Learn to Draw by CopyingOver the years I have had the privilege of helping in the training of young artists. These people have had obvious natural talent and were already producing work of fairly good quality. For the most part, they were improving on their own simply as a result of practice—the more they drew, the better they became. However, sometimes I would notice that they were continually making the same mistakes, drawing in the same way without expanding their abilities, producing somewhat awkward drawings, getting into ruts, etc. They would come to the limit of their own abilities and really didn't know how to go any further.At this point, or before, I would suggest for them to broaden their horizons and learn from other artists by copying their work. This is basically how I learned to draw. As a kid, I would grab the Sunday paper and copy the cartoons that I liked—Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, etc. Eventually, I developed my own style by incorporating the things I learned from others into my own work. I learned how they translated reality into two dimensional pictures with nothing but lines and shapes.As I got older, I was continually on the lookout for new styles and techniques. When I found my work was getting boring and routine, I would go check out the latest comic books and see what was being done. It's a bit like working in teamwork. In teamworking, many people contribute their ideas and talents to a project so that the end result is much richer and better than that of a single individual. Of course, you may wish to be the all-in-all and the sole originator of what you produce, that's fine. But I am convinced that you can do a much better job and will continue to grow and expand your abilities if you are open to input from others.In some ways, as an artist, I have been frustrated that after drawing for so many years I have yet to find "my style." It seems that while other artists' work stays the same and is consistent for years, my stuff is always changing. Maybe I'm just double-minded or insecure about what I do, I don't know. Sometimes I just get plain bored with my work and feel the need to break out and do something different. Whatever the motivation, I have continued to try different styles, techniques, media, etc., throughout my career.And I have continued to copy the work of other artists. When my backgrounds are getting monotonous and dull and the same curtained window and door frame are behind every character I draw, I pull out my collection of Mickey Mouse comics and look for something new to add. When I get bored with drawing cartoons the same style I have used for a long time, I hunt around the internet to see what other people are producing. What's new? What's the latest trend?For example, if you compare the Superman comics of today with the first issues, you'll see that dear old Superman has come a long way! I don't think that the original creators of Superman were not good artists, but as they progressed, they learned from each other and continued improving and learning from each other until they got where they're at today. Just so, you can improve your work and skill by learning from others' work.Now don't feel that you have to continually copy and trace and try to duplicate what others do without finding your own artistic identity. That's not what I'm talking about. I usually check out other people's work in spurts or as the need arises. There's a balance. Just leave yourself open to learning from others and using their work as reference and aids to assist you in your own creations. It will help you to progress and learn and expand your own talents until some day... people will be copying you!