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  • Writer's pictureRe:Jen Zen

3 Hobbies That Unexpectedly Improved My Drawing

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Just like with art techniques, I like to try a little of everything. Sometimes new hobbies stick, but I am very okay with moving onto the next thing at any time.

These are some hobbies that unexpectedly improved my art skills.

1. Makeup

Now, I can already hear the disinterested grumbles. If you have no interest in this kind of a thing, I completely understand, but in terms of learning art - this is probably the hobby that most directly and heavily impacted how I draw faces.

I started learning makeup really when I finished college. When I was younger, I didn't have anyone to teach me this sort of thing. I became very tom-boyish and reveled in how non-girly I was. So my introduction into it started much later than the average young woman. I really didn't know what I was doing at first, but I loved colors, and it felt like doing a little mini morning painting.

Watching makeup tutorials is where I learned how to make a drawing look beautiful. I learned about what shadows to push darker and what highlights to make brighter.

I learned that the tiny bit of skin above a lip- if you highlight that, it makes lips look plump and appealing. Or where the eyebrow begins and ends to look the most attractive.

What type of undertones in skin shades match with what types of colors in lipstick. These two red lipsticks are different in that one is a little warm and one is a little cool... now how does it work on this olive-skinned person? Does one look better than the other?

I implore you to sit down and watch a start-to-finish video of an artist applying their makeup regardless what gender you are or how interested you may be in makeup. It is the easiest and best way to learn about face dimensions, beauty, proportions, shading, and color.

2. Fashion

Ok, again, this is a hobby I highly doubt everyone is interested in. But learning about how to pair fashion - whether is is rough n' tough cowboy fashion or mix-matched over the top loud patterns- learning about style and clothes helped my art immensely.

In particular, fashion helped with how to dynamically create interesting silhouettes and shapes, where to lead the eye, as well as color theory.

Let me explain. Why is it some people can look super "done up" in pajamas while others look like a mess? It is proportions and shape. No, not body. The clothes. If you have a oversized long sleeved shirt that drapes off the shoulders combined with high cropped shorts, it can create a very visually appealing contrast between the top and bottom halves. That is more interesting than everything looking baggy and without shape or form.

Now, you might be thinking - what does that have to do with drawing? Everything. Now that I learned that pajama pairing for example, I can now bring into a character design. Maybe I want to draw a woman that is very casual, laid-back, but kind of edgy. A long-sleeved worn leather jacket and shorts instantly gives me an impression on what types of things she likes and what her personality is. If I drew the same character in a white t-shirt and jeans, I doubt you would get any real impression of her.

My favorite type of fashion for me personally is statement. For example, I love wearing something black, white, or monochromatic- and then BAM! Yellow shoes. Attention will go to wherever you direct it to go. I might be wearing a new black shirt and black pants, but those yellow shoes get the most comments.

3. Antiques and History

One of my favorite things to do is to watch Antiques Roadshow. I love learning about old ways of living and thinking. Antiques are items that reflect the times.

During the 1940s, women took to making their wedding dresses out of parachutes. It was toted as being resourceful and patriotic. There were shortages in all sorts of goods and certain types of fabric, especially high quality, was not easy to come by.

Learning about how adaptive humankind is has made me think of concept art in the same kind of way. Maybe this character had to duct-tape the book they are holding because they read it so much that the pages fall out. Or this ancient sea village has a superstition that oysters can purify by sucking in evil, so men and women wear bangles and rings out of their shells.

Thinking about a character or village's daily life can lead to little details and give the drawing personality. Instead of only focusing on what type of person they are and what their personality is, you can add in influences created by their environments.

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