Complete Curriculum for the Self-Taught Artist — Introduction


Now, as a 38-year-old, I have a much better idea of the discipline and hard work it takes to walk the path of mastery. To be clear, I don’t expect to one day suddenly have the ability to draw from imagination and consider my goal achieved. Rather, I’m expecting to set out on a journey of self expression, self discovery, and mastery that will last the rest of my life. Here I will outline a plan for the first couple years where I will focus on fundamentals, and lay down some of the principles and habits that will ensure success.

For the last four months I’ve been drawing around 30 hours per week. I’ve gone through various books and videos, learned a ton, and even completed a couple 11 x 17 comic book pages of original art. However, I began suffering from the problem any learner faces in the age of the internet, which is the sheer overabundance of learning material available. Oftentimes I’d spend hours sifting through lists of the best drawing books and creating playlists of YouTube videos. I became more focused on curating the best resources than actually going through those resources. I would start one book, then wonder if I should be working on a different book, and I’d start jumping back and forth. Jumping around so often, I started to lose the big picture, and I didn’t give each resource the full attention it deserves. I was always focused on getting through one book so I could get get to the next. I realized that I needed 1) more structure and 2) a different attitude.


The Process

  • Unit — Four weeks. Can be thought of as a university course.
  • Term — Three units. Can be thought of as a university semester.

I have about 3 hours of free time for drawing per weekday, and 6–8 hours on the weekends, so I’m shooting for about 30 hours per week. I’m only going to do one unit at a time, but if you have more time you could work on multiple units at once. I plan on doing specific tasks at the beginning and end of each day, week, unit, and term.

Each Term (3 months)

  • Begin — Assess the scheduled units for this term and make changes if necessary.
  • End — Evaluate my process and progress, and make adjustments as necessary. Write a reflective blog post on what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown, and what has held me back. Showcase the work I’m most proud of.

Each Unit (4 weeks)

  • Begin — Choose the materials to study for this unit. Create a rough plan for each week.
  • End — Blog post summarizing how I’ve grown with respect to this unit’s topic, and what has held me back.

Each Week

  • Begin — Reassess where I’m at with the materials for this week and make changes if necessary. Create a rough list of exercises to do for this week’s lessons.
  • End — Write a blog post showing all the drawings for the week, describing what I learned and what needs more work.

Each Day

  • Begin — Know exactly which material I will study that day and which exercises I will do. Read or watch the material, then do the exercises. Everything I learn should be accompanied with exercises where I apply it. Some days will not have any associated material, but will just consist of practice.
  • End — Photograph or scan all drawings done that day and save them with the date to make it easier to post them at the end of the week.

Tentative Schedule

Term 1

  • Figure Drawing I
  • Perspective I
  • Composition and Storytelling I

Term 2

  • Anatomy I — Head
  • Perspective II
  • Anatomy II — Torso

Term 3

  • Perspective III
  • Anatomy III — Arms
  • Clothed Figure Drawing

Term 4

  • Color and Light I
  • Perspective IV
  • Anatomy IV — Legs

Term 5

  • Intro To Animals
  • Perspective V
  • Color and Light II

Term 6

  • Character Design
  • Composition and Storytelling II
  • Perspective VI

Term 7

  • Anatomy V — Imagination
  • Perspective VII
  • Environmental Design I

Term 8

  • Environmental Design II
  • Inking I
  • Anatomy VI — Caricature/Animal

Term 9

  • Painting I
  • Inking II
  • Painting II

Term 10

  • Painting III — Matte Painting
  • Personal Project I
  • Personal Project II




Self Reflection


That’s it. That is the whole Art Home School program as I currently have it planned. I will be creating weekly blog posts on Sundays detailing what I learned during the previous week, and critiquing my drawings. I hope this will inspire others to embark on their own paths of mastery.

As an inspiring example of the benefits of concentrated study, I am posting here my first drawings from 4 months ago, after I hadn’t drawn hardly anything for 26 years:

And here is my best work after 4 months of dedicated, deliberate study:

If you were inspired by this post, consider leaving a tip. Thanks, and happy drawing!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store