Why You Should Be Drawing Boxes

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Drawing by the author, Benya Clark

Since the new year began, I’ve carefully drawn over one hundred boxes.

It’s been a couple months since I started slowly making my way through the tutorials at drawabox.com (a very appropriately named website). “Draw a Box” is essentially a set of beginner drawing lessons, but with a specific emphasis on perspective and construction.

Interspersed in the lessons are “challenges,” the first of which is to draw 250 boxes. These aren’t just any boxes though — each one must be carefully drawn freehand and in three point perspective. After finishing a page, you use a straight edge to extend the lines and check whether they are converging correctly.

You can read the full details of the challenge on the Draw a Box website here.

I’ve been going through the challenge at an average of 10 boxes a day. It feels like a fast pace to me, although I watched a video of someone completing the challenge twice as fast and calling her own speed slow. Of course, these things are all relative.

I was skeptical of this challenge going into it, because it seems like an extreme grind, and I’m just drawing for fun. But, the Draw a Box lessons have been very helpful for me so far, so I decided to trust the system and try the challenge anyway. I’m glad I did.

How Drawing Boxes Has Improved My Drawing Skills

I’m still less than half way through my 250 boxes, but I’ve already seen it really improve my drawing skills.

The obvious benefit is that I’m starting to better understand how to orient boxes in a 3d space. I’m spending less time thinking about how the lines should go, and they’re ending up placed more correctly. It’s getting much easier to visualize a box and know immediately how to start drawing it.

In addition to this, it’s also helping me with more basic drawing skills. The Draw a Box lessons emphasize a lot of basic drawing techniques, like ghosting lines, rotating the paper, and drawing from the arm. Every line I draw gives me an opportunity to practice these, so they’re feeling more natural every day.

Sometimes using all these techniques makes the finished products look worse, but overall it has been improving my drawing ability.

Should Hobbies Always Be Fun?

Drawing these boxes has had me thinking about a bigger question that I often ask myself: should our hobbies always be fun?

My initial reaction is to say that of course they should. Why spend your free time doing something that you don’t enjoy?

Now though, I don’t think that’s actually always true. Sometimes to get better at the enjoyable part of hobbies, you have to do exercises that are less fun.

Frankly, drawing hundreds of boxes isn’t fun. It’s sometimes interesting, but mostly boring.

Even so, I think that the skills I learn from these kinds of exercises allow me to enjoy the fun part of drawing even more. To me, it’s worth the trade off.

My Latest Boxes

Finally, I’ll leave you with my latest set of boxes. (My first set of boxes is in the drawing at the top of this post.) You can see for yourself that I’m still far from perfect. Overall though, I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made over just a week and a half.

Image for post
Image for post
Drawing by the author, Benya Clark

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

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