If You’re New, Start Here

How Drawing is like Kung Fu

 

The reasons you don’t draw.

Brush Lee

“I can’t draw a straight line.”

“I can’t even draw a good stick figure.”

“Artists are so lucky that they’ve got the talent to draw.”

I’ve heard all the excuses in the book on why you can’t draw.

I’m here to tell you right now, that that’s all they are, EXCUSES.

The truth is, you’re afraid. Afraid to fail. Afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of being mocked. Afraid of WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.

Well guess what? Here, you learn what you don’t know. Here, you will be shown the steps. Here, you will discard your fear.

“But I have no TALENT for drawing!”

I’m here to tell you that talent, TRUE natural drawing talent, is only good for one thing:

Making you WANT to draw more.

But a person with less talent or no talent, can usually end up drawing better than someone with natural talent simply by working at it. <=CLICK TO TWEET

The Problem with Talent

Since drawing comes easy for the talented, they often rely on it like a crutch. Talent can often be a fatal drawing flaw. I’ve seen talented artists become stagnant and never improve because they rely on their talent too much.

Some talented people when confronted with a need to improve their skills, quit when they realize that it’s difficult and requires work. They think they shouldn’t HAVE to work at it. After all, they’re talented.

Worse of all, some talented people think they’re the BEST draftsmen out there, and when they come face to face with draftsmen who are better, they simply quit, rather than work at improving.

This  is where a person with less talent or no talent has an advantage. They’ve never had it easy, so the work is part of the drawing experience. Something they take for granted.

The reasons you CAN draw

Drawing is a learnable skill. It’s a skill with teachable methods that work. All you have to do is learn those methods, practice them and that’s it.

Drawing is like writing, like playing an instrument, like learning to dance,…like Kung Fu.

Why Kung Fu is like drawing

Pen Grier

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Kung Fu as:

“any of various Chinese martial arts and related disciplines that are practiced especially for self-defense, exercise, and spiritual growth.”

This is NOT the definition that I want to use here. The definition that best fits what I was taught when I learned Kung Fu is much more like the following one I found in Wikipedia:

Kung fu, gongfu, or gung fu (功夫, Pinyin: gōngfu) is a Chinese term referring to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete, often used in the West to refer to Chinese martial arts, also known as Wushu.[1]

…In its original meaning, kung fu can refer to any skill achieved through hard work and practice, not necessarily martial

THIS definition of Kung Fu sounds much more like drawing. Kung Fu can roughly be translated as “hard work”. This means, any skill that requires work in order to improve it, can be labeled Kung Fu.

You can learn all the principles of drawing very easily. To get good at it though, you need to practice them.  Just like you did when you learned to write.

Conditioning

Conditioning your body is the first thing you do when you’re preparing to learn Kung Fu (the martial art). You prepare your body slowly in order to handle the physical skills you’ll begin to learn.

It’s no different when learning to draw. The conditioning only looks different. You condition your arm, wrists, hands, and fingers to do what you want them to do. This results in good hand, eye coordination. Which results in making you capable of getting the drawing results you want.

A Kung Fu master doesn’t teach you the most complex moves right off the bat. He helps you learn them in small digestible steps so that they slowly become internalized and become automatic.

Drawing is the same way. You practice the small basic stuff and those things slowly become part of how you think.

Drawing is easy

Enough talk, let’s draw!

Drawing is easy. Drawing great is difficult and takes work. At this stage, you simply want to feel comfortable drawing. The lessons below will help you do just that. Never again will you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to drawing.

How The Drawing Website is Structured

Following the Kung Fu example, I structured this site like a Kung fu class.  In other words, it goes in levels.  Starting from beginning level (Lvl 0) up to “THE FINAL LEVEL”. You can start where you feel most comfortable.

A word  of advice: ALL things in the beginning level are applicable in the most advanced stages of drawing.  It wouldn’t hurt,  if your more advanced, to take a look at the most basic lessons, as a refresher course.

Here’s how the levels are broken down. Click on the highlighted level to go to the page and get started:

Lvl 0 – You can’t draw a stick figure or a straight line and it’s darn embarrassing. The lessons here are especially designed for you.  By the time you’re done with these lessons, you’ll be the envy of all your other, non-drawing friends.(FREE digital book of this info is now available)(Beginner Art Bundles also available, in “Deluxe Version” and “Regular Version“)

Lvl 1 – The lessons in this level are for you who are comfortable drawing already and want to draw better and cooler things.  Forget all that anatomy stuff and drawing realistic, lets have fun and draw cartoons!  By the time you finish this level, you will be able do draw some nice looking comic strips.

