What I Learned From Completing My First Sketchbook
How far can a total beginner get by filling 100 pages with drawings?
Earlier this year I decided to learn how to draw. It’s something I’ve had a vague interest in for years, but never stuck with for more than a few days in the past.
I’ve now been drawing semi-regularly for the past four and a half months, and just last week I finally finished filling my first 100-page sketchbook.
My progress has felt very gradual, so it’s fun now to flip through and see just how far I’ve actually come.
Early on in my sketchbook, I had tried my very best to draw a person, taking as much time as I needed. I’m a grown adult, but my drawing looked like the product of an elementary school student. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look for yourself:
After that abomination, I spent a lot of time reading and watching videos about drawing, as well as doing dozens (maybe hundreds?) of quick sketches.
Here are a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far, both from what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong:
- Start with the basics. Instead of spending a lot of time learning fancy tools or special rendering techniques, I’m sticking with a basic pen and pencil and trying to learn the drawing fundamentals. Specifically, I’ve focused my effort so far on understanding construction, perspective, and light (all at a very elementary level).
- Build drawings up from basic shapes (cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, and pyramids). Learning to see complex subjects as a collection of basic shapes makes them more manageable to draw, and gives them a more three-dimensional feel.
- Do mostly quick sketches. Quick sketches let me get in a lot of practice on the fundamentals without getting too bogged down in time-consuming details.
- When watching tutorials, follow along. It’s easy to end up just passively watching a drawing lesson or tutorial without actually putting anything into practice. But when I watch passively, my drawing ability doesn’t improve at all. I’ve got to be following along with my own pen and paper to actually learn anything.
- Draw more! I think the biggest thing holding me back right now is that I’m just not drawing that much. My first goal was just to build a consistent habit, but now that the habit is in place, I should work on spending more time on it. It took me four and a half months to fill 100 pages, which works out to less than a page a day. I can certainly do more than that.
Finally, I’ll leave you with my most recent drawing of a person, from a couple of weeks ago. (I’ve been focusing on inanimate objects the past couple of weeks.) I’ve still got a very long way to go, but I’ve definitely come far from where I started: