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Thread: Drawing beginner. Would appreciate some input...

  1. #1
    Council Elder Tallstar's Avatar
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    Drawing beginner. Would appreciate some input...

    I've always wanted to learn how to draw. Over the last few weeks I've been watching numerous videos on the subject on YouTube and signed up for a course on Udemy, but I keep running into the same issues that in the past have caused me to get frustrated and give up altogether. Namely, contradictory information between videos, and instructors assuming I know things that I don't in a beginners drawing course.

    This is probably going to seem really basic to most of you, but I'm even confused about the proper way to hold a damn pencil while practicing different techniques, what the best drawing surface is, how to go about actually drawing simple shapes etc. Examples --- Some videos claim that you should work at around a 45 degree angle and never draw on a flat surface (sees professionals drawing and painting on flat surfaces and a 90 degree angle who have really great looking art), "use your entire arm to ghost a circle shape over the paper before committing to it, then go over the shape a few times with the pencil" (other folks say to commit to the circle right away in one swift move and NOT to do overlapping lines), etc.

    Maybe it's not the best idea to be jumping around between videos? My worry though, is that I'm going to end up wasting a lot of time practicing everything the wrong way if I just stick to one instructor/tutorial series. My very left-brained self needs a structured overview of how to do everything efficiently in advance before I can even commit myself to practicing every day. I need to know things like: When do I change from an overhand grip to a tripod grip?, Am I supposed to be rotating the paper at times for best results when I'm having difficulties drawing a shape in a specific angle, or do I keep the paper fixed and work towards hopefully developing "muscle memory" etc.

    Any tips or recommendations would be much appreciated.
    "My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."

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    Heroic Warrior motogp_fanatic's Avatar
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    Good luck @Tallstar.. You can do it.

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    -overhand grip is usually for gesture drawing and the initial block-ins.

    -ghosting a shape before drawing vs getting it right the first time....both are valid IMO but, over working a line can become a bad habit and gives off a kind of hairy line effect. I usually draw a circle shape lightly in blue and go over that with a decisive line in graphite.

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    Heroic Warrior Iluvart's Avatar
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    I consider myself very much a lifelong student, and don't have all of the fundamentals grasped.

    But, I have some tips you may find helpful / useful.

    1. Pencil grip - I only know of three grips (and these names might be wrong, it's just what I know them as):
    - Loose, overhand grip: Where you hold the pencil further away from the lead. Purpose is to draw loose, rough sketches. More gestural than trying to nail the details of an illustration. Useful for getting ideas down, roughs for compositions.
    - Sketching grip: Holding the pencil closer to the lead, but still not as if you were using the pencil to write in the typical fashion. Purpose is to sketching with more details, with firmer lines. I use this grip the most often
    - Detailed grip: Holding the pencil so that your fingers are close to the lead, as if you were writing. Use this for detailed work, when you've got your composition down and are going in to "confirm" your line work.

    When drawing, try to make your pivot point the elbow, not the wrist. It will strain you less, and allow you to draw longer. Use the wrist for close, detailed work. But if initially you can only draw from the wrist as the pivot point, then that's fine, just remember to take a break every half hour or an hour.

    Feng Zhu's School of Design's youtube channel has a video on Traditional Mediums which you may find helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3lApsNmdwM

    His channel is usually concept art stuff (different to illustration) but the basics apply.

    2. Line work
    Generally speaking, you may find it easier to draw a line from one direction to another. For myself, I find it easier to draw from left to right, and bottom to top.

    Confident linework comes with practice. For example, when drawing a straight line, try not to go slow and "make" it straight. If you go fast, it will initially look rough and not straight. But once you practice continually a few dozen times, you will see the linework improve, and eventually you will be able to draw fairly straight lines freehand.

    Practices and "drills" like these are boring, but they are essential to help build up the skill and "muscle memory" that is required to draw well. Years ago when I drew comics as a volunteer, I would practice drawing faces (front and side views) upwards of 100+ times.

