You Need to Be Drawing Consistently

You Need to Be Drawing Consistently, Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

Have you guys heard of Inktober? It’s a drawing challenge developed by fellow illustrator, Jake Parker in 2009. Every October, artists and art-enthusiasts around the world create an ink drawing daily for the month, sharing their work each day online with the #Inktober hashtags.

Sounds pretty easy, right? I mean c’mon, we’re all creatives here. How hard can it be to carve out a few minutes to draw a lil’ something each day?

Welp, it turns out it’s very hard. I remember not too long ago when I struggled so much with drawing consistently. I wanted to be drawing every day. I desperately wanted to. I knew I should be, and I told myself I would, over and over. But somehow, the hours and then the days would slip by and I wouldn’t draw a single line.

I’d get busy with all the other things I had to do. I’d get overwhelmed not knowing what to draw. I’d be afraid I would draw something terrible and end up feeling worse. But a lot of times, I’d just choose not to draw because it was easier. I’ll do it tomorrow…

Inktober was the kick in the butt I needed. I forget now exactly which year it was, but the year I found out about Inktober marked a major shift in my drawing output. I saw a tweet about it and thought, “Yes! This is what I need! This will give me the motivation and accountability to actually draw every day!”

 

Developing a Drawing Habit

And surprisingly, it did. Did I draw every single day that first Inktober? No. I missed a couple days in the beginning. It wasn’t perfect. But having the ongoing motivation, and knowing that I was supposed to be posting on Instagram each day, made me jump back on the drawing wagon way quicker than I had before. All in all, I only missed a few days. It was more than I had ever drawn. But more importantly, it was the most consistent I had ever drawn.

A funny thing happened while I was going through that first monthly challenge. I started to want to draw each day. Once I had gotten over the hump of the first week or so, and had dragged myself to my sketchbook for days in a row, something clicked in my brain that made me start to crave drawing. I no longer had to work as hard to convince myself to draw. I just wanted to.

I was developing a drawing habit.

You Need to Be Drawing Consistently, Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

Drawing more leads to drawing more

If you haven’t experienced this sense of drawing nirvana, don’t worry. It’s never too late to develop a drawing habit. And don’t be intimidated and think your drawing habit has to be perfect. Trust me, mine definitely isn’t. There are days where I don’t draw, even when I know I should—particularly when I’m on vacation or away from home.

But the difference is how long those lapses last. It used to be days and days. Now it’s just one day, and it happens much less frequently. And I don’t beat myself up about it, I just get back to drawing.

All this is to say: consistency is the most important aspect of improving your drawing skills.

You don’t want to burn out creating huge pieces of detailed artwork every single day. But drawing something, no matter how small or how simple, will do wonders for your attitude toward drawing, comfort while drawing, and will help you begin to develop and evolve your style of drawing.

Drawing consistently is hard for sure. It requires commitment and willpower. But the more you draw, the more it builds on itself. The drawings compound, and you’ll notice with each line and each day that it becomes easier and more enjoyable to draw.

 

How to start drawing consistently

If you’re interested in drawing more consistently, here are some actionable steps you can take:

Commit to a daily drawing challenge.

It doesn’t have to be Inktober, but Inktober is going on right now, so it’s a great time to jump in! Don’t worry about missing the first couple days, just jump in now.

Inktober is also a huge community that’s really supportive and encouraging. It’s inspiring to see the output of all the other artists too, and will motivate you to keep up!

Figure out when you like to draw best.

I read all the time about how you should do the most important thing first every morning. But for drawing, that doesn’t work for me—I’m too groggy.

I like to draw best in the late afternoon/early evening, when I feel most relaxed and have gotten a lot of stuff done. During that time, I feel I can really let go and just draw.

Don’t worry about other people’s schedules. Find what works for you, and commit to drawing during that time for a while.

Pick a theme

For Inktober, Jake Parker creates a list of daily prompts for people to draw, but I—and a lot of other artists—prefer to pick a theme that’s consistent across the drawings for the month.

It’s a great way to practice something you’re not that great at, or to challenge yourself with drawing something you normally don’t for a whole month. In the past I’ve chosen themes of drawing dogs, sea creatures, architecture, and daily comics. This year, I’m trying to challenge myself by drawing historical fashion!

You Need to Be Drawing Consistently, Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

You can draw consistently. It’s hard, I know.

Start today. Just open your sketchbook and draw. Let’s do this!

 

P.S. Let me know if you’ve decided to do Inktober this year or what struggles you have with drawing consistently by commenting below! :D

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18 Responses

  1. This will be my 3rd year doing Inktober, and the 2nd year I did it was when I had my huge shift. I missed some time this summer when I did a cross country move, but otherwise I post nearly every day. There are a lot of eyeballs on my Instagram, but that seems to be my go to when I want to draw but don’t have much time or much of an idea. Last year I went from Inktober to NanoDrawmo to a Doodle and Lettering challenger for December. That really built a TON of momentum for me. Sometimes I’ll do the sketches in advance of a day I know I am going to be busy, or I do more simple drawings on those days.