Lvl 2 (COMING SOON)- Time to get serious. The lessons here are for you who are serious about getting better. You want to make a living drawing? By the time you master this level, you will be able to do just that.

Lvl 3 (COMING SOON)- You’re a pro but now you want to leave the competition behind.  You want to be a MASTER. These are the lessons for you!

Lvl 4 (COMING SOON)- You are a Master artist, so you know that you’ve only JUST BEGUN. It’s taken you years to realize that all you know means you know nothing. You are more exited than ever to learn. Here you will find what you need.

THE FINAL LEVEL (COMING SOON-ish???) – Those who have achieved this level are said to have a mystical aura around them while they draw called, “The Glow.”

 

Questions?

I can’t help you if you don’t ask.

What’s your burning drawing questions?

Is there something you’ve always wanted to know about drawing? Ask.

I’ll give you my best answer and, who know,  probably write a post about it.

Leave any comments and questions in the comments below.

Or better yet, sign up to receive more information via e-mail. You’ll get extra tips and advice.  You can ask me questions that way also.

 


50 thoughts on “If You’re New, Start Here

  1. Jim Mays says:

    I would like to know about the strange and arcane secrets of composition and design.

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Ah, very ambitious.

      Lucky for you, I’ll be covering basic design in just a few weeks in Lvl 0: Lesson 3.

      As for composition, I’ve already dropped a small hint in the “Pro Tip” in Lvl 0: Lesson 1, and I was going to do the same in Lvl 0: Lesson 3. I had no plans to talk about basic composition in any of the Lvl 0 lessons, but I don’t see why I SHOULDN’T.

      Sooo, I’ve added it on the list as Lvl 0: Lesson 7.

  2. Tim says:

    Anyone who makes reference to The Last Dragon gets a gold star in my book! Awesome!

  3. Michael Perry says:

    When you first started drawing, what was the most difficult step for you Luis?

    • Luis Escobar says:

      When I first started drawing, the most difficult thing that I had to get over was the fact that, to become REALLY good, would require learning things I had no interest in. Things like anatomy, perspective, shading, and just learning how to draw from life. I had zero interest in that as I was learning to draw and I avoided learning that stuff for YEARS. Why didn’t I want to learn that stuff? Because to do that would make drawing seem like work and I drew for fun. It never occurred to me that anything worth knowing and doing well requires work, even if it’s fun work. It’s still work. Getting over that laziness was very difficult.

  4. Michael Perry says:

    Also would you say you was a talented artist when you first started?

  5. Jerome Herr says:

    This sounds great! I’m gonna try it out now. Thanks for doing this :)

  6. manvsart says:

    I still say Kiss my Converse!
    great job Luis!

  7. Back2Basics says:

    I’m new to this site and my first reaction is WOW! Although I haven’t looked at everything on this site I feel a spark for drawing all over again. I will finish browsing after commenting though. I would like to say a big THANK YOU for creating this site! It almost bought me to tears because I thought drawing was a thing of the past for me. I took up art in High School and we were never taught like this. I knew drawing was a gift that I had but there was a huge amount of fear. My fear was making mistakes. I even feared making mistakes in trying to sketch. Anyhow I canNOT wait to go Back2Basics (hence my username) to renew, refresh, and explore the possibilities drawing has for me.

    P.s. Looking forward to you coming back from your break. Good luck!
    Thank you again,
    Victoria

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Thank YOU Victoria, for the feedback.
      I’m in the process of creating new content for the blog now. I hope to have something to post soon.
      In a lot of ways, I really haven’t taken a break since I send out newsletter tips weekly.

  8. alejandra romero says:

    if u try ur best u will do your best

  9. How old is too old, when is it too late? I’m almost 34, and I’ve always badly wanted to be able to draw, but two year olds draw more coherently than I am capable of (no joke), and I just have no idea how to even start. Everybody says that I don’t want it and that I’m not willing to put in the work…. Maybe in the end, in trust, they’re right, but. just… I don’t know. This is supposed to be enjoyable, right? And it just isn’t any fun at all not being able to even do the most basic, most simplistic things, and feeling like I’m never making even the slightest progress…

    I feel like I’m at my wits’ end with this.

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Hi Harlan, thanks for the comment. You’re never too old to start.
      One of the reasons little kids are able to draw so freely is because they’re not beating themselves up about how they draw. They just do it. Once they hit a certain age (around 7 years old) kids start judging themselves and quit.

