You are currently viewing Don’t Let Drawing Mistakes Hold You Back

Don’t Let Drawing Mistakes Hold You Back

I respond to a reader’s and viewers’ questions about how to avoid making drawing mistakes, and explain two ways to shift your mindset about mistakes so that they’re the means to level up your drawing skills instead of holding you back.

The is the question:

Sometimes whenever I draw something, I spot mistakes around it but I don’t know how to fix it or do something about it. Is there any good way to deal with this because I find this to be a pain. I also feel like I’m not improving at all so is there any way to try get rid of this?

Accept that making mistakes is part of the creative process, and as you improve your drawing you’ll make less of them. At the same time, you should learn from your mistakes. Commit to building your knowledge and skill. 

This is a mindset shift for many people. If you take the approach that you should never make mistakes in your work, you won’t be able to get better. Instead, you’ll be dealing with fear, and that will hold you back.

In this video I open up my sketchbooks and show you some drawing mistakes I’ve made.

How to recognize mistakes in your drawings

There’s a lot of reasons we make mistakes when we draw.

It’s partially due to lack of skill in certain areas. The fix for that is to recognize what those areas are. For example, are you paying more attention to drawing the details and smaller forms when you begin a drawing instead of laying in the larger forms and using form hierarchy to build the drawing from simple to complex shapes? Then begin with the primary forms from larger to smaller in hierarchy.

Is your linear perspective inaccurate? Do you have difficulty judging all those proportions and angles which are necessary to create a believable illusion of volume in your drawings? If so then study perspective, which is a drawing system based on how we actually see.

But sometimes we don’t see where we’re making mistakes. And that’s what I want to address here.

There are a few secret tips  you can use to quickly recognize errors in your drawings.

One way is to step back. When we draw up close at arms distance or less from our drawing surface, it’s easy to miss stuff.

So set your drawing across the room and view it from a distance. Stand at least 10 feet or 3m away. What do you see? What’s not working?



Turn the drawing upside down, and look at it from a distance. By inverting the drawing, you’re more likely to see where the problem areas are.

Take a picture of it with your phone and look at the drawing at very small scale. And also turn it upside down.

And the last thing you can do which is really helpful is to view it in a mirror. This is really helpful with portraiture and figure studies. Reversing the image gives you a different perspective on what you’re drawing and helps you to see where things don’t make sense.

Remember that drawing is a form of visual communication. When you’re learning to draw, or you’re a seasoned draughtsman working to improving your drawing ability, a focus on accuracy will help you create believable images.


Drawing Basics: To Draw Accurately, Draw Forms, Not Edges

How To Shade A Drawing

Drawing Basics: How To Find Angles and Proportions in Linear Perspective

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.