I often see programmers advise non-tech people that they should 'just learn to code' if they want to execute their big idea, saying it's not that hard to get the ball rolling. However, while as programmers we can be adept at writing websites including backends and CMSs etc., there's still a great need for the thing to look nice. Usually we can leverage clipart and templates etc. and do some image editing to get by. But being able to draw original art yourself would be a big advantage I'm guessing.

So my question is has anyone here tried to brush up on their art skills to help with the design aspects of their projects? I know some people have 'always' been good at art, or at least been good at drawing since their highschool days, but I'm curious about anyone who went from being bad at drawing, to regularly completing original art work that went into production on a site or application front-end.

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    I love how this manages to be on topic while asking a liberal arts related question :p – EpsilonVector Mar 14 '11 at 17:00
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    @EpsilonVector: When I opened the question, I expected to be voting to close as "off topic" immediately. Nice surprise. – David Thornley Mar 14 '11 at 17:17

I learned how to draw recently during a drawing course. I went from really awful to somewhat good at it. The main thing I remember is that you don't learn how to draw the same way as programming; instead of trying to understand the underlying logic, you learn through imitation.

First, being good at drawing doesn't mean being good at making websites design. It's a good idea to practice both.

For your website appearance, you should look at websites you find beautiful, and see how they did everything. What is the font? What kind of background did they use? Is there a lot of space between elements? Try to copy them, you'll learn a lot this way.

Take the time to do a few tutorials too.

When you feel confident about making a nice website, you can try making your own.

For drawing, it's almost the same. Draw everything you see, as much as possible. When something looks wrong, don't erase it, but try to get the next pen stroke closer to reality.

Drawing things you see will make it possible for you to draw things you imagine.


I have always been pretty good at drawing, no master, not even great, but probably at least good. Just like programming, though, drawing skills come from practice, so I would suggest those who are interested to just draw. Draw something, your motherboard or your Vim window, anything!

I still think that programmers should be first and foremost programmers. We got painters for painting, teachers for teaching etc. Do what you want, and only if you are really interested in getting into drawing (or something else) do it.


For my current project, my team needed some icons to include into our desktop application. I don't draw, but I tried to create some graphics with a vector editor (inkscape), just with the mouse. The idea was to show what kind of icons we needed, so that a professional designer could make the real ones.

Today, I draw the 97th icon of the app, and (almost) nobody feels the need to replace them by "real" ones...

config filter ghost hey


No, not self taught. Learned it as an obligatory part of my studies. Still do most of my calculations and preliminary sketches by hand. Sometimes even production drawings.

It would be good here though, to differentiate between drawing, as in liberal arts (impressionists :), and drawing as in drawing in a perspective (technical type).

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I have tried to brush up on my drawing skills in hopes of making halfway-decent-to-good characters, but I've yet to succeed due to lack of focus. I'm always off somewhere else in my free time either trying to get some programming-related task done. I'm sure if I actually made it a priority I'd get somewhere with it, but I've not, and so I've not.

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    HAve you noticed your Rep is at 555, and in electronics the 555 chip is a timing chip, so not enough free time is...sardonic – Malfist Mar 14 '11 at 18:39

I have tried to teach myself to sketch to some extent, but have not spent enough time on it to make much progress.

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