100 days of focus

August 12, 2019

How to enhance your drawing style

My decision to make a challenge to draw insects for 100 days opened a completely new drawing experience for me, because I was fully focused over a long period on one single topic.

No worries - when you read this sentence you might get the impression, that this is a very time intensive study, but: no, it isn't. It is less the hours spent on this topic, but more the frequency of this drawing sessions that counts. My butterfly sketches, for example, are all done within some minutes as I always have an hourglass with me. And that is absolutely enough time spent per day!

I am sketching the insects within 3 minutes with the help of the hourglass to stay focused and fully concentrated. The second part, the coloring, is done with another turn of the hourglass. No excuse, that there's no time for a sketch - because 3 minutes per day are absolutely feasible - especially if you only need a pen and a paper for the sketch. And after these precious minutes of drawing, the hand learned a lot.

I am explaining you the effects of this challenge - by using the example of insects. But, for sure, you are free to choose any topic that is of interest for you:

Plunging into the theme: the stages of drawing

When you are starting a new topic, like these insects, everything is new. You might have never thought about families and sub-families of insects and their differences and color schemes. So the first days and weeks can be seen as the stage of exploration. You are starting to get familiar with the topic, in our case: with the different shapes of the butterflies, their pattern, the color shades of the bugs, their antennae and so on. This is also the stage, where you have already a clear idea in mind about the characteristics of these animals. What makes a Swallowtail butterfly a Swallowtail butterfly? what are the most important traits in order to recognize it?

This way you are getting more and more knowledge about these insects, by only sketching some minutes a day. The sketches will be more and more detailed, as you are more and more focused on the different species.

It's like swimming - when you learn swimming, you are already happy to keep your head out of the water. The more you swim, the more you are feeling at ease in the water and finally, when you are a good swimmer, you start fine-tuning the hand and foot moves.

Don't stop when you think you got it

And it is the same with drawing. After these weeks of exploration, it would be a pity to stop, when the fine-tuning starts. This is usually the moment, when we think that we know the subject well and turn to another topic. And this is exactly the big advantage of the 100 day project: we keep on drawing in this pre-defined theme and get the chance this way to fully plunge into the topic.

I hesitate calling it the stage of expertise, because drawing is always a process, never ending with a full status of expertise. But let's call it the stage of deep knowledge about a specific topic. And here I am not only talking about the know-how gathered during this drawing phase, but also the procedural memory of the hand learned a lot. After this stage of fine-tuning, we are reaching a new level of drawing. I would call this level the stage of experimentation. We know a lot about the topic and we have studied nature thoroughly. So we start playing with this knowledge and drawing capacity. This is the moment, where the own drawing style gets fully visible.

Daily repetition creates habit

When we are doing this 3 minutes sketch of a butterfly or any other topic on a daily basis, we are starting to get used to this rhythm and to the topic. Which means, that the blocks for starting to draw, are getting smaller every day, because we have integrated sketching in our daily life. And if we don't sketch one day, we will start missing the sketching minutes. Which is an ingenious effect, as the drawing skills are strongly correlated with practice.

Everyone has its on pace of development. No need to compare with others and no need to feel stressed about that. It's a natural process, your style will develop - no matter if you are impatient or not ;)


To sum up how you can work on your drawing style:

  • Choose a drawing topic: eg. cats, fish, flowers or anything that fascinates you
  • sketch about 3 minutes a day to the given topic
  • stage of exploration: learning basics and main characteristics
  • stage of deep knowledge: building up a very specific in-depth know-how of the chosen topic
  • stage of experimentation: own interpretations and style

Share your own sketches

Feel free to start a 100 day project as well - with a topic of your choice - and upload the sketches on Instagram. It would be awesome if you tag me ( @baumann_illustration) and use the hashtag #drawinggang, so that we can talk about it and I can give you a feature in my stories.

I'd love to see what you are up to!

Get your butterfly coloring template

As drawing and painting is such a wonderful thing to do, I'd like to give you a little gift: here's the download button for my ink butterflies that you can color in any technique you like.

Just click on the button and save it as JPEG. Then you can print it as often as you like.

Wish you great drawing times!

Want to learn more about drawing? I'd love to keep you updated about new tips, tricks and exercises in my monthly Newsletter: Subscribe here to be part of the drawing gang.

Get your Butterfly Coloring template HERE
Barbara Baumann

Hallo, I'm an illustrator and Skillshare teacher from Austria. After great experiences in the Marketing and Database sector, I finally realised that I simply need to follow my enthusiasm and fascination for drawing and illustrating.

What fascinates me most, is this way to communicate without using any words. So expressive, so global. And this leads me to my second fascination about drawing: the exchange with others, with you! In my drawing courses I simply love to see the enormous developments of each participant - initiated by exchange and practice. That's what I like to do here, too. 

I know, the comment fields are lacking. But my social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram are great tools for communication (would be awesome if you follow me there) and the blog seems to be a good mean for showing you topics in a more extensive way. The idea for this blog comes from the bottom of my heart: to get you close to drawing and to show you that you too can draw #drawinggang

It's all about learning to feel the drawing!

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