Learn How to Learn How to Draw with Bobby Chiu

September 17, 2020

Today, we wanted to highlight a video that was released back in 2016, but the advice in it is timeless.

There are a buttular ton of drawing tutorials online, but with a low signal-to-noise ratio:  In other words, it can be hard to tell who’s giving good advice from who’s trying to force their own style onto you, or even leading you away from where you want to go with your art.

So, in this video, Chiu lays out the basics of how to learn and practice effectively: in a way that will apply across all styles (no, not just classical realism!) and toward all goals.  This might seem like an impossible topic to cover in ten minutes—which it is—but he does as good a job as anyone can.  You’ll learn how to analyze why the techniques you’re taught work, how if you can play draw it slowly, you can draw it quickly, how to visualize your lines before you draw them, why you should always do warmups, and the true meaning of the cliche, “Practice, practice, practice.”  A must-watch for anyone frustrated not just with their current skill level, but their learning process itself.

Who’s Bobby Chiu?

A concept artist who’s been doing almost nothing else his entire life.

He was born in Taiwan, but is truly from Toronto, where he still lives.  And an interesting bit of trivia about that:  He started the Toronto Subway Sketch Group, who’d meet at Union Station every Sunday, ride a train from one end to the other, and draw everyone they saw.  By 2005, it had chapters all over the world—not just Canada and the US, but in the UK, France, Turkey, India, Australia, and South Africa, among others—all bearing his name.  The original is still around.  Or was until the pandemic, but we’re sure it’ll be back.

In his professional life, he’s worked on Men in Black 3 (the best of the series, don’t @ me), Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and plenty of game projects.  The studio he founded, Imaginism, has been hired by a who’s who of big names like Disney, Dreamworks, Blizzard, Riot Games, et al.

These days, he’s also a successful ArtTuber.  (If you by chance saw my MerMay profile of Pernille Ørum, he did the interview with her I featured.)  He teaches digital painting at Schoolism.  And back when cons were real, he often did drawing demos with us at the Wacom booths.

And why should you listen to him?

He was a prodigy, getting a job designing toys for Disney, Warner Brothers, and Star Wars at seventeen.  He’s won an Emmy.   He’s published six art books.  And by the way, the doodles in the video don’t come anywhere near expressing what he’s capable of:


From his Artstation

I’d say anyone who can draw like this is worth ten minutes of your time.


Bobby Chiu’s Twitter is, shockingly, @BobbyChiu.  His Instagram’s @DigitalBobert.  His full gallery can be seen via Imaginism Studios.  Image from Imaginism.

About the Author

CS Jones

CS Jones is a (5-minutes-outside-of) Philadelphia-based writer and illustrator. He’ll be spontaneously rearranging his weekend to check out a couple of these tracks. He’ll be making a linktree for his other Wacom articles, but in the meantime, you can check out a hopelessly outdated selection of them at thecsjones.com, or see his drawings at @thecsjones on Instagram or Twitter.

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