Understanding Drawing – A Guide From Beginner to Imagination


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Understanding Drawing – A Guide From Beginner to Imagination

Understanding Drawing is the culmination of over 6 years of research, investigation, testing, practice, failing and learning. During this time I’ve taken hundreds of courses, gone through hundreds of tutorials and demos from different artists, read a multitude of books, trying to piece together what it is that I need to do in order to improve my art. I’m self-taught, I’d never taken art classes before, didn’t draw as a kid and started at 25 with 0 previous experience and no idea what I’m getting myself into. Sometimes I got it right – very often though – I got it wrong.

Regardless of whether you’re studying with an experienced artist, or learning by yourself – you’re always in charge of your development. It’s your responsibility to piece together a big picture view of art and to try to figure out the next steps for your work. At the very beginning – this can be a very daunting task. Art can be massively complicated, with so many skills being tangled together. There is overlap between different fields, language that is imprecise – words are used to mean several very different things to different artists. Things can get very confusing very quickly.

My goal with this course is to provide you with context. To go through what’s important and what is not. As beginners it’s very easy to mistake a convention or a style as something we need to be doing, only to realize later on we never developed the thinking and the skills required to produce our own work.

Drawing is an incredibly important skill to develop. It’s essential for visual communication. And with practice and internalization of skills, it becomes very powerful and so much faster. We begin to be able to think through drawing, in order to create what we imagine, rather than being constrained to technical issues. But this development of skill has to be deliberate. We have to be able to see the big picture, in order to know what we need to do next to progress.

We’ll start from the very beginning – we’ll talk about what the purpose of drawing is. We’ll examine visual language. We’ll talk about structure and how we often mistake the end result we see for the work that went in to produce the image. We’ll talk about cause and effect. How to begin training our ability to think dimensionally and spatially. How to start creating objects. We’ll deconstruct drawing down to separate Levels, tied to distinct Skills that we need to train in order to go from absolute beginner – from symbolic drawing, to realistic or stylized imagination work. These Levels and Skills are also coupled with Knowledge – we absolutely need to acquire certain theory and drill it to a very high level, in order to internalize it and be able to act on it, without having to think about it.


How can I explain why this is probably one of the most important courses on art you will take-especially if you are a beginner.

This is probably the clearest breakdown of what it means to learn art, and how the different fundamentals flow together I have ever seen. There is a lot about how to think as an artist, which is a crucial element that just does not get taught in any tutorials or books that I have read. Volen has been able to capture that element of learning that many professionals forget. It isn’t the fault of professionals—it is just hard to think like a beginner who doesn’t know the things you know.

I have gotten so much out of this course, but the most important thing I got was a game plan and an understanding of how to advance my own skills, spot my weaknesses, and find strategies on how to work on them.

A helpful point was the drawing demos. Volen does not hide his mistakes, and demonstrates how to critique and assess your own works on an objective level. Throughout the course is scattered encouragement, a bit of humor, and reassurance–something you may need if you are an intermediate artist who is struggling with the transitions.

I highly recommend this course. To anyone, really–beginner, advanced, young and old. These foundational thinking patterns are essential. And it doesn’t matter WHAT you draw–this will apply. You want to draw anime? You need to understand these things. Realistic? Steven’s Universe style? Abstract art? Yup, this is why it is fundamental and mindset. I have a new appreciation for the things I used to dread learning about. Loved this course.

Michelle A

For the last 2 years, I wanted to become a visual artist. I just didn’t know where to start. I also didn’t know any good art school. Thus, I resorted to asking questions to hundreds of random good artists. But, asking random good artists how to grow as a visual artist is a terrible idea because the vast majority of them are bad teachers or don’t really want to teach others. Most of them ignored my emails or started ignoring me after replying to me once. Those who answered my questions at least once gave me unhelpful or bad advices like “Don’t spend much time on planning and theory. Just practice a lot.” or “Copy your favorite artists a lot” or “Just push yourself beyond your comfort zone as much as possible”. Some artists have videos about a list of drawing fundamentals and about specific drawing fundamentals. But, knowing a list of drawing fundamentals like perspective, anatomy, and color didn’t really help me plan my growth. Learning about a specific drawing fundamental such as perspective didn’t help me plan my growth, either.

What you need as a beginner is not a good artist but a good teacher who teaches you the big picture. If you are a beginner, you need to first learn the big picture of growth as a visual artist before diving deep into specific topics. If you dive deep into specific topics before acquiring the big picture, you can waste months and years on trying to learn things that you cannot learn before learning prerequisites or things that you rarely ever utilize as a visual artist or things that you later realize you didn’t actually want to dive deep into.

One day, I stumbled upon Volen CK’s youtube channel. There, I found Understanding Drawing. Volen CK’s Understanding Drawing finally put an end to figuring out how to grow as a visual artist. Investing in Volen CK’s Understanding Drawing saved many years of frustration and stagnation. It saved my art career. Understanding Drawing helps you plan your growth as a visual artist.


Dear Volen, I needed to let you know how grateful I am for the Understanding Drawing Roadmap you have developed. When I retired, I wanted to learn to draw and have been trying to find my way through this learning journey for about six years. It has been loaded with frustration not only with results, but more importantly with how to move forward as I sought out tricks and shortcuts, jumping around to various mediums as I dabbled. I didn’t know what I needed to learn, nor how to approach learning. And it was so frustrating not being able to “see” what others could see. And I didn’t know how to get there, not understanding that you need to actively train my brain as well as my hand. Your Roadmap has laid out the steps and process, as well as the circular nature of the learning process. This has helped immensely to truly enjoy the process and to see balance and movement in my practice while staying within the necessary learning territory. I am currently focused on learning perspective and your recommended resources, in combination, have been marvelous tools as I learn more about this fascinating area which I had previously understood only at a surface level. Thank you for opening up the journey to be a place of joyful discovery rather than drudgery. I know there are times when it is tedious, but you have put it all into a context that gives me perspective and direction even in the times that are the most challenging. Your work ethic is an inspiration for me to work harder and your straightforward manner of presenting things objectively really speaks to me. I am thrilled that you have compiled this information and are sharing it with others. It was the best money I ever spent on my artist endeavors. You have certainly made a huge impact on my creative journey and I thank you.

Carol L

I’d like to thank you once more for what you’ve done. I’ve never seen someone suggest paradigms in art before I came across you and yet here you are talking about the mind behind the art, not something silly like color dodge. “The greatest journey is that of the mind”, as Earl Nightingale used to say, and I’d say you’re doing a great job at helping people, myself included.

Marc S

I have just purchased Volen’s Guide to how to become a better artist. This guide shows you how to study the most effectively, what pitfalls to avoid and where to put your creative efforts. If you follow his guide and do the things you need to do, you will without a doubt become a better artist. It’s important to understand Volen’s Guide shows you what and where you need to learn, but its up to you to put in the work in. Therefore his guide can be reviewed many times in order for you to get the best information from it. Don’t Rush through it, whenever you hit a wall, review Volen’s advice with regards to the problem your having, it will help you understand the best methods to enhance your understanding. There is so much material here you could easily rush through it and miss vital information. To get the most from this course i would suggest you review a chapter and determine by practice if you understand the principles within it. If you don’t, follow Volen’s advice and only after you are comfortable with that knowledge should you advance. This guide is something that would have been invaluable to me when I was younger, though now it’s helping me to put all my foundational skills together into practical knowledge. 10/10 for the knowledge and hard work Volen.

Steve Y

This series of short lectures will detail how to best structure your art practice from an overall/big picture viewpoint. Very much worth the $ if you feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what overarching concepts you should be trying to improve upon. Its greatest impact may be in its usefulness to determine where your skillset is lacking the most and ultimately holding you back from achieving your goals. Volen will not deliver you any magic silver bullets here, only heartfelt truth grounded in over half a decade’s worth of experience teaching himself how to make concept grade art and the assumption that you will practice what he’ll teach. First things first: These lectures are NOT a step by step guide detailing every exercise you’ll need to become the next great artist. Volen will not suggest a practice schedule for you (although he does talk about it a little in the final lecture). He will not reveal to you any secrets that will cure your crippling procrastination issues (he has other videos about these topics on his YT channel!). What he WILL deliver, is a clearly defined idea of the concepts that are necessary to practice in order to progress as an artist. Most valuably, Volen shares a unique skills hierarchy that is very helpful in determining where your own practice needs to be shored up. If you are starting out as a COMPLETE beginner this series is a great primer to help you understand what skills you should be spending your time on to ensure you have a healthy foundation that will support the advanced skills that we all dream about when we first grab pencil and paper with wild ideas in mind. Folks with more developed skill sets can also benefit from Volen’s organizational systems as they will encourage a more non-traditional way of thinking about drawing as an approach to understanding the world around us. Really everyone can benefit from the skills hierarchy that he explains in depth in this series.

