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We conclude the recent five-week look at Tips for Drawing with what may be the most important of them all. No matter how good you become at this skill, or how much you grow to love drawing, there will be days when your hand and your brain just don’t seem to want to work together. It’s going to happen, so how do you deal with it?

It is inevitable…

Some days you will do bad drawings.
Some days you will not find it fun.
Some days you will think “This is horrible, I’ve gotten WORSE, I thought I was improving but I must not be, I hate this, why do I suck so much?”
Some days you will want to quit.

I honestly believe in my heart that even the greatest artists of all time had these days. The trick is: WE NEVER SEE IT. We only see the masterpieces they’ve created, and not the pile of cassavas they stabbed through with a brush in frustration, or sacks of crumpled animation paper that have long been buried at the dump. We forget, and it’s very easy to do, that everyone has bad days. Then when WE have a bad day, it is “because we’re no good at this.”

You’re going to have bad drawing days. I hate it. You’ll hate it. It will happen. And I wish I had the world’s best advice to give you when one of those days happen. I’m still looking for it. (If you have it, please by all means leave it in the comments below or email me right away!) What I can do is tell you how I personally deal with them. Maybe some of these tricks will help you too.

Occasionally I’ll push through. I’ll keep drawing and try to get past whatever it is that isn’t working. I’ll try a different technique, or I’ll think about it differently. I’ll use nothing but curvy lines that go all through the figure, or maybe just straight lines. I’ll try to build the drawing using only 3D simple shapes. I’ll do 15 gesture drawings of the exact same pose. Anything to change it up. Sometimes it works, and a lot of times it’s just a bad day for the team of my drawing hand and brain.

I’ll be the first to admit, some days I give up. I concede defeat and move on to something else. At the end of those days I usually feel bad about quitting, but it happens. The most important thing is to never let that quitting become a habit. Habits are either very useful or very dangerous. When you work to build a good habit (practicing drawing daily for 20 minutes each afternoon) the power of habits push you to greater heights. When you let a bad habit take over, it can be devastating, and you can end up finding years gone by wasted away. Don’t let quitting during a bad drawing day become a habit. If you do it once on a particularly bad day, fine. Some days that’s what you’ll need to move forward. Just keep it in check.

Some bad days I’ll take a walk. If a drawing isn’t going well, I’ll leave it behind and stroll through the house (if it’s cold) or down the block (if the sun’s out). When I come back, usually sitting down with a deep, deep breath, things start to look less dreary. Give that a shot if nothing else seems to be working.

The Best News Ever

Here’s the good part, though. Some days you’ll have GREAT days. Some days you’ll do the BEST drawing you’ve maybe ever done, and things will feel oh so right. Remember those days, because do you know what they mean? They mean that those masterpieces, however infrequent, ARE inside you. You have that ability in you, even on the bad days that come around. You CAN do this, and you can be great.

So what tricks do YOU use on a bad drawing/animating day? Let’s all share some tips in the comments below and maybe we’ll all learn a little something!

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