Tag Archives: Learning to draw

What I’ve Learned From Two Years Of Painting!

So here’s to another year of drawing and painting! The end of August marks two years since I sat down and decided to start painting and drawing on a regular basis to level up my artistic skills. It has been a bumpy road so far, and I’m very happy and thankful to be able to add yet another year to my project (and life, hehe)!

Last year I wrote a post titled “What Painting For 365 Days Taught Me (So Far)“. I tried to summarize what I’ve learned (so far), and include some of the images I had made that meant a lot to me or symbolized some kind of epiphany. Many of the things I listed last year still holds true one year later. I still subscribe to the idea that you essentially are the sum of your habits. Life is 10% about what happens to you, and 90% about how you deal with it!

Inspiration come and go (and it’s super awesome when you have it), but you can’t trust inspiration to be there all the time (or at least I can’t). Some creators run on a mix of coffee and inspiration, but I need some nice habits in place to keep on creating. I then try to use those skills I’ve honored by practicing whenever inspiration strikes and I feel like painting and drawing something cool! That’s how I work, whatever floats the boat, right?

So first, let’s see where we left of last year. Here’s a comparison of what one year of practice did to my skills between August 2012 and August 2013:


Left: a study of a girl done in 2012 (I cringe so much when watching this, but hey, everybody start somewhere). Right; a study of a frame from the movie “Pacific Rim” done one year later.

I’m now going to list some areas where I feel like I learned a lot this past year, between August of 2013 and August of 2014. If you got any comments or feedback I encourage you to share it by making a comment at the end of this post. Please consider all of this work in progress. I don’t claim to know the answers to how one becomes a great artist, and some things I say in this post is probably wrong by some standards : ) Coming up: an extremely long blog post featuring a bunch of images and some rambling text. I put this together to summarize my own learning process and keep track of the important things!


Masks And Selections

This year I feel like I’ve started to understand the technical side of painting in Photoshop so much better! I’ve finally started to feel comfortable including masks, selections and brush settings into my workflow. The first year was a lot about how to even get brush settings and pressure sensibility on my Wacom to work, to make sure I had the right tools and understood the very basics behind image making.

The above three images were created with a lot of masks and selections. I finally started to understand how to use these tools to my advantage. Before I used to paint everything directly onto the canvas, which made it all look too smooth and smudgy. I really recommend this 10$ video on Dynamic Brushflow from CTRL Paint to learn about masks and selections! Below are a comparison of working with and without masks:


As you can tell the image to the left is very flat and all the edges are just too soft, everything floating into each other. On the right I have used some masks to make sure I’m only working on a specific detail at a time, so I don’t have to worry about paint bleeding out on other stuff in the image.

So getting the hang of masks and selection in my workflow was a very nice thing I did this painting year!

Standing Characters

Another area where I feel like I made some progress is the standing pose of humans and humanoids! Below is an example of standing characters, the left one’s drawn in December 2013 and the right ones are from June 2014. It was such a big revelation to me when I understood that legs are almost never on the same plane, one foot is almost always further down than the other due to the fact of perspective. I know how simple this sounds, but to me it was just mind-blowing, haha!




Moving forward I’ve done a lot of studies these past 365 days. Something that’s changed is the amount of time I’ve dedicated to my studies. Over all I have been able to push more time into the drawing, not rushing things trough. I’ve notice that great looking images are not made in a hurry. Rome is not build on a day, and your image is not perfected in 20 minutes. Investing some time in the image usually pays off greatly. So no rushing, take your time!

Here’s some color studies. I’ve invested a lot more time in them than I usually do, and  think I learned a lot both about color and the way I paint by doing them. I practiced a lot of different tools when making these; both the color picker, the mixer brush and masks, which is great!

