One common response to the videos on Ctrl+Paint is a simple question: "What should I be drawing to practice?" Especially if you're teaching yourself to draw and paint, it can be challenging to find homework assignments. In this post I'll go over a few options, and would love to open the topic up for discussion in the comments.
Step 1 - Drawing from observation
The first phase of your learning should be from direct observation. Luckily, the subject-matter is totally up to you. It's common to start with still life drawing using simple objects. If that doesn't interest you, simply look out your window or take a sketchbook to the park. Essentially, drawing anything from direct observation is challenging - for beginners and pros alike - and it's hard to go wrong with subject-matter. Drawing simple shapes like mugs and plates will help practice your 3D form and light, while complex objects like flowers will test your understanding of surface texture.
Step 2 - Drawing from reference
Especially once you're drawing digitally, direct observation can be a challenge. Additionally, landscapes can be hard to draw from observation. Once you've grown comfortable with drawing from direct observation, reference photos are a great second step. These can be from magazines or the internet. The downside to drawing from reference is capturing a sense of volume. Direct observation allows you to fully understand the 3D shape of your subject, while photos artificially flatten dimension. On the positive side, photo reference will freeze your object in space. When the camera angle never shifts, it can be much easier to capture accurate shapes in your drawings.
Step 3 - Drawing from your imagination
Dragons, space marines, and elves are what we're all here for. Sadly, you have to be comfortable with steps 1 & 2 before moving onto fantastic subject matter - since traditional drawing skills are essential for drawing from your imagination. I think of it this way: learn the fundamentals, and then have a great time with the fun stuff. If you skip the fundamentals, the imaginary stuff won't be fun. With this in mind, I've created two premium series in the store devoted to the transition from observation skills to imaginary drawing. The second part is a set of 40 homework assignments. When you're teaching yourself to paint the course can seem unclear - this series aims to provide a bit of structure.
Currently the Ctrl+Paint store does not have any premium series aimed at steps 1 & 2 - though it's an idea for the future. If you've already purchased the Observation to Imagination 2 part series, what did you think? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments.