Lesson 1: Lines, Ellipses and Boxes
The superimposed exercise is the first one I ever learned from Peter Han - probably before I even took his class, as he's shown it on a few youtube videos as well. It is however important to note that while some of my exercises are based on what I've learned in the past, I'm not always employing them the same way, or with the same focus.
Keep this in mind, in order to avoid any mixed signals. When doing the exercise for Drawabox, follow my instructions even when they stray from Peter's own. When following along with him, do what he says instead.
This exercise is pretty straight forward. As shown here, start out with a simple straight line with a ruler or a straight edge of some sort.
Now, I want you to draw directly on top of that guideline and repeat the stroke freehand 8 times. Pretty simple, right?
First try it with a relatively short line of a couple of inches. Once you've done a few of these and feel more confident, double the length. Then try half the page, and the full width of the page. As the stroke gets longer and longer, it will get more and more difficult. Also try some arcing lines, and even some waves - though the waves will definitely be very difficult.
The purpose of this exercise
Every exercise has a specific purpose to it, and how you approach it is going to depend on what you're aiming to get out of it. In this case, this exercise is all about confidence. As you draw your superimposed strokes, you will notice that you're not going to be able to see where your pen is drawing, because your hand will be blocking it. This will make it particularly difficult to guide the stroke as you go.
Ultimately, that's the point. If you remember back to the lesson, you're not meant to guide the stroke as you execute it - you need to be pushing forward with a confident, persistent pace, trusting in your muscle memory and letting your arm do what it does best. Some students find that looking towards the end point can help in this regard.
Below you'll find a number of common mistakes I've seen from students over the years.
A wobbly line, as shown here, suggests that you're hesitating and not quite giving up control. You're guiding your hand as you draw with your conscious brain, and it's course-correcting as you go (as illustrated in this comic) and causing these wobbles. You need to trust in your muscle memory and allow your arm to do its job.
This will result in what I call 'fraying' on one end (like the fraying at the end of a rope, where the different strokes are separating from the guideline), but this is entirely normal. It will reduce with practice and time, but for now it is something I expect to see and don't regard as a mistake.
Mistake: Fraying on both ends
As mentioned above, fraying on the far end is normal and expected at this stage. Fraying on both ends however suggests that you're not taking the time to position your pen correctly at the starting point of your guideline, and that you're just kind of 'winging' it.
The thing about confidence is that it's not without its preparation. We draw confidently because we've already done everything we can to assure success - this doesn't mean success is guaranteed, but that there is simply nothing else to be done, and therefore no use worrying or hesitating.
This page has student-made recordings
They're great to draw along with, or just to see how much time these exercises really take when they're not rushed.