It’s easy to think you don’t have enough time to get better at drawing. The demands on your time with work, kids, church, or other commitments definitely fill up your life pretty quickly. But, I’ll bet there’s more time in your life than you realize to get in some drawing practice.
Read interviews with professional comic book artists and a common theme usually emerges. Not enough time to ‘sketch for fun.’ Even for professional illustrators it’s hard to find time to practice and experiment. Here are 4 tips to help you draw more often. I’ve found they work for me really well.
1) Buy a sketchbook you will carry
Those large sketchbooks are nice to have around. But they’re not going with you when you head out the door to run errands with the family. Keep a small, pocket-sized sketchbook next to your keys. It’s much easier to shove that in your pocket on the fly than it is to think, “Oh, right, I need to go to the other room to get my…” but you don’t finish the sentence because it’s time to go and people are waiting on you.
2) Buy a pen/pencil that puts down lines you like
Don’t think you have to have first-rate tools to sketch. Use a cheap ball point pen (their lines have a charm all their own) a felt tip marker, a crayon (Crayola Twistables fit nicely in your pocket,) or a inexpensive brush pen. Mix and match. Get something that can make thin and thick lines if you want. Personally, I like something that flows well such as a soft lead pencil or a felt tip pen, but find something that works for you and fits in your pocket.
3) Fill in the potholes of your day with sketching
Your day has potholes of time. Those moments in your schedule when suddenly you find yourself whipping out your phone? You’ve just hit a pothole and filled it with social media or email. That stuff can wait (really, it can.) Take out your pocket-sized sketchbook and cheap pen or pencil and draw a face. Or a hand. Or that plant over in the corner of your doctor’s waiting area that you’re pretty sure is fake. You’re surrounded by things that have hidden charms. Start drawing and you’ll discover them.
4) The “One Thing” Rule
You’re not trying to make a masterpiece in your sketchbook. You’re trying to learn. Did you draw a face with that one eye too high? If you realized you did, congratulations, you’re developing an accurate perception of your work — that means you’re on the verge of getting better. And besides, that nose you drew? It’s looks great.
If you find the perfectionist in yourself stepping into the process, give yourself the “one thing” rule. For every sketch, for every drawing, or for every page you’re just trying to learn or practice one thing. And if you can’t decide what that one thing is, look at your recent drawings to see what you think you should work on. Even realizing that is one thing worth doing.
Over time I think you’ll find more improvement than you expected.