Start NOW

Lose the fear of drawing

start now


Since I could hold a pen, I've drawn always and everywhere. Sometimes my mother had to check on me in my room to see if I was still alive, because like many kids, I was totally engrossed in my colorful world (containing princesses, knights and dragons mostly).

In school I doodled on math sheets, folders, notebooks, school desks, & restroom walls. Even my leather pencil case was doodled on. Illustrating on my learning materials rewarded me with bad marks for diligence and order.

The art classes at Gymnasium (a prestigious German high school) gave me the coup de grace, discouraging me from ever drawing again. I thought I couldn't draw, because I always drew differently from the rest of the class — from my perspective and imagination.

It started when I had to draw characters for a Flash Animation class in art school two years ago. I had to lose my fear of failing to create a nice character for a little flash game. I overcame my fear and I'm now able to tell stories, experiment, express my feelings and thoughts visually. When I drew everyday as much as I could, I realised that I wanted to be an illustrator, to finally do what I love fulltime.

I get a lot of questions and messages about this topic, so I know there are some people who feel the same way, and might be interested in reading this. That is why I decided to write about how I lost the fear of drawing.


Sometimes I just wanted to take a picture of my mind; a precious moment, a feeling or a dream. I discovered that I didn't need a science fiction machine to make this possible, just a pen and paper.

Something to inspire: Imagine your grandmother saying this:

“You can draw well!”

I’m not as excited about technical ability as much as I am about drawings which I can develop an emotional connection with. To me, a “good drawing” is more than a pretty picture. It is visual thinking. An exciting drawing is: imperfect, reflective, brimming full of ideas, makes me think, and holds my attention for more than 2 seconds.


Don't show your drawings to anyone but your dog. I've found that when I drew by myself, I am more free, and a lot more good things happen when I am calm and relaxed. I feel less afraid of failing. I could just rip out some pages of my sketchbook if I want to,but honestly I'd rather never do that, because those are the most funny and interesting drawings. It helps to draw after getting up or before going to bed, because I am very relaxed when I am tired. Try out some Good Night Sketches.

Consider it to be a new language you are learning. Don’t be afraid of speaking it, because that’s the only way to get better. There are different languages out there, try to find yours.

Five tips to start drawing:

  1. Draw a lot! Everytime and everywhere
  2. Practicing helps against the frustration
  3. Don't use erasers, and try to see a mistake as a part of your work and process
  4. Use your favorite pens. I’m crazy about Sharpies right now
  5. For your career and schooling: Try to visualize processes , tasks and facts to learn and understand (I imagine for example a doctor drawing)
  6. Try ramping up and start small sketchbook or notebook (maybe with a calendar)

Some stimulus you can try for your new sketchbook:

  • a diary
  • your emotions
  • travel
  • ideas
  • work
  • recipes


Don't be afraid to be rough. Many people think they have to be perfect with everything when they start drawing. To me perfection is something to appreciate, but what I really love is imperfection. Like little flaws people have, that’s what you love and remember right?

For example one of my favorite characters on Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” is little Marceline in this scene, because there are so many hints to her dark background. I wonder why she is wearing a torn sock. Maybe she had a fight with a big bear the other day to rescue that little one? Where is that stain on her dress from? Is that the coffee (from Bloodbucks) she spilled in a hurry this morning ? She seems to be in a bad situation, but the torn bear toy with one eye is making her happy. She seems to love it. What I want to say is, that clues add a new dimension to the character. Different to more physical details, like 1 million hairs separately animated. It draws you into the character’s story, and you want to know more about her. You feel connected and your heart is touched. Maybe you can also identify. You don't need a lot of physical details to tell a great story or create a deep, meaningful character.

I got a lot of questions about me being so brave with rough drawing or sketching. It looks easy but it’s a fight against your doubts and your fear of failing.

Drawing doesn't need to be reserved for a big project or a perfect rendering of an object (that’s why we have cameras!) . There are so many roughly drawn pictures on the web which become memes. They are popular because they are funny, clever, full of ideas, spontaneous, tell stories, authentic, quick to consume,& easy to empathize with.

What to draw?

I was sitting at Katies Blue Cat (a nice Café in Berlin) when a bunch of kids came by and saw me drawing. The oldest boy, was very interested in my scribbles. He asked me to show him my sketchbook, and I did what I usually don’t do: He was allowed to have a look in my secret sketchbook, because I knew that this kid would never judge me. He flipped through it laughing and smiling, and after a while he turned to me and said:

“I like your drawings. I love to draw at home, too, but I never know what to draw.”

That made my day. It made me laugh, and I replied:

“Yeah, sometimes even I don't know, what to draw. Just draw what’s making you happy!”

Finding inspiration for drawings is a huge thing. Many people never know what to draw, which holds them back from starting. I find a lot of inspiration exploring the world and my day like a kid. Analyzing situations, light, objects, lines and stuff or my own feelings provokes me to find new topics to draw . Just yesterday I joked around with my boyfriend about meat, when I came to the thought of a meatloaf saying “I loaf you”. From that idea, I imagined another picture of the same meatloaf singing to another meatloaf: “I would do anything for loaf…”

ANYWAY… back to the topic.

Try to find people that inspire you, and talk shit sometimes.

Inspiring tags you should investigate

Try searching for these on Tumblr, twitter, Instagram, etc. for inspiration:

#illustration #drawing #gif #nailart #pattern #streetart #storyboard #graphicnovel #characterdesign #comics #ink #pencil #pen #watercolours #adventuretime #moleskine #landscape #sketchbook #sketch #doodle #scribble #tattoo #saskiakeultjes (haha) …

You should be very proud of yourself, when you overcome your fear.

Like what you read? Give Saskia Wariner a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.