This is How Long it Takes to Learn to Draw

This is How Long it Takes to Learn to Draw
This is How Long it Takes to Learn to Draw

This is how long it takes to learn to draw: It takes as long as it takes. I know that's not the concrete answer you may be looking for, but it's the most honest answer I can give you. No two people are the same, so no two people should be expected to learn how to draw at the same speed. 

Some people have more natural artistic talent than others, and some people pick up on new things faster than other people do. There's also the matter of how much time you actually spend practicing drawing. 

If one person practices drawing 4 hours a day, every day for 6 months, they'll usually make more progress than someone who practices drawing for 2 hours a day a few times a week over the same 6 month period. 

Once again, the person that spends more time practicing will usually make more progress. But, you can't forget that natural talent and learning aptitude come into play, so the person that practices less may develop drawing skills more quickly. 

The point to all of this is to make sure that you understand that no time table says that you have to learn to draw in a set amount of time.

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How Long Does It Take To Learn To Draw A Portrait?

Learning to draw a portrait is one of the most challenging things that an artist will ever do. 

Some people are blessed with an almost magical ability to capture the human form, but for the rest of us, it can be a bumpy journey. Why is that? It's because there is nothing that people are more familiar with than the human face. 

That means that a small error when drawing a portrait is going to stand out like a sore thumb. You may be able to get away with minor mistakes when drawing something like a landscape, but a portrait? Forget about it. 

So, how long should it take to learn how to draw a portrait? That depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to draw an abstract picture, you can start producing artwork on day one. 

But, if you are trying to draw realistically, it will usually take quite a bit longer. Don't try to focus on how long it takes to learn how to draw, instead focus on making progress. Keep your sketches and date them. This will enable you to look back at your work and see where you've made progress.

Tips For Speeding Up Your Learning Time

1. Practice drawing every day. While some things in life may pop up that keep you from drawing, for the most part, there's no reason that you can't spend a little time each day drawing something. Even if that something is just a doodle, that's still something. If you want to improve as an artist, it takes practice. The more practice you get, the better.

2. Carry a small sketchbook with you and sketch out the different things that you encounter throughout your day. This is another way to get more practice time in, and by drawing a variety of things, you'll broaden your skills.

3. Spend time looking at proportions and practicing drawing them. Getting the proportions right when drawing anything is the key to being able to draw realistically.

4. Spend time looking at how light affects different shapes and different types of objects and people. Practice drawing highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

Drawing Exercises You Should Focus On

1. Contour line drawing. A contour drawing is a drawing that you make with a single, continuous line. Using a pen works best, and while you are drawing, you never lift the tip of the pen off of the paper, and you never look at the paper. Instead, you focus on your subject and don't look down at your paper until your drawing is finished.

2. Practice doing quick sketches using light strokes. Don't worry about detail, just let your hand start moving and pay attention to broad forms.

3. Try doing a grid drawing if you are trying to draw a realistic portrait. To do this, you draw a grid of evenly spaced squares on your photo reference. Then draw a corresponding grid on your preferred drawing surface, scaling up as needed. Then all you have to do to draw a realistic portrait is transfer whatever you see in the grid of your photo reference onto your drawing surface.

Which Drawing Skills Will Enable You To Make Rapid Progress?

Developing and growing as an artist is going to take spending time learning a variety of skills. But what skills are the most important to focus on? 

First, you need to learn to look at proportions and perspective. These are the two hallmarks of being able to draw realistically. Here's why let's say that you have mastered the ability to draw all of the features of the human face. 

But, you haven't mastered the ability to draw them in correct proportion to one another or at the right perspective. At this point, it doesn't matter if each part looks perfect. If the sum of the parts isn't put together correctly, then your drawing will never look right.

Once you have mastered proportion and perspective, there are other skills you should focus on. It would help if you learned how to render a drawing using highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. 

Rendering an image using all three of these different values will give your drawings a three-dimensional look that makes them appear more realistic. 

How do you portray these different values? You do it by shading, which is another skill you need to develop. It would be best if you learned how to blend shadows, and how to use other techniques such as hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling when the situation calls for it.

How Many Drawings Will It Take to Perfect Your Drawing Skills?

If you are still focused on figuring out how long it is going to take you to learn how to draw, then you've missed the point here. There is no endpoint to reach because there is no final endpoint. There won't ever come a time as an artist where you have perfected your skills. You may become highly proficient, but you won't be perfect because none of us are. 

If you get to a point where you feel your skills are perfect you'll stop learning. When you stop learning you'll stop growing as an artist. When you stop improving your skills will slowly erode as will your creativity. Always remember that as an artist you shouldn't focus on the destination, you should focus on the journey.

Create Art With My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I like Udemy if you want to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques. Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounts for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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