How to Not Suck at Drawing: 21 Practical Tips To Get Good

To get better, focus on mastering the fundamentals.

This includes basic shapes, lines, shading, and perspective.

Work at your own pace and don’t be afraid to seek out critique and guidance from others.

Keep practicing, and you’ll find progress is inevitable.

Remember, the key to not “sucking” at drawing is simply embracing the learning experience and enjoying the progress you make along the way.

In How to Not Suck at Drawing, I provide useful and practical tips that anyone can use, from novice to experienced artists.

And sometimes sucking at drawing is a temporary thing so do not be harsh on yourself.

Nobody starts out as a master artist, and it’s natural sometimes to feel frustrated.

It’s okay if your drawings don’t come out as you imagined—they rarely do, and that’s completely normal.

Even after all these years, what I produce on paper or canvas is nothing how my mind’s eye saw it.

Approaching art with a positive mindset and focusing on improvement can make a world of difference in your journey.

How To Not Suck at Drawing: 11 Tips for Struggling Artists

As I mentioned earlier, drawing isn’t just a talent you’re born with; it’s a skill you can hone and improve.

If you’re looking to level up your artistic abilities and learning how to not suck at drawing, then here are some insights to guide you:

1. Consistency is Key

Dedicate some time every day or even a few times a week to drawing. Even a 20-30 minute session can make a difference.

Remember, it’s about building a habit. Making art once a week or month might not be enough for you. And if you don’t do it enough, you can lose the skills you have learned.

2. Learn from the Masters

Delve into the works of artists you deeply respect. Dissect their techniques and challenge yourself to capture elements of their style in your work.

3. Stay Inspired

The world around you is filled with inspiration. Capture what moves you in a sketchbook. As you revisit and refine these ideas, you’ll watch them transform and evolve.

4. Embrace Rough Sketches

Every masterpiece begins with a simple sketch. Release the pressure of perfection and allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes.

5. See Beyond Details

Create a tonal sketch before diving deep into your artwork. This means focusing on the broader picture and identifying where light and shadows lie.

A pro tip? Squint a little – it helps in simplifying the visual information. Even step away from the artwork and look at it from a distance.

Sometimes even taking a break for a day and returning to it can help you identify areas for improvement.

6. Celebrate Your Progress

After each drawing session, take a moment to acknowledge your effort and growth. Celebrate the small victories.

7. Embrace the Learning Curve

Remember, everyone starts somewhere. If your drawings aren’t where you want them to be now, that’s okay. Artistry takes time, patience, and continual learning. Keep at it, and you’ll see your evolution.

8. Ask for feedback

Do not ask for brutal honesty. Ask for constructive feedback and examples so you know what to look for.

So often, I see artists on Reddit or Instagram asking “for brutal honesty,” and all I see is people thinking it’s an open invitation to be rude and unhelpful. Which leads to artists being discouraged.

Join an art group or online community where you can share your work and get feedback.

9. Don’t worry about what others think

If you are making art worrying about what others think then you will be creating art for a specific person or group of people.

They may be stifling your progress. Forget about them and any criticisms they may have and enjoy art for yourself first.

10. Try different styles and techniques

Sometimes you are just not good at what you want to be but that doesn’t mean you won’t be good in another style or using another technique.

I, for one, would love to be proficient at watercolors but I have not devoted enough time to learning.

I also love Manga cartoons but that style won’t sink in for me and I am much better at realistic art.

11. Use drawing warmup exercises

These exercises can help you free your mind and focus on the art at hand. I have written a whole article on this.

12. Use Quality Materials

While it’s true that a great artist can create wonders with any tool, using quality materials can make the learning process smoother and more enjoyable.

13. Draw from Life

Drawing from real-life scenarios and objects can greatly enhance observational skills. Carry a sketchbook everywhere and draw whenever you can.

14. Break Complex Objects into Shapes

When faced with a complex subject, try breaking it down into basic shapes like circles, rectangles, and triangles. This makes the drawing process more manageable.

15. Continuous Line Drawing

Practice drawing without lifting your pen or pencil. This method improves hand-eye coordination and helps to maintain flow.

16. Practice Gesture Drawing

Quick sketches that capture the essence of movement can be incredibly useful, especially for improving speed and fluidity.

17. Use References

There’s no shame in using photographs or other artwork as reference (as long as you’re not copying for commercial work).

It can guide you and provide a clearer understanding of the subject.

18. Avoid Smudging

For those who draw with graphite or charcoal, consider using a smudge guard or a simple piece of paper to rest your hand on, preventing unintentional smudges.

If you like using smudging as a form or shading to give your drawings some depth, use the technique sparingly and focus on shading techniques such as cross-hatching and line work.

19. Stay Curious

Always be willing to learn. Whether it’s a new technique, a different medium, or better understanding of a subject, the quest for knowledge will always improve your art.

20. Mental Well-being

Don’t underestimate the importance of a clear and healthy mind. Take regular breaks, practice mindfulness, and ensure you balance work and relaxation well.

I know I struggle to produce art I love when I don’t feel it.

I use art to help me overcome the harder days, knowing I may be ripping up lots of paper and redoing my artwork a few times. Sometimes, you end up with some real gems!

21. Set Goals

Whether completing a drawing every day or mastering a particular technique in a month, setting goals directs your practice.

So I love the mindset that discipline beats motivation every day.

Think about that. Just showing up and doing it even when you don’t feel like doing the work will make you a better artist.

Remember, the goal isn’t perfection but progress. 

As long as you make small improvements along the way, seek feedback from friendly artists who are willing to help and you implement those improvements, your art will suck a lot less and you will get progressively better.

If you want to learn more, then have a look at the below as I have provided more details that can help you not suck at drawing.

How to Not Suck at Drawing - stick figure happy to get useful tips

Understanding the Basics

As a beginner, diving into the world of drawing might seem intimidating. Luckily, if you focus on mastering the basics, you will see improvement in no time.

Grab a piece of paper and let’s go over some essentials.

Start by practicing simple shapes. Your squares, circles, and triangles are the building blocks of more complex drawings.

Creating these flawless shapes leads to better accuracy, proper proportions, and overall quality in your artwork.

Once you feel comfortable with basic shapes, explore lines and curves. Every drawing is a combination of straight and curved lines.

To excel in this area, train your hand with a variety of lines like short, long, thin, and bold strokes. The more confident you become with your line work, the stronger your drawings will be.

Light and shadow are vital to making your artwork look three-dimensional. Observe your surroundings and notice how light interacts with objects.

Understand how shadows form based on the light source, and incorporate this knowledge into your drawings.

Remember to be patient when starting out. It takes practice and dedication to develop into a skilled artist.

Celebrate your progress and don’t hesitate to challenge yourself. Keep experimenting with new techniques and styles as you continue to grow.

Stay consistent with your practice. Set aside time each day to draw and refine your technique.

Regularly making art is key to improving your skills, even if you feel like you’re starting from scratch.

By following these fundamental steps, you’re well on your way to becoming a confident artist. Embark on this creative journey, and enjoy the process of transforming from a first-timer to a seasoned pro.

Identifying Your Style

Finding Inspiration

Discovering your unique drawing style begins with finding inspiration. Explore different artworks from various artists to see what catches your eye.

Make a list of things you admire in their works. Notice the color, texture, and framing. Gather a collection of images that inspire you and group them into a folder.

Studying and directly copying from these artworks will help you learn valuable techniques.

Experimenting with New Looks

Don’t hesitate to try new things when you’re searching for your style. Experiment with various materials, techniques, and design methods to create a new look.

Some ideas include:

  • Different mediums: Explore traditional and digital art mediums like pencils, charcoal, paint, or digital tools. Each medium has its unique features and benefits.
  • Textures and surfaces: Test various paper types, canvases, or digital canvases. Each surface will result in a different appearance and feel.
  • Color palettes and shading: Play with color schemes or shading techniques. Find what complements your style best.
  • Styles and themes: Investigate various art styles like realism, impressionism, or abstract. Experiment with themes such as nature, portraits, or geometrical designs.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your process will involve trial and error until you find the right balance.