Not Too Much Special Effects

Something else I used to do previously but I’ve tried to correct is when it comes to using waaaay to much special effects and contrast in my images. I used to throw a lot of fancy layers on top of my images, looking for some cool effects. Lately I’ve come to learn that if I’m trying to add a lot of effects to an image it’s usually a sign that something basic in the image is not working. Instead of adding fancy glaceing to my images I need the foundation to be rock solid. If the basics are great, then it’s OK to add cool layers, but using them wisely, just to add one extra touch or some small details. Here’s an example to show what I mean:


Some artists are able to use a lot of special effects in their images, but they are able to do so because have super solid foundations in their images. To break or bend the rules you need to know the rules. The image to the left has way too much “cool” effects while the newer one to the right is more careful (and looks better imo).

Use The Right Brushes

Something that you are told over and over when learning to paint in Photoshop is that the brushes are not that important, that you need to know the basics of image making before you can actually use a nice brush to bring a nice painting to the next level. In other words, if you can’t paint it won’t matter how awesome brushes you are using, it simply won’t look nice. Most digital artists seem to use between 3-7 regular brushes. The standard brushes included in Photoshop are not that good in my opinion, but I continued to use them for a very long time before downloading some other artist’s brushes. The thing is, it does matter what brushes you are using! Here’s a comparison of when I was using the totally wrong brushes vs when I had collected some very nice brushes from other artists:


Left: some studies made without elections and using waaaaay to soft brushes. Everything just blend together and looks too soft. Right: cloud study using the right brushes and the mixer brush tool!

As you can tell the difference is quite big. Of course I had improved my overall painting skills as well, so it’s not ALL about what brushes I was using, but I’ve learned how much the right brushes affect your work and limitations. If you are looking for some nice brushes to try I recommend Algenpfleger’s or Zedig’s. I’ve gone trough a lot of brush packs and throwing away 90% of it. Find the stuff that works for you and use it to your advantage!


Rendering Images To Make Them Look More Finished

The last thing I want to show you is that I kinda feel like I’m starting to understand what It takes to make a piece look more “finished”. I used to be able to paint in the very basics, but then I had no clue to how to make the image look “done”. It was like I knew how to cook the potatoes but had no idea on how to fry the meat, if you get what I’m saying. It’s still a great mystery, but I think I’m on the right path. It seems to be a lot about time. If you invest more time in an image it will look more finished, but it’s also about something as basic as image size. finish

I used to paint on a very small canvas in Photoshop. Small canvases are nice if you want to be able to work fast since big canvases, big brushes and many layers slow my computer down. But on the other hand, if you canvas is too small you can’t zoom in on the image and work with the details and add more visual information to the image. To size up my canvases and be able to actually add details has helped me a lot. Such a simple thing but something i didn’t think of previously! Haha!



Overall I have not invested the same amount of time into painting and drawing this year as compared to the last. I have been quite busy with getting my own company up and running, and I simply haven’t felt like I wanna spend too much time in front of the computer (partly due to medical reasons). If I sit 8 hours in front of the computer at my office I just feel it becomes too much to spend the rest of the night sitting on my butt and painting as well. I’m that kind of annoying person who values physical exercise in my free time ; ) I think that my next big challenge will be to find out what I want to do with my skills, to find out where I’m going. As of now I feel like I don’t really have a clear goal anymore. We’ll see!


I want to close this extremely long blog post with a comparison between a study I did in July 2013, and one done in August 2014. The bottom study kinda includes all the things I’ve learned the bast year; using selections, planning my images, invest plenty of time and use the proper brushes.


Painted in the summer of 2013. Unfortunately I can’t find the original photo on my laptop.


Study of Alxendria’s amazing illustration! Follow her artwork over at: http://alexneonakis.tumblr.com/



P.S If you want something more to read, feel free to check out the “What Painting For 365 Days Taught Me“, written a year ago!


