sketching people - natural ability or developed skill?

One area I’d really like to improve upon is my protrait and figure sketching.

Are some people just naturally gifted to draw this way, or is it a skill that is developed over hundreds or thousands of sketches?

I believe it’s developed. I was pretty bad until I sat through a semester of figure drawing. I really should go back again to polish my skills up.

A little of both I’d say. It has a lot to do with what you’re seeing.

The people that sketch the best sketch the most, it’s as simple as that.

While some people may have a more natural artistic ability to percieve things, practice, observation, and the ability to self critique your work are what lets you improve your skills.

If you drew a person, looked at it, saw there legs were too long, you could draw another person and know to correct the length of the legs. You’ve just improved your skill and can move on to where you see your next improvement needed.

Repeat that several times a day for 6 months and see where it gets you.

It is a skill. I used to be horrible at it. Buy some of the books on the subject, like “How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way”. It takes practice, and training your eye to see what is really there and how to abstract it, vs the visual shorthand symbols are mind sees.

I would say it is a combination. its kind of like running a marathon, (most) anyone can train and complete the distance but only a select few can win it. Any one can learn to sketch well, it may just come easier to some. If you put in the time you may not be the best out there, but you certainly will be able to do it.

Nurb says its about what your seeing and he couldnt be more right. drawing is really just breaking down what your seeing, or thinking, to lines and curves

I talk a bit about the seeing part in my book. Re-educating your eye to really SEE and understand the world around you is more than half of sketching. You can’t sketch what you don’t fundamentally understand. Otherwise you end regurgitating a bunch of cliche symbols onto a page.

Seeing your own work for what it is is just as difficult. Evaluating what is working and what isn’t is a hard one skill.

Thanks for all the comments, I know I’ve got a lot of work to do, but at least I know I’m not doomed from the beginning!

btw, this site is awesome, thanks everyone for being so responsive on the few questions that I’ve asked!

I would say being able to imagine things in the mind before you draw is a talent, however putting things on paper is a skill.

A great book for learning to see things better when you are drawing is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It will really help to teach you to see the true shape and form of things.