I spend on average between 10 to 20 hours to make a detailed digital piece. Sometimes I take longer and sometimes shorter. On quicker speed sketches, I spend between 1 to 3 hours.
For me, learning how to draw anatomy was the result of practicing a lot, drawing both from memory and from reference. I frequently switched between the two so that my style would be a mix of realistic and cartoony. Unfortunately I can’t recommend any books for learning anatomy, since I never used these kinds of resources myself, but I definitely recommend doing gesture sketches from reference and from life whenever possible as a way to improve your anatomy skills. Speed sketches are a great way to learn: try to capture the overall shape and movement before going into detail, since this give your drawings more life.
I often use reference, and it’s a really important part of any creative process! I gather reference material for the majority of my artwork, although I use it as inspiration and guidance for adding complex details that I can’t entirely pull off from memory, rather than to create direct copies. I search for reference of specific subject matter I want to convey, or if I’m struggling with the anatomy, I look for stock photos or take pictures of myself. I often use go-to websites like Google and Pinterest. For stock photos, my favorite source of reference material is SenshiStock. Using reference images for artwork is fairly essential, helping you notice things that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you if you were only using your imagination. However, for my own process, I prefer to use photo reference as a starting point or guide rather than to depend heavily on it for every detail. This is because I have difficulty achieving a stylized look when I depend too heavily on reference photos.
I draw quite regularly because art is my source of income, so it’s a requirement of my job to draw frequently. However, I think it is incredibly important to take breaks and limit drawing hours to avoid strain injuries and burning out creatively. On average, I draw every weekday for 2-5 hours and try to avoid drawing in the evenings or weekends unless I have a lot of energy and motivation for it. Each artist has their own limits and ways of working: some are able to draw every day, some aren’t. I’m only able to draw regularly if I don’t push myself past my limits. If you’re trying to figure out how often you should draw, try to find what works best for you, but do not push yourself to draw every day if it doesn’t feel right. Daily drawing is not a requirement to improve your skills or be an artist!
When drawing digitally it’s important to start at a large resolution, and downsize later for viewing on the web. This is essential to being able to make high-quality prints of digital work, and also ensures that the brush strokes don’t look pixellated. I often start with a canvas that is at least A3 format (300DPI) or larger, which is around 3500 x 5000 pixels. My suggestion to digital artists is to work at the maximum possible size that your computer can handle, without it lagging or slowing down the computer.