The Great Art Metamorphosis // how my drawings have changed over the years

Hello, folks!

The other day, I decided to flip through an old sketch book of mine, one from aaaaaall the way back when I first got serious about drawing, dated 2014.

The result?

The result was me dragging forth all my finished sketchbooks and lining them up on the floor to compare style and improvement. The difference between the sketchbooks from five years ago and the current ones is so extreme that sometimes I laughed and sometimes I cringed (extremely hard) and sometimes… well…

I’ll show you.

May I present “An Evolution in Art,” or something like that. BEHOLD:



Way back in 2014, I decided to become a professional artist and THIS unsightly glory of 13-year-old craftsmanship is the result. But hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? This is a memento of just how far I’ve come. Even though I sometimes feel like throwing these old sketches into the compost pile, I’m still glad to have them because–


Scratch that. I’m burning them all.

Poor Susan Pevensie. I mutilated her face.


See that little pinnacle of land to the right? That wasn’t in the original version of this drawing. But when I showed it to everyone, my cousin pointed out that she was shooting an arrow into the ocean — and unless she thought she could catch fish that way, it didn’t make much sense. (Thanks, Zach. I may have acted like I wanted to throw you out of my house at the time, but when all was said and done, the extra strip of land now exists.)



Literally every single person I drew in 2014 was wearing something from the Narnia movies. (#SorryNotSorry) My question is, what are all the dark squiggles in the corners? Was I trying to represent mental illness with these simple contour lines of chaos? Or did I actually think they were the way to draw darkness??



Enter in the 2015 era: Liriel was born, Lord of the Rings was watched, and I did my darnedest to merge the two.

(For reference, here’s the compilation of current Aeterna art.)



Do you realize what this is? Probably not, so I’ll tell you: This flat, guppy-mouthed, ill-shaded faux White Witch was my very first attempt at drawing a portrait.

All things considered, I think she looks quite good. Especially that one ear.



Ah yes, back to Liriel. And LotR. I was still trying to make them be the same thing.



My second portrait. Done exclusively with an HB pencil. This is the reason my art teacher still has nightmares.



The interesting thing about these old drawings is how detailed my backgrounds usually are. Nowadays, I forego the background and focus all my attention on the character, because I’m allegedly a “people artist, not a background artist.” But back then, I didn’t care what kind of artist I was. I drew because it was fun, and if the background looked as sloppy as the character, well, too bad. I was gonna do it anyway.

Yep, 14-year-old Sarah had more sense than the current version.



Rapunzel is secretly a gecko in disguise. You cannot convince me otherwise.



Child. CHILD. What is wrong with your hair?! It’s like someone glued dog-hair to a bowl and stuck it on your head.



First costume I ever made up on my own, without copying something from Narnia or LotR. Anna still talks about this girl.



What, you ask, are a fawn, a human, and a dwarf doing in a meadow where some strange rainbowy thing shoots up from a hole in the ground?

The answer, my friends, is I haven’t a cotton-pickin’ clue.



I have so many questions…



Ahahahah… ahaha… haha…

THIS — this lovely little Liriel, this sketch I couldn’t even be bothered to give sleeves, this original piece of concept art — this, friends, is the infamous drawing I showed to my mother and said, “Mom, I’ve reached my peak. Some artists attain sheer brilliance at a young age, and this is mine. Nothing I draw from this point on will ever be as good as these few lines of physical, emotional, and poetic genius.”

Yeah, uh, well.

I have news for you, 2015-Sarah.



My first sketch of Emolas. I’ll… just… leave this one here.



Hello, 2016. Once again, where are her sleeves?! More importantly, WHAT IS LOTCH DOING??

(Also, notice how detailed both their poses are. I was starting to branch out into more complicated positions and the art of foreshortening.)



A continuation in the “Things I Should Have Finished But Didn’t” series.



Things I Should’ve Given Context To But Didn’t.



