This is something I do all the time now when I doodle. I first started it in late highschool and explored it more in the past four years, and it has really helped me both expand my capabilities and explore my style as an artist and designer.
Everyone has certain biases and preferred ways of doing things that become habit, but it’s always good to expand your visual vocabulary and practice seeing things in different ways!
The idea is to just pick a subject and see how many DIFFERENT ways you can draw it. It doesn’t have to look like what you would normally draw – in fact, try to draw as differently as possible from how you would normally draw it! And it doesn’t have to be good either. Who cares! It’s just for fun! There is absolutely no right or wrong, just variation!
- Line thickness
- Line smoothness
- How do the lines connect? At what angle? Do they even connect? Are there even lines?
- Simple or complicated shapes
- Varying levels of realism
- How would it look if it were drawn by Disney? If it were in an anime? If it were on Cartoon Network? If it were from the 60s?
Just get as many ideas out as you can. Don’t worry about being too careful and don’t bother erasing if you make a mistake. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t like what you drew. Just draw another one!
How many ways can you draw a heart?
The pink one in the middle is the first one I drew. That’s my “default” heart, what I automatically think to draw when I go to draw a heart. Then around it, I slowly filled up variations trying many different methods and styles and exaggerations. This also made me realise that I don’t know how to draw a real anatomical heart. :P
Anyone can easily get started with drawing a simple shape like that. Next:
How many ways can you draw a face?
Again, the middle is my “default” face, that I immediately think of first. I’ve drawn that exact face hundreds of times. But as you can see, that’s not all I’m capable of! :) Of course some of these are more interesting or more appealing than others, but I wasn’t trying for awesomeness, just variety.
It’s really fun to do this with a friend too because odds are they’ll come up with completely different stuff than you do!! In fact, if you do this I’ll love to see your results!
Other ideas for prompts: Eyes, mouths, hands, monsters, birds, cars, trees, dragons, buildings… just about anything!
Q: But how do you know what to draw?!
A: If you’re really stuck, go to a corner of the internet that you rarely visit and see how different artists do things. Try mimicking them (just for practice!) to see how it is they achieve the style that they have. Do they draw the eyes really high on the head? Maybe their work has no sharp points or angles? Maybe they sneak some shading into their linework? Perhaps they always draw the nose connected to the eyebrows? That should get you rolling, then just try different combinations of things. Don’t be afraid to make your drawing look ugly or weird. You can always scrap what you don’t like later. Loosen up!
Then the next time someone accuses you of being a one-trick pony, you can pull this out and their jaw will drop. ;)