WanderPony

I wish I could draw

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On 3/24/2017 at 4:42 AM, Netburst Celeron said:

Remember to sketch lightly rather than using heavy, solid lines.

@WanderPony Have you considered that you might have more difficulty learning things than other people? If so, that's really rough, and I'm sorry. Otherwise, look at your drawing, look at your reference, note what you did differently (aka "wrong"), and do it again but better. And sketch before you commit to your lines, for Celestia's sake.

 

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On March 25, 2017 at 6:31 PM, Friendship is Horses said:

And sketch before you commit to your lines, for Celestia's sake.

 

 

I don't get what that means.

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Ahhh it looks better!!! I can definitely see an improvement, your proportions are decent you just need a little looser control with your pencil grip.

Try rounding out the flank and head a little more to be more circular

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Now I've rounded out the parts you mentioned, and added facial features.

 

I tried adding a mane and tail, but I erased the tail when I realized the sheet didn't include good references for manes and tails.

 

FdERtl4.jpg

 

Anything else you want to see me try (and fail) to draw? One of my problems is that I can never think of a specific thing I want to draw, the other is that I know that no matter what I draw, it'll look terrible.

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7QwXz.gif

 

Be comfortable with being inexperienced and know that it will take time before you start being satisfied with your output. Don't keep mentally punishing yourself for not being an expert. I have been drawing for over twenty years and I make tons of mistakes in every picture! Rather than get discouraged because I didn't get things perfect with my first stroke, I've adopted a method of learning and refining as I go along within the picture.

Be loose. Be scribbly. Apply only light pressure with your pencil. Sculpt with light swooshes, building up like adding clay. Throw enough lines in the general direction of the shape you want to make and eventually, with practice, that shape will arise from the scribbles. When you use light strokes, adding more of them gives them the darkness you'd normally get by putting more pressure on any given stroke.

Also, forget about straight lines. They're almost never used IRL. Give everything a swoop or curve. With time you can learn to put those swoops and curves in the right ways to define shapes and figures. Think of an inside/outside curve flow. how a shape can be made by choosing which way to emphasize curves on opposite sides. Do they go in the opposite direction? Do they go in the same direction but unevenly? Do the shapes come to a point or spread outward?

Let my sleep-deprived brainmeats scribble you up some examples incorporating my approach.

1) I want to draw an arm. I look at my own arm, held in the pose I want to draw. The upper arms drops down to the elbow, the forearm lifts back up, the hand hangs loosely and openly.

I see in my mind's eye shapes that hang in space. I break them down into very simple, basic curves, hanging from joints. I make the outside curves more pronounced, the inside curves straighter. It's almost as though the top-most lines are supporting the bottom-most ones, which are being pulled by gravity like a rope tied to each end of a stick. Where the stick is straighter, the rope hangs in a curve by gravity.

2) I add light strokes, loosely, in a vague approximation of the shapes that I want. There are bones and muscles in the arm that define its contours and I decide to use those as my rough guide for laying down the line layers.

3) I add more and more lines, filling out the less pronounced shapes and emphasizing the "more correct" ones in existing shapes. Mistakes happen constantly, but but adjusting slightly the lines as I add them the "right" shapes take over and darken from repetition. I keep going back to my own hand for guidance on contours and directional changes, paying attention to the biggest in/out/left/right orientation of the lines.

See how there are lighter lines going in the "wrong" direction despite laying under heavier ones going the "right" way? Those were my initial lines.

arrrrrrrr_____m__by_abronyaccount-db3wcp

I'm stopping at 3) in this scribble of an arm because it's late and I should be in bed... also I'm running out of paper to draw it on... also hands are hard and I'm lazy. The important bits I wanted to talk about are all there in steps 1 through 3 though. If it weren't midnight on a work night I'd definitely rework that hand to make it less horrid. But even the lines that are wrong on this hand give me a hint as to what I'm doing wrong, which means I'm better informed about how to do it right.

Another guideline for making drawing more easy is to thing about the rhythm of your curves. Which ones need to be straighter, which ones to bow out more? Why do some curves look better than others? How do you pick?

0) Illustration of the general direction things will travel in this stick-person I'm about to draw. This conveys a posture, which conveys an attitude. Here it's some person walking with their limbs close in.

