The 12 Most Essential Skills Every Fine Artist Must Have

By Vladimir London

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As the Drawing Academy tutor, I’m often asked what skills a proficient artist must have.

In this presentation, I will discuss some of the skills that will help you express your creative abilities to their fullest potential.

The opinions in this presentation come from my personal point of view. You are very welcome to agree or disagree with them and express your thoughts and feedback by commenting on this page.
Here are, in my opinion, the twelve most necessary skills for a fine artist:

1. Realistic drawing

The most essential skill a fine artist must have is the ability to draw whatever he or she sees, thinks, or imagines in a realistic manner.

Realistic drawing has a profoundly rich history. The first skillful, realistic art known to man was created more than 32,000 years ago. These drawings of animals on cave walls in Southern France are breathtaking examples of realistic art. Not every contemporary living artist can necessarily portray wild animals from memory with such precision and knowledge.

Realistic drawing has continued to develop through various periods of history, including Greek and Roman art, Renaissance and Baroque, and the later art schools in Europe and the rest of the world.

If you want to become a skillful fine artist, then learning how to draw realistically is indispensible. That is why in the Drawing Academy course, every lesson teaches you how to draw realistically.

2. Constructive drawing

The principle of constructive drawing is the cornerstone of drawing. This principle enables artists to draw what they know or whatever they can imagine. With this skill a fine artist can “build” objects in a work of art so that they look realistic and believable.

Constructive drawing has many rules, such as drawing objects as if they were transparent and using imaginary helping lines (like axes of symmetry, perspective lines, and proportions lines).

These rules are described in detail in the Drawing Academy video lessons and can be applied to whatever you draw – portraits and figurative art, animals, botanical objects, still-lifes, landscapes, and architecture.

3. Ability to draw from life

I have met many artists who admit they can only copy; when it comes to drawing from life, they are out of their depth. This comes from the erroneous ways in which students are taught to draw. Many artists just copy from photos or pictures and never develop the ability to draw from life. I explain the cognitive process that rewires the brain into copying instead of drawing in the video presentation “Drawing from Photos vs. Drawing from Life.”

What enables an artist to draw from life? Although I list it as one skill, in fact it is a combination of various skills. It includes proficiency in constructive drawing, the ability to judge distances and proportions, an understanding of perspective, the capability to think three-dimensionally, and others.

When drawing human figures from life, it also includes knowledge of human anatomy and the proportions of the human head, face, and body. Some of these skills are so important that I will spend extra time on them later.

In the Drawing Academy, you will learn how to draw live portraits and figurative artwork, how to draw from nature, how to depict animals, botanical objects, and architecture, and more! Although these video lessons present the complete process from beginning to end, I encourage students not to copy what they see but instead learn from what is presented and apply that new knowledge to drawing from life and nature.

4. Drawing from memory and imagination

I also know of other artists that can draw from life but struggle when it comes to creating works of art from their memory and imagination. At first, I was puzzled: how can someone who can draw from life not draw a simple human figure without a model? The answer lies in their lack of familiarity with constructive drawing, human anatomy, and drawing in perspective. These artists can draw from life only by copying what they see, without a real understanding of what lies beneath the model’s skin.

Proficient artists draw what they know. Learning the fundamental rules, principles and techniques of drawing will help your ability to draw from your memory and imagination, which you will find in the Drawing Academy lessons.

5. Knowledge of art materials and their skillful use

Know about art supplies and being able to get the most out of them is definitely a skill a fine artist must have.

Have you ever seen a professional golfer who doesn’t know how to hold a golf club? I haven’t. Why then are there so many artists who do not know how to hold a pencil the correct way?

I find it strange that the number of art products constantly expands while the quality of art goes down.

Have you ever bought art materials in the hope that it would be the magic ingredient for creating a masterpiece? Was the artwork as good as you envisioned?

Here’s the secret art manufacturers don’t want you to know: your skills will make the artwork great, not art supplies.

Of course, it helps to have good pencils, paints, brushes, and the like. But the magical ingredient is you and your skills. Invest in your art education first.

6. Knowledge of the rules of perspective

The rules of perspective are as old as art itself. To become a masterful artist, you must master the rules of perspective.

In the Drawing Academy video lessons and bonuses, I offer presentations on one-, two-, three-, and four-point perspective, as well as explaining aerial perspective, perceptive perspective, and photo perspective.

Depicting three-dimensional reality on a flat surface is impossible without distortion. Perspective helps to minimize such distortion and deal with relative proportions and foreshortening, so objects and the relationships between them look realistic.

7. Knowledge of golden proportions

It is fascinating to consider how everything in the world is governed by the Golden Ratio. Golden proportions are present in nature, life, and art. Knowing them enables you to draw not only realistic but also beautiful artworks.

There are reasons why certain objects, faces, figures, and pieces of art look beautiful. They all have golden proportions. If your aim is to create art that is beautiful, well-balanced, and stylish, you have to know the rules of golden proportions.

In the Drawing Academy, you will learn what those rules are and how you can use Golden Proportions in your own art and compositions.

8. Composition skills

Composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements in a work of art; literally, the word means “putting together.”

All artistic elements, such as lines, shapes, tone, form, depth, color, texture and space, can be arranged in various ways. Visual arrangements that follow the rules of composition, however, will look better.

In the Drawing Academy course, I offer rules and principles that you can use to make well-composed works of art.

Some elements of composition which are essential to fine art include:

  • Shapes and proportions
  • Orientation, balance, and harmony of visual elements
  • Contrast and tonal values
  • Rhythm and gamut
  • Perspective
  • Symmetry
  • Stylization
  • Visual focus

There are certain rules can be used to achieve a good composition, including:

  • The rule of golden proportions
  • The rule of thirds
  • Rules of rabatment
  • Rules for guiding a viewer’s gaze
  • Rules of symmetry
  • And others

9. Knowledge of the proportions of the human head, face, and body

It is impossible to create a skillful, figurative work of art from life or memory without knowledge of the proportions of the human head and figure.

Every great master knew and used these proportions, so if you want to create better figurative art, you must learn them as well.

This topic is very important for fine artists; that is why in every Drawing Academy video lesson dedicated to figurative drawing, you will receive an in-depth and comprehensive explanation of the proportions of the human body. These include the proportions of the human head and facial features, as well as the proportions of the human figure.

10. Knowledge of human anatomy

Another important skill for figurative art is the knowledge of human anatomy.

Drawing a portrait or human figure requires more than just copying the exterior form. To make truly realistic figurative art, you need to know what lies beneath the skin.

Don’t stress about learning this admittedly complicated subject. You are an artist, not a doctor, so you don’t have to memorize the Latin names of every bone, muscle, and organ in the human body or know all the workings of their physiology. You do, however, need to know the structure of the major bones and muscles that affect human body shape and influence its dynamics.

In the Drawing Academy, you will find comprehensive tutorials on skeletal and muscular anatomy for artists. The Academy lessons present all you need to know about human anatomy in a very friendly and easy-to-understand way.

11. Understanding and using the techniques of rendering tonal value

The magic of portraying three-dimensional nature in a realistic way happens when tonal values are depicted truthfully and skillfully.

There are right and wrong ways of rendering tonal values in graphite pencil. Unfortunately, the majority of YouTube “Watch-Me-Draw” presentations shows how not to do it. There are certain rules you need to know to avoid such amateurish techniques as smudging graphite for blending, working with a blunt pencil, relying of five different pencil grades, and rendering in full strength from the start.

If you want to learn truly professional pencil hatching techniques, you need to learn from experts. In the Drawing Academy, you will find full explanation and demonstration of rendering techniques. You will learn how to rely on your skills rather than depend upon on grayscale values or combinations of pencil grades.

12. Color theory and techniques for working with colors

In this presentation, I concentrate primarily on drawing skills. Working in color, however, is an essential part of your art education.

Color theory and the skillful use of colors is necessary in multicolored works.

Many great artists will say that a well-painted artwork is well-drawn. Some put it in other words: “I draw with colors.”

Drawing is the foundation of all visual arts. To become a better artist, you need to master the essential drawing skills listed above.

To help you, we created the Drawing Academy.

In the Academy, you will learn all the necessary techniques that will enable you to draw whatever you see, think, or imagine.

You are not alone here. Academy tutors are ready to help! You will enjoy unlimited personal support from professional fine artists for whatever you need, whether you have questions about art, need advice on your creative development, or simply want a professional opinion of your artwork.

The Drawing Academy is much more than a drawing course. It is also an art community from which you will personally benefit. You can communicate with fellow students, exhibit your works of art, and comment on others’ artworks.

The Drawing Academy is available for you at the very modest price of only $257. This is as little as one cup of coffee per day. You can even split the tuition up into three monthly installments of $97.

After three months, you will receive the Academy Diploma, and your membership will become free for life.

Compare this to a contemporary art college, which would take at least four years of your life, cost you more than $100,000, and gives no guarantee that you will develop solid drawing skills.
Save your time and money, get the best value from the Drawing Academy!

You are just one click away from beginning your comprehensive art education.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. gordon64 says:

    I like your web page! I am a pensioner and been painting for 59 years. I painting an LS Lowery for my Brother, your stuff is great I like reading it, it tells me what other people are doing and that is cool.

    P/s. I love art and the LOUVRE my fav place

  2. Emil Jankulovski says:

    Excellent summary of the essential skill. I like that it was mentioned the difference between the drawing from memory and imagination, as they are different things.

  3. Jean Burnett says:

    I thank you very much for the free videos I am very much interested in this drawing course. But right now I am preparing to go to surgery for my shoulder.,and if it is anything like it was when I had the other one done I will be in rehab for a couple months I am 87 years old and have a great desire to paint and I am painting with acrylics and learning to properly draw would be such a asset for me . I will keep you in mind and contact you later when I will be able to attend the classes at home . thanking you for your wonderful instructions I have already learnt quite a bit and will keep on practicing

    Jean Burnett

  4. Aseel says:

    Thank you You can not realize how happy I am with this information .. I am 23 years old and I am a psychologist and painter since I was a child and how much I needed to join you for a long time .. I am now in the free subscription and will join you at the end of this month

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