    After doing practice on straight lines, I would suggest you could practice drawing basic geometric shapes and solids - squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, cubes, rectangular prisms, pyramids, cones, spheres. Try drawing them freehand. Don't worry if they are not super accurate, it comes with practice.

    The reason it is important to know how to draw these shapes and solids is because pretty much everything you would want to draw is made up of a combination of various shapes and solids. So by getting these down you are building a foundation from which to work from.

    3. Line weight / line thickness
    When representing shapes on paper, line weight plays a role of showing you whether objects are separate from one another.

    For example, comics usually use thicker lines to denote the boundaries of a character from the background, or different objects from each other. If you use contrasting colours in your illustration then this is not super essential, but different line weights help make the objects / characters in an image "pop" (shading and colours also serve this purpose).

    4. Part of the challenge of representing a 3D object on 2D paper is lighting and shadows.

    In brief, the part of an object that is exposed most to the source of light is usually the brightest, with shadows increasing as you move away from the source of light. With that said, sometimes light is reflect off the surface that the object is resting on and part of it will bounce back on the object.

    I think others could describe this much better than I could ... for example, you could refer to this beginner's guide for more information: https://willkempartschool.com/a-begi...art-1-drawing/

    5. Perspective
    - This is how things are represented close or far away. The general rule is, the further something is, the smaller it is (sorry if this is stating the obvious).
    - Related to this is something known as "atmospheric perspective". The easiest way to visualise this is to think about a landscape scene. When you look at mountains or trees that are very far away, their colours tend to be quite muted, and details tend to be not clear at all. This is because there are more air particles between those faraway objects and you (the viewer) than the objects that are closer to you. This in turn causes things to not be as clear (the more scientifically minded among the forums members can no doubt explain this better).
    - Perspective has rules to help you draw objects in the form of the Horizon (H) and Vanishing Points (VPs). In a picture, things recede into where the H and VP intersect. If there are two VPs, then the objects either recede into the where the H and left VP intersect, or where the H and right VP intersect (think of a building where both left and right edges recede into the distance). If there are three VPs, then objects follow the rules of the two VPs, with the third VP either located above the horizon, or below it. So in this case, think of skyscrapers where their very tops get smaller and smaller because they are approaching the third Vanishing Point.

    You can check out this guide on Perspective: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-m...w-perspective/

    6. There are other things I have not talked about ... which I may if times allows (am trying to sleep by midnight these days):

    a) Animal and human anatomy is generally considered "harder" because of the way the muscles change shape and also interact with the underlying skeletal structure as parts of bodies move. So for now, I would suggest watch some videos on this topic just to get a feel for it.
    b) Colour theory. Things like primary colours, what are complementary and contrasting colours, etc.
    c) Applying shading with pencils (line strokes, cross hatching, etc.).

    7. As a suggestion, you could practice by trying to copy an object you see (either one that's on your table, or something from a photograph). Try to understand the spatial relationship between certain parts of the object (e.g. how far up the ear of a mug is located relative to the body of the mug), as well as the ratio in size between parts of the object (e.g. how wide the screen of a smartphone is relative to the full width of the smartphone itself). Being able to see these things clearly (which I still need a lot of practice on) will help you draw objects convincingly.

    If you need to use a ruler or eraser, it is fine. Don't think of this as cheating - they are just tools and at the end of the day, it is you, the artist who makes the drawing. In fact, erasers can be used to gently erase a part of a drawing to give the impression of highlights.

    I'd like to leave you with a few of my childhood drawings, to amuse you: https://www.deviantart.com/wildspark...on-2-624908566
    and also a more recent drawing, to encourage you that with practice, you will see improvements: https://www.deviantart.com/wildspark...-Her-476201388

    -----------------------------
    The most important thing to remember when drawing is to have fun, and not be discouraged if you don't get it "perfect". Enjoy the journey, and all the best.
    Last edited by Iluvart; May 27, 2020 at 09:16am.

