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  • Writer's pictureMarcel Mensah | Eat More Spiders

Anyone can draw: A long list of great beginner resources.

Drawing is hard. It’s an art form that you can dedicate decades of your life trying to improve at, only to realize it’ll be decades longer until you’re as good at it as you want to be.

I’m by no means a prodigy (I'm reminded of this every time I put pen to paper) but I have spent hundreds of hours learning, studying and applying myself in an attempt to get better. And I’d like to think that work is paying off.

[Pictured: my best drawing of 2018 vs one of my last drawings in 2023]

Over the years, dozens of people have asked me for resource recommendations because they too want to learn how to draw. And over the years I've given dozens of answers, but recently, there have been a few resources that I find myself recommending time and time again — for good reason…they work!

So here it is; a list of resource links that I believe can teach anyone the fundamentals of drawing. The best part? This list wont leave you with $50K in art school debt (I promise).

The difference between drawing and illustration.

It’s important to note that “drawing”, the art of representing real world objects on a 2D surface, and “illustration”, a picture, drawing, or image that represents something and calls to mind a concept or feeling — are different.

These resources will do a fantastic job at teaching you how to represent real world objects with greater accuracy, but they won’t teach you have to visually communicate a message, convey mood, use color, incite strong emotions etc.

Keep that in mind.

The very basics: Good lines and basic shapes.

1) You need to draw better lines:

Drawing, is very literally the art of making lines. The earlier that you start to take your lines seriously, the massively better at drawing you’ll get. These videos do a good job at explaining you the importance of line-making:

2) Use those lines to make shapes:

Now that you’ve got your lines down, I recommend you spend time improving at the second most foundational aspect of drawing; shapes.

Pick any drawing you want, from any artist you like, and you’re likely to find a ball, a cylinder, a cone, a box or a rectangle at the foundation of the drawing. These shapes are the conceptual Rosetta Stones that we artists use to translate what we see in 3D to what we draw in 2D.

Drawing complex things becomes surprisingly simple when when you learn how to see, manipulate, and add character to these few shapes. Getting good at manipulating basic shapes is also really important when drawing in perspective. Here are a few resources you can use to improve your shape drawing.

  1. Proko: 6 Steps to Draw Anything 

  2. Proko: 3 Basic Shapes and Their IMPACT on Your Art 

  3. Modern Day James: Understanding Perspective Playlist  (a fairly technical look at perspective with a focus on using shapes correctly.)

  4. Proko: Improve Your Designs with Shape Breakdowns 

  5. Proko: Thinking in 3D

3) Introduction to Perspective

Now, once you feel good about your lines, and you understand the role that shapes play in every drawing, it's time to dive into manipulating those lines and shapes in perspective.

Many established artists and teachers will tell you; perspective is the dream killer of new artists. Its hard to conceptualize and takes a crazy amount of practice to make look realistic. But don't be discouraged! Once you learn the basic principles of perspective and how to practice it, you unlock a set of drawing techniques that will pay off 100X for the rest of your life.

If you take nothing else from this article, take this: Buy 'SPACE DRAWING' BY DONGHO KIM! It is the only book you’ll ever need to conquer perspective, and I don't say that lightly.

This book is incredible, I’ve recommended it to interior designers, architects, illustrators and many others who wanted to learn perspective drawing.

This book breaks down difficult perspective concepts in such a way that a child could understand it. Even reading a third 'Space Drawing' will change your life.

Below is a free PDF version of the book, but if you have the money please buy the book to support Dongho. I Guarantee this will be one of the best 40 bucks you’ve ever spent.

For other good resources on drawing perspective, check out these videos:

4) The Next Hurdle: Anatomy Drawing.

If you ask me, there are 2 areas of practice people get stuck when they’re trying to improve their anatomy drawing; proportion and realism.

A majority of the mistakes your going to make (for a very long time) are going to be because you drew things out of proportion, or you drew a part of the body without knowing what it looked like or how it works.

The difficult thing about drawing human beings is that somewhere in our evolution the human animal got really good at recognizing things that aren’t human (and there’s a lot of speculation as to why that is). This fact makes your job as an artist very difficult, because everyone, everywhere will be looking at your drawing's anatomy with an almost supernatural sense of wrong and right.

Here are a few of my beginner resources to get you started on learning anatomy. Once you have the basics, i'll share a list of intermediate resources. But if your just starting out, all you need to do at this point is get started. But! If you have the means, go out and find a figure drawing class in your city.

While you’re at it, give Jens Claessens (Instagram + Linktree) a follow too. I recently took an 8 week class with Jens and my sketching, drawing, anatomy and portraits improved by leaps and bounds.

While you're working on your anatomy drawing you can find absolutely killer drawing references through Grafit Studio and Line of Action.

5) Quick tips for staying "motivated"

Staying motivated with my learning is honestly something I'm still struggling with, especially in the cold, dark New England winter months. Here are a two resources that have helped me get better at showing up to my craft on a regular basis:

  1. Doodle your way to being a great artist

  2. The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield (seriously, read this fucking book, Steven Pressfield is a genius).

6) Lastly, find inspiration:

Now that you've finished reading through my (long) list of beginner resources, It's time you went out and got inspired.

Here are a few of my personal favorite artists to look at when I'm studying how to improve my drawing. Most of them regularly publish how-tos, host workshops and share behind the scenes tips.

Looking for intermediate resources?

This article was really centered on beginner skills, concepts and techniques - but I'm already working on the next list.

If you want to stay up to date, either sign up for LONER's email list or join the broadcast channel I'm running on Instagram called The Syndicate of Spiders.


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