While drawing can be a fun and relaxing hobby, it sometimes can be frustrating for beginners, especially if they’re coming into it with the expectations that their drawings have to look exactly like the image in their head or what they’re using as a reference. Here are a few key tips and tricks that can not only help you avoid having frustratingly high expectations of yourself (we’re all our own worst critics) as well as help nurture and develop your own art style.

Focus on One Medium

Drawing can be done in a variety of mediums, be it pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, and the list goes on. All of these mediums create a different look and behave differently, and it can take some time to get used to getting them to work. When starting out, you should pick one that interests you and stick with it for at least a few weeks. This will give you the opportunity to help you learn things like how to smudge with pencil or charcoal or different hatching techniques with a pen and ink.

Don’t Overly Focus on Straight Lines

Unless you plan on drawing architectural schematics by hand, don’t worry so much about drawing a perfectly straight line or a perfect circle. In some cases where you might need a perfectly straight line, a straight edge or ruler can help, but oftentimes having everything look perfectly straight can make a drawing look mechanical and unnatural. Instead, try using a series of shorter lines as a base. It’s a lot easier to get a straighter line this way, and you can fill in any gaps or spaces with more short lines until you have what appears to be a single straight line or a perfect circle.

Don’t Try to Copy Your Reference Exactly

It is extremely difficult to draw an image that comes out looking exactly like your reference, and this is where a lot of beginning artists struggle. Instead of trying to copy an image exactly, instead, try to make it our own. Embrace the imperfections, let your hand tremble and wobble a little as you draw where it seems natural (for example, the edge of a leaf or the bark of a tree), experiment, and see what looks good to you. As long as the image is still recognizable as a tree, or a flower, or whatever it is you decided to draw, it’s a success. 

Don’t Get Stuck In Your Own Head

Sometimes we get so caught up trying to recreate an image we have in our mind that we can never get a drawing going because we scrap it as soon as we make a mistake. If you ever feel like you just can’t get a drawing started, it might be a good time to do some freeform drawing exercises. Put your idea aside for the moment and just start drawing. You can draw shapes, lines, patterns, squiggles, literally anything you want. Just don’t think too much about it and let your hand do all the work. Not only can this help relax your hand and get you ready to start your piece, but it can also give you some ideas on how to tackle it in terms of technique.