  5. #5
    Über Fan Adam_Prince of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    I've always wanted to learn how to draw. Over the last few weeks I've been watching numerous videos on the subject on YouTube and signed up for a course on Udemy, but I keep running into the same issues that in the past have caused me to get frustrated and give up altogether. Namely, contradictory information between videos, and instructors assuming I know things that I don't in a beginners drawing course.

    This is probably going to seem really basic to most of you, but I'm even confused about the proper way to hold a damn pencil while practicing different techniques, what the best drawing surface is, how to go about actually drawing simple shapes etc. Examples --- Some videos claim that you should work at around a 45 degree angle and never draw on a flat surface (sees professionals drawing and painting on flat surfaces and a 90 degree angle who have really great looking art), "use your entire arm to ghost a circle shape over the paper before committing to it, then go over the shape a few times with the pencil" (other folks say to commit to the circle right away in one swift move and NOT to do overlapping lines), etc.

    Maybe it's not the best idea to be jumping around between videos? My worry though, is that I'm going to end up wasting a lot of time practicing everything the wrong way if I just stick to one instructor/tutorial series. My very left-brained self needs a structured overview of how to do everything efficiently in advance before I can even commit myself to practicing every day. I need to know things like: When do I change from an overhand grip to a tripod grip?, Am I supposed to be rotating the paper at times for best results when I'm having difficulties drawing a shape in a specific angle, or do I keep the paper fixed and work towards hopefully developing "muscle memory" etc.

    Any tips or recommendations would be much appreciated.
    Laying the canvas flat is discouraged, because it can lead to distorted drawings. Since the edge farthest from the artist appears smaller, he may unconsciously draw shapes increasingly larger as they approach that edge. The perspective will appear correct from his seated viewing angle, but when placed upright, it will be distorted. So it is recommended that one master drawing with the canvas on an easel before attempting to draw with the canvas flat.

    Technically, one should hold the pencil overhand and draw with the entire arm. However, I find that a holding the pencil in a tripod grip and drawing from the elbow is fine for most people. Sketching, drawing with feathered strokes or lightly laying down a shape multiple times, is fine for capturing gesture or movement. Otherwise, one should commit the shape to the page. If he makes a mistake, that is what erasers are for. Turning the canvas upside down is a good way to check perspective, placement, and proportions.

  6. #6
    Heroic Warrior Iluvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    This is probably going to seem really basic to most of you, but I'm even confused about the proper way to hold a damn pencil while practicing different techniques, what the best drawing surface is, how to go about actually drawing simple shapes etc. Examples --- Some videos claim that you should work at around a 45 degree angle and never draw on a flat surface (sees professionals drawing and painting on flat surfaces and a 90 degree angle who have really great looking art), "use your entire arm to ghost a circle shape over the paper before committing to it, then go over the shape a few times with the pencil" (other folks say to commit to the circle right away in one swift move and NOT to do overlapping lines), etc.
    Most types of paper should be fine to draw on. The ones I tend to avoid are very smooth or glossy types of paper, as I find they don't make it easy for pencil marks to appear on them. I use a spiral bound visual diary, usually A4 in size, paper is around 110GSM, but I think even 80GSM should be fine (What is GSM - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammage). I have also used printer paper, works fine for sketching though I prefer something a little thicker.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    Maybe it's not the best idea to be jumping around between videos? My worry though, is that I'm going to end up wasting a lot of time practicing everything the wrong way if I just stick to one instructor/tutorial series. My very left-brained self needs a structured overview of how to do everything efficiently in advance before I can even commit myself to practicing every day. I need to know things like: When do I change from an overhand grip to a tripod grip?, Am I supposed to be rotating the paper at times for best results when I'm having difficulties drawing a shape in a specific angle, or do I keep the paper fixed and work towards hopefully developing "muscle memory" etc.

