The Mindset That Will Help You Get Better At Line Control.
Steven Wolf
 I wrote this for people struggling to draw nice lines. People that have poor line control. I feel your pain. I used to have bad line control, and had to drawing things in little connecting lines that should have been one line. I wondered if I was just lacking a trait that would allow me to draw nice lines. Watching others that could draw nice long smooth lines that went where they wanted them to go seemed like magic to me. Even when I got good enough to capture a likeness, it was still a long and frustrating journey of crawling along the page with small lines that I had to spend a lot of time erasing and adjusting. It made it difficult to start a drawing because I knew it would be a frustrating struggle, that would take a long time. But I have learned to draw nice long lines that, mostly, go were I want them too. I still do have to take time to warm up, and practice regularly. It’s a great feeling, and you can get there. What I did to help myself improve my line control, is to simple work on making lines that I imagined making. Mostly straights and curves. I concentrated more on straights at first. I would try to draw long straight lines finding the way my arm naturally found it easiest, at first. I tried to draw lines that matched the one that I had just drawn but a little under it. Then tried to draw over the straight line to see if I could match it. I tried other directions to my lines. I added in curves. When I could make nice curve lines I started to work on making them start from one point and hit the other point while staying a nice smooth line. I tried drawing at different speeds to see what worked best. Some speeds work best for different things, such as what is easiest to make a smooth line, and what is easiest to make an exact line that goes where you want it. I had tried doing this some years ago, but my lines were still bad, and I found it frustrating, and got discouraged. This time I let go of my connection with my want to get it right. The lines would be what they would be, my goal was only to improve from the last stroke, or, if it was better than normal, to match it. I made a game out of it in my mind. I allowed myself to be interested in the possess of it without the added weight applied by needing to have a good end result. When I would make a nice line that did what I wanted, I would try to take note of what I did. When the following line would be worse, I would do the same, but would not allow myself to think of it as a frustrating struggle, that would lead to feelings of disappointment. There was nothing to be disappointed in, I was not looking at the bigger destination of drawing well, in those moments, instead a mistake would give me just as much helpful info as doing a line well. I replaced frustration and disappointment, in my mind, with curiosity and interest. Like in a video game where you keep trying to beat a level and making mistakes, and then falling for them again, while you remind yourself not to make that mistake next time, and try again. Every time you make a nice smooth line that goes where you want it to go, it’s like you beat a level, and that feels good. But that doesn’t mean that you are done with that level. That means you play that level again, and again, and again. Sometimes winning, sometimes not. But the fact that you don’t get it right every time is part of what makes it so interesting. When you are working on this skill, you are not trying to make a pretty picture. The end result of each attempt doesn’t matter. Each attempt is only there to help you with your next attempt. The more you play this “game,” the more often your attempts product nice lines. Then at some point you start drawing something and you see it coming together with nice lines and being more fun than struggle, and it will feel magical. In between sessions, of playing this line making game, watch videos of artist, that draw lines well, drawing where you can see their arm. Study how they move. Watch the line that they just made, study the line, then rewind and watch it again just watching what they do with their arm this time. Then try it yourself. Keep trying different things, such as speeds of drawing the line, and different ways of holding your pencil. Then watch other artist, with good line control, make lines again, and repeat. Keep curious and thinking about it. Imagine yourself doing it in your head. If you can make this fun, you will do it more. I now find it fun and stress free to work on line control. It’s more like mediation for me now. I do page after page after page of this in one session. I do it on copy paper, and my iPad. I wish I had done this years ago. But back when I first tired I hadn’t yet found the positive attitude that makes this successful. Just one year ago I was really bad at line control. I’m happy to be able to do it as well as I can now, and I look forward to getting much better in the future. In the meantime, I’m going to keep playing my line control game. I hope this helped to inspire someone to think about this process differently. It doesn’t have to feel like boring and frustrating work. It can feel more like play if you let it.
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Thanks. Great post. I’m gonna tried that out. 🙂
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