Hey guys! Something a bit different today: a list of drawing challenges for beginners! These challenges are targeted at those who are still a bit new to the art world. Please, if you are just starting out, don’t think for a moment that challenges are for experts only.
One might think it better to learn the basics first, then tackle challenges with a little more experience under one’s belt; but really, artists should push themselves to be better no matter their current skill level. Keep in mind that all a challenge is is pushing yourself beyond your current limits; this is precisely what learning a new skill is! Not only is challenging yourself a great way to learn the basics; this is the time when you’ll make the fastest progress, and that’s truly exciting!
Now, while I’m calling these drawing challenges for beginners, you can benefit from them regardless of your skill level. In fact, challenges such as these are fantastic for measuring your progress, so I would recommend coming back to them once in a while to see how much you’ve improved!
Build Some Muscle Memory
For this challenge you will most likely need tracing paper; however, some masking or painter’s tape and a brightly lit window will do the trick as well. To start off, choose a simple image to draw: something with clear, bold lines, and little detail. A nice choice might be a cartoon character, a logo, or even the title on a book or movie. If you don’t have tracing paper, and you don’t have a bright window to tape your image to, you can also try using a computer monitor or other screen. Turn up the brightness and – voilà! – you have your “window.” 🙂
First, copy down the image without tracing it. Place the image you’re copying from either right next to your drawing paper, or propped up in front of you. Do your best to eyeball the angles and distances between the lines.
Now it’s time to trace! Grab your tracing paper, painter’s tape, window, laptop – whatever you’re using for this step – and carefully trace the image you’ve just drawn. Since you’re tracing, it should come out pretty close to the original. Again, pay special attention to the angles and distances. Trace in long, confident strokes.
Last step! Now that you’ve drawn and traced this image, it’s time to draw it one last time. Again, set up the image like you did in the first step, and focus on how the lines all relate to one another: the angles and distances between them, where they intersect, where each line starts and ends. And like in the second step, have confidence in your marks, making long strokes instead of piecing together short little sketch marks.
Finally, compare your drawings. The tracing will probably look the cleanest and most accurate, and that’s to be expected. But looking at your initial drawing and the last one you did, you should see a bit of a difference. The drawing you’ve just done will likely have some imperfections, but it should look much closer to the tracing (and the original image) than the first one you did.
There are a couple reasons for this: for one thing, your hand has now been through the motions of creating the lines “perfectly,” and as a result you know, if on a more or less subconscious level, what those lines should feel like; and while tracing you also became more aware of the relationships between the different lines in the image, so you were better able to judge these measurements in your final drawing.
Fix a Previous Drawing
One of the greatest pieces of advice I can give to any artist (well, anyone, really; artist or no) is to pay attention to your shortcomings and strive to be better. As I mentioned early on in this post, beginners have the most room for improvement, and while this can be discouraging, I feel that it really is an advantage. Everything you do in the beginning teaches you something and helps you become better. Seasoned artists can often grow jaded and forget to let themselves learn. So embrace your newbieness and remain teachable always!
A truly valuable practice is to review your own work, and to do this regularly. Primarily, you will be able to keep track of your progress and see where you’ve really improved; seeing these improvements is a great way to encourage yourself to keep drawing and keep getting better.
But you’ll also notice some things you’re not so proud of; some things that may make you think “I should have done this” or “Well, that looks wonky” or “I could do better now.” So go on! Do it again, but do it better! While it’s always fun to draw the things you enjoy and are good at, it’s usually more beneficial to work on your weaker areas. This is one of the best ways to learn; after all, if you don’t rectify your mistakes you’ll just keep making them.
Get Good at One Thing
Okay, this may be a tad contradictory to the previous suggestion, but at the same time, it’s an extension of it.
The idea here is to build confidence in your skills by getting really good at one specific thing, so that no matter how badly you feel about your skills, you always have one thing to come back to. While you can certainly take this too far by putting on the blinders and ignoring all else, this can be a beneficial exercise. I would suggest choosing your favourite subject, or simply something that makes you smile (puppy drawing, anyone??). For me, the most fun and rewarding thing to draw is portraits.
I have filled pages upon pages with just faces: people I’ve seen, people I’d like to meet, people I’d never want to meet, and all matter of made-up characters. Sketching portraits is sort of therapeutic for me. I feel like I can come up with an idea and really run with it. While I’ve practiced creating likenesses of celebrities as well as people from my day-to-day life, I also love to invent unusual faces: alien or animal features, technology and nature integration… The list goes on. At the end of the day, I really, really enjoy drawing faces.
Especially if you’re new to art, you might have to do some soul-searching to discover what you feel best doing. Go through the drawings you’ve already done, or maybe skim through the photos you’ve taken to learn what really interests you and what you like to look at.
Now that you’ve settled on something you want to get good at drawing, it’s time to practice! fill up a page or two with some quick sketches of your subject. Once you’ve gotten a good handle on it, put in some time to make a more detailed drawing. Take your time and pay attention to detail. If you want to get really good at drawing a particular subject, you’ll want to make sure you spend at least a bit of time practicing each day.
While it’s certainly important to work on things you’re not so good at (you can only get away with so many drawings of people with their hands in their pockets or behind their backs ;)) I think it’s a good idea to have an ace up your sleeve for those times when your hand (literal and metaphorical!) is not doing so well.
In those moments when I feel like I’m no good and just haven’t been making progress, I turn to a fresh page and sketch out some little portraits. By clearing my mind and concentrating on the person I’m creating, I can see how far I’ve really come. The bonus that comes with portrait drawing is that you can always have a friendly, encouraging face smiling back at you. 🙂
Still with me? Great! If you’re a newbie – or even if you’re not – I truly hope at least one of these challenges has piqued your interest and inspired you to pick up a pencil! The wonderful thing about being a beginner is that you have so much room to learn. The expectations are low so you don’t have a heavy pressure weighing you down. Approach learning this new skill with an open mind and a readiness to fail and trek on, and you can go as far as you want.
Are you just learning to draw? Maybe you used to draw but have been away for some time. Whatever the case, please do share your experience in the comments below, and let me know if you’re having trouble with anything! Now get out there and have a creative day! 😀