The last few years my interest in illustrations and animation has grown a lot. I work as a visual designer at the moment, focussing on interfaces mostly.
I’d like to start improving my illustrating skills in my own time, however this time is very little and irregular. I’ve been reading up on techniques to improve drawing skills but they all seem to suggest something else.
I am currently only drawing short periods of time during the weekends, making not much progress.
- Do I need to start drawing daily?
- Do I need to start following tutorials?
- Is using references (using an image or drawing as a reference to draw something for yourself) recommended?
- Does it matter if I work digitally or with pencil/paper?
- Should I start working on one ‘style’ or start broad?
Practice, practice, and more practice is the overall message here. But it must be meaningful. When I say that I mean setting achievable goals either on a daily basis or weekly (draw one icon, draw one character). Let your mind and ideas flow to completion and remove all evaluation until the work is completed. From there you can work out areas where you need to improve. The idea is to go for quantity over quality.
Tutorials are useful for learning techniques related to programme use, but in terms of illustration I feel they just make you draw like someone else. Illustration is about creating your own mark and becoming comfortable with the pencil.
References, and plenty of them are good. There is a quote that if you steal an idea from one source it is plagiarism. Steal from many and it is research. Many of the great creatives have this mindset and are quick to point out where there influences came from.
I carry my Moleskine about with me to create a drawing when I can, be it over lunchtime or whilst something terrible is on the TV. From there the base idea can be transferred to Illustrator for further refinement. The best ideas I feel always start on paper.
Start broad, your style will come with that as you will tire of trying to recreate someones work and instead will want to add your own touches. This goes back to the part about doing plenty of research on the style you would like to create.