When starting out with art (or any skill) you might find that you’re not seeing any visual improvement with your technique. Most of this fear of not improving is psychological because in reality you’re improving just incrementally.
One of the best ways to see your art improving is to set a standard to where your current skill level is. This can be done by picking an area that you want to get better at e.g. portraits, animals, figure drawing etc and drawing it at the best of your ability. The point of this is to set a baseline, you’ll need to keep this away from your eyesight once its completed. Come back to it a month later and you’ll see that it “looks” different than you remember (you should be practising drawing during this period. I will be posting what exactly you should be practising in a later post).
The reason why it may look worse/different is that your perception has improved.
There are two skills being developed with drawing: technical skill and your “ability to see”. These two skills develop at different paces as stated by Sycra Yasin. (Here is the Youtube video i am referencing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb0g_gWrNf8). He brings up a visual chart that shows a realistic growth curve when improving your drawing ability. Below is a diagram (figure 1) from the video (p.s all credit is given to Sycra Yasin for the graph below, he makes amazing tutorial videos on Youtube and has a website Sycra.net where you can get lots of useful resources regarding drawing/digital art).
The main take away from this graph is that you can see that over time both vision and drawing skill develop along side each other (as long as you stay consistent with drawing you will improve). This is a very simplistic view of the actual process but it should give you a basic understanding of how drawing works.
The “eye” is how well you can see your mistakes and the “hand” is how well you can draw.
When you have been drawing for some time you’ll notice that your art looks the same as if you stopped improving. This is simply because your perception hasn’t caught up with your actual skill level. You’re experiencing a “plateau” which is a good sign, pushing through this phase will guarantee a little boost in your drawing ability.
The duration of a plateau can vary drastically and can be discouraging when learning to draw so it is important to find a balance between practice and drawing for fun.