    Any tips or recommendations would be much appreciated.
    Sometimes I rotate the paper as it helps me get cleaner lines (i.e. as I find it easier to draw straight lines from lower left to upper right) - but not everyone does this (I am probably just not skilled enough).

    If you are after some sort of outline of what to learn and in what order, may I suggest the following:

    1. Lines and strokes practice.
    2. Drawing simple shapes, and basic geometric solids.
    3. Basic perspective (horizon line, as well as, one, two, and three vanishing points), along with foreshortening (https://www.creativebloq.com/how-to/...rtening-in-art).
    4. Basic shading techniques such as cross hatching, and how to apply these using a pencil.
    5. Composition (https://willkempartschool.com/the-se...d-composition/ - golden ratios, rule of thirds, etc.). What makes for a "nice" illustration.
    6. Anatomy.

    More on art fundamentals - https://conceptartempire.com/what-are-the-fundamentals/

    I would also suggest doing some drawings "for the fun of it" in between learning these concepts ... otherwise it can get boring.

  7. #7
    Council Elder Tallstar's Avatar
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    Thank you so, so much to everyone. This is all very helpful!

    Iluvart: In the Feng Zhu video that you posted, I noticed that he's also moving the page around as he's drawing lines and ellipses. I wasn't sure if that would be disadvantageous in the long run (e.g. not developing specific muscle memory) and considered "cheating", because the instructor on Udemy doesn't do that. He's using the overhand grip on a paper that's fixed to draw shapes in various positions.

    One of my problem areas is drawing ellipses in a vertical and left-tilted position. (I'm decent at horizontal and right-tilted) They come out narrowed at the top, like an egg, even when I'm using my entire arm/elbow to draw them.
    "My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."

  8. #8
    Heroic Warrior Iluvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    Thank you so, so much to everyone. This is all very helpful!

    Iluvart: In the Feng Zhu video that you posted, I noticed that he's also moving the page around as he's drawing lines and ellipses. I wasn't sure if that would be disadvantageous in the long run (e.g. not developing specific muscle memory) and considered "cheating", because the instructor on Udemy doesn't do that. He's using the overhand grip on a paper that's fixed to draw shapes in various positions.

    One of my problem areas is drawing ellipses in a vertical and left-tilted position. (I'm decent at horizontal and right-tilted) They come out narrowed at the top, like an egg, even when I'm using my entire arm/elbow to draw them.
    I think perhaps the "ideal" is to be able to draw something from any orientation without moving either the paper or your hand / arm. I don't know anybody like that, but there are probably people with those skill levels.

    Personally I don't think it is cheating to move the paper or your hand/arm, you are still building muscle memory when you are drawing regardless of the position you take. What I'm trying to say is ... don't think you must draw those ellipses in a certain way in order for them to be considered "valid". For the purposes of drawing them freehand, I think as long as you are able to do that with greater accuracy and fluidity each time, you are getting better.

    For the more knowledgeable and skilled folks here - please feel free to disagree and share your insights.

    (I just had a go at some ellipses, and to be quite honest mine might be worse. I find I do have to move my hand higher to draw ellipses which are vertical and slightly left-tilted. You can see my attempt here: https://www.deviantart.com/wildspark...dles-843562012. The ones labelled 1 and 3 are tilted towards the right, the ones labelled 2, 4 and 5 are left-tilted. The smaller ellipses are drawn from the wrist, the larger ones from the elbow.)

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    Heroic Warrior Spikor1982's Avatar
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    Having received a BA in Studio Art and drawing my whole life. I have found one book to be the best one stop shop for drawing.
    How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema & Stan Lee. It may have some goofy talk in it, but its all there. Sizing, faces, perspective, bodies, shapes, shading, the tools to use. Many of the core techniques are covered albeit from a comics point of view but can be applied to just about anything. I've had my copy since 1990 and recently bought a new copy as mine as fallen apart.
    "I feel the best when I can't remember anything."

