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  • Writer's pictureJenny Lu

4 Ways that Drawing from Life Can Improve Your Art Skills

Are you looking for ways to hone your skills to visualize your ideas? Are you passionate about telling a story but don’t know how to bring your imagination to life and put it onto paper? Well, you are in the right place. Today, we will share four ways that drawing from life can improve your art skills tremendously.

Before you draw and study from life, it’s crucial to know what to look for in your subjects. Knowing ways to simplify shapes of an object and breaking them down to simple lines are very important. That’s why we introduced you to several essential art books to read in the previous posts. Click here to check them out in case you missed them! Once you understand the essential art principles, such as values, five different light-and-shadow types, lines, proportions, and composition, you will be able to start diving into the big ocean of drawing from life.

Here are four reasons why drawing from life can hone your skills.

Let’s get started!

Being Able to Translate the Reality into Illusion

Drawing and painting from life is a challenging task that forces you to make decisions within a short amount of time. However, if you form the habit of drawing from life, you will understand how to translate3-dimensional objects into a 2-dimensional painting surface. The difference between drawing from life and photographs is that the first one is much more complicated. You need to understand how to break things down into simple shapes and solid structures without getting distracted by the overwhelming details in nature.

Learning how to simplify things into big shapes is a critical skill in the initial stage of your paintings. You never want to get into details too early and forget about the bigger picture! Working from life requires a lot of practice and patience. It is a challenging task, but you don’t want to give up! It will be rewarding in the end. Therefore, make drawing and painting from life a daily habit, and keep a sketchbook with you wherever you go.

Expanding Your Visual Library

Spending time drawing outdoors or working from a life model allows you to slow down to appreciate the beauty of nature. Nature offers the best inspiration for composition and color palettes. In addition, it’s easy to get stuck with staging the composition and choosing the right colors for your paintings. So it’s always good to practice drawing from life because it expands your visual library and offers you various solutions to pull off whenever you need to.

Sharpening Your Keen Eyes

Studying from life forces you to observe and analyze your subjects with keen eyes. Drawing from a life model is one of the best methods to enhance your ability to see because it forces you to observe carefully to get the correct proportions which require the skills to recognize the size relationship between each form of the object. Besides, it forces you to simplify the complicated human forms and teaches you how to ignore the unnecessary details and only focus on the essence of the human figures. In addition, studying life models eventually teaches recognition and analysis of different types of light and shadows, important skills for quick and precise artistic decisions.

What’s more, drawing from life teaches you how to combine lines and tones in your pictures, and you can apply this knowledge to your future artwork. Finally, we can’t stress enough how important it is to study figure drawings. If you want to learn more about figure drawings, check out Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, written by Andrew Loomis. All in all, practicing drawing from life will eventually make you see better!

Gaining a Better Understanding about the Human Figures

There’s no better way to understand human proportions, gestures, movement, and volumes than drawing from life. Drawing people from life requires you to identify the gestures, which means the attitude of a pose. Then, the more you see, the more you know how to push the poses and exaggerate them on the characters in your paintings. We recommend studying Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis while digging into drawing from a life model! It is a great book that covers how to construct heads and hands in the correct proportion.


Drawing from life is an essential practice that allows you to see better! Drawing is not so much about our hands but more about our eyes because we’ve already developed the ability to write when we were little. Thus we knew how to control our hands and already had a tremendous amount of skills to utilize our pencils. With that being said, being a good artist is not so much about our hands but our eyes. That’s why it is essential to learn how to see things and how to simplify them into a two-dimensional surface.

We hope these four reasons help you understand how to improve your art skills by forming a habit to draw from life. If you enjoyed this article, let us know in a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog.

Keep drawing from life and happy creating!


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