Tip 1: Relax and make mistakes
I've learned the hard way that if I am stiff and hesitant my drawings will be stiff and hesitant. So before you start, take a deep breath and relax. Have confidence in your abilities as an artist. A lot of us are acutely aware of our mistakes and weaknesses, and this can be good; we don’t improve if we think we’re perfect exactly where we are, but we also need to recognize and grow your strengths. Remind yourself of your personal strong points. There's something you like about making art, and there’s something you like about making your art. Find it, and let it fuel you so you are free to create with confidence and composure.
That being said, you will still make mistakes. You will make mistakes often. That needs to be okey. Let mistakes build bridges instead of burning them. They teach you where you need to grow so you can do better next time. Creating good art is a journey, not a destination; the bad news is you’ll never “ get there”, but the good news is if you keep working you’ll always be further tomorrow than you were today, and you’ll go places you never could have dreamed.
All right, enough with the pep talk.
Tip 2: Start with a Gesture
Don’t try to start a drawing in a “finished” state; instead, start with a gesture: a quick, energetic rough of the pose.
One of the keys to doing a good gesture drawing is the line of action, an imaginary line that the energy of the pose flows through. If you’re unfamiliar with the line of action I would recommend going through a handful of poses and marking it in.
In general, a pose feels more relaxed when the line of action has a curve to it. However, assuming that by a “relaxed pose” you mean a pose that feels natural, there are some natural poses that are more rigid; such as poses that describe emotions like fear, surprise, anger, or purpose. You might try a straighter line of action for these, but make sure you don’t get too stiff by keeping curves elsewhere in the body.
Gestures should be quick and loose, but don’t settle for one you don’t like just because you’re got it on the page. Gesture is the skeleton of your drawing, and it’s what gives it life. Keep doing gestures until you get one that feels right, then start to refine.
Don’t be afraid to make several passes over the same drawing. The goal is to keep it lose, so don’t spend too much time in one area noodling. Instead, bring the whole drawing along, one pass at a time, until it has reached the level of finish you want.
Tip 3: Draw from Life
Drawing from life develops a “good gut” as I like to call it: a clear instinct for what feels right and alive. It can be difficult to get a real live person in front of you, but it’s worth the effort. Ask friends, roommates or family members if they would be willing to hold a few quick poses for you, or try sitting yourself down at a mall or a cafe or something and sketch the people around you. Figure drawing is a great way to use waiting time; people won’t always stay still when you want them too, but that can actually be helpful when drawing gestures. If you can’t get a real live human to draw, there are some good resources online, and drawing from movies works well; the movement keeps the brain thinking about three-dimensionality and pose energy.
Tip 4: Practice!
As always, practice is the thing that’s gonna’ really get you there, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. It’s drawing! It’s hard but it’s tons of fun, so enjoy yourself!