and draw something else. Youíre going to fail, itís simply going to happen, and sometimes itís going to end pretty badly. Itís not the end of the world, itís not even a minored setback, itís just dealing with something you canít really do yet. You just have to work through it until you finally come out with something that doesnít look half bad. Just donít expect too much from yourself too soon.

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post



    Why in the world are you trying to draw a circle? Most artists can't draw "perfect circles" anyway, they use a compass or a circle template or something.

    Instead of trying to draw perfect circles (an exercise in futility), you'd be better off trying to draw things around you. Maybe start with very simple still life exercises (just an apple or a banana or something, simple shapes to start with.) Then move on to drawing everything else (people, landscapes, buildings, animals, etc.) Yes, your first efforts will be dreadful, but you shouldn't worry about making a perfect picture yet, just keep drawing. And drawing. Eventually it'll get better, but give it time, you won't see instant improvement.
    While I agree that trying to draw a PERFECT circle is stupid, I do think practicing drawing circles can be a very good exercise in hand and line control. The best artists can all draw circles freehand. No, they won't be perfect circles, but they'll look pretty close.

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    I think drawing circles is actually a really good exercise. Being able to draw good ellipses will help with practically everything. The trick to it is to draw from the arm and shoulder instead of the wrist and fingers.

    I'd also argue that perfectionism isn't necessarily something you want to eliminate.

    You don't need classes. I think the single best piece of drawing advice I've heard was from Marko Djurdjevic, who said something to the effect of 'look at good art, see what makes it better than yours, and work on that.'

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  17. #9
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    I wrote this little "guide" for easy copypasta help on DA, but it's probably applicable here.

    more often than not, it just takes a lot of study; copying what you want to see as accurately as you can, thinking about what you're drawing, figuring out how to correct your errors.

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  19. #10
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    Discouraging yourself enough will make it easier NOT to even begin again. I drew pretty badly in high school and got laughed at for it. I stopped drawing on paper for about 3 years from that! (got into digital art though...I guess the change was needed!) It was gruelling to get back into drawing on paper despite the fear. But it was WELL worth it.

    Some were saying drawing a (perfect) circle is pretty much futile. I'm sure drawing a straight line could be too, but as others said, that kind of practice can be very helpful. It'll help you with confidence in just letting your arm flow and getting SOMETHING on paper. It's fine, you can do it, and there are sections like Tips and Tutorials, References and Inspiration, Mentoring in CA. Even using our Search for something that grabs your interest might help steer you in the right direction!

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    I'd also argue that perfectionism isn't necessarily something you want to eliminate.
    Although there's a difference between perfectionism that drives you to improve, and perfectionism that causes you to give up before you even start. The first kind is good, the second kind is crippling. Try to develop the good kind of perfectionism.

    Some were saying drawing a (perfect) circle is pretty much futile. I'm sure drawing a straight line could be too, but as others said, that kind of practice can be very helpful.
    It might be a tolerable exercise, UNLESS it becomes an obsession. Slaving away trying to draw a perfect freehand circle while ignoring everything else is not going to get anyone very far. And trying to start with perfect circles and then despairing and giving up because they aren't perfect is also going to get you nowhere. There are more useful ways to start, really...

    (Not to harp or anything, it's just that the whole "perfect circle" thing is a pet peeve of mine. I'm sure it comes from the myth that "a true artist can draw a perfect circle", and I'm not sure where that myth came from, but it's absurd and potentially misleading. I swear, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've seen a beginner lamenting that they'll never get anywhere because they "can't draw a perfect circle"...)

    (Ironically, another myth I've heard is the exact opposite: "true artists can't draw a straight line." Who comes up with these things anyway?)

    The "perfect circle" thing might come from an apocryphal story about Giotto, now I think of it... and although he was supposed to be able to draw perfect circles, everything else he drew was pretty stiff and primitive by modern standards. So, really - would you rather be able to draw convincing people, or perfect circles?

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; April 30th, 2010 at 07:21 AM. Reason: typos...
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  23. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Rainville View Post
    I wrote this little "guide" for easy copypasta help on DA, but it's probably applicable here.
    Sometimes a fresh set of eyes will detect things in 2 minutes that youíve failed to see with your hours of work.

    This right here.

    Few months back I finished a drawing and was all "This is awesome! I managed to capture the emotion perfectly! This is by far the best thing I've done and it's great!"

    Then some dude went "The hairline is messed up." and I was like "...How did I not see that?"

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    kay, here's the deal. i'm 14 years old, turning 15 in like 2 months. i'm in grade 8. and i LOVE art. but i suck at it, can't even draw a cube properlly... and we had this art project, and i was just going on the internet to find some webs that might give me some ideas. n i found this one, it's AMAZING! i can't believe that people could draw this good. i asked my dad if i could go to an art class or something, to improve my "art skills," but he said "oh, you can't go, cause at the age of 14, almost 15, it's too late to learn anything new, so just stick with what you're doing right now." n i dun know wat to do or where to start. n since you guys have YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS of experience, just wondering if someone coould help me. XD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daawid View Post
    kay, here's the deal. i'm 14 years old, turning 15 in like 2 months. i'm in grade 8. and i LOVE art. but i suck at it, can't even draw a cube properlly... and we had this art project, and i was just going on the internet to find some webs that might give me some ideas. n i found this one, it's AMAZING! i can't believe that people could draw this good. i asked my dad if i could go to an art class or something, to improve my "art skills," but he said "oh, you can't go, cause at the age of 14, almost 15, it's too late to learn anything new, so just stick with what you're doing right now." n i dun know wat to do or where to start. n since you guys have YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS of experience, just wondering if someone coould help me. XD
    and whenever i try to draw a simple thing, like the book on my desk, i give up, cause 1, i can't draw. 2, i'm thinkin, what's the point anyways? it's not gonna make me any better. so i never improve...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonsushi View Post
    I feel like I can't even draw a circle. (Yes, I've tried.) And I'm a bit of a perfectionist so it's basically like I'm my own worst enemy.

    ***
    I've tried a couple of books, but it seems like I always end up where I started...trying to draw a circle and hating it.
    So stop trying to draw circles, and more importantly, stop using that as some bizarre measure of ability. If you want to draw a circle, use a compass. If you want to draw a straight line, use a ruler. It's what people who can draw do when they need to do those things. We're not talking party tricks here, we're talking practice, dedication, and experience.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Daawid View Post
    and whenever i try to draw a simple thing, like the book on my desk, i give up, cause 1, i can't draw. 2, i'm thinkin, what's the point anyways? it's not gonna make me any better. so i never improve...
    Seems you've identified your own problem, then. There's not much anybody else can do for you until you get over that.


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  32. #17
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    @Daawid: Just read this thread here and keep in mind he was 22 when he started it. You decide if 15's too young to learn anything after you're done reading it.

    And grab some food. It's a big thread.

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  34. #18
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    Other peoples' threads you say?

    As always: check out mindcandy man's thread and ccsears while you're at it!

    mindcandy man develops before your eyes, and ccsears is a really bright dude who writes and speaks very well on how to progress.

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  36. #19
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    ďit's too late to learn anything new, so just stick with what you're doing right now."

    Most silly advice ever. I wonder where we would all be if we stuck to what we were doing by the age of 15. I think your dad just doesnít want to pay for classes or maybe he is projecting himself on you. Well tell him itís not too late for him to start doing something new if it is the latter Donít give up, if you want this you can have it, you just need to get past this point and deal with the reality that drawing is difficult, frustrating and youíre going to mess up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daawid View Post
    i asked my dad if i could go to an art class or something, to improve my "art skills," but he said "oh, you can't go, cause at the age of 14, almost 15, it's too late to learn anything new
    Ha! I was likely older than your dad when I started. If you keep at it then you'll achieve.

    BTW, it's never too early to practise punctuation and grammar

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    Okay 1 second here's a great exercise. Think of how old you are, when you were born. Got it in your head? Okay, get rid of that thought. Don't even think about it.

    Ignore your parents if they try to give you yet another excuse on why you shouldn't or "can't" learn to draw.

    Most artists to be don't rely on encouragement from family and teachers, because usually it's not there.

    Whether it's for a career or just a hobby, learning to draw is completely up to you. Noone else. Not your family, not your teacher, not your friends, not your dog. You make your decisions, not them. Unless your parents have problems with you drawing the nude figure(in a lot of cases this seems to be), focus on a clothed figure.

    You're saying what's the point to yourself, but really you're the only person who can answer that. You said so yourself you'd like to make money off of your drawings, so work up to that. Don't complain about limits, or being busy, or being bored. If you let 1 day get to you, it'll end up 2 days, and those two days will end up being five days, those five days will end up being a week without drawing, then a month.

    Just start your sketchbook here already and let time fly by. After a month, look back at where you started. Then after six months. Then again at a year. Keep going, keep pusing, and any other cliche "motivational" terms there are to get you stop doubting yourself and lift up the damn pencil.

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    Wow! Thanks to everyone for all the posts, information, and advice. I haven't yet checked out all the links everyone gave but I will be doing that ASAP.

    As for the circle thing, I should probably clarify what I meant. I don't expect to draw a perfect circle. And that's not really all that I have been trying to draw. It was just something that stuck out in my mind far more than anything else I had tried. And I don't mean that I'm just sitting around trying to draw circles. Sorry for the confusion. A little bit of the statement was almost meant in the broad sense. But a big reason behind it was trying to draw a circle (or really a circle type shape) that was part of something bigger that I was trying to draw. If that makes sense.

    As an example, trying to draw something like someone's head. Obviously it's not a circle. I was more so referring to the shape of something round like a head or an apple. Hopefully that clears that bit up and makes sense.

    But everyone's input has been very helpful! I appreciate it all very much. I was blown away by how many people posted AND how helpful everyone has been.

    Now, off to check out all these links!!

    Thanks a ton for everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarinn View Post
    1) Are you in a post-secondary school with an art department? I went to the chair of the arts dept at my college with pretty much the same question you have on "Where do I start?" and he said it was a shame that I'm graduating this year (I'm not an art student, I'm in IT) because he would have let me sit in on the art classes whenever I had time. Might be something you could look into.
    Oddly enough, I'm in IT also. I'm not a student now. Graduated a couple years ago, but I've got a degree in Computer Networking. So I'm not in any classes that had anything to do with art or have been since high school. Thanks for the advice about checking out those other classes though. I wish I had done that while I was still in school. Ha. I think they do offer some kind of art classes at times though so I should probably look more into that. Thanks.

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    I'm glad you started this thread, I read the title and was like: Holy fuck, this guy is like me.... I figured I should say something.

    I'm currently in biomed/tech and as such couldn't be further from the Art Realm. At the moment art is my escape from the logical ďrealitiesĒ so prevalent in the sciences. I can go apeshit without huge consequences. I can also explore ideas I wouldnít have been able to explore in science. It's not like I can play around with chemicals in the chemistry lab for fun. The cartoons lied! Damn it.... I guess I could take the taxonomy classes and mix and match animals but I doubt I would pass. ;D Abstract thought has limits/ boundaries in science. Too many limits make me cranky and as such I need something, art is that something. Itís weird I know....

    A few days ago, some rl peeps saw my sketchbook and told me I should basically stop wasting my time. Ironic really given that they (and until recently me) spend shitloads of time at pubs/clubs.... Anyways after ranting I tried writing with my non-dominant hand. I didnít produce anything of value but I proved that given time I can improve. The letters became a tiny bit clearer and I became more confident as time passed. I also realised that the letters resembled the letters I used to draw as a kid. I know, itís rather ridiculous but it helped me.

    Persist or fail imho. Itís clean and simple for me.

    "It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history." ~ Terry Pratchett

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonsushi View Post
    Oddly enough, I'm in IT also. I'm not a student now. Graduated a couple years ago, but I've got a degree in Computer Networking. So I'm not in any classes that had anything to do with art or have been since high school. Thanks for the advice about checking out those other classes though. I wish I had done that while I was still in school. Ha. I think they do offer some kind of art classes at times though so I should probably look more into that. Thanks.
    Even more odd, I just graduated from networking too. Small world. XD

    Another book I just borrowed from my best friend (she's the one in graphic design) is Basic Figure Drawing Techniques by Greg Albert (well, edited by him anyways). I like this one. It's got a lot of basic information on things like proportions and whatnot. As a beginner I really like this book. It's simple, but useful.

    "Without angst, there is no art." - Fred Gallagher
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Prion View Post
    A few days ago, some rl peeps saw my sketchbook and told me I should basically stop wasting my time. Ironic really given that they (and until recently me) spend shitloads of time at pubs/clubs.... Persist or fail imho. It’s clean and simple for me.
    THIS. Truly an inspiration for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prion View Post
    A few days ago, some rl peeps saw my sketchbook and told me I should basically stop wasting my time.
    Dang! I really hope you don't consider these people friends because...well, real friends don't say stuff like that to each other. Forget how rude it is, it's just flat out negative. I'm guessing they aren't really friends though since you just said people.

    Also, I'm glad there have been a few people who've posted in here who can relate to the reasons behind my topic. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one every once in a while. Haha.

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  46. #27
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    jonsushi,

    I'm in the same boat at you man. Here is the deal.
    First of all, it doesn't matter how much you suck, its about putting forward the effort everyday to try.

    Thats just my 2 cents,

    Anyway, get a SB up buddy! I'm looking forward to seeing your work!

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  48. #28
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    If drawing cubes and circles is an issue, you need to learn to concentrate.

    Or is that to do it with speed?

    Anyway if you force your nut and put pressure on it it's as if it zoom's in on the line you are drawing on the page and you can feel your movement as you move the pencil. That sound right at the beginning of that song eye of the tiger.....mmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

    I have seen allot of people who draw with what I call an aloofness and it makes my brain fizzle when I'm around them. It's like they still do it the way they did in kinder garden with the box of crayons and they might even stick their tongue out to the sides of their mouth. It looks enjoyable though and maybe it's not so bad, maybe that's the route I should have taken to be more loose.

    Last edited by George Abraham; May 5th, 2010 at 08:33 AM.
    ----------------------------------
    Scetchbook: View the exhibitionist's stuff.
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  50. #29
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    I feel mostly the same way you do. It's hard reading so many bios of artists you admire that say "I've held a pencil since I was born" or "I've been drawing for as long as I can remember." I'm really drawn more to realism which really widens the gap where I am and where I want to be. It really doesn't help when my family is entirely traditional and views art as nothing but a hobby when you get a "real" job.

    This forum is really the best place for you because it completely changed my way of thinking. The sketchbook section will blow your mind away and you will find many people at the same level as you (including me). I barely ever drew and probably filled up 1/4 of a sketchbook in my entire life. (no really, I have it with me) I am impatient and never really sat down to do a drawing or anything art related.

    I find it so hard to hold a pencil and start drawing because I didn't know where to start. I thought that maybe I should find the right source first and progress from there. That just was an excuse so I wouldn't draw anything and see how much I really suck. Everyone will tell you do just draw. And you should just draw. Draw one thing and look at it objectively. I bet you it will suck and that's completely ok. If you stayed in a static position like that for years, it may not be ok.

    You seem to be like me and have the same problem with having the incorrect attitude. Like i said, I barely drew in my 20 years of living so it would make complete sense that I'm not that great but the point is you will improve if you work at it.

    I bought the Betty Edwards book and plan on using it soon. I'm currently taking my finals so I'll wait one week until it's over before starting to study it. There is even a sketchbook support group that you can join if you need a little push.

    Good luck!

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  52. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaorr View Post
    If drawing cubes and circles is an issue, you need to learn to concentrate.
    No, he needs to learn perspective.

    Here's a tutorial. I'm sure you can find many others online or get a good book on the subject.

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