1) Stick person, drawn to follow those general direction lines in the limbs and trunk. I put the straightest curves on the inside because this follows the general direction lines, and on the outside I put curves that bow out more. They also come to a point downwards, which again emphasizes the direction lines. This helps achieve the posture I was going for: all the limbs are hanging downwards and not being lifted up, so having lines that point IN and DOWN are called for.

2) Highlighting these choices by removing the stick figure and only showing those curves. If I had instead wanted a more open posture, I could have reversed these for the arms and drawn the straighter lines outside. This would give the effect of a person holding their hands outward while walking, with the hands going out compared to the shoulders rather than the opposite in this posture.

directional_guidance_by_abronyaccount-db

[Enclicken to Embiggen]

Remember that straight lines are rarely called for when you're drawing living things. In nature very few critters or plants have perfectly straight lines anywhere, so we're not used to seeing them. They don't look "natural" to us.

1) Here I've drawn the basic framework of a leg. It has slight curves that follow roughly the direction of a real skeleton.

2) The fleshing out will emphasize curviness even more. I gave the back of the thigh a straighter character and the front of it more of a bow. In real life this makes sense as we see the muscles of the thigh bulge out in the front more than the back, but it also give the front of the leg a "forward facing" character.

To keep the eye moving and create visual interest, I also swapped the direction of curvature at the joint. This also results in a more "natural" look, because we're used to seeing it on human legs. But it also creates an in/out rhythm to the leg.

a) If you want, you can extend this in/out rhythem to the rest of the stick figure by making the lower spine lean backwards and the upper torso turn more forward. That would give the whole figure a kind of slouching posture, rather than have them standing ram-rod straight. Think of hanging the shoulders forward of the spine, too.

b) Just carrying this "rhythm" thing forward a bit; you could also go the other way and make the whole torso curve out in front to create a chest-out stance. Pushing the chest out also pulls the shoulders backwards. That conveys a different personality and attitude!

All I'm doing here is using basic indicators of motion, not even full-fledged forms. By building these indicators of motion into your drawings, you can give them more life and dynamism! It's also more fun to use non-straight lines and to play with the rhythm of the motions inside the drawing. These can convey moods and personalities or just add some visual interest.

Notice that the entire time, I'm using many light strokes to make any given line. Even my simple frames are made of multiple passes that build a better line, getting me closer to the particular curve I wanted than any of the individual lines. The "right" line emerges from many lines that are themselves imperfect, but the ensemble of which converges on the right line. Almost like a Monte Carlo simulation of the "Line I Want To Draw" scenario with multiple individual runs to define the ensemble mean! Er, nevermind that last part. 

 

Anyway, this is just how I do things differently than a lot of other people who are still trying to get the hang of drawing. I think it can help you break out of the mental traps you're setting for yourself.

1) It helps you keep your goals in sight from the beginning but doesn't enslave you to any particular stroke of the pencil, letting you try over and over within the same drawing and use your bad passes as a guide for the good. Each stroke is a chance to learn, and the sum of all the strokes is closer to being the picture you want than any individual one.

2) It "builds in" some of the things than make a drawing interesting, like posture and dynamic posing. With this approach you automatically start off with those action and emotional elements before you even really start drawing the thing you want to draw! That adds a kind of vitality that helps make the final product more satisfying and pleasing to the eye.

3) Plus the process itself is more fun since there's no pressure to get a line right the first time. In fact, it rewards "no pressure" thinking by letting good results emerge from every bad one.

I use this approach pretty much all the time. Peruse my Scraps gallery and see if you can spot all the times I build up a "good" line out of several "bad" ones. Hint: almost always.

 

Hope this proves helpful!

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19 hours ago, Friendship is Horses said:

Yikes, @ABronyAccount, you might want to include a synopsis for that novel you just wrote.

Sure, just check the back jacket! It's all there for you, frankly might even be a bit spoilerish. Reprinted here with the permission of the author: 

 

Cave Johnson waited. The shower curtains above him combusted and burned down his house into the air. There were lemons in the base. He didn't want them, but life had been handing them to him for years now. His warnings to Caroline were not listened to and now it was too late. Far too late for now, anyway...

That Novel You Just Wrote is ABronyAccount's latest-selling post, detailing one boy's journey towards drawing good. But unseen forces toil ceaselessly in the shadows. Can Protagonist J. Personheimer successfully resolve the conflict once the narrative has reached its climax? A new work from the master of.

 

What people are saying about That Novel You Just Wrote:

"What is this? I don't know how I should even." - Former administrator of the EPA, Carol Browner

"No ePub edition. Can't tell if DRM-free, or CC licensed. Would not buy." - Cory Doctorow

"Guy wouldn't know majesty if it bit him in the face!" - Strong Bad

"[m]akes the reader realize that the author was the monster all along." - Kimberly, the Pink Ranger

 

About the Author: ABronyAccount is a whelk who lives in the pleasant meadows of Anytown, USA. He published his first novel, A Story I Maded, at the age of seven, and by the age of 9 it's original manuscript had been donated to the Mother's Refrigerator Memorial Library after several long years of lobbying and a generous monetary donation.

He has two children but cuts back on Sundays.

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I'm trying to draw a deer head right now.

 

Even when I look at photos of actual deer as a reference, I can't get the snout the right length, neither can I get the ears right.

 

EDIT: Here's what I have so far.

Z6DzL7e.jpg

 

You can see how many times I've erased and redrawn that stupid fucking snout and ear to get them the right shape.

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1 hour ago, WanderPony said:

Even when I look at photos of actual deer as a reference, I can't get the snout the right length, neither can I get the ears right.

Sounds like your eyes aren't communicating effectively with your hand. Have you tried drawing the deer head exactly as it appears in your reference? It can be difficult to envision how things would look from a different angle, so maybe that's why you're having a hard time with the shape and length of those features.

They say that drawing is about learning to see. That's what I would work on: stare at your reference like it's the last image you'll ever gaze upon, and absorb the shit out of every detail. Know in your heart what the shape of a deer's ear is before you even worry about doing anything with a pencil. What happens on the paper comes from the image in your head. Focus on building that image. Like, here:

6TMH000A.jpg

Just look at this picture. Reeeealllllllly look at it. Forget the pencil for now. Look at those ears. Follow the outline of them with your eyes. Remember it. See, they start kind of rolled up where they attach to the head, which you can see better in other pictures, and then flare out, and the tips come to rounded points after a gradual tapering. So the fold is a good detail to include, and they're shaped like almonds. Look, absorb, remember. Compare the size of them with the size of the rest of the head. Mentally trace the outline of the muzzle as well. Maybe turn the head into an abstract triangle with your mind's eye so you get a better idea of the general shape. You gotta commit these details to memory in whatever way sticks, so you can replicate it on paper. And the reference isn't going anywhere, so you can check it as often as you need to while you're drawing, and I recommend checking frequently. SEE the image. Print it out and trace it if it helps. Break it down in your head into its distinctive attributes.

It takes time to train your brain to do this. It's not a survival skill, so it doesn't come naturally to people. You may not be that good yet, but I'd be interested to see what kind of improvements you could make even now just by really drilling those visual details into your brain.

TL;DR:  Learn what something looks like first, then try to draw it

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"Learning to see" is basically about learning to spot shapes and angles when you look at something. It comes with practice and deliberate effort, then becomes natural.

Don't be afraid to trace basic shapes over a picture to train your hands and eyes to spot where the lines and curves are! Look for the strongest lines in the picture, and trace over them. Get a feel for how any given angle looks: sharper, blockier, etc. Practice filling up the silhouette of your reference picture by tracing circles, eggs, boxes, cylinders, and cones over the top of it. Try and see which kind of shape fits "inside" the object the best. Then use that shape to draw that object going forward.

 

 

Let's go with this picture of a red deer for example of how I "learned to see" it and then draw the things I learned to see.

MKIV8213.JPG

 

Here's how I'd do it step by step. In fact I'm looking at this image for the first time and stopping myself at each scan point to grab my progress.

