I’m an illustration major at MICA (please check out my bloghere as a way to support me for making this post!), so this is catered towards what I learned in my illustration critiques and from professional illustrators. I think these tips can go for other artists too, though!
None of these are things that work all the time, but they’re general “rules” I’ve been taught. You can break them, just know why you’re doing so! These are just things I copied from my critique notes, so most are general tips I’ve heard and copied down.
Enjoy what you’re working on, but be okay with changing it.
Anatomy, and accurately trying to portray it, is really important.
Time and space can be portrayed through focus and distance.
When working digitally, make some of your own textures (traditionally) and scan them in. Adding them into a picture adds an element of your own hand and makes your work stand apart from other digital work.
Contrast is a great thing.
Saturation is a great thing, especially in watercolor (soak that brush with pigment!).
Your style should never draw an obscene amount of attention to itself; it should just work fluidly.
Consider what medium(s) work best for your idea.
Cover your paint palettes (particularly reusable ones) to make sure dust doesn’t get in the paints.
Spin the page when you’re working. The time is takes to do that will show some major improvement in your art!
Use dark watercolor and then a light colored pencil on top, never the other way around (it will look muddy and ruin clarity).
Make sure to sometime pin or place you piece far away and step away so you can see the whole composition (or zoom out a lot digitally).
Consider the genre and audience of what you’re working for (and if it’s yourself, then you’re your own audience!).
Illustration is a branch of fine art, don’t forget that.
Fantasy art usually needs a lot of high detail.
Pick an overall color palette to work in, then add in other colors as needed.
Complementary colors (ones opposite on the color wheel), when placed next to each other, can pop an object forward or draw attention to it. (Think of a red ornament on a green Christmas tree).
Designate the shadows to be either warm or cool, and the highlights to be the opposite. Stay with this throughout the entire picture.
All colors have a warm and a cool hue (cool and warm blues, cool and warm oranges).
The more saturated a color is, the more it will pop forward in the picture plane.
Don’t use colors right out of the paint tube.
When making a shadow, tint the color with the complementary tone (it makes it a little more grey).
Colorizing backgrounds lines makes them recede in a colored image with line art.
Blue and pink tones are great for use in skin tones.
Flats need to be fairly differentiated colors.
The reference should never be an excuse for a misleading or awkward pose. You have the artistic license to alter an awkward pose and not just draw from a photo.
With scratchy or textured line art, find some places of solid black too, to allow the eye to rest (or where you want something to pop out).
How you render all the elements of the picture is what makes your own individual style.
When something is illuminated, it should be the brightest part of the composition.
Anything with a straight angle (like the corner of a room) has one wall/side being lighter in value than the other. There is a crisp distinction.
Sometimes adding more lessens the strength of the image.
Fabric folds are crisp, if they’re too soft they’ll look like clay.
Line heaviness and weight can determine depth.
Anatomical consistency is very important.
Inside of the mouth is usually dark.
Show character motivations with actions and poses.
You can crop a face or figure to set a mood.
In any and every picture, pay special and close attention to the hands, feet, and face.
Learning musculature, even if you use reference, will help you create the body you want for your character. Understand the human form…it’s easier to alter if you understand it in the first place.
To pop a figure forward, add a little bit of rim lighting (great with backlighting).
Avoid spots where a line or shape comes really close, but doesn’t cross, the edge of the paper. This is called a tangent and tangents are bad (they suck the eye into just that one spot and stop the composition).
Nothing in the picture is accidentally there, it is all drawn by you, so make sure everything has a conscious placement.
Don’t crop anything that shows essential character expression (including essential parts of the pose).
Never crop a figure at a joint (it makes the limb look amputated unintentionally).
Consider how you show detail with smaller characters…what are the essential characteristics?
Shapes of color or tone can make great framing devices.
For the most part, render the foreground with more clarity than the background…you want atmospheric perspective to be used to make it look like it’s receding.
Line heaviness/weight can combat (in a good way) any very dark areas.
When the character breaks a border (shape, line, panel etc), it shows dominance.
Make the shape of your negative space visually interesting.
“Cornerstops” are great. They are a compositional element that visually blocks your eye from running off the corner of a page.
Shadows can be a great compositional element.
Narrative Illustration (Portraying the narrative)
It is a successful illustration if the story is told.
Use every element of the image to tell the story.
Sometimes you have to take out elements you love for the sake of storytelling.
Think of images as being fast/slow, quiet/loud. What techniques portray these senses for you, and why are you using such techniques? What areas of the picture are slower and faster, why those areas?
Indicate how lavish or simple a place is by the details you choose to include in the background.
Don’t make it obvious that you “curated” the picture; it should look natural.
Cover illustrations don’t always need big and bold text, as long as there’s a strong narrative being portrayed.
Something mid action carries the narrative better than pre or post action.
You should be able to tell a story without relying on text.
Sequential Art (Comics, etc)
Color between panels can draw the eye around the page.
Big jumps in narrative can add humor and excitement, just make sure to think of why you are having the jump there.
When starting a sequence, make it obvious where you start (establishing shot; biggest to smallest, etc).
Make sure panels can read as separate images even if you took the gutter away.
Smaller panels are frequently used for faster/quicker actions.
Removing the background in certain panels allows the scene to be read faster; you only need one background per page (unless the scene in the background is changing).
Style, readability, and timing are key things to keep in mind.
Does the punch line/climax happen at the right time on the page?
