I was on the train recently far from home, and it was a long long ride. I was drawing and got to talking to a person next to me. They asked about the best ways for beginners to improve their skills. I immediately thought of drawing challenges for beginners.
One drawing challenge, in particular, stood out. A drawing challenge to be completed in one day, the 20-in-1 drawing challenge.
The idea for this challenge was born out of taking oil painting classes in my college, where fine art majors participated in “painting marathons”, often staying in the art studio overnight, they would paint for hours to see as much progress as possible in a short period of time. Many participants saw great progress, as did I.
This drawing challenge for beginners is a similar version of this practice. Take the challenge and enjoy a big boost in skills!
I first wrote about this challenge in an Instagram post in 2018. Since then I went through the challenge a few times and found it very helpful each time.
Do not hesitate, take this challenge! Unlike many drawing challenges for beginners, this one only takes one single day. I promise you will not be sorry! In fact, once you complete it, write to me with your feedback.
Drawing challenge rules:
- Find strong reference
- Use flip-horizontal for every drawing
- Use a pen, not a pencil
- Use a separate piece of paper for each drawing
- Expect to make mistakes and learn from them
- Keep a strong mindset
What is a drawing challenge?
A drawing challenge is a drawing-related goal set to be complete in a specific amount of time. A goal is usually to improve in a specific area of drawing or to complete a previously determined amount of drawings, or both. You can participate with friends, on the internet, or complete it by yourself.
In this single day drawing challenge, we will draw twenty pictures in a single day. Yes, twenty! There is a way to do that in a systematic way where you improve your drawings throughout the day. Keep reading to find out how.
Rule 1: Find strong reference before you begin the challenge
Finding strong reference is a must for any drawing challenge (unless the drawing challenge is to learn to draw without reference). It is best to prepare all references ahead of time so that you are not scrambling during what should be drawing time.
Reference should be geared toward what you want to draw. Do you like scenes with lots of contrast or lots of daylight? Pick your reference accordingly. You can start by looking at Pinterest for reference.
Rule 2: Use flip horizontal for every drawing
When you use flip-horizontal, you are mirror flipping the horizontal axis across the vertical. Doing so helps you find errors in the drawing especially as a beginner. You will be very surprised to see mistakes in a drawing that looked good to you before flipped in this way. You can use digital software, your phone camera, or a mirror do to this. If you are looking for step-by-step instructions on how to flip your drawing in photoshop, check out my post here.
Rule 3: Use a pen, not a pencil
You are probably surprised. How? Not use an underdrawing with a pencil? Just use an ink pen? Yes! I assure you that all the drawings on this page were drawn with an ink pen without an underdrawing of any kind. I know this because I made every single one in this post.
And yes, at first it seemed very intimidating, but you learn quickly and you will be even more surprised to see your progress throughout the drawing challenge if you follow this step.
It turns out that when you draw with a pen in this way, you tend to naturally think carefully about making every mark. All the right parts of the brain become engaged in the action of drawing, you adapt over time, and make faster progress.
Rule 4: Use twenty separate sheets of paper, one for each drawing
For this drawing challenge, especially if you are trying it for the first time, I advise that you use a separate piece of paper for each drawing.
As you complete a few drawings, set them side-by-side on the floor, and stand over them and compare them to each other. Looking at art from the distance of your height helps assess the entire drawing without being caught up in the details of the drawing – it is easier to see mistakes this way.
I want you to look over a few of your drawings this way and try to identify any mistakes you are repeating, and then attempt to fix them in the next few drawings by looking at reference.
Rule 5: Draw, make mistakes and aim to learn from each drawing
Mistakes will happen during this drawing challenge! You are not drawing to exhibit these drawings, you are drawing to improve. Do not beat yourself over mistakes you are making. Have patience. Learning to draw is a marathon and not a sprint.
I remember attending Michelangelo’s exhibit at the Met, filled with many original Michelangelo drawings. And I distinctly remember looking at the drawings by Andrea Quaratesi, a young student at Michelangelo’s studio. The drawing looked like Quaratesi was at the beginning of his artistic journey. Next to it, there was a note by Michelangelo that asked Quaratesi to have patience.
If you have seen Michaelangelo’s drawings, you know he was not wrong in giving this advice. Learn from each drawing you make, and have patience.
Use the fail-forward-fast approach to making mistakes. Make as many as you can as soon as you can and learn from them. This is why drawing in large volumes helps progress in drawing. Artists that create many drawings are making more mistakes and learning faster than those that create only a few – especially at the beginner and intermediate level.
Rule 6: Keep a warrior mindset during the entire challenge
In my experience, most beginners are too hard on themselves if they make one bad drawing. You should be hard on yourself if you are drawing daily for weeks and not making progress. In that case, something is wrong with your process and it requires careful evaluation. If you make one bad drawing in this challenge, however, set it to the side and move on!
Prepare yourself mentally before you begin the drawing challenge, not to dwell on bad drawings. Evaluate what went wrong, then let the bad drawings go very quickly. Focus on the good ones instead!
Repeat this drawing challenge to accelerate your growth
I recently completed a 10-day drawing challenge where I drew hundreds of hands. It was a tough and draining challenge to complete, but I learned a lot in the process. There is definitely a benefit to multi-day drawing challenges.
So, If you are up for a bigger challenge, and If you want to rapidly accelerate your growth, repeat this drawing challenge over the next, two, three, five or ten days. Do not forget to follow the rules and analyze your mistakes.
More drawing samples from this drawing challenge: