I Can't Draw

 Closest thing I ever did to "art" was a stick figure comic I did in middle school. The jokes were crude and juvenile, and the art -- and my free time -- was such that I could knock one page out every day, usually while in my algebra class. I had a few people who read them regularly, but usually because they sat at my table. Sometimes, they'd remark on a particular panel and say something to the effect of, "For a stick dude, this looks pretty good." I'd smile awkwardly -- I've never been good at responding to praise -- and keep writing. I did this for about four months.

I reached a point where I wanted to draw something that didn't look like ass, but when I started to actually try at drawing, I found that I couldn't do it. Perspective of any kind eludes me entirely; I can draw cartoon profiles and top-down views competently, but I struggle with anything else. When I saw that I had no concept of how to draw, I quickly gave up any interest I had in the subject.

And I regret it quite a bit. I see so many artists that aren't professional post some amazing things online and I wonder how they did it. I wish I could be like them. I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't given up, and maybe tried to actually get better at it. Like most people who consider themselves "creative-types," I think that I've come up with something that deserves to be on paper, but I can't do it. I'm consistently jealous of anyone who can draw, ink, and color their own work. It perpetually astounds me.

I know that my skill lies in writing (if it lies in anything at all), but writing can be such a boring skill. When you're a good artist, it shows. You can show anyone something you've drawn and they can immediately make a basic assessment, because art's appeal is immediate. The best of the best clearly outshine the crap.

People can recognize great writing, sure, but it's much more difficult. For one, if I end up writing for a living, it'll be in English, which means my parents will never be able to fully understand what I do or how I do it. This also means that it's more difficult to point out areas that need and improving. You have to learn certain rules. Those exist in art as well, but a rule comes with a clear-cut visual representation, most of the time, whereas some composition rules can be difficult to sift through.

When I took my Creative Writing class last semester, I kept telling myself that the things they were teaching me didn't apply to me as much because I was a visual storyteller. If I ever actually committed myself to writing a story, it'd be a comic, a movie, or a game. Because that's the way I think. Visually. I could very well get an artist to do the actual art for me, but It wouldn't be the exact way I had it planned. Perfectionist that I am, I'd hate that. I'd hate it even more when their version of my idea was better than mine. Which means I might be stuck with stick figures for a long time.    

33 Comments
34 Comments
Posted by Flabbergastrate

 Closest thing I ever did to "art" was a stick figure comic I did in middle school. The jokes were crude and juvenile, and the art -- and my free time -- was such that I could knock one page out every day, usually while in my algebra class. I had a few people who read them regularly, but usually because they sat at my table. Sometimes, they'd remark on a particular panel and say something to the effect of, "For a stick dude, this looks pretty good." I'd smile awkwardly -- I've never been good at responding to praise -- and keep writing. I did this for about four months.

I reached a point where I wanted to draw something that didn't look like ass, but when I started to actually try at drawing, I found that I couldn't do it. Perspective of any kind eludes me entirely; I can draw cartoon profiles and top-down views competently, but I struggle with anything else. When I saw that I had no concept of how to draw, I quickly gave up any interest I had in the subject.

And I regret it quite a bit. I see so many artists that aren't professional post some amazing things online and I wonder how they did it. I wish I could be like them. I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't given up, and maybe tried to actually get better at it. Like most people who consider themselves "creative-types," I think that I've come up with something that deserves to be on paper, but I can't do it. I'm consistently jealous of anyone who can draw, ink, and color their own work. It perpetually astounds me.

I know that my skill lies in writing (if it lies in anything at all), but writing can be such a boring skill. When you're a good artist, it shows. You can show anyone something you've drawn and they can immediately make a basic assessment, because art's appeal is immediate. The best of the best clearly outshine the crap.

People can recognize great writing, sure, but it's much more difficult. For one, if I end up writing for a living, it'll be in English, which means my parents will never be able to fully understand what I do or how I do it. This also means that it's more difficult to point out areas that need and improving. You have to learn certain rules. Those exist in art as well, but a rule comes with a clear-cut visual representation, most of the time, whereas some composition rules can be difficult to sift through.

When I took my Creative Writing class last semester, I kept telling myself that the things they were teaching me didn't apply to me as much because I was a visual storyteller. If I ever actually committed myself to writing a story, it'd be a comic, a movie, or a game. Because that's the way I think. Visually. I could very well get an artist to do the actual art for me, but It wouldn't be the exact way I had it planned. Perfectionist that I am, I'd hate that. I'd hate it even more when their version of my idea was better than mine. Which means I might be stuck with stick figures for a long time.    

Posted by Red12b

I like to think that I can take good Pictures...  
 
I don't get too in-depth with photography but I do take some joy from the photos I have taken.  
 