      If you can write, you’re already drawing. It’s just a matter of transferring your confidence from writing letters and numbers to the different symbols of drawing. Try out the exercises in the first Lvl 0 posts and sign up to the newsletter. I’ll be posting some basic drawing exercises there.

      Drawing is about having a few things working in unison: Confidence, hand-eye coordination, muscle memory. Except for the confidence, which is a state of mind that you can change, hand-eye coordination and muscle memory come from drawing a lot. It doesn’t matter how good the drawing is, as long as you do it.

      Think of it this way, the goal of drawing is not a great drawing. That will happen eventually. The goal is reaching “flow state” otherwise known as “being in the zone.” Have you ever been into something so deeply that when you look up from it, you notice hours had past but it only felt like a few minutes? And yet, you feel really good afterward?

      You get there from being challenged just enough so that what you’re doing is not easy, but it’s not so hard that it’s frustrating and you give up.

      What you need is to find an “easy win.” A drawing exercise that you can do that is challenging but not difficult. Try out the exercises on the site and see if they are too easy or too hard. Start at the beginning. Remember it’s about hitting flow state, not about being Michelangelo. When you change the goal from “great drawing” to “reaching flow state,” the act of drawing itself becomes the goal, not perfection.

      • Hi, Luis. It’s me, Hikaru again. The last thing I want you to think is that I want to learn is for the wrong reasons, but I have very terrible hand-eye co-ordination, and I’m having problems even with trying to draw straight lines and C-curves. I’m not giving up, but at my age, and with the goal I have in mind (character design), I wonder if you’d be OK to get back to me with some intense proven mechanical skill drills. With your King-Fu approach, you definitely understand my failings, I just wonder if you have any specific exercizes to send someone like me, someone with all the ideas in the world, but no skill for drawing…. Basic shape drills for body parts, basic shape drills for recognizing angles, basic drills for a character designer with no skill. My e-mail is kitsunestar@gmail.com

        As long as you’re OK with helping a furry…

  10. Demi says:

    Are you still up for “Working over your drawings”? Or did they cost?

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Thanks for asking. No, it didn’t cost anything but it WAS part of a contest. And only the contest winners got critiques. I may do it again, but it was an awful lot of work so I might not do it anytime soon.

      • Demi says:

        Oh. Okay thanks for clearing it up for me. XD

        btw I tried downloading your free pdf, and it’s saying its corrupted; let me try to download it again…

  11. saratj says:

    Don’t stoppp!!! T.T this is helping me so much! Considering I can’t leave the house much, this site is like a ray of light in my darkest hour….*dramatic music*

  12. mandy says:

    Nice I love art

  13. mandy says:

    I LOVE ART

  14. Any update of when the other levels are going to be posted?? I honestly don’t want to start until they are. I feel that if i start and reach a point where I’m ready to move to the next level I would feel stuck. I’ve looked over your entire website and really like the layout and your style.

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Hi AnThony,
      Okay so I get asked this a lot, and perhaps it would be a good idea for me to post links to the latest updates on the progress of the next levels.

      I tend to let the newsletter subscribers know all this. I highly recommend subscribing because I send out a lot of good drawing info this way. That said, here’s a link to the two newsletter updates related to your question:

      http://eepurl.com/FmNnj

      In the link below, when I write “Lesson 2″ I meant to write “Lesson 1″:

      http://eepurl.com/GxCgX

      I’m now thinking, it might be a good idea to simply consolidate those two newsletters and create a post on the site out of them for everyone to read who has the same question.

      Thanks for asking.

  15. Critter says:

    I am so horrible at drawing, and I always want to draw like my friends can! All my friends have a deviantART because they can actually draw. xD I can’t…like, at all. I got a sketch diary for Christmas, but I don’t really know what to do with it. How know what you want to draw? Ack, you have no idea, I can barely draw a round circle or straight line. And, is it really true that I can be good at drawing, because, sure as heck, I’m really bad. I’m in my teenaged years, and I’m silently hoping that the drawing fairy finds me and help me learn to draw. I’m seriously ashamed of myself and demoralized because of my lack of being able to draw. :(

    • Critter says:

      I meant to say, “How do you know what to draw?” not “How know what to draw?” xD

    • Luis Escobar says:

      The answer is yes. Anyone can learn to draw, it’s a learn-able skill. It’s all in your mindset. Not everyone has an affinity to it, not at first, but it can be learned.

