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How To Draw Absolutely Anything

There’s no great secret to drawing. Anybody can draw. If you can write your name, you can learn to draw. In this extract from his book, How to draw absolutely anything, let writer and artist ILYA inspire you to pick up your pencil and create a magical masterpiece. 


Ask a person to draw, and nine times out of ten their immediate response will be: ‘I can’t draw’. When people say this, it does not mean that they cannot draw. Anybody can draw. What they mean and what they are really saying is: ‘I don’t draw’. There’s a BIG difference.


There’s no secret to drawing. Put pen or pencil to paper, or, increasingly, stylus or even your finger to a touch-sensitive screen, and make a mark – any mark – and you are drawing. Make a mark. Do draw. You CAN draw. YOU can draw. Anybody can draw.


What comes into play after that is a critical internal voice that says: ‘No, that’s not right’ ‘That doesn’t look right’ ‘You’ve drawn it wrong’ ‘It looks stupid. It looks childish. It looks ugly’ ‘That didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to’. And so on and so forth.


Maybe it was someone else’s discouraging or derisive laughter when you once showed them a drawing – or, more than likely, when they peeked over your shoulder to see what it was you were doing. Or perhaps it was the careless relative who said: ‘That’s nice dear…what is it?’


But just as easily, it could be your own doubts/fears/competitive nature/perfectionism that’s talking. Do you hear voices? You do. Then you are possessed. We all do. The important thing here is not necessarily to ignore them, so much as not to let them deter you or hold you back – from drawing, or anything else. Instead, use them to spur you on, to make you move on, to make you draw MORE.


NOT to do the same drawing over and over again in an attempt to get it ‘right’ … And certainly not to grab an eraser and rub the offending drawing out. Only to start over again. And again. (Any erasers you have, throw them out now – erasers are BANNED! … In fact: BINS too!)


Hear the voices, but don’t let them stop you. Instead, move on to the next drawing. Do that drawing. And then the next. And the next one after that.


Ideally, with each and every drawing that you do, you will get better – better at drawing, or perhaps simply better at ignoring the negative whispers, better at accepting the drawings as they come out – which is to say: Growing in Confidence. The voices don’t go away. They will always be there. Simply put, you stop listening. You get out of your own way. You drawe, you draw, and then you draw some more.


You can draw. Anybody can draw. So long as you want to draw, and DO draw, then the more that you draw the better you will get at doing it.


So, what are you waiting for?


Activity: Pick up the nearest pen, or pencil, or felt tip, whatever is at hand. Pick it up right now and begin to make some marks with it. Go on. Do it right now. Marks. Anything.


Did you do it? Be honest. If you didn’t, STOP right now. Go back. Grab that mark-maker. MAKE. SOME. MARKS.

Done? OK, so … Did you have to stop and go looking for something to draw with? Do you have some more paper and drawing equipment immediately to hand? Have you found a surface that’s easy to work on? If NOT, if your answers were: Yes/No, Yes, No, and No (keep up!) then there are already some things that you need to put right straight away.



Always make sure you have the TOOLS around ready to work with, to make your marks with – around or readily available. If that seems untidy to you, or else the pens and papers keep getting tidied away, then have a place where they belong that you can easily access whenever you want to.


This counts as well when you are out and about.


Pockets. PENS often have clips on them, for keeping them in pockets. It’s meant to be. PENCILS? Not so much. Well, in that case – a wee pencil case that you can carry about. Or a certain slot in your handbag or manbag. What about PAPER? Always have a few scraps handy (replaced whenever used up). A small SKETCHBOOK or NOTEBOOK – in fact, a number of them scattered around the place, as well as one on your person, idealluy. The back of an envelope, or a till receipt, or. The. Blank space in any old newspaper or magazine advert will do, at a pinch.


Failing all of that, how smart is your phone? Make your readiness to draw into a HABIT. If you can make it. Your habit to draw – and what’s more, to be willing and able to draw at any particular moment, day or night, no matter where you are – then you’re more than halfway to achieving the ability to draw. Your ability to draw. DRAW EVERY DAY and your drawing WILL improve. There’s nothing to stop you but you.


Looking for more of Ilya’s tips and tricks then grab his book below: