Steven Powers (SMP): Copying Is Good Practice

Copying Is Good Practice

There are a lot of ways to learn how to perform a task.  In art one of the fundamental ways is to copy other artists work that you admire taking away skills and approaches that you may not otherwise learn. 
This is why video tutorials have been so popular in regards to see how others do things.  But to take it a step further by actually coping a paintings, drawing or other pieces of art, one will have to figure out how to do it instead of being show how to do it.  This method one will learn more than from hearing and seeing alone.

This is how I first started learning how to sketch.  I hadn't done any real art classes but found myself interested in sketching with pencil.  So I went to a book store, looked through the art books for guidance and found one I thought was straight forward and in my the style I would like to learn.  The book I found was "The Art of Pencil Drawing" by Gene Franks.  Gene Franks has written many of books on pencil drawings and sketching and I would highly recommend this book. In this book he covered, the basic tools, how to use them, various techniques and then what I have coined as the "4 Step Method." The process moves from the initial preliminary sketch to the final drawing with two intermediate steps.  I applied this method in an earlier tutorial HERE.

Below are some examples that I did:

I started out with the first sketch and continued on from there.  I didn't do all of them, but it did teach me how to sketch and draw with final results to show for my work.  By spending time periodically devoted to copying other's works, we take the pressure of coming up with new material, compositional decisions, etc and put the fun back into what we love to do.  It is to easy to get bogged down with "business" of art and the demands that are put on us by others or by ourselves to produce.  So take a break from the tasks of composition spend time merely coping some of your favorite characters, scenes, shots from movies and TV or paintings etc.  Just like any other artist, we still need spend time on the fundamentals.

As a last note, though I do display these sketches and describe them as reproductions, I DO NOT sell them.  They are for demonstration purposes only.



  1. Thanks for the post. I do have a pasion for arts, but I'm (relatively) good only with things that are more or less mathematical, like Blender. After reading your post I think I will try to do some drawings. I bought pencils and paper, but I rarely find time, and inspiration. Yep, I think copying others people works will help me at least with the inspiration thing.

  2. I find that most artist have a hard time with inspiration especially when we are first starting off. There is a lot that goes into art that most are unaware of for example composition, which takes time to learn. The big thing to do at the beginning is to get into a habit of drawing to develop one's skills. By copying art from others (something that has been done for years) will help eliminate many stopping blocks that we can encounter. The only draw back is that when you do complete a piece it won't be yours. That is why after doing many projects from other artists, and you have built up your skills and confidence, I recommend applying them to pictures or still life objects of your own. This way you can truly share "your" art.

    Good luck and have fun,