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Art Tips for When You Can’t Draw

Every artist knows the frustration of working on a piece and feeling like they just can’t get their thoughts down on the page. There are some very obvious solutions to this that are sometimes very easy to forget. Next time you feel like you can’t draw, remember these simple tips to point you in the right direction.

1. Look up a reference

Say you’re trying to draw something— a hand, a skirt, a background, a flower, anything— but you can’t quite conceptualize it. Don’t force yourself to draw something you can’t even visualize! There’s no shame in looking up a reference. This is especially helpful for poses. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Google, you can look into using free stock photos— there are tons of websites that offer free-to-use images. Also, don’t overlook the fact that you can use art tutorials from other artists that can help you draw step-by-step.

2. Zoom out

What if you can’t tell whether something looks “right” or not? Don’t get caught up in the details; step away and look at the big picture. My high school art teacher even advised that her students physically look at the piece from a distance. This is helpful because sometimes when you are up close to your art, your eyes focus too much on individual details. Stepping away can help you see the whole thing at once.

3. Try again

Sometimes you just need a clean slate. Maybe you’ve come up with a better idea for the direction of your piece, or maybe you are just drawing something that takes practice to get right. All forms of art, from writing to drawing to music, sometimes require you to scrap what you have and start over when things just aren’t working out. 

4. Take a break

Having a cramped neck and back will not improve your art. Get up and walk around a bit, and then come back and view your piece with fresh eyes.

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself

I know it’s easy to look at other people’s art and feel bad about yourself, and maybe it’s even impossible to completely break this habit. At times like this, just remember that art isn’t a competition! You have all the time in the world to develop your style. You can only improve from where you’re at now. Also, remember that your ideas are things that only you can bring to the table. Nobody else’s art looks just like yours does, and that’s something to be proud of.

I'm a sophomore Publishing & Editing and Graphic Design double major as well as an editor at and the treasurer of Her Campus Susquehanna. I love to draw, read, and play video games in my free time.
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