Anyone can learn to draw in 5 days with my 5 day drawing plan and there are plenty of unique ways to do it that go against what your brain thinks is possible.
You can try lots of ways that could be fast such as learning by copying objects around you, or tracing over images until your hand memorizes the lines.
Maybe you prefer restrictive methods, like filling out grid papers with specific proportions or drawing within circles and squares but they will only get you so far.
My method forces repetition while making incremental corrections that lead to incremental improvements.
There’s no wrong way to learn how to draw, as long as you’re putting in the time and effort but don’t be afraid to give this plan a try over the next 5 days and see what you can draw at the end.
The first step is to stop thinking that you can’t draw. This is a common misconception that a lot of people have and it’s one of the main reasons why they never try to improve their skills. If you don’t believe in yourself, then it’ll be impossible to learn how to draw well.
Start by looking at some of your old drawings and see how far you’ve come already. Don’t focus on the mistakes or things that you don’t like, but instead, focus on the progress that you’ve made. It doesn’t matter if your drawings don’t look perfect, as long as you’re enjoying the process and seeing improvement over time.
One of the best ways to improve your drawing skills is by implementing regular practice with incremental improvement but we will go into this in the 5-day steps later in this post.
You do not need talent (but it can help)
You might think that you need to be born with talent in order to draw well, but that’s simply not true. While some people are naturally more gifted than others, anyone can learn to draw well with enough practice. Having talent only means their brain was wired early on to learn from their mistakes.
If you don’t believe me, I took my teenage god-daughter from a child with an interest in art but limited ability to one whose art teacher refused to believe she had submitted her own artwork for assessment because it was “too good” and we achieved this feat over a few weekends of structured mentoring and training. She has not continued to apply what she learned and is an avid and skilled artist who keeps getting better and better.
Do not compare yourself with others until after 5 days
The first step to becoming a better artist is to forget about comparing your work to anyone else’s. This includes other students in your class, professional artists, or even friends and family members who may be better at drawing than you are.
For the next five days, focus on your own progress and improvement, rather than anyone else’s. This will help you stay motivated and avoid discouragement.
Understand what you are learning
As you go through the activities each day, take some time to understand what you are learning. This will help you remember the information and apply it in the future.
For example, if you are learning how to draw a specific type of animal, make sure you understand the anatomy of that animal and how it differs from other animals.
This will not only help you when drawing that specific animal but also when drawing other animals in the future.
Additionally to this guide, I suggest you read up and learn more about the following topics after you have completed the 5 days and try the 5 day plan again with the added knowledge.
- How to create Value studies
- How to draw anything
- Learn perspective
- Mastering Hand Gesture drawings
- Mastering Gesture drawings (whole bodies)
- How to use shadows in art
- How to compose Still-Lifes
- Portrait references
- 12 easy to draw flowers if you like flowers
Pick something you want to actually learn how to draw – you will be focusing on this for 5 days
This is important! If you don’t choose something you want to actually learn how to draw, you will likely get discouraged and give up before the end of the 5 days.
So take some time to think about what you would like to be able to draw by the end of this challenge. It could be anything – a simple object, a character from your favorite TV show, or even a landscape.
Just try to keep it simple and achievable but if you wish to try drawing the Mona Lisa then by all means try.
I tried making my own version of the Mona Lisa when I was in high school and while I hated the result, it showed how much progress I had made and it showed me where I could go with more learning and practice.
Once you have decided on what you want to learn how to draw, find some reference images that you can use. These can be images from the internet, magazines, or even books.
The more reference images you have, the better. This way, you can study different aspects of whatever it is you want to draw and get a better understanding of how it is put together.
Get a mirror, a pencil, an eraser, and lots of paper (any paper) and start drawing!
You don’t need the best equipment, you just need the basics. More importantly than materials and art supplies is to set aside some time each day to draw.
It does not need to be hours on the day, even 30 minutes a day will ensure anyone can learn to draw in 5 days.
Draw like a baby
One of the best ways to improve your drawing skills is to think like a child. When children draw, they don’t overthink it or worry about getting things “right.” They just let their imaginations flow and create whatever comes to mind.
Try out different styles but try not to fixate on that style.
There are a ton of different drawing styles out there, and you should experiment with as many as you can to find the one that suits you best.
It’s also a good way to learn new techniques that you can incorporate into your own style.
One of the best ways anyone can learn to draw in 5 days is by studying reference images. This could be images from the internet, magazines, or even books. The more reference images you have, the better.
Spend some time each day looking at your reference images and try to imitate the style as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just close enough that you’re getting the feel for it.
As you study different styles, you’ll start to see how they’re all put together. This will give you a better understanding of how to draw things yourself.
One of the most important things anyone can learn to do when learning how to draw is practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Trace or copy your favorite artwork or drawing over and over
One approach you can take is to either trace or copy your favorite artwork using a grid and copy it over and over to develop muscle memory.
This is not the end goal of our 5-day plan, it is a start.
5-days of activities to help you learn how to draw like a pro!
The first step is to find a reference photo or an object you want to try and draw. Once you have that, it’s time to get started! For my example, I will pick a still life using the reference photo below.
You may be thinking of making fan art or something totally different but the following steps will still apply.
After you have found the image you want to draw, make some attempt at drawing it as you would today without any drawing experience. Make about 4 to 5 versions of the drawing.
The reason we do this is that we want to have a Day 1 baseline so that we know how far along you have come by day 5.
I won’t post an example of my Day 1 drawing as I know how to draw and it won’t be fair to you to use as a comparison.
Break the image down into simple shapes. Once you have your reference photo in front of you, it’s time to start breaking it down into simple shapes.
The simplest way to do this is by using a pencil and paper. Start by drawing a few basic shapes around the subject matter such as circles, ovals, squares, and rectangles. These will be the building blocks for your drawing.
Think of what lines are needed to show the base or bottom of the drawing. Also add any vertical lines to show where the shapes will need to go as I have done below.
See how I have tried a few versions of the same image using different shapes. Try doing this.
The next steps are to start fleshing out the drawing by either creating gesture drawings if your artwork is based on people or a thumbnail sketch if you’re doing a still life. We want to capture the overall design properly on paper to ensure we have the composition, perspective, and dimensions correct or close to correct.
This activity also trains us to look at where the shadows are and where light is meant be as a reflection. You can work the shadows as dark as you like, don’t be shy.
If you are struggling with these using freehand then it is ok to overlay your original image and see how far off you are from the original. Now I don’t suggest you correct your mistakes, just be aware of them for when you create your next version of this drawing because we will be drawing this image quite a few times over the next 5 days.
If you are really unhappy with the result then don’t erase the mistake but start a new version of the drawing – this is important to build that muscle memory. Erasing teaches you nothing, re-drawing the image will.
If you have access to someone who can draw and who is nice, ask for feedback. If you do not have access, then get that mirror I mentioned earlier and hold your drawing up to it.
If something is wrong you will see that it may look a little weird. If it does that’s ok, make small changes and look again. Keep doing this until it looks better. It does not have to look perfect, just better.
Get some feedback again. Listen to the feedback. Learn from your mistakes.
Before we start with Day 3 activities, I want to say one thing: Draw what you see and not what you know. What does this mean?
Quite often when we try to draw an object, we draw what we think it looks like instead of what it actually looks like. This is especially true for objects that we see every day, like a cup or a spoon.
We think we know how they look so we don’t bother looking at them closely and end up drawing them from memory. I see this so often with people drawing faces where they draw a nose and it’s a generic nose and it is added to the face.
When what they should be drawing are nostrils and then shading the shadows of the nose whereby the nose will appear.
Keep looking back at your reference photo to compare, do this regularly. You need to train yourself to step back and look at your drawing and the reference many times during each session.
At the end of the day, ask for feedback if possible or use the mirror trick and implement any suggestions and use the mirror to see if it ‘works’.
Get some feedback again. Listen to the feedback. Learn from your mistakes.
Ok now for Day 3 activities – Add more detail. Now that you are comfortable with the dimensions and have a good feel for how the image should look, we are going to start filling in some of the details.
For my example, I will start adding details to make my bottle look more like a bottle, a pepper more like a pepper, and a flower more like a flower.
For you, this could mean adding in the eyes, nose, and mouth for example. As we did on Day 2, take your time and don’t worry about getting it perfect. We are just building up the image step by step.
If you make a mistake, do not erase the mistake. Either work over it with your pencil or start the drawing over from the start. This is all part of the learning process.
Get some feedback again. Listen to the feedback. Learn from your mistakes.
Day 4 is about adding shadows to make the drawing look more realistic. This is where we make our drawing look more complete.
For my example, I will add shading to give my drawings more depth and dimension. I will also add highlights to make the objects look like they have light reflecting. I can use an eraser to achieve this by rubbing out small amounts of pencil shading.
I also go around and smudge some areas to soften the pencil work out a little as it gives it some realism.
You can do the same with your drawings. Experiment with different types of shading and highlights until you find a combination that you like.
This is the final day! By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of how to draw. You can apply what you’ve learned to any subject matter and start creating additional masterpieces or apply the finishing touches to your current drawing.
Finishing touches can be simply applying darker lines or shadows using a softer pencil or shading in a background.
I also used a kneaded eraser to make a fine tip and erased some areas to make it look like light reflecting off the bottle and pepper.
I also did the same to the flower’s petals to make them more prominent. The bottle got some additional specks as per the original reference photo.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. The more you practice, the better you’ll become at drawing.
Tips for improving your drawing skills over time
- Get some feedback again. Listen to the feedback. Learn from your mistakes. I cannot stress this enough.
- Your drawing does not have to resemble anyone else’s, but if you’re having a good time while creating it, it’ll considerably improve the finished product.
- You will need to learn to get over the self-judgment that comes into play with most beginners who are comparing themselves with expert artists with 5 to 50 years of experience instead of 5 days.
- If you make a mistake, do not spend hours trying to fix it just start a new one. Chance is you will not be able to fix a bad drawing this early and at your skill level – this is called the sunk cost fallacy. It is much easier and faster to just start a new drawing – paper is cheap and you will learn more by re-doing the drawing.
Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. Joseph’s art has been sold to private collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art advice and tutorials to copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com