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11 Ways to Efficiently Practice Drawing for Animators

“Remember, the bottom line is that all the technical considerations are unimportant when confronted with the question of “Does it look right?"

Ron Brinkmann

To stay ahead of the industry benchmarks, animators, whether experienced or beginners, must constantly practice and improve their drawing abilities to avoid producing animations that do not intrigue or bring authentic life and character to them.

This blog covers ways to efficiently practice drawing for animators so that you don't fall into the trap of simply copying subjects line for line, shape for shape, and rendering everything slower and with more effort.

While a simple notion like “learn to draw” would seem to be an adequate answer for grasping the fundamentals of drawing for animators, the task requires more consideration in actual routine. Practice is the key to drawing realistic animations efficiently; the more you do it, the more proficient you get.

How to Practice Efficient Drawing for Animators

Speeding up the drawing process is a worthwhile goal because it allows animators to work more efficiently without sacrificing quality and has numerous other advantages, like giving them more time to concentrate on their art form, business growth, and better training their hands.

1. Draw What You See

Lacking a "seeing" eye is one of the most inefficient challenges for animators. Or, better put, when people go about their daily lives, they do not see. They look.

No one notices every detail everywhere, so the brain automatically filters out the elements. For instance, people typically only notice individuals and their actions when outside. Animators should learn to see the condition and surfaces of those individuals to animate accurately.

drawing for animators can start with what they see first, their hands

Image by Brian Cho via Pinterest

The left side of the brain is responsible for this filtering, whereas the right side controls unconscious instincts, making animators draw what they think these things are, not what they are.

Animators stepping up their skillset can read about how the brain works in the book The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards.

By forcing themselves to draw slowly, animators observe fine details like the irregular folds of flesh on the hand for contour drawing, thus helping them animate more efficiently.

2. Draw What You Feel

The efficiency of contour drawing lies in capturing detail, while structural movement is the advantage of gesture drawing, which depicts the essence of an object rather than its surface details.

Like contour drawing, it involves an almost complete loss of conscious thought and allows animators to react to what they see. Gesture drawing is efficient for developing ideas, and below are some ways to make animations smoother, more dimensional, and more lifelike efficiently:

drawing what you feel is a good outlet for animators

GIF by Jem Yoshioka via Bodies in Motion

Directional Lines

These lines wrap around the body like a mummy. Animators automatically gain a better sense of space by drawing these lines.

Center of Movement

When a person sits, the torso is the center of the movement. In crouching, the center is between the two feet; in hanging, it is between the arms. Experimenting with this strategy is worthwhile for animators to efficiently achieve symmetry in their animation drawings.

Margin for Demonstrations

Animation roughs often resemble gesture drawings. The main difference between an animation rough and a gesture drawing is that an animation rough must always be proportionate.

3. Drawing the Human Figure

Even after spending hours sketching contour drawings and seconds drawing gestures, the outcome does not have to look complete. After all, animators sketch on a flat page, so "real" cannot mean 3D. The first thing that makes a charcoal, Conte, or pencil drawing look real are proportions.

drawing for animators can easily help your animations if you practice the human figure

Image by Orfenn Schuller via Behance

Contour drawing is a helpful exercise for animators to think about proportions since it integrates left and right brain functions, i.e., the right brain creates the angles, and the left brain verifies if they are correct.

4. Work on Drawing Daily

Practicing these techniques helps new animators advance their drawing skills over time when they consider them as additional exercises to their regular sketching routine. Senior animators can learn from them as a warm-up to prepare for more control over their hands, eyes, and drawing mediums before their more elaborate drawing works.

The One-Minute Character Sketch

Pick a character and then select an emotion or action. Set a timer to beep every minute, and every minute, make one drawing of the animated character in whatever emotion or motion you like. This exercise teaches animators about staging (compositing) and expressing emotions with the body.

Cafe Drawing

Also known as the "flash pose," this way to efficiently practice drawing for animators simply involves sketching anyone or anything around you. This exercise improves an animator's ability to draw quickly and reinforces their gestural drawing skills because they never know when people will move.

cafe drawing is a nice quick exercise for animators

Image by Xhaapppy via Tenor

The One-Minute Movie Sketch

This exercise requires any animated movie. An animator should start the timer, and when the timer first beeps, pause the film and draw either the entire scene or just one character in the scene. When the timer next beeps, resume the movie. This exercise increases an animator’s awareness of staging and action.

