Here you’ll find a great set of tips on how to get better at drawing. Some are ideal if you want to progress quickly, while others are more about the long-term honing of your drawing skills.
We’ll start by going over some tips to help flex your creativity, as well as both your metaphorical and actual drawing muscles (a.k.a. hands, fingers).
Be sure to also read a take on improving your drawing skills faster, which will hopefully provide some insights to the more impatient readers.
5 Tips to Improve Your Drawing
1. Warming-up Exercises
As with most any activity, it can’t hurt to do a little warming-up. Loosen the proverbial muscles, and try some basic drawing exercises.
- Fill an etire page with lines
- Draw circles of various sizes
- Draw letters
- Geometric shapes are great, too
- Fill a page with waves
- Combine some or all of the above on a single page
To think of it, hands and fingers have their own little muscles so this activity may not even be all that proverbial.
However, there are other dimensions to drawing random shapes, swirls, lines, etc. as well. Aside from the physical, it un-clenches the mind and gets the machine rolling. Plus, it also allows getting a good feel for the pencil or pen tip, the surface, and the way both respond to pressure and tilting.
2. Draw Something Daily
Draw something every day, whether in a designated sketchbook or on loose pieces of paper. Even if it is very small. Even if it sucks!
That’s all there is to it.
No need to make this more complex than it is – consistency is part of becoming better at anything and everything, and that includes drawing.
3. Draw What You See
Simple, everyday scenes or objects make for great drawing practice. Don’t overthink this one: the goal is not to make a masterpiece every single time, or even once.
Instead of looking like a deer in headlights because the result on paper won’t look anything like reality, look at it as your unique take on reality.
It’s not meant to look like the real thing.
First off, you’re just practicing. “Mistakes” are allowed. And secondly, ‘reality’ is rather boring. If we wanted a picture-perfect reflection of what is in front of us, we could do just that: take a picture. (More on that further down.)
4. Practice Perspective
Perspective is so much a part of the scenery around us, that our eyes are accustomed to things looking bigger when closer by and smaller when further out. Our brains don’t give it much thought when we look into the world.
But, oh – when trying to re-create that scenery on a two-dimensional surface… Suddenly it becomes apparent that translating this sense of depth to a language the paper understands can be a challenge.
Perspective is not rocket science, though. The rules are simple and if you can abide by the straight-forward logic, the pieces easily fall into place.
5. Draw Faces, incl. Your Own
Most ‘unschooled’ people who attempt to draw a face have one issue. They put the eyes in the top half, leaving no room for the forehead. Learning the basics of getting facial proportions right is a game changer. Once you’ve got this down, drawing a face – any face – becomes much easier.
Okay, it may still not look like a picture-perfect portrait, but at least the person in your drawing will look human. And that’s a great start.
6. Draw What Comes Easily
Aren’t we doing this to have a little bit of fun, too, at the very least? I know I am!
So if there are certain drawing subjects that you naturally gravitate towards, it’s not a bad idea to focus on those. After all, maybe drawing something that makes you happy is the difference between drawing something or nothing at all.
We all have moments where we’re tired, not feeling it, or have other things weighing on us. If drawing something you like is what it takes to make it happen, go for it – even if you’re not exactly pushing the envelope.
You can always tackle subjects you find less enjoyable and more challenging later.
7. Draw What You Find Most Challenging
Oh yes, there they are. The subjects you find challenging. Try to take a moment and determine some things you don’t like drawing. Explore the reasons why.
For example, I really don’t care for racecars. They just don’t get me excited to dive in – never mind that successfully drawing a racecar is also a clusterbomb of lines, shapes, and proportions. Very hard to get it to look right.
Think about why you don’t like drawing something. Is it because you’re not good at it, because it is difficult? Or is it a lack of interest in the subject?
Challenge yourself every so often to draw something that’s out of your comfort zone. Why?
- Just for the sake of doing so.
- Because it will hone your skills in one way or another.
- Because you might just discover that you like it after all. Maybe when you get better at it, through practice.
It could also be that you don’t have a choice. When my 4-year-old wants me to draw a racecar, that’s what’s happening, whether I like it or not.
And ultimately, I discovered that I could indeed have some fun with it! By playing around with odd wheel placements, adding wicked cool stripes, or by putting characters inside, holding the wheel with their scarf blowing in the wind.
So, yes: find a drawing challenge, tailored to your personal area’s of ‘friction’. Give it a go – your favorites subjects will always be there to fall back on.
