Drawing proficiency levels

In my last post I talked about my path to becoming an illustrator and how learning art fundamentals was something that I needed to implement to improve my drawing skills; nonetheless, the question is: Where to start? There are so many facets to art fundamentals that it can get very confusing.

This is when drawing proficiency levels come in handy. Each level represents a drawing ability required to develop a more complex illustration. These levels are a useful guide to figure out what fundamentals you’re lacking to draw what you want.

I found two resources that helped me the most to understand them:

The first one is the post 10 Drawing Myths that Block Your Progress by Monika Zagrobelna in which she describes drawing myths that you can easily find in every artist’s mind. In the first myth, “Drawing is a simple, single skill,” she mentions 10 drawing proficiency levels that she found by herself during her drawing path. They are the following:

Level 1. Making simple marks with a pencil.

Image from this link

Level 2. Tracing lines from another picture.

A sketch of sponge bob I made a couple of weeks ago

Level 3. Drawing geometrical shapes intentionally (Drawabox is an excellent resource for this)

Rotated boxes exercise I did for my Drawabox homework

Level 4. Representing outlines and shading.

Texture on a sphere exercise in the book Pen & ink drawing workbook by Alphonso Dunn

Level 5. Owning a visual library (this is what Kim Jung Gi masters and recommends in the video below).

Kim Jung Gi – Tips for Young Artists

Level 6. Capable of observe and capture reality.

Level 7. Utilizing a more complex range of drawing techniques.

Level 8. Drawing images not drawn from reality that are still 100% recognizable (like what is done by concept artists)

Level 9. Drawing from imagination.

Kim Jung Gi drawing from imagination | Image from post Artist of all trades

Level 10. Drawing everything.

The second resource is a video by Wired Magazine where you can see these levels from the hand of a professional painter:

11 Levels of Drawing Yourself: Easy to Complex | WIRED

Down below I added screenshots from the video to show these levels in detail.

Pencil Sketches

Skill Level

Level 1. The Solar Head

Level 2. Identifying Features

Level 3. Volumes and Proportions

Level 4. Planes of the Head

Level 5. The Block-In.

Level 6. Contour

Level 8. Highlights and Accents

Level 9. Gradients and Value

Level 10. Establishing a Flesh Tone



Skills Level

Level 5. The Block-In

Level 6. Contour

Level 7. Light and Shadow

Level 8. Highlights and Accents

Level 10. Establishing a Flesh Tone

Level 11. Color as Value


Regarding my own abilities I am at level 5, “Building a visual library,” from Monika’s post and from the Wired video I’m learning about all topics from levels 6 to 11.

I hope this helps you to create a more structured path to follow if you don’t know where to start when it comes to improve your drawing skills.

What about you? Where are you in regards to these levels?


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