Tips for starting a new hobby?

A thought crossed my mind last night to try a new hobby, and the hobby in question was drawing. The problem is that my artistic abilities are limited to crappy sticks that are the type you'd see in 12 Oz. Mouse according to art classes I took in grade school (and even when I painted a group of apartments one time, it was babby's first South Park without being made of paper cut outs).

I've never gotten past those crappy stick figures, so can anyone give me tips on actually being semi-competent?

The only way to get better is to keep practicing.

There's no way to magically get better at drawing, you just have to draw and develop muscle memory. Draw as much as you can whenever you can, even if it's just little doodles in the margins of pages when you're bored at work.

That's literally the only advice that's worth a damn for someone starting out.

Dirty Hipsters:
The only way to get better is to keep practicing.

There's no way to magically get better at drawing, you just have to draw and develop muscle memory. Draw as much as you can whenever you can, even if it's just little doodles in the margins of pages when you're bored at work.

That's literally the only advice that's worth a damn for someone starting out.

What if practice doesn't work? I practiced every single day in my old Calculus class, yet I failed despite drilling everything into my head daily. Not saying practice doesn't make perfect, it's just that I'm not good enough to get better by just practicing regularly.

DarklordKyo:

Dirty Hipsters:
The only way to get better is to keep practicing.

There's no way to magically get better at drawing, you just have to draw and develop muscle memory. Draw as much as you can whenever you can, even if it's just little doodles in the margins of pages when you're bored at work.

That's literally the only advice that's worth a damn for someone starting out.

What if practice doesn't work? I practiced every single day in my old Calculus class, yet I failed despite drilling everything into my head daily. Not saying practice doesn't make perfect, it's just that I'm not good enough to get better by just practicing regularly.

Calculus isn't art.

Calculus is about understanding a subject. Art (at its core) is about muscle memory.

Think about writing.

This is how a child writes:

This is how an adult writes:

See the difference? The adult writing has much more fluid motions, cleaner proportions, etc. This isn't because writing is some difficult to learn skill. Anyone can learn to write, and write clearly, it just takes a little work and practice. Write something with your left hand, then write something with your right hand. Why is it so much more difficult to write with your non-dominant hand? You KNOW how to write, but since you don't write with your non-dominant hand it doesn't have the muscle memory necessary to translate your knowledge into action.

Starting out drawing is similar. Before you start thinking about perspective, composition, the interplay of light and shadow, you need to develop muscle memory. The reason that all you can draw right now is stick figures is the same reason that you can't write with your non-dominant hand.

DarklordKyo:
I've never gotten past those crappy stick figures, so can anyone give me tips on actually being semi-competent?

I can give you a few generalized tips about starting a new hobby, but not anything specific about art.

1) Start with the basics, and be OKAY with starting with the basics. I picked up the accordion two months ago because I wanted to be able to play a lot of my favorite songs on it - two months later, I can barely play the melodies of a few of them. It can be discouraging to realize how slow progress can be with a totally new hobby, but I HAVE improved with practice. You will suck for a while - if that doesn't demotivate you, you will slowly get to where you want to be.

2) Seek out skilled people in your field who can help you, or at least give you pointers. People who know how to do your hobby well have already broken through the aforementioned phase of being crap and needing loads of practice to be competent. They can tell you how they managed to become adept at their passion, and maybe you can emulate that.

3) Look up YouTube video tutorials from the people in point 2 if you don't know any personally. They might not be good at editing or recording HOW they perform, but most of them can give good guidance anyway. Even if only 10% of their information is helpful to you, having a video file that you can pause and rewind at your discretion can help you overcome a particular obstacle or challenge.

4) Focus on one short-term goal at a time, rather than a broad, vaguely-defined endgoal. I wanted to master the accordion, but being a novice makes that look like an insurmountable achievement. Focusing on getting one song down at a time, such as being able to consistently play the Song of Storms from Zelda games, gives me frequent successes to celebrate, rather than one gigantic grind that feels unrewarding to work toward. Doing this helps reinforce point 1.

First of all, get yourself a sketchbook and start drawing random shit. Better yet, try drawing things you are interested in by finding them in the world and drawing them. Plus, your sketchbook is your own reference guide, with notes and whatnot.

To get good at drawing, or anything visual, you will have to learn how to analyze reference images. Part of it is knowing what to look for, rather than mindlessly copying it. You need to know how to simplify an image into its basic form primitives (cubes, spheres, cones, cylinders) and replicate it on paper.

When you draw stick figures, you are drawing symbols, because that's all the visual information you can meaningfully reproduce. Things like perspective, form, anatomy, etc. are more like toolsets or methods to translate the super low-res gibberish in your mind's eye into something meaningful on paper.

