The importance of fundamental drawing skills

The importance of fundamental drawing skills

Artworks and questions from Gustavo, Drawing Academy student

Hi Vladimir and Natalie,

Please see below some of my artworks. How can I improve my portrait drawing skills? I know I have to practice, but what and how?

Your thoughts are highly appreciated!

The importance of fundamental drawing skills

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor

Hi Gustavo,

Many thanks for your portrait drawings.

We want you to develop good drawing skills and this depends on your ability to follow instructions. We want you to draw portraits and figures. You have a passion for it; however, figurative artworks are the top-choice ability that any artist can possibly have.

To draw portraits and figures proficiently, you need to learn basic skills first. Otherwise, your learning curve would be too long and you would never become good at it.

Drawing portraits and figures is not an inborn talent; you have to work on developing it. At your current level of skills, your starting point has to be from exercises we’ll suggest below.

Skipping essential steps would give you gaps in drawing skills and mistakes in figurative art.

So, start from the foundation and build “your house up”. You will progress to more complex tasks step by step.

There is a big gap in drawing skills that has to be filled. I’m talking about constructive drawing principles, without which your portrait drawing skills will never be on the required level.

To make proficient portraits that have likeness, look realistic and believable, you need to learn a human head anatomy and proportions and understand the constructive drawing principles.

Have you viewed this video lesson?


If yes, I want to see how you draw simple geometrical objects, how you draw simple objects in perspective, geometrical still-life, architectural elements, simple organic items with planes, how you define contours, and finally, how you render tonal values. Spend at least 20 hours on each exercise.

To explain why such basics are important, I will compare drawing to a spoken language. Unlike the language we speak, drawing is a non-verbal language of communication. A spoken language has alphabet, vocabulary, spelling, grammar and stylistic rules. Without knowing these assets, you will not be able efficiently communicate in that language. It takes years to learn it and practice it.

The same goes with drawing: instead of alphabet, vocabulary and grammar, this language has drawing rules, techniques and principles. Without these fundamental skills you will not be able to realistically depict what you want.

Continuing the example about languages, drawing portraits without a solid knowledge of fundamental drawing skills is similar to writing a poem in a foreign language without knowledge of the full alphabet and grammar.

With all respect, we want to help you and we need your cooperation to learn what it takes to become good in drawing.

Please send us photos of your exercises when you are ready.

To your creative success,
Vladimir London

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