Practice without guidance=useless. HELP!

Hi All,

I am in a design drawing class and though I am seeing some improvement, I just feel like I am not getting that much better. Every once in a while I will draw something that I think looks good, but most of the time I think that my work looks like crap. I know that practice is key, but when I don’t really know what specific things I need to work on, I just keep drawing the same way over and over. I don’t get much from the in-class critiques. I asked my teacher for some input as to what specific areas I should work on and he kind of blew me off. So I guess I am coming to you guys for help. I will scan and post some stuff in the next few days but for now can anyone just post some general info or maybe refer me to some good on-line material? I have a couple of books but they’re pretty limited in scope.

For me there where a few key mental hurdles.

  1. I had to work on the basics. Understand perspective and constuct underlays. When you get a good perspective layed out, build designs over it. Overlay that again and again until you have weeded out the bad elements. Practice simple forms in scale in perspective. Try drawing a cube, the same size in 60 positions. The monatonous stuff helps.

  2. I had to realize that I was creating an illusion. Things don’t taper in space, color doesn’t fly off a product. You are building a description of an idea using a visual language. You are going to have to learn the basic words before you can put together elaborate manuscripts (is than analogy any good at all?) but onece you get there take liberties.

  3. I had to bench mark succesful work. Find sketches that you admire and criticaly analyze them and your own work. Have someone with skils overlay one of your designs and study what they did.

  4. Once I did 1-3 I had to step out and find my own styles of communicating so that I could loosen up and really think through sketching.

Remember its a skill, not a talent, and as a skill it is something you can learn. It sounds like you are pretty detirmend and from my experience whenever I have gotton really frustrated, I was right on the edge of learning something!

Good luck. Post those sketches up!


-Ultra important! If your perspective isn’t right, nothing will look right.
-Square. Learn to draw squares in perspective. There is no formula to get it to look like a square ( it can easily look like a rectangular if you don’t get the right proportion).
-Why square?
Because circles are based on squares.
Ellipses are based on squares in perspective.
Cube is based on squares in perspective.
Spheres are based on Cubes
Cylinders are based on squares in perspective, so does cones.
Donuts are based on cubes and ellipses.
I hope you see the pattern.

In fact, everything can be based on squares and cubes. You can construct 3D grids to help you plot your form.

Again, and I can’t emphasise more, if you can’t get perspective right, forget about anything else. Practise line drawings as well as line quality. Shading or color is secondary. I have seen very powerful line sketches that no color sketch can beat.


What Yo said makes good sense.

Also try just warming up before sketching by drawing circles, lines all different sizes. Look where u want ur pen to go and not at the end of ur pen.

Use different pens, markers, pencils, highlighters, tablets etc. Even if you find a media which suits ur style continue to try new media and go back to ones uve tried, this will continue to develope ur induvidual drawing style while not letting it become too accustomed to one media.

Dont go back and fix up ur mistakes. Its not technical drawing. Drawings always look better when their looser. If you fix one mistake, you have to fix them all.

The best advice would be to keep drawing. The people who can sketch the best are always the people who constantly draw and doodle and have thoursands of hours sketching time to their name.

Check out for a few helpful sketching tutorials. Also remember ur ur own worst critc so ur never as bad as u think u are.

Good luck! Yeah and we want c some pix

here is a start: observing ‘good’ sketching and figuring out techniques/methods and then apply with your own personal twist.

keep copying sketches made by other artists this is the best ways and one place where copying others pays good returns
best of luck…

buy a pair of skies or a board then go sking. forced sketching sucks.


Here is another trick to use that I did not see mentioned, but as you practice sketching cubic forms and perspective grids, start with undistorted projections, before moving to “extreme angle” or fish-eye views.

When I was in school, I noticed people doing their first sketches as what could be called “fish-eye”, and in short what this means is your horizon line is not very long/vanishing points not too far apart. This creates an unnatural view of a product, even with a larger object like a vehicle. And when you’re first starting out with sketching/drawing, you should master your basic forms, i.e. cubes and cylinders, without a lot of distortion. Also, you see a more accurate view of a product in a standard projection. Fish-eye views serve a purpose, and that is to create a dramatic or dynamic view, but they commonly do not create a realistic view of the object which tells us exactly what we are dealing with.

If you ask yourself this question: “How can I build complex forms in perspective if I cannot draw simpler ones correctly?” then you will see my point.

By practicing undistorted views of objects, you will truly have to imagine where the vanishing points are, because in an undistorted view the VP’s are well off the page, at least one of them, depending on how large your object is on paper.

It is not particularly exciting to sketch just cubes all day, but the more you practice this, and the freehand drawing of straight lines (drawn from the shoulder) the more solid and believable your more finished sketches will be.

Remember good sketching comes from mileage.

Pencil Pusher

There are a few things I did to improve my sketching abilities.

-If you are drawing something that you are looking at, try not to think about what you are drawing or have a preconceived notion of what it should look like when it’s finished. Just draw what you see. You need to see things in terms of lines and shapes. Draw it exactly as you see it.

-When drawing something straight out of your mind, draw everything inside a box. Draw a three-dimensional box and try to visualize how what you are drawing fits inside the box. Draw a grid around the box and use the grid to match points in space. It seems a little weird at first but once you start getting it it becomes natural and you can start drawing without the box. This works even if you are drawing a person, trust me.

-One thing I started doing that seemed VERY retarded at first but it worked is to look at your drawing in front of a mirror. Doing so will help you see the drawing from a totally different perspective and most of the time you will see where you went wrong. Don’t be afraid to erase and fix the problem. Usually people say you can’t go back and erase and you should just start a new drawing, that is not always the case. If it is just a minor mistake try fixing it very carefully. However if it is something that will require you to erase almost everything, then yes, you might want to start a new one.

Don’t get frustrated if perhaps there are things that seem almost imposible to draw, in my case it was people’s faces. Just do it over and over until it comes out right. That’s how I did it and now my strongest point is drawing faces.

While practice is the best way to get better at it, I do believe that sometimes books can teach you a lot of techniques to improve your abilities. My favorite one is “Drawing on The Right Side of The Brain” by Betty Edwards. I used it while I was in design school and still use it as a reference from time to time. The book is designed to help everyone with their drawing skills, even those without “the talent”. It provides exercises that will guide you from the begining and will hopefully have you drawing like a pro by the time you are finished.

I hope this helps!

Been practicing (I am in school after all) and I think that I am getting better. I am going to spend my Christmas break sketching. Gonna be fun.