Before planning a page, ask yourself: “How much time is elapsing between the first and last panel?”
Consider panel shape and size.
The composition, and where the eye flows inside every panel, informs where the eye travels to next…compositionally lead the eye from panel to panel.
The more panels you have, generally the more time goes on.
Don’t rely on speed/action lines to make things dramatic.
Give word bubbles a little breathing room.
When doing a graphic novel, you’ll usually have to redraw the first few pages since the characters will come more naturally to you by the end pages.
There is a design element to sound effects.
Digital Art (Mostly Photoshop based, but some are general tips)
Before printing, you usually want to switch your file to CMYK (though save a file in RGB too). Print at 300 dpi.
Before printing, you can up the brightness, saturation and contrast until it just starts to look awkward. You’ll learn the best settings for the printer you print at.
Don’t place digital textures anywhere. Consciously arrange them.
Don’t overrender. Digital art tends to be the most successful when it feels less digital than someone would expect.
If your color scheme doesn’t look cohesive, you can use a fill layer of one specific color to unify everything (Layer->fill layer). Lower the opacity to around 15-30%.
*cough* Sorry, I’m reading it like this everytime lmao. I love mermaid AUs too much, and since I used the “Mythos AU” day with something else, I decided to do it today! It’s my birthday, so i’m happy I got to draw some mermaids for today XD
Just a few HCs to go with this pic (english isn’t my first language, sorry if anything comes out wrong or doesn’t make sense):
Yuuri had a really bad breakdown and tried to kill himself by jumping on the stormy sea.
Viktor was just swimming by when he found Yuuri, already passed out, and without even thinking saved him and carried him to the beach.
Yuuri regained his senses momentary, and the only thing he could say when he saw the figure leaning over him was “Beautiful”.
Viktor gets immediately smitten with this human, but he know he shouldn’t stay for longer since anyone could see him now out in the open (he was already going to get in trouble for letting this man see him). So, full of regret for not being able to stay by his side, he jumps back on the sea, and watch from behind some rocks as someone founds the man passed out and calls for help.
Yuuri wakes up in a hospital, his entire family crying and hugging him and begging him not to do that again. He immediately feels bad for giving up so easily and making them cry so much, and hugs them back, apologizing.
Later, when they are calmer, he asked who was the long-haired man that helped him off of the sea. But everyone just seems confused by this and inform him that he was found lying alone at the beach by a passerby.
But Yuuri was sure there was someone else, and when he gets discharged, he goes back to the little beach, looking at the sea, without really knowing what to do.
After that, he goes there everyday, and while that worries his parents, he actually seems a lot less down when he is by the sea, so they let him go (Mari keeps messaging him every 5 minutes to be sure he is alright, tho).
Everyday, there is a pair of cerulean eyes underwater staring back at him.
…I got carried away lmao (I didn’t had this written down and came up with some parts rn, sorry if it’s messy XD). Thanks if you read this all!!
letter of the alphabet matches a number from 1-9. The number can be calculated
by the digit sum equaling the place of the letter in the alphabet. E.g. ‘K’ is
the 11th letter, the digit sum of 11 is 2, so ‘K’ equals the number
1 A J S
2 B K T
3 C L U
4 D M V
5 E N W
6 F O X
7 G P Y
8 H Q Z
9 I R
calculation of your Name, Personality and Heart number use your complete name(s)
with first, middle and last names as it is written on your birth certificate!
(This will bring the most accurate results.)
Here’s an example of how to calculate the Name
J E F F R E Y L E B O W S K I
1 5 6 6 9 5 7 3 5 2 6 5 1 2 9
together 39 33
sum 3+9=12 3+3=6
3 stays 6
Name number indicates:
(1) A leadership personality with
frontier spirit, strength, independence and determination.
(2) A diplomat and peacemaker who is sensitive
towards the own and other people’s emotions.
(3) A master of words, always appearing
to be youthful who is able to do many things at once and who becomes more
self-confident in the process of getting older.
(4) A practical person who works hard,
is patient and possesses a sense of detail.
(5) A freedom-loving traveller who appreciates diversity and change and who is able to do many things
(6) A harmonious person who loves a peaceful home, family and
all things beautiful and who is responsible as well.
(7) An analyst who is wise to use his
time for reading and writing and moreover doesn’t miss the forest despite of
all the trees.
(8) An organiser who gains power and success when being
in charge of one’s own fate.
(9) A true humanist who loves art, music or voyages.
You give generously and need recognition.
calculating your Personality number you
do the same as above only using the consonants of your name(s).
E F F R E YL E B O W S K I — J F F R Y L B W K S Personality number: 6
Personality number indicates that the people surrounding you see you as:
Thank you all for being interested in my works! I can’t believe how many of you are there. Since this blog hit over 20K, i’m going to make this small giveaway of watercolors. I will take every ones names of who participated and run it in name generator
1st- place Blueberry and 3 Sanses watercolor 2nd -place Red watercolor + 1 character digital lineart 3rd -place 1 character lineart
CLOSED (generating the names)
to receive the price you need to be at least 18+ , or have adult with you.
A brief pause for some “The Good Place” fanart, because I haven’t enjoyed a sitcom this much since “Fraiser”. I’d be down for Tahani/Eleanor/Chidi. ‘Cause why have a love triangle when you can have healthy polyamory?
Also, I don’t know if Tahani would wear a pancake-themed dress but it’s cute so I went with it.