How you tackling learning?
I recently came to the conclusion that, if I want to create something of my own is better off learning more subject than sticking with one for an entire month. Of course learning differs per person to person. Each has their own unique way of solving this. But hearing how others went about doing it, can give you some examples of things you could apply.

So I would like to ask how you tackling learning? Especially with the diversity of subjects you have out there:
Composition, Landscape, Anatomy, Light & Shadow, Color and so on, Perspective etc.
I resisted this for a very long time, but what I've recently been doing is going on Pinterest, finding a topic that I'm terrible at, finding photos of it, and drawing from photo reference. Then, after I've done some studies, I'll try to apply the idea to something from imagination.

It's hard when you're first starting out because you suck at everything, but studying Loomis, and basic forms is always a good idea. I also know some people that study like 100 hands, they just study them over and over until they feel like they are at a certain level with them, and then they look at their work and see if something else is noticably the worst thing in the piece.

Like, I draw hands a ton, got to the point that I was ok with them, then noticed my feet were really bad, so I started working on those. Got those to the same level as the hands, then suddenly noticed my ability to draw a 3/4 head was off, specifically the far eye, nose and head outline were off, so I started working on that. After that, I noticed my character poses felt "floaty" so I worked on making them feel grounded. It just keeps going around and around like that for me.

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I don't think there's a "nice" way of learning fundamentals - if you know what I mean:)

But, but - there seems to be a major hurdle in the beginning (though "beginning" might be months and months) where you are completely disoriented - like modblot said, you suck at everything. That said, when you go over that hurdle (so you still suck but you caught the notion) it snowballs for some time (until you hit a plateau, but that's a different kind of frustration:D). So, basically, for me, the major thing to do is to live through that first hurdle when you virtually can't produce anything sensible and yet you need to apply things and not just copy in order to progress. So, it's a bit of a circus viciosus for some time, but after that, when you laid out the foundation and it's no longer as much confusion as the "only" hard work, it feels like a VERY big accomplishment.

For me, that was with anatomy, for example. Of course, I am nowhere near a good figure artist, but I tackled that point zero start and now I can, well, do stuff and they are decent and I do it without having 99.99% of my brain power getting drained in twenty seconds:)
But, for example, if we talk about perspective or landscapes - lol, I think I am literally comparable to a five year old at a techno gig in the middle of the crowd. You tell me to draw a box and my head will explode.

So, about that, I think one of the major aspects of learning is to soldier through that head-exploding phase (and I really think there's no other way than soldiering through) and then progress more naturally and calmly and feel more like you "belong".
That said, one can pepper their soldiering phase with favorite background soundtracks, small rewards ("I'll go to the store and buy me a large ice cream if I do xyz gestures today") etc. Tracking progress I think is good, but without actually attaching to it, as it might be extremely frustrating because you are bound to hit walls and stay in one place at times.

And also - keep your health in check. Both mental and physical:) I screwed myself up on a physical level from basically overextending with daily hours. Which resulted in year and a half of not being able to do anything as well as debatable prognosis of recovery. So, now I might seem like that old grandpa that warns kids not to sit on the cold concrete or something, but I think it's very important. For a short-term boost, you might pay with long term condition or disability or simply inability to draw. Same goes for the mental health. Walk, socialize, do things you enjoy, DON'T punish yourself and don't think that the hours must be achieved ASAP. They don't.
I thought they must, prompted by some people that are very successful artists, but that's not ENTIRELY true. In the same sense as it's not good to drug your football players every day in order for them to train for the whole day, because maybe you'll get fantastic progress and results in the first year, but in five years, your whole team will probably be dead:)
Even those artists later admitted/saw that they approached it wrongly. So, laziness - no, but going over limits - also no. Why am I saying this? Well, because there's a trend going on for the past ~5 years or so that you absolutely have to beat yourself to death in order to stand a chance. And that is not true. You will only damage yourself. In the long run. The trend started because many young concept artists simply decided to race each other who could do more finished stuff in less time and so on. And the notion remained. The thing is, a lot of those artists were those football players. For example, Daarken has developed carpal tunnels and some other stuff in BOTH hands. He has special ergonomic setup that he uses and all that stuff. That's not very good. Because he did bouts of 15-17 hours. Of course you CAN do it, but listen to your body. Because body will do what you tell it to do, but it might overwork and it isn't very good at handling that (because it won't say no to you, which sucks because you yourself won't know when you must stop).

That said, later, when I screwed up myself:) I discovered there are people who are shouting "that's not the only way!", but I was deaf to them, as I was too blinded by the whole urban concept art race and stuff. In a lot of cases it doesn't result in good things. It's questionable for how long are today's "concept art celebs" "destined to last". So, work hard, but don't go in red rpm, as you might end up like a racing horse, spent and unable to race:)

Keep calm and get in the robot

My sketchbook
Oh, another BIG one. And a great bane of my process, as I HATE doing it:)

application from mind after doing a study. That, in my opinion, is THE thing which will propel you the most and the fastest. But it's by far the most draining one. Your brain will choke.
For example, I literally did like thousands of hands from references. And my hand drawing ability stayed the same (not literally, but close). Then I did ONE study-application drawing and I knew like ten times more after that. And the knowledge remained there.

Keep calm and get in the robot

My sketchbook
I tend to focus heavily on one subject for months at a time. I was really focused on anatomy last year and pretty much all my drawings were figures and muscle/bone studies. Now I can draw people fairly well but Im lost when it comes to other things like even putting cloths on them. So now Im trying to branch out. The problem with my single minded approach is that I have to neglect the things I spent so long learning. Now Im trying to create a balance to keep my figure drawing from relapsing badly while I try to get competent in things like composition and design. Ian Mcque said something in a recent interview I thought was helpful. He said something along these lines. You spend a long time learning anatomy but then you have to try not to beat people over the head with your anatomy knowledge. So you leave anatomy out in favor of making appealing figures. But then that anatomy knowledge starts to fade and you have to repeat the cycle over.


Your story kind of reminds me of what Andantonius spoken about within this article:

And I'm in true agreement with not beating the horse, to get from A to Z. And enjoying things on the side.

Reason I'm kind of puzzled right now is due of the diversity of subject. Like combining subjects to do within a week, or go like for a weekly of sticking with anatomy and so on, that's what I'm currently struggling of thinking about.

Especially when you need to learn them all.


That's somewhat of the approach I went it, and find myself not been able to do it on the long run haha...


@Adam Lina
So it would be better to diversify subjects within a week, then focusing on landscape for an entire week then? Like for example Monday, you do anatomy study with imagination drawing later on etc. Or for entire week learn more about specific anatomy parts, and apply it in a piece on weekends and so on?
That article you linked is actually entirely how I feel about the subject. And that "urgency" thing is something that's overwhelmingly advertised in those last 5 years or so. That's why I addressed it through the most of my post, because people stick to that mantra. I know I did.

About being puzzled. Well, I think a lot of it actually has to do with what I pointed out in the first part of my post. That "first hurdle". It's hard NOT to be puzzled when you are surrounded with EVERYTHING and going "well... what do I do now lol".

As for some concrete thoughts about the approach and schedule... I think you should setup smaller goals within your big goal (biggest being, I would assume, "become a good artist" or something like that). and then smaller goals within those. And you will get to your weeks and days and even hours.

Also, yes, we should be eclectic and be knowledgeable and versatile and versed in all of that - but not to the same extent in every category. Some of us can completely disregard some categories, even. Try to emphasize on what you wish to learn and put more resources into that. So, if you want to be a character designer mainly, do anatomy, gestures, build a clothes visual library etc. But at the same time don't neglect other stuff. If you want to be a full "all round" guy, then simply tackle it all, but don't push yourself, because an all-round dude will get there slower. But when he gets there, he'll be awesome, because he will be able to paint anything on a satisfying level. I don't think Artgerm or Hyung Tae Kim could do fantastically well with a medieval castle on a hilly landscape:)

I don't think you need to do everything every day. I do think, however, that a month of "something" is too much. In my opinion, you might have themed weeks. But there are some things that I think one should do every day. For example croquis, I would do them every day, no questions asked. People, cars, clouds, doors, everything. Every day. I do think that's the common denominator of everything we do and that it's a must and a backbone of every artist's arsenal.
That said, I think the rest of the day might be themed, like "today I do thumbnails of people" or "today I do studies of animals" or "today I do perspective" etc. But I would sort that out according to what I want to do the most. In my case, that's anatomy. In your case, I don't know:)