Here comes the 2017 era. I began experimenting with shading. And finally discovered other pencil values besides HB, and that they might actually be useful. I also learned a basic truth that sticks with me to this day:


This is also the time I started posting art to my blog. *squirms*



*coos* Awwww, look at the weird, scrawny little immortal snake-child. This was my first time drawing book fanart (N.D. Wilson’s Ashtown Burials), and I gotta say — I haven’t stopped since.



The costumes I created were starting to get more detailed, but I had a nasty habit of making arms look like glorified garden hoses…



Hmmm, not too sloppy! (And then there’s K-2SO… *facepalm*)



Things I Should Have Finished but Didn’t: The ongoing saga with Liriel and co.

FYI, this is a completely accurate visual representation of what these three characters spend 95% of the book doing.

If you zip up to the first sketch of Liriel, you’ll notice the massive difference, not only in quality, but in concept as well. Out of all my characters, her concept has changed the most. At this point, I was finally starting to develop my own style, and you can see it in this picture.



Things I Should Have Finished but Didn’t: 2018 Edition.

This is when I started drawing bigger, portrait-style faces from my own head, without a picture to reference or copy. Not to sound weird, but this guy’s nose is superb.



Yeah, um, so… You can tell what mood I was in when I drew this



WHY DIDN’T I FINISH THIS?? All he needs is a bit of leg armor and the entire drawing would be perfect and wonderful and complete. *glares at myself*



Ben. BEN. You need a comb.



Finally, finally, the portraits are respectable! I AM INVINCIBLE!! I CAN DO NO WRONG!!! I AM–


–a failure.

Yes, I was still trying (without success) to draw Emolas. If you think this one is bad, have a look at these:


Version on the left looks like a hybrid of Fezzik and creepy internet stalkers. Version on the right looks like he’s staring into your soul and inwardly judging everything he finds.



I finally took it upon myself to learn proper body-proportions and how to use them…



….and, yeah, scratch that. Body proportions are irrelevant when it comes to demon troll thingies.



The reason I never finished this guy?

Costume design is hard, man. And I was too lazy to be bothered by the fact that he’ll be sitting here for eternity in his long-johns.



Back when I was reading the Lunar Chronicles, I thought it would be fun to draw the entire cast together.

I got as far as these two (Cinder and Cress) before finally realizing I would be drawing nine people all on the same page.

Yeah, no thanks.



The reason I never finished this sword-wielding cowboy princess? Apparently, I was too lazy to draw THAT ONE LAST ARM, GOOD GRIEF. *facepalm*


Whoa. WHOA. Note the difference between this and the first one, folks. I have a personal art-style going on here. The clothes are much better. Taking full advantage of proportions and poses to give some life to the drawing. Shading is a thing. The hands are…


The hands just are.

I learned that if you keep them mostly covered, no one has to know you can’t draw ’em.



And finally, 2019.

Five years after becoming serious about my art, several classes, a few brain-cells, and an unhealthy amount of YouTube videos later, we come to this most recent specimen of my creativity. The one I claim has “surpassed all prior magnificence, and no other drawing will ever live up to,” and the one that I’ll probably want to burn in another few years, same as that sketch of Liriel.

But you know what? As cringey as some of these original drawings are, I found myself cooing in pride over them. Not because they were good (oh help, no), but because they represent a journey. I remember drawing almost every single one. I remember the things I was learning at the time, and I can see my efforts (however poor) to put those techniques into practice.

If it weren’t for those fairly awful drawings, I wouldn’t have the somewhat-decent ones of 2018-2019. And if it isn’t for the somewhat-decent ones today, I won’t have the fantastic drawings of the future.

So artists, aspiring-artists, and everyone in between: Let my goggly-eyed, squishy-nosed, mutant-handed creatures inspire you. Keep plugging away at what you do, and maybe in a year — or two, or three, or ten — you’ll be the next Leonardo DaVinci.

(Speaking of whom, does anyone else find it slightly humorous that most of this post is me explaining why I was too lazy to finish my drawings? No? *cough* I’ll be… going now…)



39 thoughts on “The Great Art Metamorphosis // how my drawings have changed over the years

  1. I love it when you put your drawings in the blog…and this is a bonus! All of your art from when you were wee little sarcastic child to your more sarcastic less wee self. By the way, all of your drawings are BEAUTIFUL!!!! And yes, I did find that part VERY humorous. *pats your back*


      1. I just found your blog and was going through old posts for fun, so I don’t know if you’lll ever see this . This post inspired me so much! I’m thirteen and just starting out drawing and boy, am I AWFUL. However, it seems there may be hope for me. Yay! Anyway, if ever you feel that your early attempts see bad, take comfort in the fact that mine are worse.


  2. OOOOHHHHHH SarAAAHHHH. How could you do this to me?? Lol, jk, but not really. If you were to see my attempts at drawing, you would probably be horrified. XD No joke, mine are sucky and yours are most definitely professional and epic and I’m gonna go burn my piddly little things right now. (not really, but I want to after looking at all of that awesomeness) You are entirely too hard on yourself! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite of you artwork are that dead body (Hey, I’m in the same mood right now), the one where Liriel is showing off and Lotch is…is doing something and the other drawing where some guy’s giving Lotch a flower while Liriel is being Liriel. But all of them are amazing!! *high fives you from Fragola Land*


  4. I want to get better at drawing, but I’m just looking at you criticizing your own art whilst I’m thinking for quite a few of them: “That looks pretty good.” πŸ˜‚ I see I have a lot to learn.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I shall be honest: I snorted very hard when I saw the first picture. πŸ˜† But oh man, we do have to start from somewhere…I think I started from stick figures with only one line on the top of their heads to signify all of their hair.
    Eeehhh…I’ve improved quite a lot since then (I should dearly hope so anyway πŸ˜‚)

    Awesome post Sarah! I always enjoy seeing your artwork!!


  6. HOHO YES, I spotted Kaladin. *voiceless screech* IT’S GOOD. You nailed the expression. And the hair. And that’s a REALLY GOOD HAND.

    Okay, every one of those drawings is better than I’ve ever been. -_- But wow, you’ve gotten so good. And i was SO HAPPY to see those first several drawings and they ALL looked similar to the things we kids drew when we drew. Narnia pictures. *right knuckles of fellowship* (And I could tell that was Susan before you said so.)

    I was dying the whole time, but my favorite (which I’m sure you couldn’t predict at all, ever) is the guy hugging the little guy. Father and son, presumably. I LUV IT, SARAH. >_< And I still REALLY like the carpetbagging dude with the big tennis shoes and hand in his pocket. *sigh* These pictures are full of such feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is great! πŸ˜€
    And I *do* think it is hilarious that most of the post is you explaining why you never finished certain drawings. XD
    Also, I may not have recognized Susan at first, but I knew instantly that Jadis was… Jadis. Not bad at all. πŸ˜‰
    And that LAST PICTURE.
    I want his story!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, those drawings are still way better than I could ever do!! 😍 I really like your drawing style. (However, I did find your commentary insanely hilarious πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚) You should think about doing commissions!
    By the way, I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I love it! The name is Penny, so it’s nice to finally meet ya, Sarah. πŸ˜€βœŒοΈβ€οΈ

    Liked by 2 people

  9. *squeals* I LOOOOOVE them alllll. Okay so maybe not the one that looks like a hybrid of Fezzik and creepy internet stalkers…. Or that weird fanged winged thing… it looks a little creepy…just a little.

    I think you would faint if you saw what my art looks like…. πŸ˜›

    “WHAT IS LOTCH DOING??” Hmmmm counting the stars…. *nods head* most definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Whenever anyone makes you angry, just show them the guy with the sword in his chest and say, “you know what happened to the last person who upset me?”

    Like seriously, that would be awesome. XD Terrifying – yes, but AWESOME.

