Freehand Practice Benefits

Self-caricature in sharpie

Of all the art habits you can cultivate, I highly recommend forcing yourself to draw in pen. Below, I list the marked improvements in my own work since I took this practice up.

My primary influences here are R. Crumb and my caricature job. Though both involve different motivations and styles, the philosophy remains the same: the ability to confidently render a form on the first try encourages active critical thinking while drawing. The practice itself isn’t structured or separate from current habits, and is therefore more sustainable long-term. It’s also a marketable skill. The “wow” factor of vomiting out “good art” on the fly (in this case, a semi-accurate visual representation of your reference) might be banal to you, but seems like magic to someone who hasn’t internalized the hours of practice you spent to achieve this skill.

How my art improved:

  • Editing tiny details became secondary to composition, which got noticably stronger when the shift to pen forced me to quit micromanaging.
  • I became more prolific, less attached to individual pieces and more attuned to my overall skillset.
  • I started to consider the defining factors in each image and leave out more unnecessary details.
  • Drawing got more fun.

I hope this post enlightened you in some way. Thank you for your time.

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