View Full Version : How to improve my brush stroke?

12-03-2005, 01:42 AM
Hey :)
I have justed started to learn how to draw, and for that reason I feel very uncomfortable when I'm drawing, and I feel that my brush stroke is very unnatural. I was wondering if you could eventually give me some practise exercises to do.
Thank you in advance!

12-03-2005, 02:52 AM
From my own experiences, economy and precision is a good goal to shoot for if you want to refine your brushwork or line quality. A good excercise is to draw something (from life or photo reference) by using as few lines as possible. Don't rush it--just one clean line after another. Don't noodle or sketch or repeat your lines. Try to be as precise and accurate as possible with each line. This exercise will help sharpen your observation and eye/hand coordination.

Once you get that down, then do the same thing with painting. Do not noodle or smudge or repeat your brushstrokes all over the place--let each brushstroke make the maximum impact by having it describe accurately the color and value of its intended purpose.

12-03-2005, 03:15 AM
Thank you rob,
I feel very honored of having received an answer from such a great artist as you are. Thank you so much for your advice, I really appretiate. I will work hard on my stroke, and maybe post a fiew pictures of my improvements.

12-03-2005, 05:58 PM
so Robert would u suggest starting out with basic ovals and spheres for the figure then refining it with bolder lines or just look at something and start drawing?

btw... i looked those the art theories and techniques tuts... cant seem to find anything on painting folds on clothing.. dunno if u remember but i emailed you bout that... well i searched and found a topic with some links i havent gone through all of them but thats the only topic i found on painting folds... care to share some brief tips?

sry if im annoying lol....

12-04-2005, 02:05 AM
Well, using basic shapes to construct the figure is a different subject than what jokko is asking--he's asking about getting more comfortable with his brushstrokes/line work (confidence, elegance, precision, expressiveness..etc). When drawing figures, it's always a good idea to have a structure first, then flesh it out. Using cylinders, cubes, spheres..etc as the building block is a common practice, but some artists I know who are already familiar with the human figure would just sketch out the actual muscle forms.

For clothing, did you look at the Loomis books? You can also buy Jack Hamm's "Drawing the Head and Figure" listed in the sticky thread. There's also Burne Hogarth's book "Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery." The most important thing about understanding drapery and folds is to observe where the stress points are, and where the compression points are. Protruding joints and taunt curves are typically the stress points, and the inside bends of the joints are typically the compression points.

12-06-2005, 12:21 PM
Not to contradict such a fine artist as Lunatique, however, I try not to get to "tight" with my line work when drawing these days. While presise, high-focused contour-style drawing will most DEFINATELY improve your observation skills, I ran into a personal struggle in my art-school days with this topic. I was drawing as if I was a tiny little ant, crawling across a surface of the object with an obsession for 100% acuracy. The problem was(and still is sometimes) that I often lost track of "the big picture". It was only until years later that I learned to losen up my lines and make more expressive strokes. It also opened my eyes to things like "tonal composition" and "Blocking in" broad shapes first, then refining.

There is the interview I read with a Manga artist(forgot his name) that does a fishing-manga series and this other one called "Legend of Kamui (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/manga.php?id=2850)". He was talking about his unnatural line work and sloppy, almost sketchy drawings. It was a struggle for him because he wanted to be like his peers but then realized that his natural linework could not be trained to do so, instead, he made the loose lines work for him.

I will say this though, filling a sketchbook with "contour" line drawings of mundane everyday things, like Belts, Chairs, Hats, etc. is one of the best things you can do to improve. If you want a really hard challenge, try drawing something organic, like a tree, without any shading whatsoever. Just pure line work. It's tough..


12-06-2005, 05:32 PM
I like warming up by making several basic objects and trying to repeat them precisely. Lines in different directions and weights, circles, squares, simple curves, etc. Start small, and get larger. I find that by doing this, I start drawing "from the shoulder" rather than "from the wrist", which always ends up making a more confident (and accurate) stroke. It's easy to do, and doesn't take much time.

12-06-2005, 10:42 PM
Thanks a lot for your help guys,

I am already getting a little more confident! I just need a hell lot of experience :S
Thanks again

12-08-2005, 10:28 PM
something else that could help, if you have a model at your disposal, is to do quick 1 min gesture studies, quickly capturing the gesture or silhouette of the model.

12-09-2005, 06:04 AM
I would also copy drawings of the great masters of art. I personaly have a lot of books of collections of drawings. You can learn a lot from them.

12-09-2005, 07:03 AM
...and I feel that my brush stroke is very unnatural.

What makes the brush stroke natural? Is there such a thing as natural brush stroke?
I think the brush stroke is characterized by a style and could take any form or shape. There is no need to limit it to one, unless you are talking about imitation of a brush stroke style of some artists' works.


12-09-2005, 12:40 PM
I concur with ashakarc.

For now, this thread can help boost your confidence and get you going in the right path emotionally. I believe that's the only true help you need in your drawing skills for now. It's like dancing: you do it to the beat and rythm, not only in sync with the music (the emotion), but along with the movement of your partner (the brush). Follow the feeling you have, and the brush becomes part of you. I know that sounds corny as hell, but by the sound of what you said in your initial post I feel very uncomfortable when I'm drawing gives me the impression of bad self esteem. Perhaps, you are comparing yourself with elites when you should be comparing yourself to needing to be different?

There are some excellent ideas given here that will allow you to emotionally take control of the brush, like lordmachuca's post. But, as podman had mentioned, sometimes you can lose the 'big picture' if you think too much on these strokes. Just let it flow out of you. Make the best of what comes forth, and for the sake of future art.... make the stroke your own. ;)

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