How I study and build my Visual Library

It has been quite for some time now, but that didn’t mean I was doing nothing! Recently, for about a month now, I focussed on my drawing skills again.
Not only to get more confident drawing with pen and pencil on paper, but also to build and expand my visual library. I realized it is just too small. One of my major weaknesses are figures and mechanical objects. I started with the later.


How to get better at drawing

I decided to treat myself and bought me an A4 Moleskine sketchbook. A welcome change after drawing on cheap A4 sketchbooks for some years now. I also bought myself a new pencil (Caran d’Ache Fixpencil).
I wanted to make sure I would get the most out of the practice of drawing so I decided to do the following each day:

  • Before starting to work, I schedule at least one hour to study an object of choice. Often times I just go with the topic I decide for the Weekly Challenge Facebook group. I make sure I have sufficient reference pictures of the subject. That means; I have references of every angle. These images have preferably a high resolution as well, so I can zoom in of needed to study the minor details
  • With the reference images as support I start drawing the object from different angles. That way I practice my perspective skills but I also have to think where each part the object has to go. By doing so, I’m already forced to think and construct the image in my mind before even touching the paper.
  • To finish the studies, I sometimes reference my favourite artist and see how they draw / render something (ie. a tire of a car). I like to apply the same rendering process on my studies. That’s called smart-stealing.

I made a promise to myself that the sketches I draw in this sketchbook should be referenced as much as possible. Every five to seven pages I stroke the borders of my sketchbook with a red marker. That is where I can test myself by drawing from imagination only. That way I can check what I remembered and what I lost or should focus on next time in my studies.

Personally I think that is the best way to practice and improve your drawing skills. Often times I like to compare it with learning a new language. The only way to learn the vocabulary is by studying and interrogating yourself regularly. In other words; study, interrogate, fix, repeat.

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