When tasked with a project, animators need to move fast to illustrate hundreds of drawings at scale.
As a beginner, this is quite the challenge, but as one starts drawing more regularly, they naturally pick up speed.
In fact, when animators do figure drawing, they often time themselves. By only giving themselves a certain amount of time to draw, their pace can in fact pick up naturally as they practice.
Now, how soon one improves is different for every person and their unique set of circumstances, so it's probably best to worry less about the "when" and more about the "how."
To improve drawing speed, a method known as gesture drawing can help.
What is Gesture Drawing?
Gesture drawing is the practice of laying out the basic pose and form of a model in a very short amount of time in order to capture the movement of the subject. A single gesture drawing can take anywhere from ten seconds to five minutes.
When doing gesture drawings, you often won't have the luxury to set the basic shapes before blocking in the details. This is why it's important to get into the practice of visualizing these shapes in your head so that lines can be quickly sketched.
Gesture Drawing Tips
As mentioned above, practicing sketching quickly can improve drawing skills! Some even carry a sketchbook and pen around with them wherever they go so they can sit down and sketch at any time.
Here are a few additional tips for gesture drawing:
1. Sketch the line of action: 1-2 lines that define the entire movement of the subject.
2. Use longer straight lines rather than short or curved lines, with as few lines as possible.
3. Use pen, or a pencil without an eraser, to draw without having to slow down to erase.
With an idea of how gesture drawings work, it's a good idea to practice drawing at different time intervals. Again, by timing, one can zero in on drawing quicker and focus more on the gestures and overall shapes of the subject, and less on the smaller details.
Yes, drawing might look unfinished—that's okay! Timed drawings take practice.
In the end, using three-dimensional shapes to block out details when drawing is helpful. As is using the line of action, long straight lines, and a pen to speed up the drawing process (and capture the movement of your subject quickly).