Keep calm and get in the robot

My sketchbook
@Doolio, thanks for talking about the 'race' aspect of it. As an artist from a country with zero quality art education and general disregard for arts of any kind, I always found the race thing intimidating. I simply don't have access to a lot of the tools available to others in other countries, and financially taking classes online isn't -at least for the time being- viable. A lot of good artists who adopt that race mentality made me feel like I simply don't stand a chance if I don't do the billion things they do and sit down to study for 17 hours a day plus live drawing classes, and online classes and workshops and attending this and reading that. Obviously, it's important to do all those things, but overdoing it will only lead to burnout. Something I definitely don't want to do to myself.

Generally speaking, I'm adopting the study a bit of everything. I've been using Vilppu's drawing manual plus Loomis' books and CTRL + Paint's fundamentals videos and slowly going through. And I completely agree with the overwhelming aspect of the first few months of art studies. That terrible feeling of "Well, I suck at everything, where do I even start?"

I personally believe in starting anywhere. As long as you start. If you want to start with the bare essentials, like boxes and spheres, do so. Start with anatomy, start with perspective...start somewhere, and work on it, then slowly start adding to the list as you get used to the learning aspect.
Meaning, get used to studying and practicing something everyday and pick up speed and add more subjects.

It'd be a bit overwhelming to start everywhere at first, but also don't stagnate and focus on only one subject where you get better and comfortable then neglect everything else.

Well I think theres pluses and minuses to focusing on only one subject. On the down side I have to push through learning other things while keeping my figure skills from dropping too much. On the up side I have the confidence and even more desire to learn those other subjects because I've gotten reasonably good in the area that I have most interest in. Getting good with composing scenes will give me a place to put my figures in and that excites me. Before I started learning figures my figures were crappy so it was hard to get excited about drawing environments if I couldn't create a nice pay off with interesting figures. On another note if I had spread myself out and learned everything at once my progress in all of them would be much slower. So the rush of seeing my improvement in my favorite area of drawing kept me motivated. Im not sure Id be as far along if I had not done it the way I did.

So in your case Zearthus, you could focus on composing environments until you feel confident in them. Then when you learn figures it will be icing on the cake that makes your environments even more fun.

After sleeping on this idea, I decided to come up with my own ideas regarding to how to tackle learning. I feel the reason most peoples feel daunting at start with the complexity of things to learn, is due of how theoretical thinking we're. We never learned how to learn, nor know how to create some sort schedule in school during learning phase. So since childhood you get ingrained to do certain things all the way to adult, to the point where you become a machine.

- Composition
- Anatomy
- Perspective
- Color Theory
- Light and Shadow


Proko (Anatomy), svslearn(General), Schoolism(General), Ctrlpaint (Digital Painting), Cgcookie (Digital Painting), New Master Academy (Traditional), Gumroad Tutorials(General)

Loomis(General), Bridgeman (Anatomy), Villpu (Anatomy), Hampton (Anatomy), Ernest Norling (Perspective), Molly Bang(Composition), Color and Light (Color Theory)

Watts Atelier Online Program (General), Robot Pencil Mentor Program(General)

In the beginning is best to start a drawing habit, check out these video for more info about it:


IF you're not having fun, the process will just seems like a chore. So I believe its best to experiment with each subject, and pick the one you want to learn the most, you begin with that. After you choose what you want to learn,  you break the complexity to bare minimum. For example, you want to learn anatomy, start with the head, or the torso etc. Be simple about it, don't pick the whole body at first.


What is deliberate practice? It's practicing something specific which you want to improve on.

More about it from this article:

While doing deliberate practice, take notes along the side. The power of taking notes helps to remember the information better, and you can always go back to your own notes when you get stuck. 


A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. Think of it as repeated practice you do on instruments to get good. For example if you're learning guitar, and you're a beginner, your routine would be how to tune the guitar.

For drawing that would be a repetition of some particular exercises, such as still life drawing, outdoor sketching etc.


A plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and times.

Schedule really boils to the amount of time you have available. The hardest part of it, is of course sticking to it. So don't be too ambitious about it. One article that can help you out setting out your schedule:
This is a process of trial and error. So experiment see what works for you.


If you're never going to apply what you learn, then whats the point of learning it? Besides, by drawing it from your imagination you will learn what you still need to practice/improve on


There is no need to push yourself to do 12 hours a day of draw, know your body limits seriously. Listen to what it tells you. If you gonna ignore it, thou shall pay its debts later. What do I mean by that? Eventually your body will break down, listen to the stories of artists whom drew for 12 hours to 16 hours a day, they all one way or the other inflamed/damage their arms and advised not to do what they did. This is by no means to scare you away from practicing art, rather I want you to be mindful of your own limits.

Based off of what I said, currently this is the way I will be tackling this. I choose the subject I want to learn/interested in, which in this case is Perspective at the moment. I find one or two sources regarding to the chosen subject, for example Ernest Norling, study the book, take notes, apply what I learned later in the day or by the end of each week. This will be a set routine that I do on a consistent basis, I use set routines and weekly themes to stick to for learning.

(Think of it as the same way you learn an instrument, you have a deliberate session of practicing chords, take a long break, after few hours come back, practice what you learned, see where you're still off and needs fixes)

So its a process of Copy/Study/Take Notes then apply.  I do this by drawing from imagination or my own personal work by the end of each week/day depending on the subject. Everything is object to change, as I continue to venture along the way. Feel free to share your own ideas that worked for you.

ADDITIONAL LINKS (Fixed vs Growth Mindset)

PS: This is just my thoughts I came to, after reading other peoples insights regarding to this matter, and asking peoples on other places. So they're not set in stone, and a must follow thing, more of general guidelines for what to look for if you feel stuck/overwhelmed.
Now I'll give an approach to learning that will differ from what is done here on the forum and done by most digital artists. Consider this an alternative method of learning. It's based on traditional ateliers and it's something that is done by several artists in the entertainment industry, just not as spoken about as self teaching.

We hear artists talking about fundamentals and we can find a lot of info about how to study fundamentals. That's great. We also hear about artists studying classical art or the works of old masters but there's not a lot of in-depth information about this on forums.

I don't think anyone will argue that a person can move from traditional realism to concept art and illustration. Watts Atelier, the Stockholm atelier, FAA, Angel Academy, all these places produce realists that then use their skills in the entertainment industry. The big problem is that this kind of learning is often difficult to receive outside of these schools.

Now I'm not going to try and argue that this is in any way superior than studying at a good design school or self teaching with the right resources. I would however argue that this is a path not a lot of us consider.

If you admire artists like John J. Park or Feng Zhu, the design based education may be for you. If you want to paint like Krøyer or Repin, then you might like the atelier process. Now you have a lot of bleed-over where artists from ateliers move into design and artists from design schools move to more traditional style work. These are different paths that can take you to the same end.

Also, this is important, nothing says you can't do a bit of both. If you're in a design school or self teaching, you can still read up on the traditional atelier process and apply it to your work. As a future atelier student, I know that I will still self teach and read up on how to study design for the entertainment industry during my free time.

So all that out of the way, this is what I suggest some try out. I've done this and I will re-do this in more depth when I start the atelier. This is the process most ateliers teach so I'm mostly just reiterating what I've learned from reading about this and talking to students.

Bargue copies. Maybe you've heard of them. Copies atelier students make that take several days or even weeks. I didn't think much of them at first but having done a few, I've found them very valuable. They re-set a lot of what I've learned in drawing/painting digitally and it has taught me the importance of accurate drawing. Do some research, learn how to sight size and do a few. Try to take it seriously and work on the same drawing for hours upon hours, making sure everything is perfect. You won't have a teacher helping you but getting used to being accurate will help a self taught student.

Cast drawings. When you've had experience being accurate in your drawings, both line and tone, it's time to learn how to translate a 3 dimensional form into a drawing. Using the process and approach of what you learned in your Bargue drawings, you setup a place to do a cast drawing using the sight size method. You can check out the cheap book "Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach" to learn how to do this.

While doing these first few steps in the atelier process, you always apply what you learn to the figure. What most places do is to spend the first part of the day on this and the second part applying the same process to long pose figure drawings. Anatomy and gesture is studied on the side but you primarily us the sight size method and do long pose drawings.

Now there is a reason why things are taught this way. When you've learned how to be very very accurate in your drawings (line and tone) and you've learned how to translate 3D form into a 2D surface, you have a foundation for drawing. You can now go out and draw basically anything. You've applied what you've learned to the figure and now you can apply it to landscape drawing or anything from life.

This doesn't teach you how to draw from imagination but I believe that learning how to draw from life accurately first, gives you a much easier time learning to draw from imagination. Doing this, you learn how to see and you can better analyse things visually. Your studies will look better and be more accurate, leading to you actually learning more.

I am sure there are exceptions but maybe this makes sense to some of you. You basically learn drawing before you separate things into different subjects. There's one subject first and as you go forward, you can study things individually and learn the unique aspects of something like landscape drawing.

Discord - JetJaguar#8954
I was thinking about this more this morning and I made a little graphic to show art progression as opposed to level progression in an RPG. 

It can feel like you aren't progressing at all when learning art, but really, you are, it's just that the level-up process is mostly reversed from a typical video game experience. It can take forever to feel like you got from lvl 1-2 and sometimes there are periods where you feel like you have hit a wall, but as you continue to grow, you will start to level-up faster.

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Also, try not to spend too much time looking at those people's art when trying to learn. I was super guilty of this and it's really hard for me to not compare myself to others.

I would get on tumblr and see someone who says, "Oh man, I'm terrible at art." and they are posting this amazing stuff, and then you find out they are like... 14 years old. I'm 31. It would feel crushing to see that and be like, "I'm so far behind."

So just don't worry about where you are in relation to other people, just work on getting better, and every hour of time you put into your craft is an investment into your future as an artist. You'll never regret the time you spent on learning a craft, but you will probably regret playing video games or watching TV for hours on end.

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Diversity: I'm a simple-minded, feeling-driven person, and I tackle studying based a few things. One is stuff I'm interested in. Two is stuff I need. Third and most scarcely is stuff I _believe_ is important to study, but are neither particularly interesting to me or are immediately in need by a particular project.

Stuff I'm just interested in I will gravitate towards even if it isn't needed for any project, and studying them tend to make me feel better and more confident. They're also more enjoyable. Stuff I need is driven by a particular project, and I either study during the making of the project, or after, in preparation for future similar projects. Stuff I _believe_ is important to learn is the hardest to keep doing, and it's just a battle of will and rationing of free time every time I try to do studies.

How: Half the time I stubbornly wing it, and half the time I consult books, tutorial videos, or sketch from a small still life on desk.

this is mainly for the people who find Art is a broad subject , im here to say that it is, but what i like about it is that the fundamentals build off of each other in a way that youre not missing that much really.

when you work on perspective youre already working on construction drawing , when youre studying anatomy it can also challenge your perspective in a way.

so for the ones starting out ,its ok just to be off track as to what it is to learn first, but then again , if you want to improve faster, you will need to do more research about it.

and eventually through time, concepts becomes familiar, you'll be able to prioritize one topic over another, in turn leading to effectiveness. then after that it all comes to just grinding ,
for me the hardest part is focusing on one thing, i always have this mental OCD thing that i feel i should be doing this other thing rather than what im currently working on... when actually i should finish it first. this is where a mentor proves to be useful , it would serve you well and will leave you free from those worthless doubts that keeps bothering you when doing actual work.

TL:DR : barebones of what i do for the curious: drawing first / tutorials / books / gestures / application / imagination.

Hmm I think one thing we didn't cover is how to go about learning through books. In order not to gave a vague idea, feel free to share your interpretations about studying from books.
I did a learning how to learn course recently - gist of it is.
30 min blocks, then reward yourself - stretch, move about for 5 mins.
study a thing, copy a thing - fix any mistakes, put the thing aside and try and remember it without reference. Fix using reference. Try and recall without refs an hour later - fix using reference. repeat a few hours later again, then again the next day.
Then go back to stuff a few days later, and a week or so later - doing the recall stuff helps fix it in longterm memory and make the recall accessible. Fixing mistakes draws our attention to the details.

I need to use this method more, because when I /have/ done it, it's worked really well.

I have found a really, but really great article in regards to learning, while you're at it, check his other articles:
Hi everyone,

All I can say is that I've learned so many things in this thread that'll definitely help me getting my 6-8 hour schedule together. Crimson Daggers is the best choice I've made in a month of beginner's angst and useless doubts. 
Thanks for linking me to this thread Zearthus, it sure is an eye-opener.

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