Developing one’s own drawing style is about becoming unique and having that extra something that sets us apart from others.
A style encompasses many things: experience, approach, personality, preferences, tools, technique. There are so many aspects to consider that it can be overwhelming to understand how to develop it.
Don’t worry, we will demystify it and explore 5 key points on how to find your own drawing style, even if you’re just starting out.
Discover our free guide to start drawing easily. You will learn practical methods and exercises to put into practice right away.
1 - Style is based on two main axes
Before anything else, it is necessary to understand that a drawing style is based on two things:
- Our drawing experience (technique and skills),
- Our own personality (tastes and preferences).
Our experience is gradually developed over time. By learning the fundamentals of drawing and focusing on the essential elements, we naturally gain skills and develop our technique.
Our tastes, on the other hand, are based on what we appreciate in other artists and in general. It’s what naturally attracts us. And these preferences are also capable of evolving over time.
A drawing style is therefore based on two variables that will evolve as we practice. Our experience will enrich, our skills will develop, and our tastes themselves will change.
Even with little experience, we are already capable of starting to develop our own style. It is simply important to be aware that this style will evolve along with us, and that is an excellent thing!
It is important to understand that our drawing style is the result of our choices. It is a combination of the skills we choose to develop and our inspirations. So, a drawing style is not really found, it is developed!
2 - Define what you truly enjoy
To begin developing your drawing style, start by exploring what you truly enjoy. By discovering what fascinates you, you will find the direction in which to focus your efforts.
📌 Quick exercise
Create a collection of drawings that inspire you
Choose about ten illustrations from artists whose style you find amazing. The goal is to find references that inspire you, where you look at them and think, “Wow, that’s what I want to create.”
Note 3 things that you like about each drawing
Take the time to look at an image and note three characteristics that make you particularly like that style. It could be the way the artist creates their details, the choice of colors, etc.
Analyze the common points
Next, take the time to analyze all the common points of the characteristics you have noted. Is the subject often the same, for example, portraits? Is the atmosphere often colorful or rather dark?
Clearly define the direction to follow
The result of all this reflection becomes your roadmap. It is towards these styles that you should focus. And to help you, you can download the small checklist that will help you gain clarity.
This practical exercise has allowed us to better target and understand our preferences. We have really pinpointed what attracts us the most in drawing. And thanks to this defined direction, we will be able to move forward more effectively.
But now that our preferences are clearly listed, how do we go about actually developing our own personal touch?
3 - Originality comes from existing ideas
We tend to think that we need to be innovative in order to stand out and have our own style. But in reality, that’s not true!
Nothing is truly original and new, everything already exists. We all think of the same ideas, it’s just our ways of doing things that are different.
Let’s take the example of artworks that we consider as original and unique. In reality, they are often a combination of common ideas that already exist. It’s the act of combining existing ideas together that gives us something unique.
Getting inspired intelligently
It’s easy to associate drawing from imagination with developing our own style. We might think that drawing from imagination will truly improve our skills.
In reality, when we’re beginners, drawing from imagination is not what will make us progress. We risk stagnating because we’ll repeat the same mistakes without knowing how to correct them.
The best way to develop your style is to get inspired from what already exists. The idea is to analyze the artists you admire to understand how they have achieved their level of skill and how they create their illustrations.
Now that we know what we like thanks to the little practical exercise, the goal now is to draw while directly being inspired by several references.
Start by gathering 3 references that inspire you: it can be based on the atmosphere, the treatment of shapes or lines, the subject, etc. The goal will be to mix these three styles together to develop a new one.
In the example above, I combined three things:
As you can see, it’s not about blindly copying. It’s more about studying and analyzing to incorporate new elements into our drawing.
4 - Develop your skills and foundations in drawing
A style is built over time; it doesn’t appear overnight. It naturally develops alongside your skills.
The more we master the fundamentals of drawing, the stronger and more distinct our style becomes. Once we have mastered the rules, we can then bend and play with them.
Without a solid understanding of the basics in drawing, such as perspective and volume, it is challenging to develop a genuine style. Lack of skill is not a style; it simply indicates a lack of mastery.
Starting with the basics is essential. This part is often underestimated, yet it is the most important.
Out of a desire to create beautiful drawings, we often focus too much on the details rather than the fundamentals.
By taking the time to learn how to construct our drawings and develop real skills, our style will only become better. We will give it the opportunity to emerge and shine.
The more time we take to improve, the more control we have. As a result, our style will develop faster because we will be in charge: we will choose the types of shapes we use, the type of strokes, etc.
You don’t need to be an expert, but it’s important to be in a mindset of growth and development. We want to grow to strengthen our style.
5 - Switch to explorer mode
The best way to develop your style alongside your skills is simply to explore to the fullest.
By approaching drawing as a playground, we try different things to step out of our comfort zone. We experiment, practice, and explore. This allows us to better understand what we truly enjoy drawing.
Setting aside perfectionism
While we often think that perfectionism is a great quality, it becomes a problem when it comes to developing our style. By striving for a perfect result, we become counterproductive. We prevent ourselves from exploring.
Each drawing we create should teach us something or allow us to experiment and study. If we only focus on the final result, unfortunately, we learn nothing.
Imagine that your drawings are just experiments. They don’t need to be masterpieces. What matters is that we are testing things to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
We often underestimate the joy we experience while drawing. However, it is through this enjoyment that we develop our style more easily. By finding pleasure in the process, we stimulate real progress.
By having fun, we tune in to our feelings and what truly resonates with us. It is when we truly listen to ourselves that we begin to grasp our own style.
Our favorite books to get inspired
Seeking originality at all costs is not necessary to develop your own drawing style. As we have seen, it is our experience and our own preferences that will naturally differentiate us over time.
The pursuit of originality is not helpful because everything already exists. However, what is highly effective is drawing and get inspired from multiple artists. We can draw from the things we like and add our own personal touch to them.
By adopting an explorer mindset, we will be better able to discover what type of drawing resonates with us. So keep experimenting to find your own path. And the more skills you acquire, the more your style will solidify. ✍️
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