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I'm interested in habit building exercises and insights people have gained from their own development.
On the surface, that's good advice, but I see people who draw for ridiculous amounts of time every day, but since it's all the same thing over and over again, never challenging themselves, they never grow at all. I'm more interested in structured advice than general, pseudo-motivational quips of "draw more", yes I know I have to draw more, but there comes a point where your growth just halts and you have to start doing something new. I'm looking for an exercise that grows with me(figure drawing workshops?), that unlocks new challenges as I overcome old ones, not simple rinse lather repeat formulas. I've heard the "If you don't know how to draw something, draw 100 of it" piece of advice, that's more what I'm looking for, something general enough to apply to plenty of new challenges, but still specific enough to have a tangible goal at the end(in this case having drawn 100 of something and walking away better at it). EDIT: I'm not asking for a swiss army knife oxy-clean slap-chop solution to everything, just a beginners set of tools I can start to work with as I acquire my own, I like to think that habit building itself is a skill, and I want to learn the ins and outs as I go along so I don't get discouraged by minor setbacks.
Draw something different everyday. One day do anatomy studies, then still life, then perspective, then landscape painting, etc. If you come across something that's particularly hard, draw more of that thing more often until you become more comfortable with it. Don't forget to draw fun stuff in between as that can be a real stress reliever. Don't try to focus on the same subject for a long period of time (like weeks) or you might get bored with it and lose motivation.
EDIT: Also, try to understand and analyze what you are drawing.
Last edited by otherscape; April 22nd, 2012 at 02:25 AM. Reason: more info
Go somewhere. Draw whatever you find there.
This is not a sarcastic answer, by the way. Depending on where you choose to go (or find yourself) you will get practice doing gestures, long poses, architecture, vehicles, animals, plants, composition, landscapes, texture, perspective, value and whatever else you want to study that day. You can start with quick sketches of individual objects, but as you grow you can include more and more, study more carefully, render more faithfully, caricature, cartoonify, or whatever else you want to do to challenge yourself. If there's one thing you're going to do every day, this should be it.
Like I always plug nowadays. Glenn Vilppu has some useful studies to do. But what everyone else said. Yada yada yada.
Vineris has some darn good advice...
Really, the more different things you try, the better. You never know what will click until you try it, and doing the same things over and over is not only boring but can get you into a rut...
Another possibility to add to the above is maybe try making a comic. Planning and drawing a comic can be a good long-term project that forces you to build a lot of different skills at once - composition, storytelling, anatomy, perspective, use of reference, and general all-around drawing skills. Plus you can use it as a platform to experiment with different media. And it's fun!
If you start a really long, elaborate comic, it'll give you years worth of varied practice material. Though multiple short comics work just as well.
^ I second the comics thing. Coincidentally what I was just doing an hour ago. I wouldn't start big though personally. I've gone through 4-5 flops no higher than 20 pages. While I learned a lot your going to move at a snails pace alone so if you have a big complex story in your head it's going to be awhile before you get it out. I'd start small at first then work up.
But it's great practice as said above it forces you to do a lot of stuff. I never once did an environment ever before I did comics. Now I'm actually starting to enjoy attempting them.
Oh yeah and if you do try comics look into some basic cinematography angles and rules. Helps a lot when thinking in terms of framing a shot.
I looked at your sketchbook and you need to focus and discipline yourself to draw something over and over again until you can draw it accurately. Jumping around from thing to thing without actually trying to get better gets you nowhere, so your assumptions are wrong, the last thing you want to do is bounce all over the place never getting good at anything. Start with simple geometric forms and single light source shading; when you can do that accurately then you can draw more complex stuff.
Rather pick something simple, sustainable, instead of setting out on your once-and-for-all masterpiece. You are asking for an exercise: that is something that may have no other value but improving your skills.
Try simple still lifes, leave out details, and just try to get proportions and perspective right. Think basic geometric forms, so stick to a box and a jar, or a couple of boxes, a roll of toilet paper. When you're absolutely convinced there is nothing to improve, shoot your setup and your drawing and overlay them, spot the differences, make corrections. Should keep you busy for a couple of hours. Think exercise: don't worry if you have to erase everything three times, just get it right.
Another one is the blind contours exercise from Nicolaides, which will help you to develop a nice line quality. As I see it, this is not some stupid routine which helps you to make a perfect drawing without even looking at your paper: it is all about line quality. One session could last anything from 5 minutes to an hour.