How I Learned to Draw (kind of. Well, good enough for me anyway)

Hey hey there Anifans!

How’s everybody’s Tuesday going? Unfortunately, I’ve been just a wee bit ill the last couple of days which means I have not got the surely mind-blowing collection of thoughts and opinions here for you, which would have otherwise surely changed your worldview enormously.

Nope, instead, I have some pictures… Exciting, right?


Well, it was for me. I remember stumbling across one of Christopher Hart’s How To Draw books a few years ago and, while I’d always lamented my lack of artistic ability, I was also aware that I’d never really tried to learn how to do it properly. I bought the book, as well as a decent set of pencils and a new drawing pad.

This was my first product after painstakingly slow work:


Now, I know that isn’t really anything much to look at, but I was stoked! I was so proud and excited because I had never managed to draw anything worthwhile before and this was a huge improvement, which can tell you a lot about my skill level at the time.

Immediately afterwards, I drew this:


Again, no big achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I was so thrilled to have managed to create anything, even though it was really just a step-by-step copy from a book.

I kept at it, drawing regularly, and within a couple of weeks I was drawing things more like this:


Not a particularly sophisticated piece, still only part of a figure and very basic looking, but I’d become kind of obsessed with shade and shadow and how they could give a piece depth, so, again, I was really thrilled with myself.

A few weeks later, I drew this and you can’t imagine how proud I was that I’d done this, only once needing to reach for my eraser and remove a mistake I’d made on one of the feet:

2012-12-12 21.03.46

Then, just a couple of weeks later, I was visiting my hometown for Christmas and, pretty bored, I threw myself into drawing and started playing around with inking some of my work to create more depth. First this:

2012-12-30 23.36.22

Then this:



Then this, which I felt was my best drawing to date:

2012-12-31 17.24.19

I was still copying step by step from a book, but I was managing to get closer and closer to what I wanted and I had developed a sharper eye for detail. Over the next few weeks I went back to some of the simpler styles I had tried when I first started out:

2013-02-10 15.06.59


As well as tackling weirder and more challenging pieces:

My first full-colour piece, still step-by-step, is one which I’m still so proud of, though I know it probably looks incredibly basic to more talented individuals, or even just anyone who watches enough animation to be used to better quality. Still, I couldn’t believe that I’d progressed enough to draw this:

2013-03-26 00.33.17

After a few more months drawing manga style characters, all still using step-by-step books, I started attending a few life-drawing classes here and there. It was a little intimidating at first, drawing someone standing naked in front of me, but within a few minutes, it became clear that the atmosphere  in the class was very serene and mature and I soon forgot that I was drawing a person at all, rather just a collection of shapes and shadows.

Here are two of my first, quite basic attempts at life-drawing.

That was a couple of years ago and I’d like to say that I’ve advanced tremendously since then and produce some amazing, polished project miles ahead of what I’ve shown so far. The truth is though, I haven’t had the time to draw as much as I’d like. When I have free time, I usually try to spend it writing fiction or reviews or being with my fiancée (not in that order).

Though I invested in a drawing tablet, and I absolutely love it, I’ve only drawn a few things in the last couple of years, one a picture of a squirrel, (which I think I gave a mouse’s head by mistake), I copied from a book:


And the other, a Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask inspired drawing:


Majora's Mask - Goron

You can probably see why I stuck with step-by-step drawing for so long… And yes, I know the colouring’s clumsy, I was happy to stray outside the lines a wee bit.


And that’s it. Not everything I’ve drawn since I started, but a pretty representative set of examples. Sometimes I think I’d really love to start up a basic webcomic, an excuse to polish my drawing and keep me writing at the same time. Mostly I’m just kind of happy to know that if I really try and really work at it, I’m not as totally useless at drawing as I’d grown up thinking.

I hope.

Anime Reporter brings you reviews and insights on anime, manga and whatever else I feel like! Welcome!

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Posted in Slice of Life, The Reporter's Desk

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Anime Reports
March 2016
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