Get Hard Skills — Jake Parker

50 HANDS: Drawing anatomy is one of the hard skills you need to learn as an artist. By “hard skills” I don’t mean difficult. I mean high precision skills that need to be performed with exactness and consistency. Daniel Coyle, the author of "The Talent Code" (great book btw) says that these are skills that “have one path to an ideal result; skills that you could imagine being performed by a reliable robot. Hard skills are about repeatable precision.” When a pianist runs their fingers through scales: hard skill.

When a basketball player does a free throw: hard skill.

When an artist draws a hand: hard skill.

These are skills that need to be performed the same way every time almost like a reflex, without much thought. I won’t get into soft skills here, except for this, an artist using soft skills knows where that hand needs to be placed, and what it needs to be doing to help the overall piece elicit an emotional response from the viewer. Hard Skills is knowing HOW to draw. Soft skills are knowing WHY and WHAT to draw. To get really good at the hard skills you repeatedly do them over and over, until they become second nature. “Drawing 50 Somethings” is a drawing exercise I’ve given my students over the years to help them get better at drawing hands, and to condition themselves for learning these hard skills. The repetition of drawing the same thing over and over in different positions, and from different angles is challenging, but effective. This is an important fundamental skill, and it may seem boring at first. However, think of it as an investment with a high interest rate. The more you invest in it now, the better artist you’ll be in the future. And the more capable you’ll be when you want to answer the “What should I draw?” question with your art.


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