What should I be practicing as a beginner?


Hi guys, I consider myself a beginner to visual art even though I’ve been drawing casually all my life, I’m now trying to take art seriously. I eventually want to pursue a career in 2-D animation, and I’m currently an 18 year old freshman in college getting a BA in Media Arts.

Background info aside, I want to consider this the fresh start of my artistic journey and I want to start from the absolute basics so that my foundation will be set well, and I was wondering if anyone could let me know where I should start. I’ve been looking around on the forums for a few days now and seen some great advice, but nothing that I’ve implemented yet.

So in short, I’d like if someone could help me set goals to work towards to improve as an artist, and later as an animator.

Also I own a Wacom Bamboo tablet, so I have access to digital mediums.


Hello, you are asking a difficult and situation specific question. I can´t give you a full plan ahead for your career as an artist, what I can tell you is one of the things that helps me the most to grow as an artist. Start finding projects to collaborate, or personal projects to work on. Really push yourself choosing projects that you don´t have the skills to do, this way you will learn and find innovative solutions. And keep a unbreakable discipline.

I hope it goes well…


Make sure you read the sticky threads at the top of this subforum, because they contain many excellent advice and guidance on effective artistic development. There are even specific posts that outline learning/practicing plans/strategies that are very useful and will help you avoid wasting time on ineffective learning/growing approaches.


what artistic subjects do you have the most trouble with? *This can sometimes be a good starting point.


I’m just nowbstarting to learn the fundamentals online and I’ve been using the drawabox website to do so. I have a small understanding of perspective, but I know that I am going to struggle with anatomy when I get to that level


You need to be drawing all the time!!
Like every day!!


One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is trying to do too much, or overly complicated subject matter. Its much better to do something simple really well, than something overly ambitious that ends up mediocre.


Master the fundamentals.

Similar to what Clappy3D said:*Its much better to do something simple really well, than something overly ambitious that ends up mediocre.

I would add to that. Find something you like to draw. It could be figure drawing, vehicle design, environments, anything.

Pick the subject, then work from the ground up. Whether it’s 2D or 3D, Composition, Lighting, Perspective are all fundamentals. Use a subject you enjoy as the vehicle to understanding these fundamentals and build your knowledge base and skillset.

I like to find a step by step guide or course. There are heaps on line, some free, some paid. It means you won’t overwhelm yourself with complexities. Start with the basics, practice, practice, practice, then move on to the next level.

Hope that helps.


Sound advice except for one thing. Not everybody can draw or will ever be able to. People always say, “Oh, but you can learn.” Sure. You might not ever get all that good though.

Let me put this another way. Some people are born amazing singers. Truly gifted at what they do. Then they pick up a guitar or sit down to write music and, well, they suck. They might be able to get better with practice, but their playing and writing will never even come close to that innate singing ability.

Some of history’s greatest artists were good at some forms of art, but not others. More over, some of the CG’s best character artists are simply terrible when handed a pencil or a paintbrush. Conversely, some of the most amazing concept artists will look at ZBrush with utter bewilderment and, even with practice, might only get “just good” instead of great. It just happens.

There’s an almost unreasonable expectation in the CG industry, specifically those looking to get into it. Even as a specialist, your peers will expect you to have a certain set of skills, like drawing, that you simply don’t have and may never will - even with loads of practice.

When it comes down to it, unless you’re specifically going out to do concept art or some other form of 2D, drawing isn’t as necessary as some might think. You can be perfectly amazing in 3D without being as good in 2D.

Ideally, you should be able to at least get a rudimentary concept across on paper before you sculpt or model, but nobody’s expecting you to be van Gogh. If you can’t even convey an idea then that might be an issue. Drawing like a 5th grader? Not as much of a deal breaker as one might suppose.

Some people are amazing across the board. Great sculptors. Great painters. Great sketch artists. Just… great. Most artists aren’t like that. though… not even with years of practice.

With that said, going in, as a beginner, you need to understand where your natural talents lie. Explore for a little bit. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Practice as much as you can. Ultimately, play to your strengths. Work on, but acknowledge your weaknesses. ALWAYS try to be the best at what do well. Employers would rather have somebody who’s amazing at one thing over somebody who’s just mediocre at everything.


Hey Bob8791,
You should get a library card and see if your library has access to Lynda.com tutorials.
I’ve been able to access a ton of tutorials from everything from 2D animation design to Houdini water simulation or 3D modeling & also designing using editors like Unreal or Unity.
I was just looking at a tutorial by a directing animator from Pixar talking about Animation Foundations: Gesture. This is very interesting to watch and doesn’t require exceptional drawing ability.
There is other tutorials about how to animate a 4 legged creature or animating aliens or monsters. Tutorials for Animate CC, Toon Boom, After Effects & more.
There is also Animation Foundations: Drawing Cartoon Characters and Flash hand drawn animation basics.
Seems like digital is the way to go a lot more these days with 2D animation programs. However if you want to fool around with creating your own animations you can go to an art store and pick up a piece of plexiglass for 6 bucks & an animation bar with animation paper punched for the bar. You can then test out sketching animations with say 5 frames at a time.
Practice flipping the pages with your 4 fingers inbetween each page in order to see the animation. If you like what you created then you can take pictures of it then use it in a 2D animation program.
I had a lot of fun going to a Draw by Night group through Meetup.com. It was a good way to meet other artists and get inspired by what you can create. Basically you sit at a table with a bunch of artists and the tables are covered in paper then everyone draws whatever they want for an hour or two.
3dsMax tutorials are also on Lynda & you might find it fun creating simple objects & learning a little bit about 3D animation.
You will have to look around and see which programs you can get…like student versions may be free etc.
It’s not 2D animation (more VFX for film) but Houdini is an interesting program where you can create some cool effects for smoke, water, exploding debris. You can get the Non-commercial program for free. This program can be very complex & you might need a pretty powerful computer. But I’m sure there’s some basic tutorials where you can create some cool effects.
The last thing I’d suggest is looking up some tutorials and playing around with Scattering Brushes in Photoshop. You can create a single blade of grass then make a scattering brush so then you just do one stroke and you have a whole bunch of randomly placed grass with color variation and different angles. Playing with initial direction and spacing you can have a lot of fun with a wacom tablet.
Send me a message if you want to know more about Photoshop I can show you some of my creations and explain more about using scattering brushes.

I found Will Terrell very inspiring with his videos where he draws characters and talks about all sorts of things while he does it.
I love using the toned grey sketchbooks and using pantone markers. You can use a white prismacolor pencil for highlights.
Also www.jetpens.com has some really fun brush pens where you can create nice line quality where the lines taper thick and thin.
Drawing Tutorials Online is another great resource. You can find a lot of You Tube videos where the instructor flips through the students sketch books and it’s very inspiring to see what they create.

If you set small goals then as you start creating more cool drawings you can get inspired to spend more time drawing. Start with 15 mins or 30 mins a day then see if you can do an hour or 2 sometimes. I really like the technique of using a light grey pantone marker to make a random shape and then use a marker to try and make up a character based on what you see.
Alchemy is a free program which also accentuates the technique of using random shapes to create designs that you may not have thought of doing.
You can turn on the mirror function and try drawing some faces its super cool!



Knowing the basics. Without a foundation, your falling down a hill. Build your base, and start building.


In a studio we’d start you on basic tasks. When you’d master that, we’d move you up, and up, equal to your passion and drive until you become lead, and management. Such is the way of life. It always starts with mastering the small stuff, and build on that to work on stuff more complicated. To do that, you do it every day. Over and over and over, for months straight, until it’s muscle memory. You don’t even have to think about it anymore, it just happens. Finding such a position is easier in a city with studios that looking for interns / artists. Find that job early in your life, while you’re in school, and put everything into it. Make sure that job / that team is training you, connecting with you, mentoring you. If they aren’t, move on, don’t waist your time with them.