The Moving Pose

This efficient way of drawing for animators is a natural progression from gesture drawing. For example, a trainer exercising chooses a repetitive or cyclic action. The animator should draw the entire action on the same page, starting with the trainer's most stationary parts and moving to the parts with motion.

the moving pose allows drawing for animators to be practice for frame by frame animation

GIF by Criseyde via Pinterest

Once done, the animator should be able to separate the poses, feed them into a pencil tester, and see the original movement again once finished.

What Strategies Are Excellent For Drawing For Animators

1. Use Your Whole Arm

One of the best ways for animators to draw faster is to use their entire arm instead of just their wrist. Big, circular strokes from the shoulder and elbow are recommendable to keep the hand from traveling a lot to complete a stroke. This technique makes drawing for animators easier to keep a steady flow.

2. Use Different Mediums

If you're drawing for animation and constantly trying to draw as fast as possible, a pencil may not be the best option. Markers or pens make it easier for animators to draw faster since they require less accuracy and give animators more freedom of movement.

different mediums of drawing for animators keeps you on your toes when it comes to illustration like this bear

GIF by Kari Gunnarsson via Dribbble

3. Draw More at Once

Drawing for animation is not necessarily a difficult task to do at speed. One of the most effective ways animators efficiently practice drawing is by working on several different sketches simultaneously. This way, animators can move quickly from one project to the next without experiencing an animator’s block.

4. Incomplete Your Drawing Intentionally

Leaving a drawing intentionally incomplete is an efficient technique for beginner animators to find motivation during the sketching process and increase their motivation.

As one of the ways to efficiently practice drawing for animators, this technique helps animators focus more on speed and less on making progress, helping them advance in multiple aspects of drawing, such as perspective, shading, and line quality.

5. Use Masking Tape for Straight Edges

This technique can be helpful for animators practicing drawing straight lines, squares, and rectangles. It increases animators' drawing efficiency by minimizing erasing and allowing quicker trial-and-error drawing practice. Masking tape is also effective since it creates fewer smudges and leaves no residue on paper unless something presses firmly on it.

6. Set a Time Limit

To draw more efficiently, animators can set a time limit for themselves or a dedicated workspace, helping keep their minds focused on the task at hand and not distracted or burned out by too many other things around them. Among the ways animators can improve their time efficiency are:

set a time limit for your drawing practice

GIF by Eric Stephan Moore via Medium

Omit Parts of a Scene

Leaving out tiny scene details can speed up the drawing process. For example, leave out the texture of objects when drawing a scene from real life.

Create Blanket Backgrounds

When drawing from their imagination, animators can use a large area of color or tone to act as their background, helping them become more efficient by speeding up the process because they solely focus on the figure.

Observe and Draw

An animator can take the time to notice the significant aspects of everything around them before drawing. Consider angles, movement, light and shadow, and other factors like the layout to capture a realistic image more efficiently.

7. Practice Speed Sketching Exercises
speed sketching exercises can be done through single line drawings like this bird

GIF by Retro Vectors Limited via Dribbble

Sketching exercises are fantastic ways to efficiently practice drawing for animators because they force them to think from a different perspective and work with strict deadlines and limited materials. Some exercises include:

Exercise: Break it Down

Breaking down a drawing and focusing on single parts of the finished work separately is excellent for learning how to draw quickly by focusing on tiny details that are easy to replicate.

Exercise: Continuous Line Drawing

This similar exercise to the one above also encourages animators to focus on smaller parts of the whole drawing. The difference between these two ways to efficiently practice drawing for animators is that with this exercise, animators draw continuous lines without stopping between parts.

The Most Efficient Ways to Practice Drawing for Animators

Before you improve your drawing abilities as an animator, perform due diligence to know yourself as an artist by understanding questions like, "What are you good at?" What if your drawing requires more efficient techniques to improve?"

This blog describing the 11 ways to efficiently practice drawing for animators informs junior and senior animators of the exercises and strategies to sketch quicker while using less material and being more accurate.

the most efficient way to practice drawing for animators is to simply start

GIF via Gifer

More than staying informed through knowledge-packed reads like this and “How to Start an Animation Studio,” you can achieve success and live the life you have always dreamed of by watching our free masterclass.

Take full advantage of our experience and join the Animation Business Accelerator to make six to seven figures as a freelance animator or studio owner, even if you lack experience, money, or clients.

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