Just keep doing what interests you man, why not write down a story and get your mates to act it out, I did that over the last break we had, went out camping and did a short story thing, "Man Vs Mild" hopefully it will go up on you tube soon... 
 
anyway what I am getting at, if you are a visual person then that's one way to get your stories into something that isn't text,  
 
since you seem to not want that. anyway, good luck 
Posted by supermike6

Yeah, I am pretty much the exact same way. It kind of sucks. The only advice I can give you is: 
 
Get Chance and Luck! 
  

Posted by Eidderf

If you really want to draw better you have to be more active to find ways to improve, go to a class, post your stuff online and seek out critisism, get some art books, accepting that you bad at something and then just giving up seems kind of senseless if it's something you really want to do. It's very rare for people to start off good at something and art is especially hard since it's not something you can ever really master, people's styles and ways of working are always evolving. You should probably try to overcome being a perfectionist in a way since it sounds like it's getting in the way of you progressing, you are not going to develop if you are so precious about your work that you won't let other people help you.  Maybe putting your artwork/writing online and sharing it with people would help in that respect.
 
So basically be more open with your work and try not to be so defeatist and instead try to improve on what you identify as faults, sorry if this is too harsh, I don't mean to be.

Posted by iam3green

practice makes perfect. i would say find a drawing picture of something and practice drawing it. just draw what you see in pictures. you should get some drawing pencils and the pigment picking up thing. i don't know what it's called but it's like clay and it erases things.

Posted by JJWeatherman

Well, you do write fairly well, for what it's worth.  :P 
 
If you really want to be an artist, then I say keep working at it. You never know, a light bulb could go off in your head during some random art class and you could end up really good.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I am yet another person who can't draw for shit. It's sad, too, since I, too, am one of those people who has creative ideas, but no way to communicate them through pictures. It's one of my few options for video reviews (my idea for a video review would be easier to pull off with animation), and it's completely closed off to me.

Posted by Vasta_Narada

I learned by trying to free-hand anime screencaps. I learned how clothes folded, persepective changes, and a lot more.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Vasta_Narada said:
" I learned by trying to free-hand anime screencaps. I learned how clothes folded, persepective changes, and a lot more. "
Any hints on something other than anime? I'm not insulting it (point to one part of my avatar that isn't Japanese), but it just seems like a bit of a cop-out, since there are Internet tutorials all over the place for it.
Posted by SSully
@Video_Game_King said:
" I am yet another person who can't draw for shit. It's sad, too, since I, too, am one of those people who has creative ideas, but no way to communicate them through pictures. It's one of my few options for video reviews (my idea for a video review would be easier to pull off with animation), and it's completely closed off to me. "
And that is why you take that creative drive and use it to better yourself as an artist in a specific field, writing, drawing, animation, video editing, anything! That drive to create, and the patience to practice is what makes a person a good artist. Both you and the topic creator just need to buckle down and do the work, in the end it will pay off. 
Posted by Video_Game_King
@SSully: 
 
But the problem (I assume for both of us, since we sound so similar)  is that we both suck so hard that it's hard to tell where to start. Everything sucks, creating some soul-crushing atmosphere when I try to do anything visually artistic...without sprites. I'm good with sprites, for as much as that's worth.
Posted by Vasta_Narada
@Video_Game_King said:
" @Vasta_Narada said:
" I learned by trying to free-hand anime screencaps. I learned how clothes folded, persepective changes, and a lot more. "
Any hints on something other than anime? I'm not insulting it (point to one part of my avatar that isn't Japanese), but it just seems like a bit of a cop-out, since there are Internet tutorials all over the place for it. "
Just find some drawings you like and try to remake them. I chose anime because that's what I was watching, primarily, at the time.
Edited by buzz_clik
Moderator
Edited by OppressiveStink
@Vasta_Narada said:

" I learned by trying to free-hand anime screencaps. I learned how clothes folded, persepective changes, and a lot more. "

Don't do this, whatever you do, do not do this if you want to be a decent illustrator.  What you want to do is draw from real-life reference, be it photographs or just people walking around.  If you're just getting started, use this site:  
http://www.posemaniacs.com/?pagename=thirtysecond
 
It will put up a new 3D model of a human every 30 seconds and you can get gestures down a little bit easier.  Just focus on the lines that matter.  Then as you progress, draw more from life.
 
Keep in mind, they say it takes 10,000 hours of training to be considered competent at something.  Keep at it and you'll get there.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@OppressiveStink said:
" Keep in mind, they say it takes 10,000 hours of training to be considered competent at something.  Keep at it and you'll get there. "
Eh, I find that to be a bit of crap, since it requires one year, nonstop, to be good at anything. The sentiment's good, but the actual number isn't. As for that program, it just makes me wish that I had a tablet....only to remind myself how much I absolutely suck at art.
Posted by OppressiveStink
@Video_Game_King: 
 
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expert
 
Read the part about "expertise".
 
