Practice Makes… Improvement Obvious

Face it – there’s no such thing as perfect, and that’s okay! I tell my husband regularly that I’m pretty awesome, and in my books, that’s close enough to being perfect.

I often get asked, “How do you know what to draw to make it (the drawing) look real?”

The answer? You’ve got it – practice!

No one is born knowing how to draw.


This was my first attempt at drawing the cat several years ago.


This was a few months ago.

It took a lot of screwing up to learn how to get it right, and lots of practice.

A Drawing vs Photo Realism

For the sake of this post, I’m calling a drawing as a work of art that looks like a drawing. Photo realism (PR) refers to the works that appear like a photograph.

I don’t do PR, and the reasons are simple.

1) I don’t have the patience. PR takes a lot of time and commitment. I’m all about instant gratification.

2) Why not just take a photo? Hey, PR artists are insanely talented and patient. I respect them. I’d just rather bend reality a little bit.

3) I like to put my own style into my work. I want to make little changes and make the work mine. I love the little ‘flaws’ that make the work unique.

4) I like straight pencil work. I’m not into air brushing or stuff like that.

I admire PR work as much as the next person, but it’s not really for me as an artist.

‘Drawing’ White Fur

Ever look at a drawing and think to yourself, “Wow, how did he/she draw that white fur? It looks so soft!”

It’s all an optical illusion. I’ve posted before about how the eye fills in the blanks, and that’s all white fur it. There will be a few lines here and there, but for the most part, it’s blank (or negative) space.

Here are some tips:
1) Hair casts shadows. Shading in small areas of shadow make the white parts look more real and 3D.

2) Less is more! Don’t shade in too much, or you’ll ruin the effect.

3) Draw lightly and use an electric eraser to draw out white lines for whiskers, ear hair, etc.

'Map' - graphite, white ink
‘Map’ – graphite, white ink

In the drawing above, the cat’s whiskers are simply erased area that are outlined with graphite. The ear hair is the same. The forward paw only has shading to separate the toes.

Give it a try!