Steve E

Understanding Drawing from beginner to Imagination is the Tutorial that all of us Self taught artists have been craving for our entire educational experience – a Curriculum and mental Road Map. In this expansive tutorial Volen CK breaks down the mental steps of drawing and delivers to you tools on how to construct your own mental highway to imagination drawing in any style. If you’ve ever purchased more than 10 tutorials on Drawing but felt like you didn’t extract all the information from them then this is Video for you. It is the catalyst in realizing everything you’ve missed out on and will maximize the use of all the tutorials in your past and future. It will be your ultimate Road Map to becoming a successful artist in production!

Alana K

I just wanted to say thank you for the Gumroad course you put together. It as well as some of the videos MIthrilda put out about it(and your teachings in general) are really helping me a lot. I’m changing the way I practice now with intent to focus on learning specific skills rather than doing many things at once without focus.

Connor D

I wanna start off by saying that i bought your course (Understanding Drawing) a few months ago and i have to say, this is some of the best educational content i got on the subject on drawing, it helped me tremendously on my art journey so i wanna first thank you for putting this course out there.


I worked through your Understanding Drawing course back in April and I’ve found it incredibly helpful. I really appreciated how clearly you laid out the skills required for each drawing level. I’ve been stuck on observational drawing for like 5 years and had no idea why I could copy what I saw but still be incapable of making something from my head, but I’m headed in a better direction now.

Thank you again for all your help, I’ve been looking for something like your course for a long time and it’s really reignited my passion and made me feel like this is possible.

M Phillips

Join a Community

Private Facebook group available for members of the course.It’s a place to study and work together. To share practice, pieces, insights, struggles.Post your goals & keep yourself accountable.

Set challenges for each other, start study groups, get better, make some friends and have fun doing it.

I also stop by to give feedback and answer questions.


7 Hours 54 Minutes of content, with 1 Hour 40 Minutes of fully narrated sketching – different examples of the ideas and principles we talk about, multiple drawings of the same subject to explore different thinking and problem solving.

You will receive access to 22 videos, 2 image files with our main key ideas, a Resources File with books, videos & course recommendations, a Contents file.

If you are not satisfied for any reason – send me an email, I’m more than happy to refund you in full.

  • 01 – Introduction
  • 02 – Overview of Contents
  • 03 – Understanding Drawing Roadmap – A first look at Levels, Skills, Traps and Maps
  • 04 – Maps – Drawing as Language, Compound Skill, Pro vs Beginner, Theory vs Practice, Levelling up
  • 05 – What is Drawing – Visual Illusion, Structure vs Outline, Styles & Copying, Brain & Perception
  • 06 – Types of Drawing, 2D and 3D, Cause and Effect in Images, Drawing Through, Experienced Artists and Structure
  • 07 – Form as Combination of Structure and Light, More on Shapes and Volumes, Multiple Passes of
  • 08 – My Early Work – Going Through Levels and Improving Skills, From Symbolic Drawing to Imagination
  • 09 – Levels & Skills In-Depth, Progressing, Skill Training and the Brain
  • 10 – Observation – Training Like an Athlete, Developing Perceptual & Mechanical Skills, Proportions, Alignments, Relationships
  • 11 – Understanding – Construction, Perspective, Going from Flat Shapes to Volumes, Reading 2D images as 3D
  • 12 – Understanding Part 2 – Perspective, Camera Lenses, Building Objects, Perspective Resources,
  • 13 – Feeling Form, Knowledge, Design – Internalized Perspective, Using Drawing to Learn ABOUT Things, Simple Designs and Imaginative Pieces
  • 14 – Imagination – Reality as Inspiration, Process, Strategy, Using Research, Beginner Mistakes & Misconceptions, Style
  • 15 – Traps – No Big Picture View, Thinking Not Tools or Style, No Process, Bad Ways to Practice
  • 16 – Closing Thoughts, Quotes & Training – If You See The Way Broadly, You Will See it In All Things
  • 17 – Sketching Demo – Simple Cartoon Characters with Volumes
  • 18 – Sketching Demo – Hand with Volumes, Feeling Form
  • 19 – Sketching Demo – Gladiator – Figure, Gesture and Structure
  • 20 – Sketching Demo – Robot Perspective Sketch
  • 21 – Sketching Demo – Head Structure and Light
  • 22 – Get Started! and Thank You

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