Edited by Video_Game_King
@OppressiveStink: 
 
Counterpoint: there are tons of Starcraft II experts, and the game hasn't been out for a year. They practiced a lot, but it wasn't 10000 hours. Other video games have similar stories like that. Still, on subject, I wish there was a tutorial for getting skill when you suck so hard at something that you don't know where to start, since I could use a bit of it. Man, this thread has really depressed me, big time.
 
Also, you said it takes 10000 hours to become competent at something, which is obviously bullshit. I'm not even sure that I've played The Granstream Saga for 10 hours, but I'm obviously competent at it.
Posted by afrofools

I have an excellent story writing ability that I often demonstrated when I was a younger. A teacher that I knew who also happened to be an author read one of my stories, she said that I am going to write a book one day. Then a book must be written, so then she is not proven wrong. I struggle slightly with acceptable grammar and I have a very limited vocabulary. One resource that I know is good by multiple sources suggests that the Stephen King book, "On Writing." Maybe you should check that out, even if you are not that interested in writing. Myself, I am not going to be a writer for my career, but I will find time to finish a book that I have already started writing. If the book never finds a publisher, that is fine, digital will be enough for it to succeed.

Posted by Red12b
@buzz_clik: ha! 
Choice! 
Posted by SSully
@Video_Game_King: I would suggest take a class, read up online from different community websites, and just dabble in a bit of everything.  
 
I tried to get into programming before I got into college, but found it extremely hard. I read up on as much as I could and bought a book on C++, which was actually a bad decision because its a hard language to learn. After much struggle with C++ I started to get the basics. By the time college came i started from scratch with Java in my first programming class. It was a real pain in the ass, but I learned  A LOT in just one semester. It wasn't just in class either, I learned more just by grinding away on class assignments outside of class then I did in class. Over Christmas break I messed around with an easier language called python, and now I am back to for another semester, but working with C++ again. In about a year I went from barley being able to write a simple program in C++, to being able to handle anything thrown at me in class, and start to write programs of my own. 
 
The only reason I progressed from being able to do almost nothing on my own, to decent is because I practiced, and just worked hard on everything that was thrown at me. It isnt easy, but if you just put yourself out there and try to learn, you will progress. Use everything, the internet, books, and classes, it will all pay off in the end, trust me.
Posted by OppressiveStink
@Video_Game_King: 
You're comparing video games to trade and craft, they aren't even remotely the same.   To compare the two is somewhat insulting to people (like myself) who have trained in art for years.  Video games have familiar input configurations, no matter the game, the tool you usually input with (controller) is the same.  Besides, Ganstream Saga's game play doesn't exactly separate it much from the mountain of video game tropes and Starcraft 2 is almost a mirror image to the same game released OVER A DECADE AGO.  RTS of that style aped Starcraft for years as Starcraft aped Warcraft and Warcraft aped the Dune RTS of old.
 
Listen, being good at art isn't easy, it's a trial of training; You shape your hand and mind to view things a certain way.  Almost like a vivisection, you need to pull away the clothing and skin to see how the muscle and bone sits on a body.  You will never get good at art in a year unless you've got some kind of uncanny latent talent, and as you said, you don't have that particular one.
 
You wanted a place to start?  Start by drawing people, start by drawing off of that website I sent you.  Focus on the gestures of the body.  Keep doing that an hour a day and you will get better, and better, and better.  
 
Though, by your words and the way you treat a skill such as art, you come off as a bit childish and impatient, so drawing may be outside your scope of learning to begin with.
Posted by JoyfullOFrockets

The coolest thing I ever drew was a very detailed AK-47. That's about it. I'm pretty bad at drawing human figures with normal proportions.

Posted by sgjackson

My creative white whale is different, but similar - I want to learn to write music, namely trance and other electronic music. I've only dabbled up until now, but I've been thinking about seriously diving in and doing some regimented practice, and the stories from the people in this thread have convinced me I should do that.

Posted by Armada

You need to be pro-active and actually start somewhere--as opposed to just letting things stay as stick figures and lamenting why you aren't any better.  Books, online resources, and classes are all out there for you if you seriously want to improve.  Hell, even stick figures--draw one, and then think about how it could look more like an actual person.  The stick figure's head is circular, but you know that human heads (unless they belong to stout/fat people) are not perfectly spherical.  So adjust it to more of an oval, with the bottom end tapering for the chin.  Small steps like this can help you on the path to improving your drawing skills, but it'll only happen if you can be bothered to try.  Really LOOK at people, and think about features and proportions.  