Here are some general drawing tips:

1) Draw by moving your arm and not your wrist. Not only will you save your wrist from injury, but you will be able to draw longer strokes with more confidence.

2) Don't draw slowly and without confidence. Try not to drag your pencil slowly on the paper, as it leads to jittery lines and generally bad line quality. When you draw a line, draw the line from start point to endpoint with one fell swoop, don't stop the pencil. Try to draw with confidence, as whatever mistakes you can erase later. You need to train how to make larger arm movements with precision, and with enough practice, you can draw somewhat perfect looking lines and ellipses without a ruler. If necessary, try to air draw a line above the paper multiple times before committing it to paper.

3) When drawing from imagination, always use reference. The only reason not to use reference is if finding reference is too hard. Don't fall into the trap of admiring an artist who made an amazing drawing or painting without reference, and thinking that not using reference is something good. On the other extreme, don't rely too heavily on reference. Reference should be used to solve problems, and if you copy without understanding what you are doing, it may lead to a pretty picture, but it's not helpful in the long run.

4) Finally, draw what you want to draw, no matter how ugly it is. You have to enjoy drawing to want to get better at drawing. Don't get too obsessed with getting better and do studies all the time. Take a look at the original One Punch Man webcomic, not the redrawn manga.


It looks... less than impressive. Nevertheless, I'll bet the author had a blast writing and drawing it.

If you have any questions please ask. I can get more specific if you want, at least on the fundamentals.

Dirty Hipsters:
snip

Aw shit. I never actually got better at writing after a certain point, I plateau'd real quick thanks to some screwy fine motor skills. No wonder drawing was so hard to improve after a certain point, back when I still did that. Thanks Asperger's...

this ted talk kinda blew my mind about drawing.


me thinks that with the right lessons you would pick it up pretty quickly to a point.

lechat:
this ted talk kinda blew my mind about drawing.


me thinks that with the right lessons you would pick it up pretty quickly to a point.

There was an error, the video won't play.

Okay, I made a few sketches, and, if you doods don't mind, mine critiquing my work? Hopefully they're not too terrible.

Marina Liteyears

Link

Geralt of Rivia

DarklordKyo:
Okay, I made a few sketches, and, if you doods don't mind, mine critiquing my work? Hopefully they're not too terrible.

Marina Liteyears

Link

Geralt of Rivia

I can see that you're trying to draw each line in a single long stroke from beginning to end. That's something that works really well when drawing digitally since it's extremely easy to redraw the line a bunch of times until you get it just right. It's a lot harder to draw that way in a traditional medium. So what I see is that you're starting your line, and then slowing down and hesitating as you draw it, which causes it to come out uneven and crooked.

What you should be doing is sketching each line in many light and short strokes, and then when you're happy with the line you've drawn, you use that as a guide and go over it with a single darker stroke and erase the parts you don't need.

See how each line is actually a bunch of smaller shorter lines? You make a messy sketch first, and that's your bottom layer, and then once you're basically happy with it, you go over it again to create your basic line art. What you've doing in your sketches is trying to skip the first step and going straight to the line art without actually planning it out. That's why all of your lines are so messy, because as you're drawing you're not exactly sure where each line is going to start and stop, and you're manually trying to adjust it on the fly as you're drawing.

Dirty Hipsters:

DarklordKyo:
Okay, I made a few sketches, and, if you doods don't mind, mine critiquing my work? Hopefully they're not too terrible.

Marina Liteyears

Link

Geralt of Rivia

I can see that you're trying to draw each line in a single long stroke from beginning to end. That's something that works really well when drawing digitally since it's extremely easy to redraw the line a bunch of times until you get it just right. It's a lot harder to draw that way in a traditional medium. So what I see is that you're starting your line, and then slowing down and hesitating as you draw it, which causes it to come out uneven and crooked.

What you should be doing is sketching each line in many light and short strokes, and then when you're happy with the line you've drawn, you use that as a guide and go over it with a single darker stroke and erase the parts you don't need.

See how each line is actually a bunch of smaller shorter lines? You make a messy sketch first, and that's your bottom layer, and then once you're basically happy with it, you go over it again to create your basic line art. What you've doing in your sketches is trying to skip the first step and going straight to the line art without actually planning it out. That's why all of your lines are so messy, because as you're drawing you're not exactly sure where each line is going to start and stop, and you're manually trying to adjust it on the fly as you're drawing.

