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Art – even something as simple as drawing – is often something that strikes many people as intimidating. The common complaint or excuse is typically something along the lines of “I can’t even draw a straight line!”, which you’ve probably heard or even said before. However, we could all benefit immeasurably from realizing that it doesn’t have to be so intimidating or worrisome to have to draw. One reason we get intimidated is that we have such high expectations of ourselves based on artwork we like, which is usually put together by trained professionals who have been doing this for quite some time. People need to keep in mind first and foremost that getting that good takes a great deal of time and practice, but most of all an open mind. It’s actually fairly simple, as long as you can picture a form and follow a few basic and easy-to-remember tips for drawing. Before long you could be having fun drawing much more than just straight lines!

First, if you’re going to draw people or even animals, a basic understanding of anatomy can go a long way. You don’t need to start off already able to draw each knuckle on a hand or each last little detail, although an awareness of where they are and how they work would help too. Just the general body form will do, especially if you develop a clear idea of the body’s bone structure and where the joints are. This can help you depict motion, as well as execute effective body language to embellish the prevailing mood or emotion in a scene. It’s the same with actors who have to be aware of and in control of their bodies and extremities so they have all the tools at their disposal to convey the idea they want the audience to get.

Another notable idea is to assemble a “morgue”, or a compilation of reference pictures. Today’s digital means allow users and would-be artists to have an even easier time gathering, storing and filing away reference images through the use of search engines or even stock photo archives, some of which offer free membership. These reference pictures can help you get a grasp of details that significantly distinguish one type of person from another, which can then help you build character authenticity when you draw them. A reference compilation is also useful for fostering other important elements, such as an understanding of lighting, texture and so on, and the many ways they can be rendered.

Finally, you can he helped immeasurably by having a handful of items around such as a mirror, a digital camera and even an action figure. This can help you use yourself as a reference – facial expressions, the drape and appearance of certain types of fabric on the body, and more can be gleaned through the use of a mirror. The digital camera could come in handy if you have time to observe other people and try to capture the unique ways they stand, talk and move; scenery is also fair game for the digital camera, which can help you capture a nice angle on something you can use as an establishing or other shot. The (preferably poseable) action figure, finally, can help you visualize your awareness of how the body takes certain shapes when running, fighting, pointing to the distance, and so on.