Edited by HitmanAgent47

Drawing is actually very easy if you have the right techniques and a good perception. Also the left language side of the brain isn't going to help you draw well at all, if you don't include the right brain and the techniques. The left side of the brain will help you with shitty cartoons and graphic design at most like stick figures because your naming everything into non abstract forms. The right side can handle detail, it's good to use both sides of the brain, you need to make a perception shift.                    The two books which will help you work on perception is drawing on the right side of the brain, also the second book is the natural way to draw. If you are proficient with these two books, you can then use any other how to draw books easily because all the info is exactly the same, use shapes to create structure then you just draw the lines you want to keep because the rest of the structure lines are a bit messy and scribbly. Good luck.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@OppressiveStink: 
 
I'd say that I'm more depressed than childish, but since my response was going to be "but I've tried that 'see everything by shapes' stuff, and it comes off as ridiculously stiff and artificial", you may have a point.
Posted by Onced

I know how it feels, man. Most of my family has had an uncanny knack for drawing. My uncle was once offered a job as a studio artist (I'm not entirely sure, he doesn't tell the story often). My portfolio consists of a horse I created in year 9 that ended up looking like a deformed donkey. 

Posted by armaan8014
@Red12b said:
" I like to think that I can take good Pictures...  
 
I don't get too in-depth with photography but I do take some joy from the photos I have taken.  
 







Aaaa these photos are taking over GB! :O
Posted by armaan8014

Practice and Patience is all you need son!

Posted by Underachiever007

Well, for what it's worth, you're a good writer.

Edited by TheDudeOfGaming

Im pretty good at drawing or so my friends tell me,in  the end,i might be happy with what i draw for an hour or two, but after that i immediately see how  i could have drawn it better and throw the drawing like it was a really old rag.
Best advice,find some images and try to copy them helps a lot,practice a lot and dont draw unless you really feel like it,i found that i just cant force it. :)
First drawing i did by copying an image was that of a wolf, love wolfs XD
edit:forgot to mention that i really,really,really...really suck at drawing hands...like really suck at it...

Posted by Red12b
@armaan8014 said:
" @Red12b said:
" I like to think that I can take good Pictures...  
 
I don't get too in-depth with photography but I do take some joy from the photos I have taken.  
 







Aaaa these photos are taking over GB! :O "
that's the plan, assimilation of Giant Bomb one photo quote at a time. 
Posted by Flabbergastrate
@Red12b said:
" @armaan8014 said:
" @Red12b said:
" I like to think that I can take good Pictures...  
 
I don't get too in-depth with photography but I do take some joy from the photos I have taken.  
 







Aaaa these photos are taking over GB! :O "
that's the plan, assimilation of Giant Bomb one photo quote at a time.  "
Glad I could be a part of this. 
 
Thanks for all the replies, everyone! I'd surmise your responses into "If you want to do something, do it. Don't bitch about not doing it." Which I take as a good incentive to perhaps take an art class and draw more consistently. Of course, I still need to pile that on top of writing and learning to write and play music. But I'll give all of 'em an honest shot. 9,999 hours to go.
Posted by TheFreeMan

I'm in a position similar to yours. I always think visually, and when I actually try, I consider myself a competent writer but any story I would like to create would be in a visual medium. I used to think that I was total shit at art too. I used to only be able to draw stick figures (bad ones at that) and weird anthropomorphic blobs. Then I read some graphic novels and I got kind of inspired and I just started messing around by drawing people. I focused on being able to draw a head and face for weeks and finally I could do it. It's a very cartoony style (reminiscent of Bryan Lee O'Malley) but it's a hell of a lot better than where I was a few months ago. I can also draw weird abstract shit kind of naturally but it's pretty generic looking as far as "weird abstract shit" goes.
 
You can improve at just about anything with practice and drawing is no different. There are people who seem to have a natural talent for art and are pros at it, but there's also plenty of people who couldn't draw well and just practiced or messed around until they did. Improvement seems to come in leaps, almost. It's actually pretty fun too. 
 
So yeah, don't give up. I want to do a graphic novel or a comic book or even a webcomic someday (and for further examples of "bad art to start better with practice", check out questionablecontent's-or Penny Arcade's-first strip and it's latest strips. Huge improvement) so I keep on trying. It'll take a while but eventually you can get good.  
 
If I ever have a kid I'm going to get them drawing pictures and cartoons and comics when they're young. Cause then they'll be good by the time they're twenty or so and make sweet art or a graphic novel or something and make tons of money and buy me sweet cars and nice houses.  It's a foolproof plan, really.