How To Draw

Just glance at my drawings you’ll notice a huge improvement in my figure and facial drawing. I want to share with you how I improved so quickly – all from the comfort of my home.

Soon, I’ll also write a post (read it here) with an extensive review of my friend’s awesome course: Chris Oatley Academy, Painting Drama 1. This course is one of the best I’ve ever taken and I can’t wait for you to see the best paintings I’ve ever done (still working on them as we speak). But first, I must show you the results of Chris’s recommendation  to “crank out” life drawing. Here are the steps I took to improve my figure and facial drawing and I hope they help you do the same:

1. Sign up for the Drawing Tutorials Online email list! This gave me access to the sites AWESOME FREE drawing from your memory videos. Beyond that, he has tons of awesome drawing content you can pay for. Nudity warning: the drawing tutorials site does contain a lot of it, but there are ways to carefully avoid it if that bothers you. With the free video series, if you ONLY watch the FIRST video on the page you should be safe for the first nine videos. If there is a second video on the page, it shows Matt drawing over the photo of a nude person. I personally did not feel I needed to watch those videos as the other videos were SO informative.

2. Draw hundreds of figures! I know there is no substitute for drawing a real figure, but drawing photos is the next best thing. And for me, having a busy schedule, it was the fastest way to learn. has a great collection of reference and you can filter out the nude models if you need to. I personally dragged all the pictures to my desktop, compiled sheets in Photoshop, printed them and drew away. After having done these exercises, I forsee having a need to draw live models.  A great option for those of us who don’t have classes nearby would be to draw our family and friends. I would personally feel uncomfortable asking a friend to pose nude, but swimming suits, shorts, and tight clothing could certainly ease any awkwardness.

I also made sure to remember the principles I learned as an animator concerning gesture drawing ( a loose drawing describing the energy of a pose). Gestures are almost more important to capture than anatomy as focusing just on anatomy can lead to stiff drawings. To learn more, check out the fantastic Drawn To Life Books.

3. Draw along with the Proko facial drawing series. My feeling is that his step by step tutorials are great, but the videos on structure are GOLD! They really helped me to understand dimension/depth while facial drawing. When you go to this website, scroll down and start at the bottom of the videos.

4. Draw hundreds of faces at various angles. If you have a low budget I’m sure Pinterest and Google image search will do. but the best resource I’d found (for a variety of faces, expressions, and angles) is Mark Simon’s two book series: one of children to teens and one of adults. I’ll soon be posting more drawings here as I improve.

5. For cartoonists: I’ve found it helpful to find a person in those books or online, draw one or two sketches, and then draw a cartoon version. I’ve also found animation artists who’s facial drawings I admire, and re-sketched their drawings for learning purposes. I recommend Mike Kunkel, Brittney Lee, Pascal Campion, Chris Oatley (of course!) and anyone else you care to learn from. is a great place to discover new artists.

6. Repeat these steps – that’s what I’ll be doing! This goes for not only drawing humans, but also for drawing everything else. Our only big challenge is to commit a period of time and effort. After that, we need only find high quality resources and sketch away!

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful. If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments below. Until then, I’ll continue to work on my next post on the wonders of Painting Drama!


  • Let the discussion begin! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about drawing!

  • Thanks for the post Scott. It’s very encouraging to see a step-by-step list of things I should be doing to improve. I’ve been struggling with figure drawing and I think this is a great way to tackle it. Keep sketching! 😀

    • Great to hear! I will definitely keep sketching. My plan is to work on Painting Drama in the mornings (5-7) and sketching faces during my lunch break!

  • sudi

    thank you so much for this tutorial i been doing a lot of gesture drawings recently and i have made some huge improvments ,these tutorial is awesome now i know what to do beside gesture drawing

    • Great to hear Sudi. You’re smart to start with gesture drawing. Even when drawing these figures I started with gesture lines and put everything on top of that. I know you want to do character design as a profession and this approach of gesture+anatomy+design will help you make more confident decisions!

  • Awesome post Scott! I’ve always wanted to be better at drawing, especially at drawing people. This post definitely helped me to put things into perspective.

    • Thanks Zach! Always great to have you stopping by. This excercise put things into perspective for me as well. Now when I look at people, I notice so many beautiful and intriguing features I’ve never seen before. It’s definitely a worthwhile pursuit!

  • Thank you very much Scott! I too, right as now, trying to fix my drawing, yet I do not have structures and doing it rather arbitrarily. It leads me nowhere. Your steps are clear and inspiring, and I can use this as an example to start my own journey!

    • And thank YOU! Definitely start your journey as soon as possible. I wondered if I should take this break from animating to study the figure … and I’m SO glad I did … I forsee this making a big impact on our work!

  • dan3dwards

    Great post Scott, thanks

    • And thanks for commenting, Dan! It’s great to have so many painting drama students stopping by!

  • Great post, many thanks for sharing these links. I knew about Chris Oatley and DTO but Proko is a new one for me and looks like a great resource.

    Personally I’ve been diligently drawing figures every day from newspapers and magazines. There’s no shortage of dynamic sports photos and I’m finding my drawing has improved in quality and speed as a result of drawing every day too.

    In the meantime, I’m hoping I can join the students at the Oatley Academy when the doors open again!

    Thanks again


    • Thanks – Brilliant idea, Paul! Drawing every day yields huge resorts and I can’t wait to see what you do at Oatley Academy – once enrollment opens up. Make sure you’ve subscribed to his newsletter and twitter so you are one of the first to know. It might not be until the fall.

  • Ian Topple

    Thanks for the advice. I feel that this is a never ending cycle though. You will have to keep doing this for the rest of your life. It isn’t like you reach your goal and say, I’m done. I don’t have to do figure drawing anymore.

    • You’re absolutely right, Ian. This is definitely a cycle we’ll need to repeat throughout our lives. For that reason, I had included step #6. Repeat The Steps As Necessary. And because of your feedback, I’m now cutting “as necessary” because I completely agree we NEED to repeat these steps into the future. Thanks, Ian!

      • Ian Topple

        Thanks for sharing the drawing tutorials online website. It’s already helped me in breaking down the figure. 🙂

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