    1. Wow, what wonderful ideas and advice! That’s so cool you went from challenge to challenge three months in a row and that it helped you develop the habit even more! I agree posting on Instagram is a great motivator for just making SOMETHING every day, no matter how small. And I love your idea for doing an extra drawing on the day before a busy day! :D

  2. I’m currently participating in Inktober! It is hard as you say to draw everyday, since I’ve never completed an “Inktober” month! I did write up a plan of themes I wanted to do daily- a mix of Jake Parker’s list and other lists I found online. I feel that since I’ve never really drawn much in ink seriously (more like I drew doodles from time to time) that it’s a struggle…?

    1. Woo-hoo! That’s a great idea to make your own list of prompts by mixing other people’s lists! Some of the things on the lists really don’t appeal to me, so that’s cool to make up your own! I might have to try that next year. And I totally get the ink struggle thing! That was my biggest struggle the first couple times I did Inktober too. I took so long to draw in pencil and then ink and it was more daunting! But now I just draw straight in ink, skipping the pencil stage completely—it’s so liberating and really loosens me up! Sometimes the drawings are quite bad though, haha. Oh well, you learn from the bad ones too :)

  3. Christine- thanks so much for this! I’ve decided to pull myself out of my comfort zone and try posting everyday for inktober as well! BTW- I’m loving your sketch class so much! I’m drawing so much more, and having fun with it.

    1. YAYAYAY! I’m so glad you decided to do it this year! It’s challenging for sure, but a great motivator and a lot of fun! And I’m THRILLED you’re enjoying the sketchbook course and that it’s getting you to draw more AND have fun doing it! That’s all I can ever hope for! :D <3

  4. Hi Christine!
    this my first Inktober participation, and I forced my self to stay with the original Prompt, to see if I can pull some original and creative idea or not… AND THAT IS HARD!

    still, I’m not good with hatching to show texture.
    still, I’m intimidated using the brush pen.
    still afraid to paint large areas of BOLD BLACK ink, like the famous comic artists do (Jim Lee for instance)
    you can see my process on my Instagram account:

    https://www.instagram.com/mchsul/

    thank you

    1. Hi Majed! Your work is wonderful! I’m so glad you decided to join Inktober—you’ve been doing an awesome job! I think you’re doing an amazing job with the texture, brush pen, and filled in black areas. It’s great that you’re trying to do things you aren’t good at—that’s exactly how you’ll get better! Keep it up! :D

  5. Hey Christine,
    This is my first Inktober. I heard about it last year & was ready for it this year. One thing I’ve learned already: Inking takes a lot more time than just sketching. Especially for a rookie who is sketching first & inking over it. I got my first day in & now I’m trying to rework my strategy LOL. I sketched out two other pieces but only got half of the inking done. I haven’t work with ink besides a ball point pen, but I wanted this to expand my horizons. Since I started my #365challenge on Instagram in January, that ended up being a 200 day thing, I wanted this to reignite my creative fire! One of my theme ideas was: take my #365 drawings & liven athem up with ink. We’ll see how that goes. Thanks Again for the tips, Christine & Happy Inktober!!

    1. Hey Jeremiah! I’m so glad you decided to join Inktober this year! You’re definitely right that inking can be more tedious than sketching, but it doesn’t have to be. Last year I penciled everything first and then inked it, and it took forever and ended up discouraging me from doing an Inktober each day. So this year, I just went straight to ink, skipping the pencil stage completely! I end up making more mistakes, and proportions and such look wonky sometimes, but I think in the end they end up feeling more alive and unique. That’s also a great idea to take your 365 drawings and ink those—which would also let you skip the penciling stage! Just remember, there’s no pressure to do something extravagant each day—the point is just to draw something every day! You’re doing great so far! :D

  6. Awesome idea. I draw but really need to focus on embracing my drawing style. Any tips on how I do this because I reference images to learn to draw by shape.

    1. Hey Myra! Finding your style is a tricky thing… and it’s ironically harder the more you think and worry about it! A style will evolve naturally, and the only way to find it is to keep drawing and keep paying attention to how and what you like drawing most! Try ditching the references, and drawing from memory! Sometimes that can let your uniqueness come through more clearly. Hope that helps! :D

  7. My problem is that I follow so many artist and I love their style that I just want to imitate and it’s very hard for me to come up with a style of my own. At the same time, I want to practice but I always have a hard time finding how to start. For Inktober I try to make at least 1 drawing a week.

    1. I totally know what you mean. Sometimes I look at Instagram and am just paralyzed by how good everyone’s work is! I think we have to just train ourselves to not let it get to us, and instead inspire us to go make our own stuff! Imitation is a great way to learn how art is made (as long as you do it for personal research don’t try to pass it off as your own). I learned to draw by copying Pokemon and Sailor Moon for years haha. That stuff starts to seep into your hand and brain naturally. The more styles you look at and really SEE, and the more things you try out, you’ll start to notice you’re drawn to certain techniques or ways of drawing and your own original style will begin to develop! It’s already developing now I’m sure, you just gotta keep making more art!

      If you’re interested in drawing more, I’m starting a free new weekly drawing challenge next Monday (2/19)! You can join here and drop in or out whenever you like! Hope that helps and don’t stop drawing! :)

    1. You can do it! The theme has some different variety for each week to try to help people—and me!—not get bored with it. I think doing a month long theme can be a great experience and you end up pushing the ideas a lot farther and getting to a lot more original work that way sometimes! :)

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