Do you feel fed up with copying others?
Do you wonder how to start drawing the right way?

How to Draw without Copying?

Adrian wants to draw character designs.

He sent me a message telling me how his drawing could be pretty cool when he traced drawings,
but when it came to creating from scratch, nothing came out.

But without reference,
he feels lost and doesn’t know how to start drawing.

He would face a white canvas.

1. Start simple

He thought his problem was a lack of consistency
since he is pretty busy at work and can’t draw regularly.

Adrian bought an expensive graphic tablet
hoping that would spark a boost of motivation.

But nothing changed.
He was still stuck wondering what to draw.

Graphic Tablet TIP

Adrian told me that buying a tablet gave the opposite response.
He had to learn new software, and wonder where to focus at start.

I would recommend to start with simple software such as Sketchbook Pro,
or if you want to use Photoshop, focus on the brushes by default. Don’t go fancy at the moment.

2. We all go through this early stage of doubts

I totally understand and feel empathy because I went through it too.

  • When you look at your expensive drawing furniture
    or Wacom graphic tablet becoming decoration items taking the dust
  • When no ideas or inspiration show up,
  • You only hear the crickets playing in your empty mind.

You may feel hopeless…

Don’t worry, the problem is not about motivation or lack of time.

It’s about a misconception of the skills you need to become a great artist.

To really get started, we need a change of MINDSHIFT.

3. Choose your artistic team

When we start drawing, we copy everything we love.
I myself loved drawing the Simpsons, Dragon Ball Z, and Donal Duck when I was a kid.

But when I tried to draw my own things, I was doomed.
It was the disillusion.

That happened to me, to Adrian, and to millions of artist amateurs.

Once again, if you can’t draw by yourself without tracing drawings, that’s okay.
It’s just because nobody taught you the right way.

I am going to make 2 big types of artists:

You gotta choose your team.

Of course you can be both,
but the aim is defining your goal.

If you don’t know where you go,
you won’t know how to go.

4. Copying is a tool

The reason why I separate these artists into 2 teams,
is because they focus on different techniques.

Each team builds its artistic mindset differently.

  • The team reproducer will mostly think in 2 dimensions drawing using a grid.
    You are hyper-specialized at drawing existing faces.
  • The team creative will think in 3 dimensions rotating the product, or animating the character in his mind.
    You can ultimately draw anything you imagine!

Copying, and tracing are tools to get results fast.
However, to become a designer this is not enough.

By tracing, you may succeed in drawing something very well!
But what else can you draw?

What is the point of always drawing the same thing?
Also, if you need to animate it, or draw it from another point of view, it would be impossible.

 It is just a shortcut that won’t bring you far in the long run.
Copying other people’s work does not help you understand the fundamentals of drawings (such as perspective).
Without them, you can’t draw from imagination.

I created a beginner tutorial>>
Reasons Beginners fail at Drawing Product Designs

the artist technique designers should not draw with to create

5. Tracing activates your reproduction memory only. 

While a designer needs to have a spatial vision.
So he can draw anything from any angle!
(A great start is to learn how to draw cubes in perspective.) 

Of course, it doesn’t mean he won’t use reference pictures.
But these will be his inspiration, not a model for reproduction.

Nobody can’t possibly draw and remember everything in the world! Hehe

Do you see what I mean?

6. Become a unique artist or designer

I often take the “street portrait artist” as an example.

  • They have an amazing skill in copying the people who pose for them. 
  • They don’t trace, but they still reproduce what they see.

However, are they able to create their own characters?
Can they draw with their own drawing style?
What story do they create?

Remember that even though they are crazy talented, their skill is replaceable.
In other words, not that valuable in the design industry.

This is maybe why they sell their time for a few dollars only.


I invite you to try this video tutorial:
>> How to Draw an Infinity of Products (with ellipses and cylinders)

I would like you to realize that with a few basic techniques, you can accomplish a lot.

After that video tutorial,
you will make your first steps at drawing from imagination!

If you came to the Design Sketchbook blog,
I believe you want to become a designer to

  • Generate new ideas with stories,
  • Create products that level up people’s lives! 
  • Create your own style!

Learn these and your work will have high value. 🙂

Hope it helps! 

PS: When did you start drawing?

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