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    I love that book (my first copy fell apart after years of use too) but, as a thorough all-in-one type of drawing book I don't think it can really compare to Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for all its Worth.

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    Heroic Warrior Asher Tye's Avatar
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    Most of what I do I've learned from steady practice and a few tutorial books. How To Draw Furries and How To Draw Robots were great for figuring out textures and perspective respectively, and quite a few artists over at DeviantArt have their own tutorials and guidelines posted for how they do what they do.

    Of course the biggest thing I've found to help is to take a piece of scratch pad paper and doodle out what you want to draw before starting. Nothing detail intensive, just basic figures showing off where you want characters to be in relation to each other as well as key background images. Even with comic pages it helps alot.
    I am Imp's number one fan.

  12. #12
    Council Elder Tallstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvart View Post
    For the purposes of drawing them freehand, I think as long as you are able to do that with greater accuracy and fluidity each time, you are getting better.
    Fluidity is something that I really need to work on. I'm used to holding my pencil in a tight lateral-quadrupod grip when writing, so it's a bit challenging when switching over to the looser tripod and overhand grips.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spikor1982 View Post
    Having received a BA in Studio Art and drawing my whole life. I have found one book to be the best one stop shop for drawing.
    How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema & Stan Lee. It may have some goofy talk in it, but its all there. Sizing, faces, perspective, bodies, shapes, shading, the tools to use. Many of the core techniques are covered albeit from a comics point of view but can be applied to just about anything. I've had my copy since 1990 and recently bought a new copy as mine as fallen apart.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dcr4 View Post
    I love that book (my first copy fell apart after years of use too) but, as a thorough all-in-one type of drawing book I don't think it can really compare to Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for all its Worth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Asher Tye View Post
    Most of what I do I've learned from steady practice and a few tutorial books. How To Draw Furries and How To Draw Robots were great for figuring out textures and perspective respectively, and quite a few artists over at DeviantArt have their own tutorials and guidelines posted for how they do what they do.

    Of course the biggest thing I've found to help is to take a piece of scratch pad paper and doodle out what you want to draw before starting. Nothing detail intensive, just basic figures showing off where you want characters to be in relation to each other as well as key background images. Even with comic pages it helps alot.
    At some point, I will try to check out all of these books. How long would you say it took you to get somewhat decent at drawing?
    "My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."

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    Über Fan Adam_Prince of Eternia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    At some point, I will try to check out all of these books. How long would you say it took you to get somewhat decent at drawing?
    That is difficult to qualify, because your perception of decent changes over time. I had some natural talent to start, but the more I studied and practiced, the better I got. But the more knowledgeable you become, the more critical you become also.

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    Heroic Warrior Iluvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    Fluidity is something that I really need to work on. I'm used to holding my pencil in a tight lateral-quadrupod grip when writing, so it's a bit challenging when switching over to the looser tripod and overhand grips.

    At some point, I will try to check out all of these books. How long would you say it took you to get somewhat decent at drawing?
    I think if initially you are only able to hold the pencil in a tighter type of grip, don't worry too much about it and force yourself to master this before you begin drawing.

    Over time I was able to gradually loosen my grip with practice, I believe technique and time spent on practice can complement each other ... so correct technique helps you practice better, but more practice can also help with technique.

    I have read somewhere (can't remember where exactly, probably some painting magazine) that you will see a noticeable jump in your skill level after 1,000 hours of practice. But I would say that even for every 50 hours you'd be able to draw better. One thing I am learning not to skip is to draw "boring" things. To draw things that are from your imagination convincingly, you usually need to be able to first draw real life objects well because it's like a stepping stone.

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    Council Elder Tallstar's Avatar
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    These last few weeks have been utterly soul-crushing and draining.

