10 Top Tips To Become a Better Artist


@wolf - exactly what I was going through… at an all time low… as if sinking down into some unknown space i dont belong to, & feeling helpless and Lost.
the same “quote” really hit me & its been serving as the antidote. :D. I too will place it such, that it serves as a reminder everyday.
Once again a big thank you to the thread starter - Shrunkendesigner and his tips; Lunatique- for long inspiring posts and others who shared theirs.


Thank you all for the posts, they were very constructive to me. It is interesting to find that insecurity is somewhat common.

About putting meaning in our works, I agree absolutely with that, and I also agree that it´s subjective, and that´s why I would like to add that most of the meaning in someone else´s works is in ourselves. I know that most things I learned from fiction were not the objective of the creators, they were rather spontaneous things that I realised while watching/reading/enjoying their work.

I want to make the world a better place with my work too, but I still don´t know how to do that. Some people may learn important things from mere jokes, some won´t ever learn anything from intelligent speech.

Again, thank you all. May I help people with my art too, someday.


What exercises help with hand eye coordination? And is there a PDF that guarantees that you will get better at cross hatching and shading because I suck at them?


For simple stuff, just practice drawing straight lines repeated in the same orientation. For example, draw a line that’s anywhere from one to 3 inches long, and then draw another one right next to it about 1/8 to 1/16 of inches apart, and try to make it as parallel as possible. Do a bunch of them and try doing them both quickly and slowly to build up your control. You can also practice just drawing circles–that helps too. Do these lines and circles from different orientations–do not rotate the canvas–you must do them with the canvas in a fixed position–that’s the only way to really learn.

For more advanced stuff, the best you can do is to simply replicate what you see–be it a photo, someone else’s artwork, or reality (still life). These types of draftsmanship practices are what will gain you the necessary technical skills. Don’t draw/paint what you think you know, only replicate what your eyes see. That’s not a nose, that not a mouth, that’s not a banana, that’s not a bowl–those are simply shapes with lines, curves, angles, edges, distances, values, colors and so on. Treat them as if they are alien objects you can’t identify, but you’re tasked with drawing/painting them to keep a record of them (because the camera/video cam are broken). So you must be as accurate as possible when you replicate what these things look like, for the sake of humanity’s record keeping of alien contact. :wink:


I have a huge problem getting started.
Simply… drawing doesn’t seem to work and could use some guidelines.

The basics of sketching and complete workflow.
You know, idea, sketch, shadows, color then complete.
How? Any guide to give, walkthrough to show, tutorial to view?


Its been a while since I checked in on how this thread was doing and thanks to the efforts of Rob and all his replies, it has remained buoyant. I look at the initial tips I created and the tips that Rob wrote all them years ago and I think back to the level of work I was creating and where I was in terms of my ‘career.’ I read our words and I think to myself, what have I done to improve my work? What have I been doing with my time since I wrote them?

I think both sets of tips can be worked to a few key points that then can encompass the massive, never ending list of things to do and learn and set them below (as sub points if you will). There is a lot that Rob has written in this thread that are seperate tips in themselves. We can either compress the lot (like I said above) or blow the number 10 our of the water and make it 30+ tips to be better.

The main tip that I have carried around with me in my skull for the last few years is the one that Chet Zar gave me, as in “Know your artistic weaknesses and destroy them.”

Every one of us knows what we can and can’t do, what we like to do a lot and what we avoid doing. We also know what we wish we could do. We know, in our heart of hearts, and confronting these “weaknesses” and aiming to work through them is one of the most important things any of us can do in our lives. This extends beyond art and into our personal lives too.

I think the tips don’t truely address fear. I think it is so important to destroy fear and the fear of failure. Fear can stop us from learning and showing our work. It can hinder growth on all but a physical level… unless you are afraid of exercise or there is something I have missed.

If fear is utterly removed, we can look to educate ourselves by learning the new things we know we should learn to help us improve (many of which Rob specifies in his list and I only skim across in in mine), we can look to openly ask for help and advice, grow thick skin against tough critism and harsh attacks and enable us to dive in thinking “to hell with what other people think.” I think I missed such an important point when I wrote my list and that is that “what makes art good is so subjective and personal.” What I think is good and what I think is bad, differs from person to person and people do forget this all the time. I still do.

Looking back, I still note that there is never a quick fix.What you percieve as good and bad is something you should continually question, ask yourself why and challenge yourself with. My work was shit back when I wrote those tips and its still shit now. But, the difference is, I know that and I am happy with that. I am happy with that fact that I know I have so much to learn yet and there is still so much I haven’t even tried. I am happy that I don’t fear failure and that if I create a really stinking picture, it doesn’t matter. I can just do a new one. I am happy with my current process and if I want to do something different, I am happy to throw caution to the wind and dive in face first.

Practice is always the key and enjoying the never ending journey will guide you to a happier place.

I also think it is important to know what you want to do with your work. Whether you want to make a living from it and in what field or not. Some people really love graphic design and will gear themselves to becoming more successful in that area. Others, may only love to sketch and do it to relax but have no interest in money. Knowing where you want to go can gear your studies. Maybe your ultimate goal is to work in the movie industry or maybe it is just to sell the odd sketch. Even if you don’t know, it doesn’t matter. You can change your mind as often as you like. Never bottle neck yourself and enjoy everything that comes your way.

I also want to say to Rob: keep up the good work in helping people out with your replies. Making the world a better place is by being kind to people and you are rocking that one… unless you are nice on here and kick kittens offline or something (I’m sure you don’t).


yes,thanks for all the effort! .Whenever i need inspiration,i’ll go cg sites and I rely on these threads quite often. Really appreciate it.
Hmm,i want to be a concept artist/storyboard artist,but there’s so many things to learn,the basic fundamentals,human,vehicle,prop,environment,creature,robot…the list goes on.,i know is a life long journey.How do the pros do it.Should i just choose to focus and improve on what i’m interested in XD well basically ,i have some interest in everything except robots lol…


So, when I´m replicating the image, may I draw lines on it (or use a ruler) to have better spatial references, or should I measure everything by eye only?

Also, when I draw circles, I do various small strokes. Should I try to do them with fewer lines, or maybe a single stroke?

(If there are any grammatical/sintax errors, please forgive/correct my bad english. I´m usually a grammar geek and I would like to become it in other languages as well. Thanks.)


The essential foundations of visual art is the same across all mediums and styles, and that’s what you need to focus on (composition, perspective, values/lighting, color theory, anatomy/figure…etc). What divides the different roles of artists are specializations, and they come after you have gotten a firm grip on the foundations.

For example, for concept art, you must learn that your drawing and painting skills have absolutely nothing to do with actual concept design skills. To be a concept artist, you must also research the elements of design, ergonomics, engineering, functionality, form, psychology in the context of human interaction with environments, tools, vehicles, clothing, weapons…etc. You must also study fashion, military vehicles, weapons, interior design, architecture, lighting for public spaces, animals, insects, and the list goes on and on. If you don’t research these subjects when you do concept designs, you will end up looking like an ignorant artist who only knows how to draw and paint but have no idea how to actually design anything.

As for storyboard, you must learn about cinematography/photography, psychological effects of different lighting, focal lengths, camera angles, camera movement, sequential storytelling, pacing, advanced understanding of facial expressions/body language, and so on. Again, just knowing how to draw and paint is not nearly enough.

You can use whatever visual aids you need to help you, and as you become more experienced, you’ll find that you’ll have less and less uses for these aids, as you’ll have honed your observational and analytical skills to the point where you can do it all visually.

Being able to draw confident and elegant lines is certainly a desirable skill to have for artists. It you draw enough, it’ll eventually come to you, but you must make a conscious effort at it.


Hahah, no, I’ve had cats off and on in my life, so I love them (and dogs too).

I’ve been teaching a workshop right here at CG Society called “Becoming A Better Artist” (linked in my signature below). I spent over a year and a half creating the course content, and started teaching it over a year ago, and have kept evolving/updating the course content constantly as I teach it. I’m now teaching the 6th run of the workshop, and the enrollment for the 7th run just started. It is now one of the most popular CG Workshops ever, and I will continue to teach it for as long as there are students who are passionate about their aspirations to become better artists.


I had the pleasure of being one of the students in the very first run of Robert’s workshop, and it was a real eye opener. Right from the start of week 1, I became aware of stuff I had never cared to think about, and gained a better understanding of concepts I was already familiar with.

One of Robert’s philosophies is don’t half-ass anything in life, and he really showed it by example in the workshop. If you are impressed by his forum posts, when you take the course you will think all Robert ever does is eat, sleep, and post on the workshop. :smiley:

I will be going to school to learn 3d in less than two weeks, and I am going to go over the class notes from Robert’s workshop to refresh my knowledge and get mentally prepared for the hard work I will need to put in everyday. Robert once wrote a motivational post about striving for excellence, and after a year I still use it as the homepage on my web browser.


thanks lunatique :thumbsup:


I have been reading Shamus Culhane’s From script to screen book, and he suggests that the Loomis style of construction drawing is kind of hack.

While I am learning and loving Loomis I am worried that I might become just another hack artist. But all artists use reference of some kind, right?

Given what I posted in WIP, there’s a good chance I will never achieve the levels of everyone else here, but I wanted to hear some input on Loomis anyway.

I try to do Culhane’s exercise of drawing a pre-sketched figure in a pose, each drawing demanded to only be taken in a minute, but is this just a waste of time for me, given my current state?


I haven’t read Culhane’s book, so I don’t know the context of his comment. You’ll have to elaborate on the context of his comments.

Loomis is one of the most respected and celebrated artist/teachers, and many successful artists learned from his books. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.


awesome, I am working my way through his “fun with a pencil” book, but any recommendations of which one to tackle next (I have all his books)?


After that, it’s a toss up between all the books, except Eye of the Painter (which is probably his most advanced book since it only deals with artistic sense, creativity, and advanced theories). You should flip though Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth, Successful Drawing, and Creative Illustration to see which one appeals more to your immediate needs.


Right now I am trying to copy/construct the various faces/expressions Loomis has in his Fun with a pencil book, and then move onto the feature body/figure construction, pose construction and then perspective in this book.

I am trying to carefully replicate as faithfully as possible, but sometimes the expressions/overall image is off. I do practice drawing circles freehand as much as possible, as well as the “straight” curved lines that set up the axis of the head. Should I race through the faces, or should I do each expression at least twice?


You should never "race’ through anything. It’s just like practicing an instrument–you don’t half-ass a scale run or a chord progression. You get it right before you move on to the next item to learn.

Practicing drawing is equal measures of observation, analyzing, planning, eye-to-hand coordination, comparison, and adjustment. I’ll elaborate on all this in the workshop, so don’t worry.


I would love to join the workshop but I’m afraid that’s a little out of the question at this moment, although I will probably in the summer.

One question though is that I notice sometimes the strokes Loomis does with his pencil seem a little questionable. I hold my pencil angled around a 45* tilt and sometimes end up holding it in awkward ways in order to try to get the blunt side to create that larger stroke.

Does he just create two strokes and fill them later?

Also, the pencils I’m using right now are your standared #2 yellows, although I’m trying to make a run to the art store to get a mechanical 2B.


I don’t understand this part? Can you elaborate on this particular sentence?

Generally, most people hold the pencil in one grip, and then when using the flat side of the pencil lead to shade, they rotate their wrist to the left or right or “squat down” their hand in order to use the flat side of the lead.

When drawing on a vertical surface such as on an easel, most will use a reverse grip (thumb and index finger near the tip and the eraser/rear towards the wrist) to do flat-sided shading.

If you want to keep using the flat side to shade, then make sure you get the thick lead mechanical pencil, not the needle-thin type.