    Whenever I draw people’s faces (or people in general), they end up looking like a slash between a frog and a weirdly proportioned mud puddle. I’m not even sure how it happens, it just does — I mean, what can I say? It’s a talent of mine.

    PS. Also I’m immensely proud of myself that I recognized the White Witch and Susan right off. XD Though, it’s probably more because your drawings aren’t as bad as you say they are than anything else. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Costume design is hard, man. And I was too lazy to be bothered by the fact that he’ll be sitting here for eternity in his long-johns.” I. Almost. Died.

    Fun post idea! You’ve improved, I think XD.


  12. I LOVE YOUR AAAAAART!!!! IT IS SOOO AWESOME!!! And the Frodo drawing is TOTALLY AMAZING (I didn’t notice that hair problem until after you mentioned it) ;-). I really like the Gandlaf drawing and the cowgirl princess. I love this post!!! ❀


    1. *realizes she misspelled Gandalf*

      *cringes* Uh, please take no notice of that. I knew how it was supposed to be.


  13. Your art is really good! I really enjoyed looking at it. πŸ˜€
    I have fun to looking at my old art and seeing how I’ve grown too. Though sometimes it’s not as much fun or that much growth if I haven’t practiced a lot. XD


  14. The things I love about legit all of your work here is that 1- Narnia & LotR (because that’s how I learned to draw too idk how anyone else does) 2- characters are recognizable (*hides binder full of attempts at Aragorn*) 3- the motions, because they have awesome natural positions. Teach me your ways. xD


  15. That one you did “exclusively with an HB pencil”. . . Just saying, I think I drew something almost exactly like this one time. Is it a LOTR character?


  16. I love all these drawings!

    Hi, I’m Allison! I’m pretty sure I found your blog through Jenna Terese’s. I love reading your posts! (and art dumps are some of my favorite things)


  17. THESE ARE AMAZING! Your art posts always inspire me, Sarah, because your portraits are SO SO GOOD, and mine are… *pulls out sketchbook* well, they’re going to be better! *determined look* XD Thanks for the inspiration!


  18. Woah. You’ve come a looooooooooooong way. Suddenly I feel so much better about my art.. not that I’m improving drastically. *burns sketchbooks and runs*

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The guy with the superb nose is Kaladin right? πŸ˜€ Love him. And you’ve made progress since then but that Nolan slaps pretty hard too.

    And all excuses for unfinished work aside XD, I’d love to see a writer go through all the tiny snippets and random bits of story that they’ve never finished and have to explain everything. That, my friends, would be a spectator sport.


  20. Wow. I am stunned. Your art is beautiful.

    *squints at sketchbook then shoves it away to the Abyss of Shame*

    I’ll be lucky if my best art comes close to the pieces that you think aren’t any good.


  21. NOLAN.

    I mean, the whole post was marvelous and hilarious, but then there was NOLAN

    So if you ever want to share all your other Ashtown art…
    I will be here to view it. Thank you.

    (Some of the other pictures were lovely as well. Especially Liriel and Lotch doing… whatever it was they were doing.)


  22. Girl, you are FAR too hard on your past self. I instantly recognized the White Witch, and by the time I got to Frodo I was like “Holy cow, she is TALENTED!” I didn’t even notice the hair till you pointed it out. πŸ˜† Still, though, it’s insane to see the progress. Makes me wish I had kept up on art more, because all I see in that once-in-a-blue-moon when I reattempt drawing is a deterioration in skills. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    (And yes, I realize this was posted almost three years ago…. what can I say. After a friend numerously attempted to get me interested in your blog, I finallyβ€”hesitantlyβ€”opened a link, and haven’t looked back. You are hilariously relatable, and I think ISTPs (me) and INTJs have more in common than one would think. Two of my very best friends over the years are INTJs 😁 but don’t get me started on personality types, I have more stalking and diving the depths of your blog to do)

    Liked by 1 person

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