How to Self-Assess Your Drawing Skills

Life Drawing Academy

How to Self-Assess Your Level of Drawing Skills

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How to Self-Assess Your Drawing Skills

Do you know what is your level of drawing skills according to the standards of classical art education? Many self-taught artists and art students tend to overestimate the level of skills not because they are proud of their achievements, but because they do not know what the standards are.

The following information will help to assess your level of drawing skills on the scale from zero to 10.

Level Zero

A complete beginner in constructive drawing, who draws from observation by intuitively judging proportions or by copying photos, and then renders tonal values "to make an artwork three-dimensional". Such an artist may have been drawing for many years, but is still not able to see mistakes in own artworks and do not understand why his or her drawings lack realistic appearance, why facial features in portraits are "a bit off", why figures are "stiff", why one can draw from photos but could not do it properly from life, memory or imagination.

Such an artist may say such phrases as "I just need to loosen up my drawing style", "I need to work more on my observation skills", "I need to be more expressive in drawing", "I can't figure out what is wrong in this artwork", "somehow this portrait is off, but I can't tell why", "It's all about innate talent, which I don't have". Such phrases are a tell-sign that an artist not only lacks required skills of constructive drawing, but also do not know what skills are missing and what is needed to draw realistically.

Usually it is a self-taught artist with no academic art education or an art college graduate, who has been taught "to be creative", but did not receive the skills of trade to express one's creativity because contemporary colleges no longer teach these skills to the full extent.

Good drawing skills are not an inborn talent; they are a result of proper art education, which is based on fundamental principles of constructive drawing. To get an idea of such an education, check what art students learn at Russian Children Art Schools starting from the age of 9.

The list of topics below is only about drawing. In addition, children also have lessons on painting, composition, sculpture, decorative arts and history of arts.

How to Self-Assess Your Drawing Skills

Level 1

Children Art School – Year 1

How to sharpen a pencil the right way. How to hold a pencil with the "candle grip". How to draw perfect lines (both straight and curved). How to hatch and cross-hatch in layers. How to draw simple flat geometric objects. Rules and principles of linear and aerial perspective – one-point and two-point perspective. How to measure relative proportions, alignments, angles and cross-points with a pencil. Principles of constructive drawing. How to draw simple geometrical three-dimensional objects in perspective. How to draw cubes. How to draw ovals. How to draw cylinders (both standing and reclining). How to draw cylindrical objects like vases, pots, mugs. How to draw man-made geometrical objects. Rules and 15 elements of composition. Golden proportions. Theory of contours. Proficient tonal rendering techniques.

Level 2

Children Art School – Year 2

Classical orders – Doric, Ionic, Corinthian. How to draw classical capitals. How to draw simple still-lifes with man-made objects. How to draw still-lifes with simple organic objects. How to draw animals. How to draw draperies. Ho to draw complex still-lifes with draperies. How to render tonal values to reveal complex construction and aerial perspective.

Level 3

Children Art School – Year 3

How to draw interiors. How to draw exteriors. Anatomy of a skull. Planes of a skull. How to draw a skull. How to draw an écorché of a head. Muscular anatomy of a head. Proportions of a human head and face. How to draw simple classical busts and head casts. How to draw classical head casts with complex hair-styles and facial hair. How to draw full-face and 3/4-view portraits.

How to Self-Assess Your Drawing Skills

Level 4

Children Art School – Year 4

How to draw a skeleton. Proportions of a human body. How to draw an écorché of an arm. Anatomy of an arm. How to draw an écorché of a hand. Anatomy of a hand. How to draw an écorché of a foot. Anatomy of a foot. How to draw an écorché of a leg. Anatomy of a leg. How to draw an écorché of a torso. Anatomy of a torso.

Level 5

Children Art School – Year 5

How to draw classical-canon figures – both male and female ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. How to draw draped figures. How to draw multi-figure compositions. How to draw portraits and figures of life-models.

During all 5 years of study, copying from photos is strictly forbidden. This is because copying develops a different set of skills to those required for constructive drawing and suppresses one's ability to learn good skills of drawing from life, memory and imagination. By the end of such a school, a teenager would have stronger art skills than majority of graduates of contemporary art academies in Europe and America, and be considered as a professional fine artist by the western standards. However, this level is not good enough to enter some of the best art academies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. That is why such a graduate would take additional 2...3-year art courses to get prepared for entry exams.

The description below is an approximation of different art academies' curriculums because every institution has its specifics and specializations. It tells only about drawing, although art students have many other subjects.

Level 6

Art Academy – Year 1

How to draw complex still-lifes. How to draw interiors. How to draw exteriors. How to tell a story about people by drawing the world around them. Deeper knowledge of skeletal and muscular anatomy of a human body, head and face. Geometry, construction, functionality of bones and joints. Functionality and geometry of muscles; their origins and insertions.

Level 7

Art Academy – Year 2

How to draw classical busts and full-body sculptures with the full knowledge of a human body anatomy, proportions and construction. Life Drawing. How to depict emotions in portraits.

Level 8

Art Academy – Year 3

How to portray the inner world of a person and sitter's personality. How to draw double-figure compositions to tell the story. How to draw human figures in motion. How to capture a moment – drawing from memory and imagination.

Level 9

Art Academy – Year 4

How to draw multi-figure compositions. How to draw genre and historical artworks.

Level 10

Art Academy – Year 5

How to express artist's inner world and point of view though realistic figurative art, convey emotions, tell a story, deliver a philosophical message.

Here's how to properly measure your drawing skills – if you have some gaps in topics at any level, your skills are at the previous step. For example, if 15 elements of composition or principles of constructive drawing are not fully covered, you have the previous level – "a complete beginner" by Russian children art school standards.

If this applies to you, don't get upset; you are not alone who are struggling with self-education or not getting the right knowledge from your art college. It could be hard to admit that all your efforts and many years of practice may stand at the "Lever Zero". But admitting the truth about your current level is the first step to advance it.

Every next step requires proper knowledge and skills that must be gained at the previous levels. For example, to "depict emotions in portrait" an artist has to have solid understanding of a human head anatomy, its construction and proportions as well as ability to draw lines as intended by artist's mind, not as pencil goes in a hand, not to mention the developed "feeling of perspective" both linear and aerial. Solving artistic tasks like "telling the story" and "expressing the point of artist's view" requires a great set of skills that have to be learned and practiced for many years. This set of skills is what other people call "talent". But those who know how hard they had to work to get these skills, fully comprehend that 98% of their success is due to good art education, hard work and practice, not some "inborn talent" that makes their art wonderful.

To help students like you, we created the Life Drawing Academy Correspondence Course. In this course, you will get one-to-one personal tutoring from the professional artists and art teachers who will guide you all the way until you achieve the advanced level of drawing skills. This is the only art course available today on the Internet where you will get dedicated art tutors for a lifetime for a one-time low fee.

Upon enrollment, your drawing skills will be assessed and a special curriculum will be designed to fill your "skill gaps" and develop new drawing skills and habits. This curriculum will include up to 100 drawing tasks. Every task will come with detailed explanations and instructions and your progress will be assessed on the by-task basis. You will progress from simple to more advanced topics until you reach the desired goals.

There is no way to fail. You will be guided one step at a time and the whole process of education will be easy and smooth because it will be tailored to your pace, learning abilities and timing. You will receive all information in writing, so you can study without any pressure to memorize everything from the first time.

We can only accept a limited number of students. When places are filled, the price will go up to the real value of this course, which is over $15,000 USD.

Kind regards,
Vladimir London Art tutor

To learn good drawing techniques, enroll in the Life Drawing Academy course:

Online Course

A self-study, self-paced course for you to learn fundamental methods of classical drawing and improve life drawing skills by watching video lessons and doing assignments

  • Unlimited access to 52 life drawing video lessons
  • Lifetime membership without deadlines
  • Unlimited support from the Academy tutors
  • Constructive critique of your artworks
  • Member access to the Academy's Art community
  • Place in the Academy's Students Gallery
  • Exclusive members-only newsletter and bonuses
  • Life Drawing Academy Diploma of Excellence in your name

One-time payment - Lifetime membership
$297 USD


Personal Tutoring Online + Online Course

The ultimate choice if you who would like to receive personal, one-to-one tutoring from the Academy teachers, which is custom-tailored to your skills and needs

  • Everything in Online Course, plus:
  • Dedicated team of art tutors
  • Assessment of your current level of drawing skills
  • Personalized curriculum tailored to your skills and goals
  • Up to 100 drawing tasks with by-task assessment
  • Unlimited one-to-one personal coaching with detailed per-task instructions and feedback
  • Artwork critiques and results-oriented guidance

One-time payment - Lifetime membership
$997 USD

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