      Think of it this way, not everyone is REALLY GOOD at doing math, yet everyone can do it because they’re taught to do it. There was also some little kids who had a harder time learning to write their letters but they where encouraged to keep at til they got it. The problem is that drawing isn’t seen as important so it’s not taught or encouraged in schools.

      What I will say to you is this, if you REALLY want to learn to draw and you’re serious about it, you have to be ready to put in the work. The “Kung Fu.” But you will ONLY be able to do that if you have the right “why.”

      Why do you want to learn to draw? Is it because you want to be better than your friends or draw just as good? If so, that may not be the right “why.” Especially since your friends didn’t get into drawing for the compliments and the status. That came later. They got into it because they enjoyed it.

      Like playing games, you do it because it’s fun even though it can be hard. You enjoy the challenge. Drawing is the same way. It’s a fun challenge and a fun way to decorate a page and express yourself.

      First thing I would say is, stop comparing your drawings to your friend’s drawings. Simply enjoy the process.

      Now, what should you draw?

      First READ the info in this website or in my free digital book and go through the exercises. It’s there to give you something to draw and build your confidence.

      Second, join the Draw Fu Facebook Group, there’s lots of very encouraging people there that will love to give you pointers. I also answer question and post inspirational links.

      Third, if you want some really “easy wins,” go to your local craft store and look for these books. They will help you draw cool stuff easily:
      http://www.thedrawingwebsite.com/product/draw-chi-recommended-zentangle-books/

      Fourth, if possible, go to your library and find this book I reviewed:
      http://www.thedrawingwebsite.com/2013/01/02/book-review-drawing-with-children-a-creative-method-for-adult-beginners-too/

      Also this book:
      Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

      and this book:
      The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are by Danny Gregory

      And READ them. They are very helpful. Especially for building up the correct mindset and giving you some ideas of what to draw.

      I hope that helps

      • Critter says:

        Okey, and no, I don’t want to be better than my friends. No, no, no, I wasn’t comparing my drawings to my friend’s drawings, I’m just saying that, I like to draw, but I’m not good at it. I like art, but I’m not good at it. Guess I misworded that a little bit. I enjoy drawing, but it’s a little bit embarrassing, and I’d like to be better. xP
        Thank you so much for your advice! It means a lot!

  16. Months later, I’ve realized that I can’t seem to motivate myself to do the work. My mind keeps making excuses for why I can’t, why it won’t work out. I think that’s the most frustrating part of all. Consciously, I _want_ this.

    Subconsciously, my brain shuts me down from all sides before I can even begin.

    How can I develop the discipline and work ethic to truly make a run at this?

    • Luis Escobar says:

      This is a tough one. We all go through this. It’s totally normal. Some people’s subconscious even goes out it’s way to ruin their lives.

      This kind of problem is way above my skill set to handle. That said, there are two books I can recommend. (Affiliate links below):

      1. “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield. This book talks about “The Resistance,” which is what you’re struggling with. The thing that keeps you from doing what you set out to do.

      2. The other book I’d recommend is, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. This book breaks down how habits form and can be manipulated. It’s a handy book to have if you want to be able to “hack” your actions. Especially since, willpower is a limited resource that eventually fails. But habits are simply automatic and effortless.

      I hope this helps. You’re not alone. It happens to more people than you think. Recognizing it is actually a great place to start.

  17. sam says:

    when is level one comming up?

    • Luis Escobar says:

      Okay so I get asked this a lot, and perhaps it would be a good idea for me to post links to the latest updates on the progress of the next levels.

      I tend to let the newsletter subscribers know all this. I highly recommend subscribing because I send out a lot of good drawing info this way. That said, here’s a link to the two newsletter updates related to your question:

      http://eepurl.com/FmNnj

      In the link below, when I write “Lesson 2″ I meant to write “Lesson 1″:

      http://eepurl.com/GxCgX

      I’m now thinking, it might be a good idea to simply consolidate those two newsletters and create a post on the site out of them for everyone to read who has the same question.

      Thanks for asking.

  18. Rishi Shah says:

    i really big thanks to Google for index this site when i search start drawing, this all lesson are really helpful and now i am still waiting for next level. i am a graphic designer so i want to improve my skills day by day i wish this lessons are improve my illustration skills. thanks

  19. E-man says:

    Thanks this gives me great tips to draw better and more clearly. :D

  20. E-man says:

    Also Luis please email me

  21. girts23 says:

    cool stuff. Waiting for next lvl lessons.

    • Luis Escobar says:

      They have begun. I’m currently writing the Level 1 lesson in small sized chunks, on The Drawing Website Newsletter. You can sign up to receive them if you haven’t already.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: