The Secret To Drawing

November 15, 2018

To be blunt, I draw a lot. I draw on my notes in class, in my sketchbook, on whiteboards, on my arms or legs and even on the walls in my bedroom. I get all sorts of comments and a lot of questions, and I used to frequently be what the secret to drawing is. So, what exactly is the secret to drawing? It seems that people underestimate how much time and effort it can take for an individual to gain the skills to truly become an artist. Let me start with my story.

Everybody draws at least once in their life. Typically, they do so as little kids. I know I did. While I do not particularly remember my first ever drawing, I remember my attempt to draw Link from the Legend of Zelda at the age of five. As one can imagine, it was about as good as any other drawing spawned from the mind of a young child. Back in those days, I drew a lot, but not nearly as often as I do now. My enjoyment in drawing continued on as I went through my life from kindergarten all the way through elementary.

Middle school is when I began drawing more often. Sixth grade was nothing particularly special; I drew whatever and it seemed as if I would not be getting anywhere with this new hobby, but in seventh grade, a friend of mine showed me her art style and gave a few tips and tricks which, at that time, I found to be rather impressive. A tiny little notepad that was not much bigger than an index card became my first “sketchbook”. I drew random characters that meant nothing and would never be put in a story. I would draw on whatever I could find—notebooks, notepads, lined paper, copy paper— the point is, if it existed, I put scribbles on it.

As time in middle school went on, my hobby was slowly but surely becoming a skill. My tiny notepad became a composition notebook, and from there my composition notebook became a real sketchbook. People would notice my drawings and compliment me on my work. As my work improved, my art style changed often. I went from scribbles done by a little kid to a failed attempt at anime, and eventually to picking up ideas from art styles in western cartoons.

About two or so years ago, I stumbled across this one artist on Tumblr named Mister Hayden, and immediately I adored his art style. It was simple, goofy and weird—as was Mister Hayden’s sense of humor—and that was what made it so unique. By this point, I had seen many artists posting their art to places such as Tumblr and Reddit, and I wanted to try my hand at doing so, too. The thing was, everything that existed was seemingly done digitally, and at that time, everything I had ever drawn was traditional, save for a few failed attempts at drawing with a bamboo tablet on a computer.

Instead of using a computer, I decided to try getting a Samsung tablet instead. I was shakey with it at first, as any artist is, but after watching tutorials on how Autodesk Sketchbook works and practicing for a while, I finally found that I was alright with drawings. I figured out ways to change my sketches from just doodles into actual drawings, and from there into fully colored works.

Now here I am, in student journalism making cartoons for both the web and the paper. Oftentimes, people tell me how talented I am, have asked me to teach them to draw, stated that they wished they could draw, and I have even had a few people try to get me to draw them or something else for them. So, now to answer the question: What is the secret to drawing? Absolutely nothing. There is no secret to drawing. As with anything, it takes effort. Lots and lots of effort.

To begin with, it takes a long time to understand and even effectively use depth perception, lighting, shading and etc. I also cannot teach anyone to draw; I can give pointers and ideas to help someone improve, but the only people who can teach others to draw are themselves. I taught myself to draw, and other artists out there also taught themselves. If one truly wants to be good at drawing, they first have to make an attempt which may not look good. It’s called the beginning, and everyone starts there. If you work hard enough, you will improve, but you have to be patient and let time pass. If you find that you do not improve, then it may even be that drawing is not your thing, which is fine. There is something for everyone.

Everyone can draw. Everyone can pick up a pencil and draw lines on a piece of paper, regardless of how much they know and how much experience they have in doing so. Don’t be overwhelmed by the lack of experience. Just pick up the pen, draw a line and go from there.

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