I like to to do two things when making a head, any kind of head with a skull in it: draw a balloon for the brainpan, then hang stuff off of that. In this case the deer has a pronounced, simple profile: a long slope of the muzzle coming to a blunt snout that's mostly nose with some mandible underneath.

ohdeer1a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq5y.png

I also like to indicate about where the eye and any other prominent anatomical landmark falls. As I'm scribbling, I keep checking my results against the reference image. I DO NOT ERASE AT THIS STAGE. My mistakes tell me where NOT to draw the next line, and serve as their own landmark of what not to do, how my original stroke was off, etc. etc. Mistakes are to learn from, and you can learn from them immediately. Leave the mistakes until you're done sketching, and they'll be your teachers while you draw. This is also why it's almost a necessity to draw with light strokes. Notice how you can barely see my pencils in the scans I'm posting? That's not because my scanner sucks, it's because I'm just barely making any lines on the paper. The heavy areas are not where I've pressed harder. They're where I've gone over the line more than once.

When I've got a few lines I like that help define the basic layout, I add more. I'm doing the neck now, using long strokes and some exaggerated shapes to help define its different underlying muscle groups to myself. What I'm using here are the shadows and shading of the image to throw in some shapes that approximate the structure of the animal's body and define where things fall. Still not erasing anything. Also because I'm impatient, I'm also refining just a couple of points about the extremity of the muzzle, since I'm fairly confident now that I have the basic shape.

ohdeer2a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq6z.png

Still just getting things oriented for the most part. But I spot a problem! The neck looks too thin and long. That's not right, according to the reference picture. I must have put a line in the wrong place!

ohdeer3a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq6v.png

Notice how I have an extra line on the underside of the neck, and the extra lines on the side? I placed the new outline by lining up the neck and the eye in the reference and on my sketch. Now the neck looks thicker, and by using the reference image with a few landmarks I was able to get something closer to the source. That necessitated moving the side lines down lower to balance them out and keep the proportions similar to the ref image. I'm not erasing those earlier, mistaken neck lines yet. Remember, mistakes are markers telling you where not to go. Don't be so quick to get rid of them. Just make them lighter the first time! 

ohdeer4a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq6n.png

Fretting over where to put the antlers and how they "move" with their zigging and their zagging (and their bippin' and their boppin'...) . I'm going to define the top of the neck and the ear a bit more. STILL NOT ERASING ANYTHING. The lines that I want will become darker as I go over them, picking them out from the lines I don't want. In fact, I drew the largest unbroken lines first. Here, that'd be the bottom part of the back antler. Getting this right is like a roadmap for the rest of it!

There are two sets of antlers, one going in the back and the other in front of that one. I draw the rear one first, using lots of lines until the shape and proportions are in that mess somewhere.

ohdeer5a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq6i.png

Then the front antlers. At this point, I MIGHT go over a few darker lines LIGHTLY with my eraser. These things are complicated and I can do without some of those extraneous lines anymore. But I'm still leaving lots of "wrong" lines, and I'm NOT erasing the rear antler even where it's covered by the front antler. 

Also worth mentioning, I started these antlers at the front-most prongs and worked backwards. Helps me keep things oriented and define some graceful swoops without going too crazy on the details first! Keep your end point in mind (the outermost tips of the antlers here) and your inbetweens will fall into their correct position more naturally. This is also why you want to draw the basic frame of an object first: it keeps the "end points" (the outside) right there in front of you the whole time, making it easier to go back and fill things in. If you had only started drawing the tip of the nose, and put as much detail as possible into it before moving on, all your mistakes would be happening while you had dark, "finished" lines on some part of your drawing. It's myopic.

Always leave enough drawing on the paper that you can pull back and take a look at things to check proportions. Especially when you start a drawing. Having these "guide lines" in place first lets you adjust the guide lines as necessary. Then you won't have to adjust the details after you've already drawn them! If you step back and your whole drawing doesn't look right, it's easier to fix when all you have are a few "guide lines" rather than a half-finished picture! That way you don't start "finishing" until you've got something looking right! 

ohdeer6a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq6a.png

At this point, the basic shapes are pretty much in place and I can start erasing some lines and emphasizing others. Also, details can be added as I go now that there are places to put them in. So I'll go and erase many of the "bad" lines for the first time, then darken the lines I want to keep. Still glancing back at the reference pic all the while! Doing more darkening than erasing.

ohdeer7a_by_abronyaccount-db4lq65.png

More finishing details, bad lines almost fully erased. I also noticed the lower jaw was too substantial and took my eraser to it... AFTER sketching in a new, slimmer one so that my old lines could guide the new ones! And that balloon for the brain-case I drew back in step 1? Never erased it. It's just that light.

