January 24, 2017
How To NOT Get Overwhelmed With A Complex Drawing
by Corrina Thurston
Sometimes you think of a drawing or you see (or take) a photo that you want to draw, but as much as you want to draw it, you hesitate because it’s complicated. Some drawings have a daunting amount of detail. You look at it and pull back because trying to draw it makes you nervous. Here’s the techniques that I use to keep myself calm while attempting complex drawings.
How to not get overwhelmed with a complex drawing.
Work One Section At A Time
The best way to not get overwhelmed with a complicated drawing is to work one section at a time. If the drawing is VERY complex, then make the sections small. Sometimes they can be bigger.
The African Elephant drawing was a rather complicated piece, and as shown above, I worked on it piece by piece until it was a whole drawing. I worked in smaller sections than shown above, especially for the middle of the drawing with all of the little wrinkles and sections of the elephant’s face.
The Kingfisher was another overwhelming drawing due to its complexity. Just look at the splashing water! It was an ambitious piece for me to try and draw, but when I saw the photograph (taken by Wendy Salisbury, who I’m grateful let me use the image as a reference photo!), I knew I had to draw it. It was just too fantastic to pass up.
For the Kingfisher drawing, I started with the head, and even while drawing the head I first drew the eye, then the section of the fish, then the section of the blue-green feathers, then the orange feathers, etc.
Work Slowly And Map Things Out
Sometimes, like with water, you can work a section at at time, but it’s better two work on the whole thing slowly, so that it looks uniform. Take my Common Loon colored pencil drawing as an example. Water is challenging, no mater what it looks it. This water was very challenging with all the ripples and disjointed reflection. Therefore, I moved slowly as I mapped out the darkest areas of the water. I moved throughout the entire piece, layer by layer, to make sure it was uniform. I focused on each little section of shadow and highlight and medium coloring as I was mapping, and then moved on to the section next to it.
Don’t Sweat The Little Stuff, So They Say
One of the best things to help you keep from getting overwhelmed is to ignore some of your inner perfectionist. If you want to get through a complicated drawing unscathed, you need to keep in mind why you’re drawing it in the first place. It’s challenging, it’ll help you grow as an artist, you just LOVE the image, and drawing is something you enjoy doing (and possibly, because you’re getting paid to do it!).
Keeping those reasons in mind, ask yourself: Does this drawing need to be perfect? What’ll happen if I make a mistake? Anything?
Even with commissioned pieces, all you can do is your best, and at least from my experience, people tend to draw better if they enjoy doing it. Therefore, don’t scare yourself and fret so much that you ruin the experience for yourself.
Try not to get too caught up in every tiny detail if it stops you from making progress. If a section is giving you trouble and it’s messing with your enthusiasm or confidence about the drawing, move on and come back to it. Keep moving forward!
Find A Mentor/Ask For Advice
Sometimes you come across a section of a drawing where you just don’t have the experience or knowledge to confidently attempt it. When that happens, you can always just try your hand at it, of course, or you can seek out someone who has done it before. It’s not hard to find artists online (or in your community) who have done similar pieces of artwork. If you have no idea how to begin a section of your drawing, ask for help! Some artists will decline to tell you their “secrets,” but others (like me) will be more than happy to help you out and give you advice. Then it’s up to you to attempt the feat!
I hope you attempt every drawing or painting or sculpture or musical piece, etc. that gives your heart a little flutter when you think about, no matter how complex it is! It may not end up perfect, I know mine certainly haven’t, but they are absolutely worth trying to create, despite the challenges.
Let me know about complex drawings or creations that you’ve tried in the past!