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Aug 122009

Hello Everybody.

Welcome to another episode of Man vs Art.
On today’s show  I am going present a little drawing exercise my eccentric 7th grade Art teacher Mrs.  Smith used to work into the beginning of each class. With this simple 10 minute exercise 4 times a week I guarantee your drawing skills will improve.

Lookin' totally rad in 1985

Lookin' totally rad in 1985

The year was 1985,

My collar was flipped up on my alligator shirt,

the sleeves rolled up on my members only jacket,

and my pants were cuffed tighter than a Cholo who fit the profile.

Mrs. Smith had a plaque on the wall with the words  “ten minute drawing”  engraved across it.  Every day she attached an index card with a humorous prompt directly below the plaque.

One day it was “Draw a chicken arm wrestling a duck in an old west saloon.”

The next day “Draw a hippo blowing out the candles on his birthday cake aboard a UFO.” and so on.

Fun and imaginative situations the kind you see in kids books.

Everybody in the class groaned about having to do a stupid drawing, everybody that is except me. This was the only part of school that didn’t bore me. I friggin’ LOVED it.

This ten minute drawing did two things.

  1. It loosened and warmed up my drawing arm. Which translated to smooth and flowing drawings.  A good drawing is rarely rigid and labored.
  2. It also got my creative juices flowing so to speak.  When I began  my “real” drawing there was no lag time.  My brain was already in full creative mode. It was go time!

For an Artist, having your  hand  warmed up and in sync with your brain greatly improves the odds of your next drawing being  good if not awesome.  It  made  me feel confident and prepared for  whatever wacky assignment Mrs. Smith had cooked up for class that day.

I have devised a simple yet effective drawing regimen consisting of a series  10 minute sessions at  least 4times a week .  The goal being to quickly translate themes of varying complexity into a clear drawing. This is an extremely valuable exercise that doesn’t require a lot of time or fancy gear. Just your favorite pen or pencil, any paper you want and the desire to draw better.

It might not be a bad idea to get a sketchbook, and do all of the warm up  drawings in there.  That will certainly help keep you organized and you’ll be able to  chart your progress.

I suggest a moleskin sketchbook.  They are by far the best in terms of quality and their coolness factor is beyond epic.

I am going to make the 10 minute drawing a regular feature on Man Vs. Art. because I need to practice with my Wacom tablet.
Years ago while rummaging in my grandparent’s attic I found an old leather bound book with gilded pages. On the cover in golden script it said “Ten thousand and one silly drawing ideas.”  I am going to take one idea every few days and post it for everyone to try.  Along with it I will post a video demo of myself drawing out the prompt with my Wacom tablet.

Everyone is  encouraged to participate.  The only rule is that you limit yourself to no more than ten minutes. Doing this will condition you to make quick decisions and draw smarter not harder! The way a pro does it!

When you are done, email  me a copy or post it on Flickr and send me the link.  I’ll then post it on Man vs. Art to chart your progress.  I’ll answer any questions you may have.  Then every month or two I’ll pick  the artist who has made the most progress and he or she will win a killer drawing of themselves drawn by me. Here is a sample of  portraits I have done.
PArt 2 of the 10 minute drawing series, the video demo will be following this post.
Thanks for dropping by.  Mi studio es tu studio.
have and artful day!

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 Posted by at 12:29 pm

  12 Responses to “How to improve your drawing skills in only 10 minutes a day with the Man vs. Art method.”

  1. Hey Raul,
    I’m already a listener, but i was surprised when I did a google search for “10 minute drawing exercises” and it linked back to your site. I was looking for simple exercises I could do on my commute to and from work on the Bart. How did this exercise turn out? Can I find the results somewhere? Or maybe a list of the 10,001 silly drawing ideas?

    • Well, I’ve been doing those ten minute drawings to warm up for 26 years. Ever since my 7th grade art teacher Mrs. Smith had me do it. It improves your drawing speed and develops your creative thinking. I always do a fun 10 minute doodle before the main event to warm up. Like I told Tazmo, if you are serious about trying it out, I can give you some silly ideas to do. I’d love to see what you draw.

  2. Thank you .
    This is my first time knowing about ten minute drawing ..
    I would love to try it .

    • Give it a shot. let me know and I can set you up with some silly drawing ideas to start off. I’d love to see whatever you draw!

  3. I like this moleskin notebook. It is good, and I really like this information.

  4. Hey, I’m an illustration student and came across your blog after searching how to improve my drawing skill. I’d love to try this out as I think it would help me. Would it be possible for you to send some ideas to me and I’ll send you the end results. Thanks, Andrew.

    • Hi Andrew,

      thanks for writing in. Before I can give you some exercise ideas, tell me, what kind of illustration do you like to do? Fantasy? humor? Super Hero? Classical? Street?

      Once I get a better idea of what you are into I can give you some exercises to try out.

    • ya i also want to improve my drawing skill….in class i fell very shame among all the students….i do hardwork for it but plz help me frndssssssssssss………..

      • Sagar, take a look at this link.

      • http://animationresources.org/?p=3572
      • It’s a ten part crash course in improving your drawing skills. They aren’t checking student work anymore but if you follow the exercises and email them to me each time you do a lesson I will go over it with you. I had my students last term follow this lesson and one of them wrote to me “Just to let you know all of the cartoon drawing translates well in my figure drawing! my line work is much better now. Who would have thought cartoon drawing is what i needed. Thanks for the new techniques man!” So it helps! go to

      • http://manvsart.com/contact/
      • for my contact info.

  • Hey, I just came across this and love this. Would it also be possible for you to send me some ideas for exercises? I’m wanting to be come a concept/ game artist and really need to improve on my basic drawing skills.


    • Glad you like the show.

      I’ll give you 6 ideas. When you are done with the 6 let me check them out and then if you want I’ll give you more ideas.

      1. Draw a teenage girl out in the country standing in front of a pond doing a duck face. at her feet are a bunch of ducks laughing at her.

      2. Draw a big burly biker sitting at a bar wincing in pain at the dart sticking out of the side of his head. Behind him stands a dorky little dude with coke bottle glasses (Obviously visually impaired) holding two other darts.

      3. Draw a lion running away terrified of a honey badger.

      4. Draw a big slimy tentacled alien wearing a totally retarded human disguise.

      5. Draw Draw two sewer rats with with their left hands tied together and switchblades in their left hands. They are having a knife fight like the gang bangers in the music video for Michael Jackson’s Beat it.

      6. Draw R2D2 professing his love o one of those metal half dome trashcans you see everywhere.

      Okay Greg, the ball is in your court.

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