This is about where I usually stop with the pencils. To make a finished picture I typically take the finished pencils and put them on a light box, then ink on a clean sheet over the top of that. Gives me a little peace of mind; if I cork up the inks, I can start over again without having to start from scratch!

 

By the way, I've never really drawn a deer before. Just applied the same tools I always use: step-by-step basic shapes and defining lines, slow and light progress, constantly checking proportions and angles, and only adding details after I've refined the lines enough to keep the ones I want.
And by "refining" the lines I don't mean dragging the lead down in one unbroken swonk. I've gone over the dark lines several times in short strokes going in approximately the same direction, building them up and giving them weight instead of trying to for a single smooth mark. Sketching isn't supposed to give you finished lines!

 

But real-talk time. The bottom line is that this all comes with dedicated practice and an effort to change your own counter-productive habits. It's not quick, it's not a revelation that makes things 100% easier than yesterday. it's a process. It's training. And you'll have to accept the fact that even with these tips you're still going to suck until you slowly work the suck out of you. It's just like the advice someone once gave me about being a good writer. "It's like wiping your ass. Just keep doing it until there's no more shit on the paper." Persevere through the dirty paper that disgusts you, and eventually you'll get to a cleaner spot. But only if you keep at it.

Don't be afraid to fail. You're going to fail over and over and over for years. Work on the fundamentals, adjust your expectations, pick a topic of focus (I want to try drawing strong silhouettes/ basic shapes for bodies/ different poses today!). Get the basics into your routine before thinking you can churn out something that looks nice in one sitting. The stronger your grasp of the basics, the easier it'll be to eventually make something that looks good in the end. It will take time to get there. No "How To" book or online tutorial will give you everything you need, and none of them can practice for you. Only you can train yourself, so be prepared to do a lot of self-training.

That means learning HOW your mistakes work so you can avoid doing those things going forward. Break down where you're having trouble and work on fixing that, then move on to the next trouble spot. Being self-critical isn't about declaring everything you do awful. Being self-critical means thinking and examining your work to find where you went wrong. Dissect your errors, ponder your habits, try a new approach and see if it helps you get around a roadblock.

Words words words words, words wordsing words. Wordy word words wording wordly. Words words works bolded text for important points words words words words. Words words words words words words words words words words words, words words words. Words words words words words; more words and words words words words. Words words words.

Now get drawing and don't let yourself get discouraged! Let these words words words words words of wisdom word you along.

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I'm trying to imitate ABronyAccount's process, but I can't get it to look right.

 

Why does this have to be so fucking complicated? Why do I have to be such a failure?

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Because I've been drawing things that way for 20 years so I have a ton of practice at doing it that way, and know why I'm doing it that way.

If I still had any of my 21+ year old drawings you'd see some REAL crap.

I got better more quickly by following this book* at first until I got the techniques down, then other books to help me build up my draftsmanship. Taking some Mechanical Drawing lessons helped a bit. Never had any life drawing lessons, but I want some. I have a serious lack of organized, supervised instruction weighing me down.

Look up "gesture drawing" and see if you can churn out a ton of doodles quickly that way, it's really the best practice for blocking a figure or trying to make something look expressive. Details can come later.

Also look for books on cartooning, and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. This will give you a broader perspective on drawing itself and the cartooning focus can help you think of motion and features expressively, minimizing them to the essential idea you want to get across. Seriously, your county library probably has a half dozen books on cartooning, and most likely has Understanding Comics.

 

 

*I prefer the edition I grew up with. There a revised version out now with more material from current artists but I've never found their stuff to be as illustrative or insightful as the original lessons by Buscema** and Lee.

** His granddaughter Stephanie has contributed to IDW's pony comics.

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I guess I should explain why this is such a big deal to me.

 

I have multiple ideas for works, including...

  • Multiple feature films, that I picture as 2D-animated Disney or Don Bluth-style films. I have the plots written down in Wikipedia synopsis form on my deviantART.
  • A cartoon series that I picture with zany, Looney Tunes-style humor and a flat, stylized look similar to that of 50's UPA cartoons. A real life friend of mine has drawn character sketches for me, and I've written four episode scripts.
  • A book about speculative future animal evolution (like a modern, spiritual successor to "After Man: A Zoology of the Future").

