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November 17, 2022

Notes on Iterative Drawing

 Iterative Drawing by Sycra

Iterative drawing is the fastest way to improve.


  • Link to video

  • I made abridged notes from the transcript.

  • My personal notes

  • Introduction

    • This technique is all about developing your brain from being purely analytical to having intuitive mileage built in

    • Especially good for people who are analytical and not quite as intuitive 

    • Breaks the habit of overthinking things

    • Anything you have trained by repetition starts off analytical but becomes intuitive 

  • Applies to any skill

    • When you dream, everything looks correct. But when you draw on the page, it’s difficult to carry that information over.

    • Learning a new language at first is very analytical: learning the alphabet and basic vocabulary, but with time you become fluent. I.e. It becomes intuitive!

  • “You just have to practice”

    • You need mileage, but for someone who is analytical, it's vague to just say “draw a lot and you'll get better”

    • What if I draw and I put in a ton of mileage and I do this for two years and I still suck? This is why I didn’t improve much for years.

    • Let's say you want to practice drawing a figure with a non-iterative approach. You map everything out meticulously and draw as best as you can.

    • This, as he mentions, is inefficient. See the pottery class anecdote from Art and Fear.

  • “Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.”

    • I recently found this advice online and it opened my eyes to a new way of making art.

    • You can’t effectively do both at the same time

    • The iterative cycle allows for both processes to work together.

  • Iterative training
    • What is interesting to you? What do you really want to do?

    • Without using a reference, draw your chosen subject based on how you remember it. The first iteration is based on instinct. 

    • Next, look at it and ask yourself what went wrong; what went right. Ask yourself, why isn’t this working?

    • Compare your iterations to each other: “Aha- so that's what I was missing!”

    • After this reflecting process, start the next iteration.

    • Even a minor difference means you've already fixed something!

  • Making repetition worthwhile

    • Each iteration is mileage.

    • Practicing iterative exercises every day helps accumulate mileage quicker

    • This frees you from being stuck in one way of doing things and allows for more creativity.

  • Moving from an analytical mindset to an intuitive one

    • The left and right sides of the brain build a connection when firing in close duration to each other. This bridge-building is what helps you retain information and improve over time.

    • These experimental iterations over time will help you naturally connect things together

    • Next time you draw from imagination you will remember what you have learned

    • If you’ve done something many times instead of questioning and struggling, you will intuitively know what looks right.

  • It is absolutely worth it to write about each art piece.

    • Analyze after reaching significant milestones. 

    • What looks good so far? 

    • What needs to be addressed? 

    • What steps do I plan to take moving forward? 

    • List references that demonstrate the desired effects.

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