Because my heart goes out to anyone who is learning to draw, I’m sharing this embarrassing moment from my sketchbook. On the left, my Picasso-esque woman is a freehand sketch, straight out of my head. (A Psychologist could have a field day with it!) On the right, what you see is the result of quickly grabbing a reference — in this case, some practice sketches I’d done*– and in less time with more confidence, I created a non-Cubist image of a woman that I’m pretty happy with.
When I started design school, I was horrified to find that they expected me to draw. Looking back, the biggest hurdle was overcoming the unwritten rules I’d picked up in grade school. I remember there was always one kid who could draw something like a dragon freehand. Part of the definition of “being able to draw” was freehand; no tracing, no reference photos, just single lovely swoops creating a perfect replica on the first try. Luckily, in one of my first design classes, those beliefs were swept away when my instructor said: “What would be the point in that? You don’t get extra points for doing it the hard way.” So reach for tracing paper, do an image search, cut and paste to your heart’s content.
Hope that helps!
*The practice sketches came from Modern Cartooning by Christopher Hart. It’s a great guide that I’ve found especially helpful in creating Storyboards. And, it’s just a heck of a lot of fun!