I’ve long been an advocate of drawing miniature art and small format art. Colored pencils are ideal for both, but I’ve also used oils, acrylics, and graphite—even a ball point pen—to make miniature art.
We all know colored pencil is a slow medium. You don’t have finish dozens of drawings to figure that out. The fact of the matter is that you have to do only one piece!
It not seem to make sense, but drawing tiny is one way to improve your ability to render details in artwork of all sizes.
First, though, lets think about reasons why you might want to draw miniature art.
Reasons to Draw Miniature Art
Faster to Finish
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, colored pencil is a naturally slow medium. It takes a long time to finish a detailed drawing no matter what size it is.
Of course, the bigger the drawing the longer it takes to complete.
For a lot of us who work jobs or have families or other obligations, drawing time is limited. That means it may take months to finish a piece that takes only 24 hours of actual drawing time. That’s a long time to work on the same piece.
Even if you do a lot of detail, you can still finish a miniature in just a few hours. If you have an hour a day to draw, you can probably finish one miniature a week. I drew these eight ACEOs in less than two months for a card swap, while I had a part-time job.
And we all know that finishing a piece is very motivating!
Forces You to Focus on the Important Details
When you draw small, you don’t have room to draw every detail, so you have to choose the most important details. That’s good exercise no matter how large you usually draw.
Unless you’re going for hyper-realism, when you really do draw every single hair.
Drawing Miniature Art is Perfect for Quick Sketches
Trying to figure out a difficult part of a larger drawing?
Working out compositions?
Draw miniature sketches. They’re quick. They’re easy. And they’re extremely portable. You can keep a small sketch book or art journal in your purse, briefcase or a field kit.
Miniature Drawings are a Great Way to Experiment
We’ve all heard it, haven’t we? To see if a pencil, type of paper, or drawing method works for us, the best thing to do is experiment.
But those supplies are so expensive, we hesitate to “waste” them on experiments.
Why not experiment with miniature art? You can learn just as much about new supplies, tools, or methods by drawing small as you can by drawing large.
Miniature Drawings are a Great Way to Use Paper Scraps
Speaking of expensive, don’t you hate throwing away those scraps of paper left over when you trim a sheet to size? Don’t throw them away; turn them into miniature art!
You don’t even have to cut them to any specific size. Use them in whatever size or shape they happen. I have a box of scraps cut down to ACEO size because I did a lot of those one year.
But I also save every scrap of paper that’s more than an inch wide on the short side, no matter what shape it is. When I’m stuck for something to draw, I sometimes go through those scraps and see if one of them sparks an idea. Even if the result isn’t a masterpiece, I did draw something. Some days, that’s a huge win!
Tips for Drawing Miniature Art
Keep Your Pencils Sharp
Sharp pencils are always important, but unless you want a broad accent (which doesn’t need to be very broad for a miniature,) sharp pencils are doubly important to drawing the important details in miniature art.
The sharper your pencil, the smoother your color layers, too.
Keep the Background Simple
Unless you’re doing a miniature landscape, it’s best to keep the background simple with miniature art. Especially with human or animal subjects.
Work Slowly and Carefully
Of course this is important with all sizes of colored pencil art, but it’s especially important with miniature art. You don’t have a lot of room to correct errors or cover mistakes when you’re working small.
So Are You Ready to Try Drawing Miniature Art?
I’ve written a tutorial showing how I drew this miniature portrait for a client.
So if you have new supplies to try, a new method to check out, or you just want to have a little fun doing something new, may I suggest drawing miniature art?