But, be patient, and have fun exploring new looks, as this journey will lead you toward your unique and personal drawing style.

Investing Time in Practice

Drawing well takes a lot of time and dedication. Don’t expect overnight success. Be patient as you develop your skills. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Start by setting realistic goals for yourself. Work at your own pace and track your progress. Make it a habit to practice regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.

  • Create a schedule: Allocate time daily or weekly for drawing practice.
  • Stay accountable: Share your progress with friends or join online art communities for support.

Monthly events like drawing challenges offer opportunities to hone your skills too! Participate in these events and learn from other artists.

Some popular monthly challenges include Inktober and Drawcember.

Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. All artists have started from the beginning, and they improved through consistent investment in practice.

With determination and persistence, you’ll surely see progress in your drawing abilities. Keep going, and enjoy the journey!

how to not suck at drawing - investing time in practice

Overcoming Common Challenges

Regardless of its nature, every journey is peppered with obstacles and hurdles.

These challenges test our resolve, shape our perspectives, and ultimately contribute to our growth.

In this section, we delve deep into some of the most frequent and daunting challenges faced by individuals across various fields. 

More importantly, we provide actionable strategies and insights to navigate them. 

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie, the guidance offered here aims to equip you with the tools needed to confront and overcome these barriers with confidence. 

Dive in, and let’s transform challenges into stepping stones.

Overcoming the Breaking Point

Reaching a breaking point in your artistic journey is normal, and many artists encounter this obstacle.

To overcome it, start by taking a step back and giving yourself time to relax and clear your mind.

The key is to avoid feeling overwhelmed and burned out.

Next, observe your art with a fresh perspective. Identify specific areas that you can work on to improve, and set achievable goals for yourself.

Break down these goals into smaller tasks to make them more manageable.

You’ll gradually improve your skills and regain your confidence by working on these tasks consistently.

Dealing with Lack of Natural Talent

Not everyone is born with natural talent in art and drawing. But, don’t let this discourage you. Instead, focus on practice as a way to develop and hone your abilities.

Remember that persistence and dedication play a significant role in improving your art skills.

Pay close attention to the fundamentals, such as drawing shapes, lines, and lighting. This will set a solid foundation for your artistic journey.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from others or attend workshops to learn from other artists. Learning from various sources will give you many perspectives and techniques to apply in your work.

Remember, every artist has their struggles, no matter their experience level.

Overcoming challenges is a vital part of growth, and with diligence, practice, and an open mind, you will see improvement in your artwork.

So, embrace the journey and focus on progress, not perfection.

Ok, so you may not have natural talent and being disciplined has not helped you progress. So…

Why am I getting worse at drawing?

If you’re feeling like no matter how hard you try, you’re regressing in drawing you should know that this is a common perception among learners and can be attributed to various factors and the good news is that it can be overcome:

Higher Standards

As you develop your skills, your critical eye also improves. You’re now more aware of your mistakes or areas of improvement, which may make it seem like you’re doing worse when, in fact, you’re just more discerning.

Burnout

Drawing or practicing too much without adequate breaks can lead to fatigue, both mentally and physically. This can affect the quality of your work.

Overthinking

Sometimes, being too conscious about getting everything ‘perfect’ can inhibit the natural flow of your drawing.

Trying New Techniques

If you’re experimenting with new styles or techniques, initially, your proficiency might seem reduced because you’re venturing out of your comfort zone.

Emotional and Physical Factors

Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and other physical or emotional factors can impact your drawing abilities.

Lack of Consistent Practice

Skills get rusty if not practiced consistently. Even if you’ve achieved a high skill level in the past, drawing abilities can diminish if not regularly practiced.

Comparison to Others

With platforms like Instagram, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing your work with others. This can demotivate you or make you feel like you’re not making progress.

Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Expecting rapid progress or setting very high standards in a short amount of time can lead to disappointment.

Learning Plateaus

It’s natural in the learning process to hit plateaus where it feels like you’re not progressing. However, with persistence, you’ll usually overcome this and find new growth.

What’s important is to recognize that every artist faces these feelings at some point.

The best approach is to keep pushing forward, seek feedback, ensure you’re taking care of your mental and physical well-being, and remember why you started drawing in the first place.

Reflecting on your journey, revisiting basics, or even taking short breaks can help rejuvenate your passion and skills.

Exploring Different Techniques

Trying new techniques is necessary for improving your drawing skills. Expanding your skill set allows you to express your creativity in various ways.

Let’s dive into some different techniques you can explore and practice.

1. Observational Drawing

Look at things around you and draw them. This helps develop your eye for detail and enhances hand-eye coordination.

By regularly practicing observational drawing, your ability to analyze and replicate objects will improve.

2. Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawings are quick sketches that capture actions or movement. These sketches should be brief and not focused on detail.

Instead, the key here is to capture the essence of fluid movement, posture, and emotions.

3. Contour and Blind Contour Drawing

Contour drawing is sketching the outlines of an object without lifting your pencil.

This technique sharpens focus and reinforces hand-eye coordination.

Blind contour drawing has a twist: you can’t look at your paper while drawing, allowing for more organic shapes and lines.

4. Shading Techniques

When adding depth and dimension, shading is vital to bring your drawing to life.

Explore different shading styles like hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling to find what works best for you.

5. Perspective Drawing

Mastering perspective is essential for creating a sense of depth and three-dimensionality in your artwork.

Study one, two, or three-point perspective to understand how to create believable space in your drawings.

Remember, practice is always the best teacher. By regularly implementing these different techniques, you’ll see progress in your drawing skills and become a more versatile artist.

stick figure drawing from life

Using Drawing Tools

The Draw Editor

The Draw Editor on an iPad or computer is a handy tool that brings your ideas to life. When starting, try different types of drawing tools like pencils, charcoal, pastels, or pens to find the one that feels most natural to you.

Remember, discovering your favorite drawing tool is key to building a strong connection with your art.

Explore various digital drawing applications like Procreate or Adobe Photoshop for digital art enthusiasts.

These applications offer a range of brushes and effects to create detailed and polished pieces.

Experiment with different paper types and textures as well. The surface you draw on can greatly affect the outcome of your artwork.

For instance, smooth paper works great for detailed drawings while a rough texture gives more grip and control when using charcoal.

Adult Coloring Books

Another great way to improve your drawing skills is by using adult coloring books. These books offer intricate patterns and detailed illustrations that require focus and precision.

Coloring also provides an opportunity to understand how different techniques blend colors or create shading effects, which can enhance your overall drawing skills.

Keep in mind, you can practice coloring using various tools like colored pencils, markers, or even watercolor paints.

Diversifying your coloring tool options helps to understand the versatility of each and how to utilize them best in your drawings.

Adult coloring books are a fun and relaxing way to build confidence in your artistic abilities.

While you’re working on improving your drawing skills, remember to experiment, explore, and allow yourself to enjoy the creative process.

These techniques will come together over time, making you a much better visual artist.

adult coloring books

Making the Most Out of Local Resources

Local businesses often provide valuable resources for budding artists like you. Think about art stores, galleries, or even coffee shops that display and sell local artists’ work.

These places can be a treasure trove for inspiration. Spend some time in them to absorb the creative energy and connect with fellow artists.

Some favorite features of visiting these establishments include opportunities for networking, learning, and collaboration.

They might host workshops, artist talks, or even open-drawing sessions. These events are great ways to sharpen your drawing skills, learn new techniques, and make new friends who share the same passion for art.

Taking advantage of these resources is vital to your artistic growth. Don’t forget that practice is always key.

By combining your dedication to practicing, with the inspiration and knowledge gained from local businesses, your drawing skills will surely improve.

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