Learn drawing by making mistakes

Yesterday, one of my students asked me: I am doing mistakes. Is it my fault?
I answered telling him a story about “The cycling boy”

Do you mind I share it with you as well? : )


| Do you remember the first day you tried to ride a bike?

Me,  I do especially when I felt down in the bush… Even though it was so sudden I remember it in slow motion. Haha. You know that instantly feel – that something bad is going to happen to you but it’s already too late. In a quarter of a second, you have that vision of yourself upside down in that bush. (A vision that ends to be a good prediction.)

Learn cycling
Learning how to cycle is like learning how to sketch.

I write this article about cycling to show you that sketching is not about innate talent. Everybody can sketch. Along with the article, try to make the link with sketching. I hope it will help you realize that you also can learn how to sketch.

When you learned how to cycle, it was overwhelming. Some people feel scared, others feel excited. But we all have in common that we have zero experience.  So we all need to care about many things at the same time:

  • Look at the street
  • Cycle with your feet
  • Try to find a good balance
  • Hold the handlebar of the bike
  • Be prepared to break if needed
  • Make sure to do not ride too fast but fast enough to get momentum
  • Avoid obstacles and pavement curb
  • Wondering how to turn at the corner without falling or step on the ground…
  • + Worried our friends won’t laugh at us. Hehe

| Of course we are not going to be perfect in one shot!

We may fall, ride zigzagging, or brake too hard… but we need to practice and get slowly familiar with all the above parameters. We will do a lot of mistakes, but remember them as good mistakes that get you closer to your goal.

Tour de France cycling
Riders from the Tour de France supporting each other.

You keep practice every day, and slowly you see yourself paddle better, or master better the brakes depending on the obstacle you face, balance well enough to turn the corner faster… The bike, the road, the body start to synchronize. This is how our movement becomes harmonious and looks natural.

Remember that principle:

“What was difficult before will become easy.”

Soon, some may love cycling so much they decide to start mountain bike, trial, get ready for the Tour de France, or maybe racing motorbikes as a pro-level to reach higher sensation. 🙂

Motorbike riding

Looking for speed mastering fast engines.


|Let’s relate now the cycling story to sketching.

The question: “Is it my fault ?” came from one on my student during an online lesson of design sketching last night. Some of you already know about it, but I am testing a new online platform (in beta version) where I can give correction on my student’s work. The principle is simple:

  1. I upload a course online.
  2. The student put his work online using his phone.
  3. I use my graphic tablet to make corrections and give feedback on top of his work.

The student keeps going and improves even more motivated. 🙂

Draw 3d volumes with contour lines - the design sketchbook online class
Draw 3d volumes with contour lines - the design sketchbook online classDraw 3d volumes with contour lines - the design sketchbook online class
Topic 2 | part 2 – How to draw random 3D volumes with contour lines? Video tutorials – narrated.

Leo's sketches receiving feedbacks for his design sketching online class
Leo’s work – Jumping and feeling happy seeing him progressing. To progress faster and better, I review his sketches adding my feedback on red. So he could carry on with more confidence.

I told Leo that feeling faulty doesn’t matter. Learning how to sketch is about Iteration. Making mistakes is the main principle of learning that way.

  • We do mistake, we realize, we adjust.
  • We redo some other mistakes, we realize we adjust again.
  • That’s how we gain accuracy.

Remember that principle:

“Many tiny improvement = Massive result” – Tony Robbins


| Iteration is applicable to all the stages of Design sketching and creativity.

From How to draw a simple straight line without a ruler, to when Steve Jobs relaunched multiple versions of the Ipad – making it better and better at each version. He didn’t wait to get the equivalent of “Ipad 10” to launch it. He launched the first one, get feedback, and keep making it better. So do not expect to make a perfect sketch in one shot. Take your time to iterate on your mistakes and enjoy progressing.


| It’s good to make mistakes.

Forget about when you were scolded at school for making mistakes. We should get a prize for discovering them! Haha. So, ok? Relax and do your best. Some more, the course is there for me to guide you along. Don’t be too harsh with yourself, and start the journey making baby-steps. Soon, your level will rise as well as your expectation. In a few words, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Forget about the innate talent. Start and keep going!


| Once again, this course is in the beta version.

Let me know if you guys feel interested in such a course by sending me a comment or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com. I’ll appreciate it. 🙂 Oh, best is to sign up for the newsletter in case you would like to be part of the project. Cheers!


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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

8 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply September 23, 2015

    Hi! I really like this article. It is easy to be afraid of making mistakes and being judged, so this article is very motivating for me. Thank you so much for these articles! 😀
    By the way, you wrote “Of course, we’re not going to be perect in one shot!” somewhere in the article, but do you mean “perfect”?

    • Chou-Tac

      Reply Reply September 23, 2015

      Hello “Anonymous”,
      Yes, it’s perFect instead of perect. Just rectified the misspelling. Thanks !
      My article is not perfect, but you still understand it – and you even help me to refine it. Same for sketching !

  • Joseph Ricafort

    Reply Reply September 22, 2015

    Hi Chou, great to see your improved site looking good! I was wondering if there’s a bulletin/forum around your site where students could hang out, work together, sketch together, post our works, learn from each other’s mistakes. That’d would be really nice for us learners. 🙂

    • Chou-Tac

      Reply Reply September 22, 2015

      Hello Joseph, Happy you like the new look of the site.
      For the space where people could exchange together, I am testing it (beta version for now). It will be a step-by-step online course – where I will give correction to the students works. They will also be able to see other people mistake and improvement as well. Keep posted ! 🙂

  • Jason Yao

    Reply Reply September 18, 2015

    Hello! How long does it usually take for guide 3 to arrive? I received guide 2 4 days ago but not got guide 3 or 4 yet.

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