Uncomfortable's Advice from /r/ArtFundamentals

DaB, ADD, and Depression; Is This Course Right For Me?


2021-12-23 10:10


I have attention-deficit disorder and major depressive disorder, but I would like to one day become a "professional" artist. By professional, I mean enough drawing skill that I could use it as a form of side income. I do want to draw for the sake of drawing of course, but if I had to name an end goal, or a point B, that is it: getting to a level of drawing where I could financially benefit if I wanted. I intend to draw characters and concept art for them. I have no prior drawing experience.

I would like to use this course as a stepping stone into art, to learn the fundamentals. The issue is I've burned out on this course multiple times before. Nine times to be exact since late 2018. I'd reach as far as lesson two and get irritated for one reason or another. The first couple of attempts weren't with that 50% rule, but after I started following it, I burned out much faster.

Right now, I have been doing DaB for 56 days in a row. I've never lasted this long before. However, I've been completely ignoring the 50% rule and warm-up, and I have only been doing about five minutes of drawing each day. Just five. If a homework requires me to fill multiple pages, I do one page a day. I'm on the 250 box challenge and I've been doing 3-5 boxes a day. I'm currently on box #55. Only recently, once I hit that 50-day milestone, did I start pushing myself to do fifteen minutes of drawing, but warming up takes up all fifteen minutes, and I don't want to push myself to burning out again.

I've been wondering if I should try and find another course. I am most interested in learning the fundamentals, and I'm convinced DaB is one of the best places to do that. However, I am not following this course to the letter, and my friend, who has been to art school, keeps telling me he doesn't like this course or what it teaches since nothing is directly relevant to drawing characters, which is the end goal.

That, and the course has been hard to follow because I suffer from a short attention span and low enthusiasm overall. I've been having a lot of issues with lesson two's exercises, and it's been making me want to throw in the towel.


2021-12-23 15:58

I don't have add nor depression but can somehow relate. Like you I was doing small steps (5 boxes a day, one page, 1/10 of a drawing etc.) and also skipping the 50 rule most of the time as well as warm ups because of lack of time (full time work, responsibilities). I think instead of starting over and over again from scratch you should go for those small steps until they add up. And yes lesson 2 is incredibly hard. If you can afford it the paid critique is totally worth it. After 3 years of these small steps im almost done with lesson 7. I feel like thanks to Dab books like "sketching the basics" and "how to render" are not that intimidating anymore. I feel like they are finally for my level of expertise. I haven't touch anatomy tho but for know I like drawing non-organic objects. As your friend advises you can start with other course. Proko is probably the most recommended anatomy course. Go for free videos first and then decide if you need the full course. They are many paths and you don't have to start with DaB, you can come back later when you need it.


2021-12-29 16:50

Hello! Thanks for responding. I think for the 50% rule, I might start reading Loomis's books, or looking at Proko. Really, whatever I do in that time period is for fun, and I get the most fun out of making progress as an artist, so I'll probably glance over other courses in that time.


2021-12-23 16:54

So u/Uncomfortable linked me over here and I'm here to beat you up No, I am very much kidding. We have a lot of people with ADHD in the community, myself included. So hi, nice to meet someone else with the good old brain weasels! I go by Sluggy here, in the discord and on the main site, and here's a little about me: I was diagnosed as a kid and have been medicated for most of my life, except during my pregnancies. I mention that mainly because I went through Drawabox both on and off of my medication.

I wanted to come in and offer both some support and perspective about the whole thing, whether or not you decide to continue with the curriculum. I should note that I do not have any depressive tendencies, but I did suffer from depression while unmedicated, so my experiences won't be the same as yours, but maybe I can help!

First: I haven't finished Drawabox either, and I've restarted the cylinder challenge twice now. Not to say that's something I'm necessarily proud of, but there it is. Doesn't matter, though- I learned enough to become a TA and teach the earlier lessons. See, I think a lot of people mistakenly believe that completing the curriculum, any curriculum, will suddenly unlock their artistic abilities and get them drawing. Honestly, no. It's just a grade. The real value in going through this is the practice, the mileage. Sure, you've restarted it nine times, but I'm willing to bet the only person counting is you. There's no shame in that, and I think that's especially important for people with ADD to remember. I'm not advocating for students to only do half the course, but I am saying that getting the completionist badge isn't the point.

Second: it sounds like you're doing a great job doing 5 minutes or setting micro-goals for yourself every day. Keep it up! That's how I got through most of my lessons as well. I think the thing to remember here is that what works for neurotypical people won't always work for neurodivergents. They're worth a try, but listen- to be quite frank, we're not wired the same. Not better, not worse (unless it's a really bad day, I get that), but definitely different. Find what works for you, whatever gets you from point A to point B. Whatever gets you drawing and keeps you happy while you're doing it. We don't know each other, but I want you to know that I'm really proud of you for keeping up a 50+ day streak. I've never done that and I think it's incredible.

Third: I want you to know that being a pro artist is very possible for people like us, and I'm speaking from experience. After completing Lesson 5 (animals) in Drawabox, I got it into my head to start freelancing. It took a little bit to take off, but as I kept at it (after a lot of false starts, fear, and getting overwhelmed), I started getting regular commissions. Then, just this past year, I found subcontractor work with Ubisoft and Comfy hired me on to help with illustrations for the site. I don't mean to brag. I'm proud, but I'm also holding myself up as a hot mess disaster of an example. ADHD factored in, yes, but I put the work in and the proof is in the pudding. The journey isn't going to be straightforward and I know--oh honey I KNOW--the way forward seems to be at the very tip-top of a fucking mountain, but consider this: it isn't straightforward for anyone. The key is always persistence, whoever you are, and for us, wherever your attention takes you. Even if the boredom hurts and the distractions have you locked down, or you're just staring at the wall, just keep taking those baby steps and you'll get there, same as anyone else.

