Learn to Draw Fast by Studying Smart

    You've probably heard the saying "work smart, not hard". In this post, I want to show you how you can apply this concept to learning how to draw, so you can improve much faster than you probably are!

    If you prefer to listen rather than read, I recommend watching the Youtube video I made on the topic. However, I will be adding extra information here! You could also do both for the information to really sink in.

Table of Contents


1. The Problem with Art

Art can be a very complicated skill to learn because it's so easy to think that learning to draw is mostly intuitive. We all know you have to study the fundamentals and by practicing a lot you'll start to "get it". So, we start practicing without a proper aim and grow frustrated when we don't see the results we wanted. I thought watching some videos on different tips about drawing was studying. I would maybe try to implement them, but then later I'd forget about them completely, so they didn't help much.

Very few people can just "get it", and even then that'll take a long time. Most of us need a bit more structure, need to "study smart". That is why I call it "Active Learning", to break away from the idea some of us might have that art is instinctive. I strongly dislike this "passive approach" because it was the source of all my frustrations with art.

2. Getting Stuck

    In two years drawing everyday, I went from drawing a girl from front view to a girl from side view. There were definitely improvements in rendering, and proportion. But that's so minor for two whole years of studying. I couldn't draw expressions, extreme angles of the head, animals, the body, clothes, and everything else. Not to mention, I felt like a fraud or an impostor because only a few of my drawings looked "decent enough". 


My deceitful progress

    Learning to draw shouldn't be something this difficult, and the good news is that it doesn't have to be. We can make it so much more complicated and complex than it needs to be. I spent two years walking in circles barely going forward, but one day I decided enough was enough.


    In the video thumbnail, you can see my improvement in just two months. I spent another two months on portrait drawing. I also learned to draw clothes, objects, and a bit of perspective. After 6 months, I could even sketch scenes from imagination and design characters. I finally felt more confident in my art, as most drawings were turning out good. This image on the left is also about two months of progress, both drawn from imagination (click to enlarge). You can check the video for more images of my progress.

3. What It Is and How to Implement Active Learning

    Instead of waiting for your brain to understand something through repetition, active learning focuses on finding good exercises and practice that will ensure you understand the concepts you're trying to learn. How do you study for a test, by listening to a recording of your teacher's lecture over and over again or by taking notes, making flashcards, and taking mock tests? You do have to draw lots of heads, bodies, etc, but you have to do it in a smart way and be intentional about it. Being intentional and deliberate is the stepping stone for implementing Active Learning. 


4. The Step-by-Step Guide

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