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General Tips

1. Work in Black and White

Most of us have this misconception that a piece is not "complete" without colors, so we tend to focus on coloring a piece. However, this causes us to neglect values, and we end up with excessively bright and saturated images.

In order to avoid issues with the values of your piece, turn your image black and white from time to time or work in black and white from the very beginning. This will help you to learn how to use colors, as they tend to behave differently (such as blue being perceived as a darker color while yellow appearing as a much lighter color, even if they have the same values and chroma). Furthermore, you will learn to not be afraid to go for darker values.

Working fully in black and white could also help you to focus on the forms of the shapes too. You will not be distracted by sorting out the correct colors and blending them properly. Instead, you will be able to see how your art is structured- just like in a 3D modeling software. After a while, you will notice that structuring your pieces become a lot easier to do.

2. Leave Some Parts More Ambiguous


Another common misconception is that a piece is not "complete" unless every single part of the piece is perfectly polished. This mindset causes artists to overdo their drawings and take away the main focus on the artwork. Unless the purpose of the drawing is to make the viewers lose focus and wander around, it is the best to leave some parts sketchier/blurry/textured.

As it can be seen from the painting on the left, the clothing and the hair are not fully rendered. The clothing is not smoothened out, and the brush strokes are very visible on the hair. They would not make sense without the rest of the painting. However, as a whole, the ambiguity of these elements both save a lot of time and lead the eyes of the viewers to the face, where the shapes are a lot more defined.

This is actually how we see the world around us- we have a certain area that we focus on, and the rest is blurred. Why not imitate it?

3. Flip Your Canvas/ Take Frequent Breaks

When we are used to drawing from a singular point of view, it becomes a lot harder to recognise our mistakes. Our brain gets used to seeing the image through that point of view, and we continue to draw on top of a distorted perception. Only after some time passes by we realize how off our drawing looks, and it is often too late or hard to fix it.

In order to avoid such a scenario, it is the best to frequently flip your canvas or look away from your drawing to come back later. The earlier you do this, the quicker you will realize if your drawing is leaning to one side or looks asymmetrical, and the easier it will be to fix it.

For the drawing on the left, I had not flipped the canvas too much and I was trying to complete my work fast. However, after some time passed, I realized how off it looked, as the eyes and the nose are off-center and crooked. If only I had changed my perspective on the drawing by flipping the canvas or taking a break, I would have had noticed these obvious mistakes.




Vertically flipped

4. Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes


First Try

Second Try

As cliché as it sounds, it is not possible to improve without making any mistakes. This is often a quite discouraging fact, as we expect to reach success immediately. Such pressure for perfectionism usually results in a loss of motivation to draw, or a denial of making mistakes.

The truth is, no matter what your skill level is, you will be making mistakes, and you will not be satisfied with your work most of the time. The important thing is to be aware of this fact, and not put yourself under pressure every time you try to make a stroke.

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