How to Find Your Own Style of Drawing?

Most amateur designers seek their own style by imitating their favorite artist for months or even years. And most of them realize, at the end of all this time, that not only can they not draw in full autonomy, but also, more seriously, that they have only become pale copies of their favorite cartoonists.

If that’s not your case, maybe you’re lucky, or maybe you just have not yet arrived at that stage. It is also possible that you will only swear by realistic drawing, in which case you may not find it worthwhile to read this article, but if you are interested in cartoon drawing.

For my part, I woke up in 2013, 3 years after opening my first book on drawing in perspective.

simple drawing of own style

Simple drawing of own style

I copied my favorite authors, gave me the illusion that I knew how to draw, but the awakening was rough the day I realized that I had absolutely no style, even worse, A simple plagiary without any flavor. It must change, because I stagnated, depressed with all my soul, and found it unfair after more than 48 months of hard work. Bellow is the very useful video for you to find your own style of drawing.

It became an obsession. I had to find a way to change my approach to drawing. I searched everywhere: in books, in magazines, on the internet, I even asked directly from some authors that I admired. NOTHING. Hell, no one to show me the way? I just wanted the answer to this question: how to find one’s style when one is an amateur draftsman? I did not feel like asking for the moon, though. Whatever I want to start the discussion about how to find own style of drawing! Let’s Go!!

Follow the Guide to Find Your Own Style of Drawing

What is a graphic style?

At first, to find your own style of drawing, you need to know what a graphics style is. Yes, a graphic style is a distinctive mark that differentiates one artist from another. It is a set of recurrent graphic signals in the same individual, which will allow the public to become familiar with his creations and to recognize his imprint at first glance. See the style as an artist-specific identity, an authentic know-how, and an easily recognizable personality.

graphics style

Also, the artistic style of a successful artist is often in keeping with the ideas he chooses to convey. This harmony greatly facilitates the impact of a creation.

What are the elements that make up a style?

The tool/media used: for example, the same individual who draws with HB pencil cannot quite perform the same feats with a ballpoint pen or a brush. Similarly, an artist who works in watercolor and switches to oil painting or digital painting will not be able to achieve quite the same results with the latter. It is not uncommon that an artist who wants to distinguish himself from others users (and even invents) his own tools and begins to mix different media in a unique way.

Know-how: The coordination of movements and knowledge of our tools are two things that come by experimenting. Practice itself is, therefore, essential to the search for style. It’s silly to say, but if you do not draw and spend your time watching others does it, it will be impossible to find his style.

Sensitivity: Unfortunately we have very little control over this aspect of our personality. That said, sensitivity, like emotion, can work (like any other cerebral activity). Above all, you have to take your time to live a little more in the present. It is also very useful to question the “why” when there are things that one does not understand, rather than to say oneself systematically “it is like that, it is not otherwise. “ Not only does this questioning make us more empathetic, it also greatly strengthens our inner balance and patience. And for me, someone balanced in all aspects of his life.

Experience/knowledge: Over time, our experience grows. As a result, our ideas evolve. The understanding of graphic codes plays an essential role in shaping the artistic style. An older and educated individual will have much easier to use symbols than a young person who just emerges from the egg. It is above all the knowledge accumulated over the years that makes our images more communicative and legible. For example, a designer who has acquired the basics of drawing will have much easier to play with the forms in perspective, with the composition as well as with the colors.

Instinct/automatisms: It is very common to develop automatisms, especially when we make fast sketches from the imagination. The same gestures and the same forms often return, whether we like it or not. It is very difficult to control this aspect of the practice, but not impossible. For that, you have to stay much focused and take regular breaks. When one observes two artists manipulating the same tool, one can realize that their methods are quite different (preparation of the tool, taking of the instrument, pressure on the support, angle with respect to the support, velocity of the movements etc). It is an unconscious phenomenon which, in the end, will forge our style without even realizing it.

Environment: Our environment directly influences our ability to draw: improperly tidying up a drawing table, feeling cramped in the room, working with little light, being exposed to infernal noise or stimuli that interfere with our concentration, so many elements that will disrupt our creativity and therefore our style of execution. If you want to have fun, try for example to draw in an environment with and without music, or with several different music styles. You will soon realize that the rhythm of the music will systematically influence the execution of your gestures.

Artistic choices: These conscious choices are the most adaptable way to stand out and differentiate themselves from other artists. All artistic choices make great use of the creativity of the artist.

The artistic choices at your disposal

The choices we have to think about to start a color illustration is:

Tools / media / media: traditional, digital or a mixture of both. For example, I draw a sketch, I ink it with a brush, I apply a flat color in watercolor, I scan my drawing, I reinforce the effects on a software while preserving the texture of the paper while reviving the colors when the digitization.

Technique/rendering/treatment: this is the way in which one uses the material means and the environment that one has at disposal. The technique is directly related to theoretical knowledge and experience. It is the know-how that has been developed after months or years of practice. For example, some artists prefer to work on the line while others will prioritize the volumes. That said, technology will never replace ideas. I see very often excellent image technicians who have no originality in ideas or staging.