Finally: I personally think Drawabox IS the way to go to learn the fundamentals. I don't even think it's particularly unorthodox. Plenty of curriculums ask for the same kind of mileage that this one does. And yeah, I hated every single exercise. I took psychic damage needing to draw plants and bugs, but I have about the same goals as you: I want to do characters, specifically for comics and I recognized the wax-on, wax-off approach of everything.

As for it directly relating to learning character forms, I have to say that it's about your mindset. Maybe there's no figure drawing here, but actually??? Figures are made up of forms. This course teaches constructing forms. QED: once you get the hang of forms, you can arrange them into whatever shape you want. Figures, animals, plants, boxes, you name it.

Overall, it worked for me, because I learned a problem-solving approach to drawing through it. It's all a puzzle, fitting the forms together. That's how I see it. I can't guarantee the same for anyone else, but I can speak to the quality of the material. And moreover! I can speak for the quality of the community because that's a big thing that helped me through the thick of it. I can only hope I've been able to pass on this kind of support to you.


  1. I've got ADHD and I'm swooping by to tell you: you can do this, persistence is key. Don't count your failures, just your successes.

  2. keep up with your micro-goals and figure out what works for you. Don't worry too much about using the prescribed method for neurotypicals if you're not neurotypical, as long as you can achieve the same end result and get the important part in: practice.

  3. DaB might not teach figures, but it teaches constructing forms. Figures are made up of forms. QED DaB will set you on the path you want to get on. That said, #2 still applies here. If DaB doesn't work for you, find what works. (but I personally think it does work).

In any case, best of luck to you and I mean that with all my heart, whether or not you decide to continue with DaB. You can do this! <3


2021-12-29 16:48

Hello! Thanks for the big response! It's really encouraging. I don't think I'll quit DaB, at least not yet. I think there's still plenty of value to the lessons, even though all my other artsy friends are telling me "just draw, and draw more". Freelancing is something I'd like to do one day, but I'm not sure if I'll have the skills for it right after I complete all the lessons. Maybe a bit more time after that when I can actually apply everything I've learned, lol.

I'll try not to count my failures, so again, thanks.


2022-11-28 17:40

Thanks for this response, I know this is old. Still I’m glad you wrote this. Having adhd suck, but you have to find what works for you. I’m trying to get back into after completing lesson 1. But I haven’t drawn in a month since I’ve been to distracted with god of war. As I’m still draw 250 box still on box 3. I’m glad that even if you complete this. It won’t mean you can’t get a job in drawing. So I’m take my time one day draw box and the other day practicing drawing skulls, since I’m trying to learn to do faces. For me, I personally go to the public library when I want to draw. Drawing at home is extremely difficult because of all the distractions. So I recommend to other best way would be set the amount of time you are going to draw ( for me is 2 hours) after that do whatever you want. You have to keep at it. Just like working out. Also try to find somewhere that’s quite and boring so it can help you focus. I don’t think a park would be the best since you can get distracted from the birds and squirrels. So try a public library or something similar to that like a locked room with a window. Also it’s important stop focusing from time to time. Like looking outside at nature or something. But don’t do it to much because then your 2 hours will be done. Best of luck to anyone that reads this. I’ll be doing the same and hopefully by next year I’ll have some solid face drawings


2021-12-23 17:23

Diagnosed with child and adult ADD, restarted DAB 3 or 4 times? Last one I got to about 180 boxes. I think you should be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself. There are plenty of helpful things to practice and you won't see those results immediately anyway. Only when I come back to it do I get alittle more wisdom each time.

Something that I rather started to enjoy is doing more rough perspective exercises but try to arrange the boxes in a pleasing composition such as a walkway, skate park, laboratory, but not getting wrapped up in the details. Remember that the fundamentals aren't going to represent finished art, we still have to put in that creative style and context.

DAB is great as it is very structured and helps someone like us be consistent, however it can be alittle rigid. Everyone determines their own balance of study and play however it is still important to know the reason for the rule. For instruction like DAB it is more important to know the why than just following orders, because only following orders will lead to a different kind of burnout.

I'd love to see your homework for the lessons if you have like an imgur link or something ?


2021-12-23 17:48

I don't have MDD but I do have ADHD, and for me doing a little everyday is what finally helped me stay consistent after being in your position for so long. Your progress may seem slow but it's still faster than doing a bunch and then burning out and then doing a bunch again and burning out again.

I know habit building is rough, especially for you, but being able to do something regularly is a key component to getting good at a skill. Even if DaB isn't part of how you improve, no matter what courses you do you'll still have to be consistent.

On a slightly less related note lessons 3-5 do cover the construction of living things, and while DaB doesn't go into anatomy those concepts are still useful for it. You can probably ignore the last 2 lessons if character drawing is all you're interested in, but I think doing the first 5 lessons would be beneficial.


2021-12-29 16:40

Thanks for responding. I'll make a note of that. If the last two lessons don't offer anything the first five don't, I might skip over them.