I don’t actually encourage people to try to draw like me.
A while back I wrote a post on how to find your style called The 3 Is of Ilustration. The first step in that process is Imitation. It’s nearly universal that when starting out drawing you’ll emulate someone (or someones). An artist will inspire you, and make you think, “I want to draw like that!” I am no exception. But as I’ve gone along what I think that actually means is that I want to create something of similar quality, not something that is literally the same.
Art is very personal. It’s an expression of more than lines and tools. It’s an accumulation of life. It’s the distinctness of physicality. It’s experiences and observations and preferences built over years. When the pencil hits the paper, part of the artist’s soul is indelibly left there.
Trying to draw like someone else is almost the denial of self. It cheats you out of everything that you have gone through to get to the art desk. That might be a bit dramatic, but it’s worth thinking about you. Do you really want to draw like me, like someone else? Or would you rather draw like you?!
Okay, ditching the existential side of things for more practical thoughts on the subject. Why else do I think you shouldn’t draw like me.
I can’t stress this enough: I am not the post child for correct anatomy. My anatomy is purposefully incorrect. Completely correct anatomy is in conflict with the style of work I want to do. Honestly, I don’t find perfect anatomy that fun to work with. I make very clear choices to deviate from reality to achieve my desired goal. But those are my choices, accumulated over thousands of drawings. I think trying to draw anatomy like me is the wrong starting point. It’s like learning a bad golf swing. You’ll need to correct in the future, so don’t learn it wrong in the first place. Learn proper anatomy, and then deviate where YOU want to, not where I chose to.
Anato-Me (get it?)
I’m unlikely to meet any of you in person so you can’t really see how I’m built. It’s specific. I’m a certain height and weight. I have a certain musculature. I am in such-and-such physical shape. I have a certain range of motion. I have particular movement patterns, etc. So do you. And they are probably not like mine. A big part of why my art looks the way it does is because of how I’m built and how I move. The lines work with how I move my body.
Have you ever noticed that nearly every character I draw is facing right? That’s because I’m right-handed. I can more naturally make lines that go that direction. I make slower lines if the character is facing left, and style starts to suffer.
Jot & Tittle
I’m a big Todd McFarlane fan. He’s been an inspiration in a variety of ways. Todd was doing his own Spider-Man book when I discovered him. So, guess what I did? I started adding lines to my characters. Lots of them. Lines all over. So. Many. Lines. I did this because Todd did it, and Todd—in my eyes—was the best. Shouldn’t I do what Todd is doing if he’s the best? Nope.
See, I didn’t know why I was adding those lines. I was doing only because he was doing it. Every little flourish I put on a drawing now (just like I imagine Todd does) is a specific choice. It is a necessary part of the whole, and I know exactly why I’m doing it. All those Todd lines were a hindrance to where I really wanted to go. Imitation became a limitation (write that down).
Some of this might feel like rambling, but I get asked or told pretty often that someone wants to draw like me. I hope that’s an intimation of quality. I hope people see something to strive for. I’m still doing it. Just be careful in your pursuit. I for one am excited to see your soul hit the page.