To go further on this, you can see on the Simba picture that for each thick line, there are a dozen thinly drawn, feint lines underneath. The artist didn't get Simba's face right on the first attempt, instead they tried each spot over and over, with slightly different curves and shapes to figure out the shapes of cheeks, features etc. Don't even try to get someone's face right on the first go - experiment with these faint guidelines until you get one that has the right shape. Also, don't erase any of the "bad" lines until the end. Or don't erase them at all; pencil drawings often look nicer with the faint lines there, providing a nice texture to stuff.

Dirty Hipsters:
snip

Well, I tried doing that to mixed results (probably screwed up the execution), here's my latest disasterpiece:

Chie Satonaka (I hope I didn't potatize Persona 4's best girl too much)

I don't know if you've ever seen these, but this link is a collection of works from artists when they were young up to their current point along with some words on how they made the shift in style. I personally find it inspiring and seeing the leap from a toddler's doodles to 3d still-lifes and looking at progress first hand and is a little more tangible than hearing the same advice over and over even if it is totally true.

http://www.dorkly.com/post/81987/artist-progress

Start small and go for beginners equipment, or the equivalent starter kit.

Don't go out and spend tons of money on equipment, supplies, etc. As then you'll be stuck with pricey things, that you'll be blessed to sell at a loss to recuperate some of your money. If you lose interest. Perfect example, my brother spent $600 on an electric guitar. Plus he brought a pricey speaker, and tried to learn how to play the guitar on his own. He hit a brick wall in learning the guitar, and just gave up. Now if you get really into art after a set amount of time. Then consider getting more expensive professional orientated equipment.

-Jak-:
Start small and go for beginners equipment, or the equivalent starter kit.

Don't go out and spend tons of money on equipment, supplies, etc. As then you'll be stuck with pricey things, that you'll be blessed to sell at a loss to recuperate some of your money. If you lose interest. Perfect example, my brother spent $600 on an electric guitar. Plus he brought a pricey speaker, and tried to learn how to play the guitar on his own. He hit a brick wall in learning the guitar, and just gave up. Now if you get really into art after a set amount of time. Then consider getting more expensive professional orientated equipment.

Way ahead of you, just using a sketchpad and pencil for now.

Don't. Like literally, don't bother.

Tried to get better at clay pigeon shooting. Failed miserably. Now I'm several hundred quid down with a major decrease in skill - scoring just over half of what I used to. I've decided to give up and stop trying.

If you're gonna start a new hobby, at least find something you're already decent at. Don't make a fool of yourself like me.

image

On seriousness, I'm happy this thread exists... Some people have given you some advice, here's mine:

1. Don't get discouraged. - Because, you're trying something new. The more you broaden your horizons, the more mental tools you will have to deal with new challenges. It's great that you want to take up art, and you should continue to pursue it.

2. Take frequent breaks. - It's easy to get frustrated with something that doesn't look right. Trust me. Don't lock yourself in the basement for 3 days until you get a hand right. No, Hands are a bitch. Take it easy, and practice in short bursts.

3. Never stop. - Cocktail napkins, paper scraps, carry a pencil and draw something. Practice what comes to your mind.

4. Listen to input. - Already, you have people here willing to take time of their day to teach you. This is awesome. Listen to what they have to offer, and apply it to your own style.

5. Basically... - Have fun, and start off small. You won't make he Sistine Chapel on your first day. I'm looking over your last picture, and I'd say it's a good start. Look online for ideas, and see how well you can translate it to something you like. Look up how the artist did it, and once you have the skills... well... HAVE FUN WITH IT! :3

DarklordKyo:
I've never gotten past those crappy stick figures, so can anyone give me tips on actually being semi-competent?

That's actually an issue of being stuck with the crayon/pencil tool mentality, you try to define things by lines so you try drawing the contours. If you want to go ahead with those tools start practicing with just shapes. Tris, rects, circles, practice placement, position and how relative properties affect other elements and the whole painting. Or start creating complex objects sing those simple shapes, look up cubism - it's not really cubism but it illustrates the point. Then you can do 3d, which means a lotta shading, or you can practice with 2d shapes in perspective views, or both(but try to shade if you use 3d perspective).

And the alternative is to swap your tools. Switch to paints, probaby watercolors. Those will help you break from the line drawing mold because it requires you to fill colours moreso than drawing lines with pencils. Then you will need to learn how the paper moisture affects how the liquid paint spreads and shades the paper. Etc. etc. I can draw a we we on a 3rd grade level.

I'v only decided to start drawing a few months ago so can't give you any great advice but here a video that may help you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7bzhGE6RaQ&index=3&list=PLBVyYeuT_pyqBK1EmbnmRh4HXDuvtWBu4

The only thing I can say is there are tricks to make things look right and how to get the proportions. So look up stuff like "drawing basic headshapes" and gather as much info as possable.

Tutorials help, quite a bit.

There are also a plethora of art books available for every style ya can think of.

It's just practice. A time investment.

If you dedicate the hours and internalize the basics, you'll see an improvement over time.

Don't get discouraged either- it just takes time. And don't bother trying to hold yourself up to the standards of an art senpai.

They were noobs at one point too.

DarklordKyo:

What if practice doesn't work?

There's no 'what if', because it works. It's how every master artist got to where they are.

Efficient practice makes perfect. Tutorials help astronomically for learning techniques. Practice gives you control over the techniques.

Watch Sinixdesign's sketchbook tour. From ages 15-19 he's absolute garbage. He practiced extremely diligently to get to where he is.

Kibeth41:

There's no 'what if', because it works. It's how every master artist got to where they are.

Efficient practice makes perfect. Tutorials help astronomically for learning techniques. Practice gives you control over the techniques.

Watch Sinixdesign's sketchbook tour. From ages 15-19 he's absolute garbage. He practiced extremely diligently to get to where he is.

In my defense, that's what basically happened with me and calculus. I put in the work, I studied every day, I failed every test.

A Fork:
snip

Just as an aside, y'know those hair-lo thingies on certain anime-styled characters?

Know how to properly make one with just a pencil and sketchpad? (was able to bullshit one by erasing it, then thinning the erased area, but I'd rather do a proper one).

Erasing is a viable option if you want a straight line, or you could miss out that part totaly if you want a more jagged line like this

DarklordKyo:

Chie Satonaka (I hope I didn't potatize Persona 4's best girl too much)

Hmm, I can see you've made a common mistake that beginners make, which is not recognizing that Yukiko is in fact best girl in Persona 4.

As a recommendation, try using construction lines. This ties into the form primitives (cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones) that I was talking about in my first post, if you still remember. I've read a few books on drawing the human figure, and drawing the head is usually the same, a sphere and a wedge.

I drew a Chie to illustrate an idea of how it works. Just a heads up, I haven't drawn in many years, I never considered myself very good at drawing, I've never draw anime before blah blah, so if this looks terrible and it looks like I have no idea what I am talking about, I apologize.




If you painstakingly copy the contour lines, or start with one part, such as the eyes and draw everything else around it, what usually happens is a lack of structure, hence it looks asymmetric or lopsided. For a face, you can spend a lot of time adjusting the lines getting everything right until it is perfect, but when you stick the drawing in front of a mirror, it is completely skewed to one side (Using a mirror is a very good test for anything to see if things are drawn properly).

So, unless you are some kind of genius or have photographic memory, I recommend using construction lines. Just ask yourself, which is easier, drawing a picture without any guides, or drawing a picture that is already half finished.

DarklordKyo:

Just as an aside, y'know those hair-lo thingies on certain anime-styled characters?

Know how to properly make one with just a pencil and sketchpad? (was able to bullshit one by erasing it, then thinning the erased area, but I'd rather do a proper one).

You mean the highlights? You can use a kneaded eraser to create the highlight, or if we are talking about 3 tone cell shading, you can draw the lines for the shadows and the highlight, and color everything as you would a coloring book.

Edit:
As others said, there are tons of tutorials on youtube and DeviantArt. If you don't know how to draw something, chances are there is a tutorial on that. But feel free to ask more questions.

A Fork:
snip

Dood, real talk, if that's what you consider bad, I don't want to know what you consider good.

Anyways, I tried doing the head only, but it just won't come out right for some reason.

LostGryphon:

It's just practice. A time investment.

If you dedicate the hours and internalize the basics, you'll see an improvement over time.

What if I never get any better? I put the work in learning calculus, and I was further motivated by a desire to fulfill my dreams, and I failed.

DarklordKyo:

LostGryphon:

It's just practice. A time investment.

If you dedicate the hours and internalize the basics, you'll see an improvement over time.

What if I never get any better? I put the work in learning calculus, and I was further motivated by a desire to fulfill my dreams, and I failed.

I'll give ya one more piece of advice.

Going into it with the attitude that you're going to fail is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just do it. Enjoy the time spent. And don't hold yourself to unrealistic standards.

LostGryphon:

I'll give ya one more piece of advice.

Going into it with the attitude that you're going to fail is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Just do it. Enjoy the time spent. And don't hold yourself to unrealistic standards.

Except I went into upgrading a desktop with utmost confidence, having done the research, gotten compatible parts, and having the process drilled into my head, and I ruined the whole damn thing. Luckily, I was able to afford a replacement laptop, but the fact remains that I fail even at something I feel good about succeeding in.

DarklordKyo:

Way ahead of you, just using a sketchpad and pencil for now.

Amen. Glad to hear.

Just keep it up, and see where your interests go from there.

 

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