Two Important Ways To Exercise Your Artistic Skills


We all know that the only way to get better at art is to keep doing it. Web Comic artists especially get to see this first hand through the dedication they put into their series over the years. It’s quite common to check out a new web comic’s site, see their latest comic, and then skip back to the first to begin reading and see that the art style is at least a little different. All of this is fine and ¬†good, but artwork really is a physical task in a sense. Of course it can also be emotionally draining as well, but we’ll get into that another week. Today we’re looking into the importance of stretching those artistic muscles.

It wasn’t until I started taking 2D animation seriously that I learned my first drawings for the day were rarely my best. This brings us to our first step in your artistic exercises. You may find it helpful to warm up. It may seem like a frustrating waste of time but it can help to do a sketch or two before diving into your main work. It’s literally like stretching before exercising. I’ve found it to be helpful because it gets me in that mindset so when I am doing a serious piece, I’m already more focused.

The other thing I want to talk about this week is life drawing. We touched on that last week at the end of our talk, and we will be continuing this topic next week with an interview. As I noted last week, references in general are more than acceptable and important in allowing you to find details to bring your drawings to life. In relation to artistic exercise, life drawing can help you notice those details you may otherwise overlook when just drawing from memory. That and it forces you to draw in general outside of your style.

Why is this a good thing? When you’re drawing from real life, it is like reference drawing, but you’re putting all your effort into realistically recreating the object at hand. The more you draw something, the more of an understanding you obtain of that object. Again as we all know, the only way to get better at art is to keep doing it. So it really does help if you want to make something in your style stand out more to focus on it in real life. At first it will be a tedious task. I’m sure we all know that experience of drawing details of a realistic object and then realizing it isn’t properly to scale. Don’t worry about things like that. You’re just learning after all.

What you’ll want to do is sketch, not draw. You’re taking in form and details you notice that make an object recognizable for what it is. Draw from different angles so you start to develop an understanding of what the object is like in 3D space. It takes time but you’ll get a better understanding of the object and have an incredibly easy time working it into your style from there. This is advice for any artist out there. Even if your style is cartoony and unique, learning what makes an object noticeable is a good lesson for any artist.

By object I do literally mean anything. Drawing hands, a still life, focusing on clothing items, or even drawing a tree. Whatever you feel your work would benefit from, focus on that. If you’re currently not looking to expand upon a specific topic, you can freely explore any objects really. The trick here is to balance your professional time. Any sort of exercise like this is an investment, and as a web comic artist, you have obligations to your deadlines. So it’s good to focus on things related to your comic first. What would improve your updates? Do you have an out of the ordinary noun to draw in the coming weeks? Then dive in and sketch away when you have a chance. Maybe even combine this weeks advice and use your warm up time for still life drawing.

Next week we’ll be joined by comic artist Craig Ferguson to discuss his experiences with life drawing and the impact it has had upon his artwork. This will also give you a look into how an artist can get the most out of a session like this in a set time limit. Stay tuned!


  1. Coyote March 14, 2014 9:25 pm 

    It is a blast to go to a new webcomic and look at the early stuff compared to the latest. My own comic has changed dramatically since the first post– whose hasn’t? Some of the earliest “Questionable Content” stuff is utterly unrecognizeable (or was, anyhow; he went back and updated some of his stuff). I love to see the evolution of style and ability.

    In fact, way waaayy back in the ’80’s there was a British comic book called “Redfox”. It was self-aware barbarian sword-girl parody but with real action and character development. The art grew and matured and it was watching that process unfold comic to comic was what reassured me to go ahead and “work without a net”.

    Daily I doodle and draw and experiment with wild interpretations of the human form, almost always finding new ways to express something once I dial back the weirdness. A person should never be afraid to experiment or even just jump in and start and let the art grow naturally.

    Great series and great entry. I look forward to the next.

    • Les Major March 16, 2014 5:03 pm 

      Thanks and for sure! It’s always fun to see where an artist has come from. Even the most refined comics tend to grow as the series continues on. It’s kind of dramatic process to see a web comic find it’s style. I think it’s something we all need. Just time to draw whatever comes to mind. :)

    • Les Major March 30, 2014 8:53 pm 

      Moving forward is definitely a good thing. I’ve had a few friends who always want to go back and redo their older pages after they’ve improved. The downside of that is you just end up in a constant cycle of re-releasing content and improving again. :)

      Cool to hear about Redfox too. Sounds interesting, I’ll have to give it a look! Hehe, after all since starting this I’ve focused on both the Dawn of Time web comic and the creators Tiny Barbarian video game lol. Seems like Redfox is something I’d enjoy too.

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