Advice from an Illustrator #2: How to Build a Confident Line

Finding confidence as an artist can sometimes feel impossible. It's hard to put down what's in your head if you can't translate it onto paper. It took me years to find the confidence to draw how I wanted, let alone show others my art. As you improve, you may find it easier to build that pride, but getting there takes it's time, but it's not impossible. If you have confidence while creating your art, it will improve.


And I'll give you some tips on how to get there!


Next in my little "Advice from an Illustrator" Series: How to Build a Confident Line.

Warming Up by Scribbling

If you find it hard to make continuous lines, if you have wobbly, anxious lines, or feel the need to warm up before working on a big project, try filling a page or document with circles and lines. Draw with your whole arm, not just your wrist. Starting off a drawing session like this can help loosen you up and you might find you can draw more confident lines. It's like warming up before exercising! I learned this in college, and I still do this from time to time.

When I start off drawing a character's head, I like to lightly sketch a circle to act as my base. It's a side-effect from doing those circle warm-ups!


Gesture Drawing

I've talked about gesture drawing in the past, but it's a great way to practice and improve your fundamental drawing skills. If you're at home, go to a website like line of action, and pick out some poses to draw. What's great about this site is that you can set a timed slideshow to filter through photos, and you can set it to 2 minutes, 1 minute, and even 30 seconds. Each time a photo goes through, try your best to draw as much and as quickly as you can in the allotted time. This forces you to only draw the most important lines, gestures, and details of the photo.

Gesture drawing is all about capturing the essence, the line of action of a drawing, rather than the technical details. Whether you're a character artist, prop artist, or landscape artist, gesture drawing is an amazing warm-up tool.


Studying Different Media in Both Animation and Real Life

I always preach looking at inspirational materials to improve your art. Whether that be going out in nature, playing video games, or watching a good movie; sometimes it's fun to analyze your favorite media and figure out how it was made. How did the artists animate that particular scene? Why did the director decide to film this scene in this way? How does this form of gameplay affect the overall narrative the game is trying to tell?

If you have an interest in any form of media, you know already that someone has made a YouTube video about it. I've been binge watching video essays on YouTube about my favorite media; Harry Potter, Undertale, even iCarly. Taking in lots of media, nature, anything that inspires you may give you some ideas for your art that you may not have thought of on your own.

Sometimes I get caught up in my art or working that I don't pay attention to what's going on in terms of new movie releases, the news, etc. Try to be in tune with what's going on around you.


Use your Arm!

If you only use your wrist to draw, both digitally and traditionally, you are missing out on a whole range of motion to use, and your art may feel stiff and wobbly. You might find it hard to make longer lines by drawing this way.

This is a tip I picked up from drawing on huge drawing boards in college: Make a habit of using your whole arm while drawing. It allows for a much wider range of motion, and it can help with making your lines longer and confident. This is especially true if you're painting on canvas, or drawing on a big scale.

I find that I have to make a bigger effort to draw with my arm when I'm drawing digitally. My small tablet kind of forces me to hunch over a little, but try and make yourself do it, especially of you are a digital artist by trade. Have you ever had to Ctrl+Z a dozen times? We've all been there, so open up that arm; it may save you from a million Ctrl+Z's!


Drawing Without An Eraser

This is something I picked up in high school art class. Our teacher had us draw still life and negative space drawings using only a ballpoint pen. Ballpoint pens are great for sketching since you can draw lightly with them along with making harder, darker lines. This sort of forced me to make mistakes, but be okay with them. It was practice after all, and once you practice a lot with this method, you could potentially create a nice pen drawing, all without using a single eraser! Knowing that I had the possibility to make a mistake with pen gave me a sense of confidence in a way. It gave me more control to pick and choose which lines I wanted to place down, and if I did make a mistake, I just try again.

Realize that this method may have the opposite effect; If you feel really hesitant to put a line down, know that you can always try again, and that it's okay! Not every line and stroke has to be perfect, and letting go of that perfection will allow you to produce more art. It can be frustrating at times, I know. But you have the power and talent in you to create. All it takes is practice!


In Conclusion,

Art-making is a very individualized process that means different things for everyone. This tips may help a lot, it may not help at all. You may be doing all these things, and still don't have the right amount of confidence. Art is a journey, and discovering what works for you is the fun part. I find that these tips help me when I hit a wall, or feel hesitant.


Let me know if you try any of these tips, and did they help you?

I'd like to do more "Advice from an Illustrator" posts in the future, so please stay tuned!


💖Soft Peach


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