    I've been working with 1 and 2-point perspective interiors (stacking, cropping, overlapping, tilting, etc. forms) and a 3-point cityscape and mostly understand what I'm doing as I'm following along with the instructor.

    What I'm struggling with currently is this nagging anxious feeling that I'm never going to see how everything fits together --the full scope of all the possible applications of linear perspective where it relates to drawing-- and just going through the motions rather than building towards developing the deep understanding that I so desperately want to have.

    I find that I want to know things like: how to *rotate* forms in perspective (and then understand how to draw them freehand), create construction grids, set up and measure the cone of vision etc., but every video on these topics somehow seems like a random snapshot or has incomplete or confusing explanations that aren't building from the ground up.

    I've also realized that I need a more technical approach to address WHY I'm doing what I'm doing, as well as to help me to better visualize what's happening to forms as they are rotated etc. Hopefully that will result in me being able to do it intuitively.

    The problem is that I can't seem to find a book that gradually, sequentially, and clearly explains what to do. I don't know if what I'm looking for even exists all in one place. Some of these books start out strong in early chapters, but then all of a sudden it's as though the author has jumped 5 steps ahead - bringing up principles, theories, and so on that I can't seem to wrap my head around and/or understand their application in a composition.

    I'm in a mode of constantly second-guessing everything that I'm doing, even whether or not I'm practicing basics the right way. (e.g. superimposing lines)

    Moreover there seem to be two groups of artists. Those who say "Draw everything. Even if you don't know what you're doing and make a lot of mistakes" and conversely "No. You're not ready for that. Learn to walk before you run. You need to practice with purpose. It's easier to teach an absolute beginner who hasn't developed bad habits." This leaves me feeling confused.
    Last edited by Tallstar; June 27, 2020 at 11:52am.
    "My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."

  16. #16
    Heroic Warrior Iluvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallstar View Post
    These last few weeks have been utterly soul-crushing and draining.

    I've been working with 1 and 2-point perspective interiors (stacking, cropping, overlapping, tilting, etc. forms) and a 3-point cityscape and mostly understand what I'm doing as I'm following along with the instructor.

    What I'm struggling with currently is this nagging anxious feeling that I'm never going to see how everything fits together --the full scope of all the possible applications of linear perspective where it relates to drawing-- and just going through the motions rather than building towards developing the deep understanding that I so desperately want to have.

    I find that I want to know things like: how to *rotate* forms in perspective (and then understand how to draw them freehand), create construction grids, set up and measure the cone of vision etc., but every video on these topics somehow seems like a random snapshot or has incomplete or confusing explanations that aren't building from the ground up.

    I've also realized that I need a more technical approach to address WHY I'm doing what I'm doing, as well as to help me to better visualize what's happening to forms as they are rotated etc. Hopefully that will result in me being able to do it intuitively.

    The problem is that I can't seem to find a book that gradually, sequentially, and clearly explains what to do. I don't know if what I'm looking for even exists all in one place. Some of these books start out strong in early chapters, but then all of a sudden it's as though the author has jumped 5 steps ahead - bringing up principles, theories, and so on that I can't seem to wrap my head around and/or understand their application in a composition.

    I'm in a mode of constantly second-guessing everything that I'm doing, even whether or not I'm practicing basics the right way. (e.g. superimposing lines)

    Moreover there seem to be two groups of artists. Those who say "Draw everything. Even if you don't know what you're doing and make a lot of mistakes" and conversely "No. You're not ready for that. Learn to walk before you run. You need to practice with purpose. It's easier to teach an absolute beginner who hasn't developed bad habits." This leaves me feeling confused.
    What I'm hearing is that you are saying you don't know what you don't know .... would that be a fair description?

    I am quite certain I have picked up my share of bad habits when it comes to drawing ... though I think having bad habits doesn't mean all hope is lost.

    May I ask if there's something you are trying to draw as part of your practice? Perhaps having a concrete example to talk about might be easier in terms of explaining how perspective applies to it.

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