Tips from a pro: How to draw people right even if you can barely draw

Stanley Lau/Artgerm, artist extraordinaire, gives us a drawing crash course on the iPad Pro

Stanley Lau, or Artgerm as he’s better known in the creative circle, has been drawing since he was 15, honing his skills to the art that it is now at 42. 

Now, the co-founder and creative director of Imaginary Friends Studios illustrates for DC and Marvel, putting his own spin on some of the world’s most-loved characters. He believes that art is contagious - hence his handle - but how does he do it when most of us can’t even get stick figures right?

Aspiring artists, keep his tips close to heart, and you’ll be drawing more than lines and circles masquarading as humans in due time.

Get your basics right

Can you draw a perfect circle? Drawing shapes like circles and lines is actually muscle memory, so practice makes perfect. Train yourself by repeatedly drawing the same lines, circles, and squiggly shapes over and over again until even your lines are the exact same distance apart from one another. All that penmanship in kindergarten happened for a reason, you know.

Got that down pat? Now you’re ready to begin, young padawan.

Focus on the eyes

The eyes say it all. If you look dead in the eye, that’s not a good thing, whether it’s on a Monday morning, or when it comes to a creation. Eyes are essentially what separates a arresting character drawing from a bad one.

The best way to capture emotion in eyes is by observing people's facial expressions and emotions in real life. There is no formula to making a character come alive, but you can attempt to replicate what you see. Whether it's a slight narrowing of the eyes in anger or scrunching them up while laughing, these are the details that you should aim to create. More often than not, negative emotions like anger and sorrow are easier to depict because they're more exaggerated than subtle ones like love. 

Learn from others

Get on DeviantArt and share your work. While you're at it, be inspired by others. Take note of artists you like, constantly analyse what exactly appeals to you about their art, and make it part of you. It's not copying, but borrowing a foundation upon which you build your own style. 

When you're drawing, try not to delete your mistakes. But isn’t the point of drawing digitally so you can erase your crooked strokes? Not if you want to learn from your mistakes. Draw on top of them to build your own confidence and don't be afraid to post your art on sharing platforms like Instagram. You never know who might be fans.