The color palette is the way in which colors are used. A good knowledge of color theory is always useful. The colors have very powerful emotional and symbolic powers. For example: I choose to use a dominant orange palette, I use its complementary color (blue) punctually to highlight my main subject or a focal point (point on which I want to attract the eye of the spectator), And I use colored grays pulling yellow or red to balance the set (and so the eye sits). Each color will evoke a different emotion according to the colorful context and the theme where it is used.

The theme: to build an image that tells a story, it is always better to write on paper what passes us by the head (before even sketching a sticker). Even a few sentences suffice. The fact of expressing things with words can bring us much deeper into history. Also note that our personal culture allows us to approach more easily a subject that is close to our heart, so as well to do its research before throwing itself on its sheet.

Inspire other works

Here are the questions that remain the most delicate to deal with:

How to find one’s style without giving the feeling that someone else is being copied? What are the limits not to exceed to avoid plagiarizing the artists that are admired?

I will try to give you a concrete answer, even if the subject is really tricky. So do not take what I say to the letter. I’m just going to try to indicate a direction of thinking to those who are afraid of being copiers. In a case of doubt, do not hesitate to use your common sense or ask the opinion of someone outside.

Here is an arbitrary formula that I use to know if an illustration is genuine or if it may pass for a plagiarism: Of the six artistic choices cited above (tool, rendering, palette, theme, code, and reference), if more than two of your choices are identical to those chosen by the original author, you may pass for a plagiarist.

To be inspired by one style or another, we must absolutely reflect on what marks us in an illustration.

For my part, in general, I collect the images that have taken my breath away; I take the time to analyze them in my lost hours by dissecting all the artistic choices as well as the techniques used. I spend more time analyzing my images than drawing.

The secret lies in experimentation

If you never take a risk, unless there is a “happy accident”, there is a high probability that you will never find your creative autonomy.

Sometimes even a simple design experiment can change the face of the world. Try new procedures; do not try to copy the neighbor’s technique at any cost. It is good to rely on the work of our mentors but in moderation. Sincerely, you have nothing to lose. Take advantage of your moments of solitude to try to innovate within your own creative flow.

It is not forbidden to study from time to time illustrations of authors that you admire, quite the contrary, but what I try to make you understand is that ABSOLUTELY avoid fixing on A UNIQUE artist to try to resemble him at all costs. By idealizing an artist, you will lock yourself into a graphic identity that does not belong to you, and in the long run, it is frustration assured. To get better experiment you need to use the best drawing tablet for your digital arts.

Which exercise to find your style?

To tell the truth, there are as many styles as creative techniques, it would be impossible for me to cover everything because each artist develops his own workflow. Again, you have to experiment, but as much to tell you right away: you will encounter far more failures than success. This is the very principle of experience. Failure is our unconditional friend, it makes us stronger. Of course, it has an unfortunate tendency to annihilate some of our pride, but the game is sincerely worth the effort. Every little creative failure puts us back on the right path.

I will be satisfied today with presenting you one of my favorite experimental techniques for line drawing: The random deformation of the two-dimensional shapes. Here are the main lines:

  1. Choose a reference image, if possible a photo (not a drawing, because the latter is already the product of a reflection and an interpretation that do not belong to you). Here I choose the photo-reference of a face, as I know that the majority of you like to draw the human faces.

exercise photos 1

2. Look for the contours of the global shapes and the secondary shapes.

exercise photos 2

exercise photos 2

3. Draw in line instinctively and simplify the contours of shapes. Go to the basics by working with the most energetic features possible.

4. Redraw using the drawing in step 3 but exaggerating the curves of the contours and trying to simplify the two-dimensional shapes (do not worry about the perspective for this exercise; it is purely an exercise in two-dimensional design).

exercise photos 5

5. Redraw the drawing from step 4, but this time by reversing the trend of the curves in step 4. This means that I will round out the angular contours and vice versa.

exercise photos 6

So I get two different styles without squinting on my neighbor. I could have gone on and on to get more interpretations on the same series of drawings, based only on one reference. Rather cool as experimentation, right? With this kind of training, one can considerably accelerate the search for one’s own style. For more experienced designers, it is, of course, possible to play with perspective and manipulate 3-dimensional shapes.

Final Words

What needs to be understood is that our progress depends not only on the passing of time but on our method and the time we have spent asking ourselves questions and practicing.

Learning the basics of drawing (perspective, composition, values) is necessary, but once acquired, these bases should serve us to experiment even to forge our style. The search for style is a daily struggle; one does not gain as long as one strives to copy stupidly the drawings of the others.

Putting one’s pride aside and accepting to make mistakes are the conditions for progressing and achieving one’s artistic goals.

Drawing Advisor

Drawing Advisor (Timothy Martin) is a 35-year-old professional artist and blogger from the USA. He completed his graduation from the department of Drawing. And now he is teaching in Graphic Design at a reputed University. Read more.