Learning To Draw: #29

I’m back from a week of traveling around Sweden, sleeping on my friend’s couches and visiting some awesome game companies in the city of Skövde! I saw Justice, Röyksopp, Prodigy and Pendulum live in Stockholm this weekend. Missed my first train on Friday, but since I don’t give a fuck I just bought a new ticket and grabbed the next train towards awesomeness! I walked across Stockholm 05 in the morning, I spent hours in coffee shops just drawing and listening to some inspiring TED talks. All in all it was a pleasant mini tour across Sweden, but it feels good to be home in Malmö again! More on that later, here’s the latest batch of images I’ve made.

I’ve also changed the links at the bottom of my “Learning To Draw” posts, since I don’t really use DeviantArt anymore (it’s usability sucks so hard I don’t want to hang out there. For now.) Instead added some links to my private Facebook albums featuring ALL the stuff I’ve made, so be sure to check them out if you want to get a better overview of my quest towards epic skills of drawing! Enjoy!


Failed tomato I made today LOL! I tried to paint some real life objects, but it just didn’t work  out for some reason. Sometimes I just can’t get stuff to look like it’s supposed to.


My tea pot! Everything in the image just looks too soft for some reason. I hope tomorrow will be a better day for painting!


Faces from imagination, painted outside while listening to the summer birds < 3


Spending hours in a coffee shop, drawing, thinking, walking in the sun and sleeping on the grass. Summer. Feels nice, but I’m doing a lot of thinking on my future, maybe too much even…


Drawing a lot of standing humans. I have a hard time learning how to place and draw feet. I never really seem to get that natural weight on the hips. However I think I’m heading in the right direction now.


Drawing on the train from Malmö to Stockholm. I spend a lot of time drawing faces right now, changing one detail with each face, to learn how to give them character. To understand what really makes up a human face. I want to do more live studies, since that’s the way I learn things that I’m able to incorporate into images later on, when I don’t have access to references.


More bodies!

Watch all my images made so far:

Album Part 1

Album Part 2

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project on this awesome blog:

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Learning to Draw: Post #18

Mooar stuff and drawings to post!


1 hour, experimenting with gradients, layers and colors. Feel like I’m starting to understand what layer effects really do in PS. I also made a line art drawing to my friend Maria today. Let’s see what she decides to do with it : D Gonna show you when it’s done!


On the train between Uppsala and Stockholm today. Hah, I feel like all I ever do is going places, spending hours on the train, lol.


Ref in the upper left corner. Octopus like a sir! I love drawing animals and stuff living in the sea. I spent most of my childhood collecting bones and cutting apart dead animals to find out what they looked like inside, and I guess all that makes me more confident in drawing animals. Humans on the other hand: big fukking mystery.


I take all mu photos with my iPhone 4S. Really need a scanner. Sorry for the quality…


More drawing on the train!


Drawing on the train between Holsbybrunn and Stockholm. I traveled 10 hours to hold two lectures about game metrics and community management at a school that day. Had such a nice time!


Just a bunch of stuff I made during the week. I run a lot of SQL-queries at work, and they take about 60 sec to run. During that time I sometimes draw or doodle.

Just a bunch of stuff. Gave a lecture at a game design school this week, which was so much fun. I spent the whole day at the school, talking about how to increase your chances to work with video games, community management and game analytics!

This time I want to give you a heads up about an artist named Gabriella Liv. She went to the game dev school in Skövde, and today she creates beautiful art mixing digital painting and real life mediums like oil painting, studying at TAD. Click [here] to view more of her art.


Image by Gabriella L. Click [here] to view her DeviantArt gallery!


Image by Gabriella L. Amazing light and colors! She really have developed so much during just a few years : D

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project: 17161514131211,10987654321

DeviantArt gallery featuring most of the stuff I made so far: [click here]

Learning To Draw: Post #11

I’m back with more stuff for my personal “Learning To Draw Project“. Had a small brake when going to Egypt past week, and the week before that I had no energy at all to draw due to plenty of work and some health issues (sorry for whine). This week I’m hopefully back on track, practicing drawing & painting. Been reading Andrew Loomi’s book “Creative Illustration” like mad during my vacation, and there’s been more epiphany than I can ever explain to you.

For the first time in my life I’m approaching drawing and painting in a conscious way. It’s like my eyes have opened up in a totally new way. Excuse the corny explanation, but I really feel like Harry Potter when he arrives to Hogwarts in the first book. To learn you posses a special ability, and you have no idea what to do with it, or in what direction to take it, and then someone shows up and open your eyes. I’ve made countless notes about shades, light, form, color, how to tell a story etc when reading Loomis. Things I’ve never even dared to approach before, or stuff I’ve never been conscious about. I feel like a total noob, but at the same time I guess it’s the only way to go. Enough chitchat, here’s the pictures:

photo (1)

3th Dec. Found a Halo 4 concept art piece on the web and got inspired (left). Some robot sketches, looks like I’m into a robot phase at the moment. Hopefully I get around to paint some of these in color!


Some snowy mountains. Approaching painting in a more conscious way, trying to draw thumbnails at first and sketch some roughs. But I fucked up since I didn’t think about the light. The light needs to have direction and purpose.


30th of Nov. A family of squids! I’ve always loved to draw marine life : D

photo (2)

26th Nov, some robot designs. Struggling to  produce at least some doodles when I don’t have any energy left when I get home at night. Better than nothing, right?

On a related note, here’s a really nice color/Photoshop layer tutorial I found on Autodestruct’s fantastic blog! Click on the photo to get the video : D


A really well done tutorial about Photoshop layers (frankly I still have no idea about what to do with 70% of them) and lighting. Picture drawn by Autodestruct and video by Anthony Jones.

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project here: 10987654321

Learning To Draw: Post #9

Hi guys, it’s time for a new post about my personal project “Learning To Draw”. I started taking drawing seriously during the last days of August this year (yay, 2 months later and still going!). I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen, but for some reason I’ve always pushed drawing and painting to the back of my mind, thinking I don’t have time or I need to concentrate on more important things.

A collection of all the things I’ve posted on this project so far. I’m not posting it all since I think it would be very boring to look at…

I finally decided to do something about my drawing this summer. I started taking it seriously and have been drawing at least 1-4 hours (some days even 8-10 hours) almost every day since. I want to find out how far I can go. I want to find a way to express my feelings. So here’s the latest batch! Newest things at the top of the post, older at the bottom. To see all the posts, chose the tag “Learning To Draw” or click my links below the last picture.

This might not look like much, but I finally learned to get all the settings of my digital brush to work like they are supposed to (pressure sensitivity). They each took 30 min to make, and the design of the blue robot is from Guild Wars 2. I finally feel like I’m ready to start painting by “sculpting in color”, which has been one of my ambitions for so long! 8th Nov.

A bug. 1 hour. 6th Nov. I’ve always loved insects!

Generic outer space guy. A lot of my friends asked me if this picture features a giant penis, and no, it doesn’t. It’s just the way it looks…Sorry. 2 hours. 5th Nov.

A snowy deer. 35 minutes. 2nd Nov.

Fantasy creature. Calling this one “I’m Your Best Friend”. About 1 hour. 1st Nov.

Face study of manly man to learn the basics of human faces. 1,5 hours. 1st November.

First attempt to drawing more realistic looking anatomy in Photoshop, digitally. Need more practice, but since I don’t mind looking at half naked guys/girls I’m up for it! 1 hour. 31st October

Things I want to do this week is to: order my favorite book of Loomis on figure drawing, start drawing a daily self-portrait, learn more about color, and do some quick 60 sec anatomy sketches. Previous post on my “Learning To Draw” project here: 87654321

Learning To Draw: Post #8

Hi guys, you know the deal by now. Newest stuff at the top, older drawings as you scroll down. To see more of these “Learning To Draw” posts, chose “Learning To Draw” tag to the right or use the index at the bottom of the post.

Study of male face, from Magic Mike, 29th of Oct, 45 min

More digital practice on the 29th of Oct, 2 hours

Finally got my computer to work with a proper Photoshop on it! 29th of Oct 2 hours

Some quick stuff while watching Magic Mike on the 28th of Oct

Computer broke down and no energy to draw, 28th of Oct

Some crap doodled during the 17th Oct

Sick, sick girl 16/Oct 30 min

Some quick doodles to work my anatomy (pun intended) on the 16th of Oct. 60 sec/each. 

So since my computer decided to fuck itself I haven’t really had access to Photoshop the past two weeks. Also my new job has taken a lot of energy, as moving to Stockholm, new roomie, new hoods, riding trains for 1,5 hours each day etc. The list goes on, but I try my best to get back to drawing each day, as I notice it really does my good.

Photo of my “Learning To Draw” album on FB. Realized I’ve been doing this for more than two months now!

Lately I’ve been trying to practice on drawing skin digitally, and if you have any good tutorials, don’t hesitate to share it with me. Feedback is always welcome!

Learning To Draw Posts:  7654321

Learning To Draw: Post #4

Practicing faces, forcing my sis to sit as a model for me, hehe! Trying to draw furniture, which is totally new to me! Realized I want to draw a house, that’s something I have never done before! 20/9

Drawing still life flowers, 2 hours. In just a few days I’m allowed to start painting digitally again. My idea was to concentrate on manual drawing for 30 days. 20/9

Hands, horses and more hands (refs).  They say horses and hands are some of the most difficult stuff you can learn to draw, so why not draw horses and hands? 18/9

My dog and some real life roses from the garden. 18/9

Family and flowers 17/9.

Investigating babies and trying to find out what makes them cute. Hmm…these babies looks a bit uncanny xD 16/9

Baby poses from real life. First time ever I draw a baby, why are they moving so much?! 15/9

It’s time for another batch of my “learning to draw” photos! I know some of them look a bit scary (the babies pliz)! Had a hard time getting back on track with the daily drawing now when I’m away from my usual routines (I’m still on vacation in Finland, hanging out with family). Also, I’m trying to limit my daily Internet usage to a maximum of 2 hours now, realized I want to do other things with my time. It’s so easy to just sit in front the computer, browsing away when you could learn stuff, meet friends or draw instead. I’ve realize multi-tasking is bad for you, it makes my mind behave like a pinball game, so now I’m learning to do one thing at a time. Finish something before I start a new task.

Speaking about that, I’ve made some changes to my life this summer. If you read the post named “Mindless Behavior“, you know I decided back in July to get rid of all crappy scandal blogs I used to read just to pass time (I was on vacation then, so hey, I had plenty of time to kill). At the same time I kicked away all the nonsense fashion blogs, the brain dead gossip magazines and stopped visiting sites like 9gag and Reddit. So far it has worked very well, and this “Learning To Draw” project has sprung out of all the extra time I freed up! The next steps are to restrict my computer usage for work or educational purposes only, except for 2 hours of Internet when I can do whatever I want to. Also, I haven’t been drinking alcohol for 2 weeks now, since it messes up my workout and skin.

I know, I sound like a control freak, but really, this is just about cleaning out distractions from my life, and focusing on living my life as I want to live it. Visited an old relative this week, and to my great sadness she could only barley recognize me anymore. I suddenly realized, there might come a time in your life when you won’t be able to even hold a pen or hear music anymore. You will not always have “tomorrow” to start living your dream or learn all those things you want to learn. One day you might even forget what your family looks like, and then it will be all too late to craft your masterpiece.

So get out there and start doing, don’t just dream. Build the life you want to live. It’s not easy to find out how you want to live your life, and it takes courage to follow your gut feeling or dreams. Sometimes “started” or “done” is better than “perfect”. You have a maximum of 100 years on this planet, make the best of them!

Learning To Draw Post:  321