Drawabox - A Full Review

A full review of Drawabox. Time taken: 2.5 years. Skills learnt: Invaluable.

Cover Image

Its been a really long time coming for this review. I posted my first review of the Drawabox lessons way back in September 2018, about 8 months after I started lesson 1. Those reviews were written a distance from having completed the content, which meant I'd had time to really consider the learning material. The rest of the reviews were posted a few days to a few weeks after the lesson, though in all cases, after I'd received critique from Uncomfortable. You can read them by following this link.

I'm going to start with a review of the final lesson and then the course as a whole, going over the things that I learned from this course and why it's helped so much more with my drawing skills than anything else I've tried.

Draw A Box - 25 Wheel Challenge

Draw A Box - 25 Wheel Challenge - Time Taken: 18 Days.

Cover Image

This challenge was kind of a weird one for me. I struggled with it a lot but ultimately didn't feel like I nailed down any of the concepts by the end. I once again had to struggle with my gloopy Bic Round Stic and constant smudging. 

Basically the challenge asks you to draw 25 wheels in various rotations and designs. I picked a lot of non-car wheels because I couldn't for the life of me get them to look symmetrical and my ellipse guide is quite small, so I was limited in my ability to actually apply detail to them. That said, I did my best with what I had and freehanded a great deal of them - luckily my ellipses are reasonably tight and accurate these days, though I still struggle with my freehand minor axis alignment.

Draw A Box - Lesson 6

Draw A Box - Lesson 6 - Everyday Objects - Time Taken: 27 Days.

Cover Image

I kind of feel like I'm killing it lately. That's a weird way to start a post about my Drawabox journey, but it's how I'm feeling lately. Despite some initial feelings of anxiety, the lockdown has honestly seen me thriving. I no longer have an hour long commute, which allows me to jump straight to drawing or other hobbies when I'm finished working, which has in turn really helped my work/life balance. 

Following completion of the cylinder challenge in 19 days, I moved onwards to lesson 6 which I completed in 27 days. For me, this is really quick, especially since I'm spending 50% of my time just drawing for the sake of it and I'm just generally drawing a lot at the moment. At the time of writing, I have filled 109 pages in the month of May, which is an average of about 4.5 pages per day. 

Draw A Box - 250 Cylinder Challenge

Draw A Box - 250 Cylinder Challenge - Time Taken: 19 Days.

Cover Image

Following my longest lesson ever, my shortest lesson ever! 

The task: Draw 250 cylinders - 150 of those on an arbitrary minor axis, 100 constructed within a box. This was another one of those lessons where I wasn't really sure if I was learning till I got to the very end. A bit like the 250 box challenge. It also exposed some serious flaws in my ability to draw boxes.

Surprisingly, both the 150 arbitrary and 100 box cylinders took me roughly the same amount of time - 9 and 10 days respectively. 

Draw A Box - Lesson 5

Draw A Box - Lesson 5 - Animals - Time Taken: 56 Days.

Cover Image

For a lesson I was looking forward to, it's a bit unfortunate that it took me nearly 18 months to complete lesson 5. I started around the end of December and I was pushing forward fairly well, but by mid-January I had confirmation that my partner and I would be moving 1500km across the country for a big life change and honestly everything kind of went on the backburner.

After the move, I tried to pick up again where I left off but I was still struggling with my mental health and ended up just grinding on things, drawing without confidence, and just generally not having a great time of anything. I desperately wanted to push on but it felt like the more I pushed on, the less satisfied I was. It all came to a head around August when I had a breakdown about my anxieties in other situations. I ended up seeing a therapist who wasn't particularly useful for my social anxiety, did help me move past my art block by letting me talk myself into a resolution.

Anyway, I ended up redoing Lesson 3 in September through to November 2019, which rebuilt some of my confidence with a pen. I tried to move onto Lesson 4 as suggested but ended up with a number of false starts till February 2020 when I decided to say screw it and tackle Lesson 5 head on.

How to Ask for and Receive Critique

Tips on how to ask for and receive critique for artists.

Often amateur artists don't know how to ask for critique and more often, they don't know how to receive it in such a way that they can get the maximum benefit from it. There is certainly an art in providing critique which is a topic for another article however, it's equally important to know how to ask for critique in such a way that you maximise your chances of getting useful, actionable advice.

The first few tips will focus around how to ask for critique while the remainder will deal with how to make the best use of the critique that you receive and some situations you may encounter in getting feedback.

Warning: Image Heavy Post Ahead

A while ago, I put together an Imgur album showcasing my work from the age of 13/14 (2004/2005) to present. I stupidly uploaded this in anonymous mode and came to realise that I couldn't actually update this, so I'm moving it to its new home here on my blog so that I can update it as I go and keep the link handy.

Naturally, this post showcases the best of whatever I drew at the time. I'm slowly going through the process of digitising my sketchbooks which can be found here: Digitised Sketchbooks

2004 - 2009 (Age 13-18)
2010 - 2015 (Age 19-24)
2015 - 2017 (Age 24-26)
2018 - 2020 (Age 27-29)

Formal Art Education and Self-Directed Learning

My thoughts on formal art education and self-directed learning.

A few days ago, I came across an article espousing the benefits of auto-didacticism (the art of self-directed teaching and learning). I found myself nodding in agreement with some of their points but they were hidden behind a much longer rant about the evils of formal education. I've seen a lot of hate on the topic of formal education lately and while I kind of understand it, particularly with the current state of US education, I don't think it's a very fair assessment in most cases.

I'll preface this by saying I'm an Australian, whose university (college) education was paid for by the government, with no expectation to pay it back until earning a reasonable living wage. I'm aware of the financial burden that people in other countries experience in trying to gain an education and have tried to be mindful of this, however as always, your situation and mileage may vary.

I studied illustration design at university, digital painting at a concept design school, and have self-directed my own learning using online resources (such as Drawabox). Each of these offered something different and had its own pros and cons to contend with.