Lesson 0: Getting Started
Skills and Concepts
What does Drawabox teach?
Having critiqued thousands of homework assignments since I started this endeavour, I've adjusted the material to focus primarily on the following skills and concepts:
Confidence. The willingness to push forwards without hesitation once your preparations are complete. This is critical to achieving smooth, consistent linework, and the lack of confidence in one's execution is the primary cause of the wobbly lines and chicken-scratch we see from beginners.
Control. The ability to decide ahead of time what kind of mark you wish to put down on the page, and to execute it as intended. We are not born with perfect accuracy, but it can be trained. Understanding how the brain works, and how it controls our muscles and movement helps a great deal.
Patience. Living in this day and age, we are pretty used to getting the things we ask for instantaneously. Unfortunately, this leads to us being rather impatient, and when an exercise does not yield immediate results, or when we're not immediately able to do an exercise correctly, it can be quite frustrating. Here we face that frustration head-on.
Spatial Reasoning. This is the primary focus of the course overall - being able to understand the things we draw as being three dimensional forms that exist in and relate to one another within a three dimensional world. It is all about the ability to look at something we know is just a series of lines on a flat page, and understand it in terms of being 3D.
Construction. The ability to look at a complex object and break it down into simple components that can be drawn individually and combined to reconstruct our complex object on a page. Simple forms can be made to feel three dimensional and solid more easily than complex ones - building things up from simple components allows us to maintain that illusion of solidity, and as an exercise, helps us to develop our spatial awareness.
Visual Communication. The skills required to take a concept, idea, or amount of information, and to convey it clearly and directly to an audience using visual means. In later lessons we talk about drawing real objects from reference photos, but we do not focus on simply replicating a photograph. We focus on taking the information represented in the photograph and conveying it visually.
In my view, these are the fundamentals of drawing. A lot of people have different lists of what constitute the fundamentals, but I believe that everything else builds on top of these basic blocks.
Who is Drawabox for?
The concepts listed above are important for anyone interested in representational drawing, and many of them apply to abstract artists as well (though this is obviously not our focus here).
The key thing to remember is that no matter what style you ultimately are interested in drawing these concepts are still extremely relevant. Whether you're interested in drawing anime/manga, hyper-realism, or anything in between, these are the principles they all share.
Overall, I've written these lessons to target two specific groups:
Complete Beginners. In a lot of ways, I've found complete beginners to be the easiest to teach, given that with no preconceptions or half-understanding of concepts, they're more likely to just follow the instructions as they're written. They tend to progress at a more consistent pace, though obviously having less overall experience with drawing simply means that they may not necessarily reach the same heights by the time they get to the end of the course. They still show considerable growth and leave well equipped to continue on their journey.
Self-Taught Artists. I was in this group myself. Self-taught artists tend to have a more sporadic skillset, with an underlying foundation fraught with holes and misunderstanding, but with a lot of overall mileage/experience under their belts. Drawabox can work wonders to help fill those holes and really solidify one's grasp of the basic foundational concepts, and so such students can see improvements by considerable leaps and bounds. That said, they also bring a lot of baggage with them, and are susceptible to mixing the things they think they know in with the instructions, causing them to become sidetracked or distracted. Following the instructions simply becomes all the more important when you've already got a fair bit of experience preceding you.
All in all, everyone would benefit from going back to the basics and refining their ability to capture the illusion of solid form and weight, but these two groups are the main ones I'm looking to help.
What matters most is that if you've decided to follow these lessons, it means you've put a certain degree of trust in the approach covered here. So long as you hold enough trust in this source to continue following it, then do so in its entirety. Don't half-ass it.
On the following page, we talk about how to use the Drawabox lessons (where to start, when to do the exercises, etc.) and why grinding is a waste of your time.