 

I feel like in order to bring all these ideas to life, I need to be able to draw. With the films, I need to have the drawing skills of Don Bluth or the Nine Old Men. With the cartoon series, I need the drawing skills of Chuck Jones and various Looney Tunes animators. And with the speculative book, I need to be good at animal anatomy so I can draw fictional animals I made up.

 

But because I an incapable of drawing no matter how hard I try, I feel like I can never bring these ideas to life, and thus I feel like I'll never be worth anything, since coming up with ideas is the only thing I'm good at.

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You know the Nine Old Men were the ones paid to draw what the writers wanted, right? Very few people are both writer and animator at the level you're thinking of. And none of them even started out great.

For the writer/director/animator typified by Jones... there's a reason Chuck Jone's name stands out among American animators: because he was exceptional, one in over a million. One in a hundred million, perhaps. That's not the kind of talent you can just expect to gain.

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15 minutes ago, ABronyAccount said:

You know the Nine Old Men were the ones paid to draw what the writers wanted, right? Very few people are both writer and animator at the level you're thinking of. And none of them even started out great.

For the writer/director/animator typified by Jones... there's a reason Chuck Jone's name stands out among American animators: because he was exceptional, one in over a million. One in a hundred million, perhaps. That's not the kind of talent you can just expect to gain.

So, what you're saying is...I DON'T have to draw to be a cartoon creator? I can just be a good writer, and hire OTHER people to animate for me?

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Well that's certainly one approach.

More like temper your expectations. You're only looking at the pinacle, telling yourself you can't climb a mountain until you've reached the top, and you have barely even driven to the mountain's parking lot yet, let alone made first camp.

Don't saddle yourself with the nigh-unattainable expectations before letting yourself tell your stories. That's a really good way to never accomplish anything. Nobody started at the top before trying.

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Okey, there was a lot of answers above, but I'll try to add smth new.

1. I don't believe that's someone couldn't ever draw. Yes, you heard those words ton of times, but that's a true. Just for example - me. When I just began my guitar playing experience I was pissed off by my impossibility to here the tone. Man, I couldn't even tune my guitar without a help! So I've started telling myself that the reason hides in my tin ear. But being to stubborn I continued to try again and again. And after some time I've passed the critical point, I began to hear. Yes, it was still pretty hard, but I've done it! Now my ear for music is far from amazing, but only because I've decided not go further.

Long story short, there are no such a thing like drawning impossibility. It just means that some people get to it more easy and nothing else.

2. I am a newbie too, but may be next advice will help you as it helped me. If you have tough problems with natural drawning try to do simple sketches by using references. But don't waste too much time on each of them. 3-5 mins or so. And don't correct anything with eraser. If you screwed smth just move on or correct it with few additional lines. In this case quantity is more important than quality. It helps you to feel a pencil better, to feel proportions better. Not by your mind ('cause, as it was already said, mind could tricks you with ease), but by the... by... damn, my english is too bad to discribe this, but I hope you got the point.

3. Don't throw away your tries (if you did). Because it vividly shows your progression.

 

I could say you not to give up, but don't see any point of this. Because if you really want smth, you won't.

 

aDmqNTu2XOs.jpg

 

 

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1 minute ago, ABronyAccount said:

After, what, a week?

Gettin' Gud is a long-term thing.

Following the usual lines of thinking when it comes to drawing, I SHOULD be "gud" now, considering how often I drew in my early teens.

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4 hours ago, WanderPony said:

Alright, here's a bunch of random sketches I did.

 

Pic

 

What do you think? Do you see ANY improvement?

not sure if this has been said already but,

you're pressing into the paper way too hard. when you do that you create grooves in the paper that you can't erase. try making many whispy light quick strokes instead of one or two heavy and slow thick lines. doing that you can gradually direct your lines on the paper in the direction you want to go, and even if you make very wrong turns or you miss your mark by miles every time, you can go back and erase away until your line is closer to where you want it, and you won't have to abandon your drawing due to too many stray lines

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8 hours ago, Mally said:

you're pressing into the paper way too hard.

People keep telling me this, but THAT'S the part I'm having trouble with. I don't know why, but I've tried making light strokes, but they always come out looking barely visible or dark and thick. No middle ground.

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