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Drawabox: Beauty knows no pain [Review]

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Recommended for:

  • Beginners
  • Artists who want to beef up their fundamentals
  • People who literally can’t draw a straight line
  • Grinders

I highly recommend Drawabox for those who are into the GRINDSET MINDSET. People who know the GRUSTLE. People who grimly sit at their desks everyday, get out a pile of printer papers, and ink their daily allotment of three-dimensional forms in their own freshly drawn BL —

I’m kidding, mostly. Drawabox is basically a really solid drawing exercise plan for absolute beginners. I do hear often that it’s “too hard”/”too long”, and I admit that it does ask you to do a lot of work. However, the value you get back for your efforts is pretty incredible. In fact, I think any artist could benefit from doing these exercises… and you can’t beat the price, which is free.

Drawabox starts you off by strengthening your line control until you can reliably draw straight lines and curves, and teaching you to construct simple 3D forms, like boxes, spheres, and cylinders. It then teaches you how to construct all kinds of subjects — bugs, wolves, Bluetooth speakers, cars — using those simple volumes. In other words, it teaches you a framework through which you can draw anything you see.

Insects drawn using the Drawabox structural method
The above were my first attempts at insects using Uncomfortable’s method, and I am no fan of bugs.

Anything! Even hideous, unacceptable bugs!

I have a hunch that some people quit while they’re still in the “drawing tons and tons of boxes” stage, and therefore don’t really get the full benefit. However, the more art classes I take, the more I’m struck by the importance of the skills you refine through these lessons.

It’s not just fine motor skill or technique that you learn, either. You’re practicing using dirt cheap art supplies, doing an end run around well-known procrastination techniques like “I want to draw something, but it’s too complicated!” or “I’d really like to start, but I need to get all set up first…”, as all you really need is a pen, paper, and maybe a ruler.

Sausage exercise from Drawabox
Once you get past the boxes, you can look forward to drawing sausages, leaves, and arrows. These are really useful for rounded, organic forms.

You also learn how to draw a thing and move on. It’s so easy to get sucked into perfectionism and noodling away on a single drawing, trying to get things perfect… but the more serious you get about art, the more important it is to know when to let it go, and realize that you can get so much more improvement out of practicing a little bit smarter. After all, even professional artists don’t spend forever on a single piece.

I believe that the repetition can also serve as a bit of a litmus test. Do you like drawing, for instance? Because if you’re in your head, beating yourself up over your linework or brush strokes, it’s easy to see art as hard or frustrating. But there’s also a zen you can reach when you stop stressing so hard and learn to enjoy the feel of the paper, the soothing rhythm of your pen. There can be so much beauty in a single, confident line across the page.

And of course, the ability to see objects as three-dimensional volumes is so important once you want to start drawing from imagination — or “code” what you see into your visual memory for later.

Caveats

Of course, no one can cover everything. Drawabox is focused on drawing, not painting. What you’ll get is the ability to draw structural, convincing black and white illustrations, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want to learn color or make quick, gestural sketches. But hey, it’s not called Paintabox :).

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