How to Get Better at Drawing Fast
If you’re wondering how to get better at drawing fast, you either have a specific reason for wanting to fast-track the process or you’re simply impatient. Maybe both.
Now, if you’re impatient in nature, you might not even read this article in its entirety. In which case… Goodbye.
Still here? Awesome.
The answer is it depends. There is no way around putting in the hours of practice but there are a few “shortcuts” (not really shortcuts, hence the parenthesis) that might help speed things up for those in a hurry.
Ah, being born a talented drawer
Do you want to draw realistic scenes? Photorealism not only takes some practice and a specific form of talent, but it also takes a lot of time to produce the artwork itself.
Some people are innately good at it. Maybe, just maybe, you’re one of the talented few without even knowing it? Only one way to find out.
Try drawing a few pieces of fruit or a portrait from a picture. Does the result look half decent? Hey, you might have just discovered that you’re one of the naturally talented realistic drawers and be able to improve that skill faster than others.
Otherwise, you can learn a lot with practice. However, practice takes – you’ve guessed it – time. And time is pretty much the opposite of moving fast.
In all bluntness, without a solid dose of crude talent, learning how to get better at realistic drawing fast is almost an oxymoron. If that’s your goal, persistence and patience are your best friends.
But don’t run away just yet and hear me out for a minute.
Realism vs. Art
Photorealism may not be the ideal goal when in a hurry – that doesn’t mean there aren’t other, more realistically (no pun intended) achievable ones you could pursue.
There are many different drawing styles. Doodling. Sketching. Crazy cartoons. Abstract shapes. Picasso-esque faces, with one eye looking at the sky.
Drawings with thick, blunt lines, or wiggly, thin ones. You can draw with a single stroke or use the pencil to search for the desired shape through multiple neighboring lines. (An example of the latter: the old Winnie the Pooh illustrations.)
Realistic drawing may be a form of art but it certainly isn’t the only one. In truth, drawings that aren’t aiming to be a near-identical copy of the world are often a lot more interesting.
That’s where the artist’s style, originality, and unique vision shine through. And the even better news is that those things are already part of you. All you need to do is allow them an outlet.
So if you want to know how to get better at drawing fast, and develop a personal signature style, start now. Yesterday would have been better. But now will do.
Confidence is sexy. Artsy, too.
Before you begin, have a serious chat with yourself and lose your doubts. Get ready to dive into the world of art with a healthy dose of confidence.
Yes, even if you are convinced you can’t draw! Yes, even if you’ve never seen yourself as an artist. Still yes, even if you really don’t think you have it in you.
The dirty little secret is that being an artist is more than anything a matter of attitude.
The moment you decide to be artistic and explore your drawing style – regardless of what your style looks like – you are an artist. Maybe not a professional one but an artist nonetheless.
(And let’s be real, Van Gogh was hardly able to pay his bills with income from his painting. I wish he could see what his work goes for today.)
So for the hurried ones, the recipe is to start with confidence and gusto. Spend every waking moment available exploring lines, shapes, shading, and materials. Bring loads of enthusiasm and a pinch of healthy arrogance.
Your drawings are how you express yourself, how you view and experience the world around you. It’s not meant to look like a photograph. If you wanted a picture, you’d grab a camera or phone.
If looking at what others draw gives you inspiration, great! If it mostly makes you feel jealous and think ‘I wish I could draw like that.’, then stop looking. At least for a while, until you find your groove.
The art of drawing can be improved rather quickly; the biggest obstacle is yourself.
In summary, how to get better at drawing fast:
- First off, start drawing.
- Forget realism. Instead of desperately trying to draw realistically, set a realistic goal.
- Find your style. Hone in on the drawing style that comes naturally to you, and improve from there.
Recommended Drawing Supplies
The classic pencil, HB, holds the middle between hard and sharp, and dark and smudgy. 1H, 2H, all the way to 6H get harder, while those with B-numbers get darker and smudgier all the up to 6B. It seems more artists tend to prefer the fatty, dark, smudgy ones. However, both sides of the line are needed to create varied shading. So the harder, lighter H-numbers have their place too.
I love myself some black fine liners, and many other doodlers with me! Staedler and Sakura Micron are fabulous to doodle and draw with. Because they are various levels of ‘thin’, a regular Sharpie marker pen can also come in handy for some really thick lines.
You can never have too many sketchbooks laying around. One on the table, one in a purse/go-bag, one in the bedroom… Inspiration can strike at odd times.
Other Drawing Supplies
An eraser. Or five. No, seriously – one will do, if you’re diligent with your supplies and good at keeping them together.
A good sharpener.