So I was chatting with the lovely Justin Oaksford yesterday, and he casually asked if I used photo reference for my recent Rolemodels piece- not as a bad thing, but because the pose and the camera angle read well. Pretty sure I grinned like an idiot when he brought it up because, goddammit, I’m proud that the work shows! I’ve felt like my work has been somewhat stilted as of late- I could feel myself subconsciously trending towards easier angles, easier poses, easier expressions just because it's slightly less frustrating for my brain to process- so getting that confirmation from a colleague was pretty damn satisfying.
I think there’s a tendency for artists to take pride in being able to draw out of your head, and, while that’s an admittedly important skill, what’s actually important is what that skill implies- it implies that you’ve internalized reference. That you’ve spent so much time looking at the world around you, studying it, drawing from it, breaking it down, that you’ve amassed an extensive mental library that you can draw from. You are Google reborn in the shallow husk of a human being.
But heck, the world’s a big place- what are the chances that you ever get to a point that you’ve internalized all of it? Internalized it AND ALSO are never going to forget it ever? Probably no chance at all. Sorry buddy. So rather than bemoaning the fact that we don’t have impenetrable search engine cyborg brains- yet- you sure as hell better still be using reference to fill in/refresh those empty shelves in your mental library. You shouldn’t have worm-ridden books about dinosaur anatomy from the 60’s in there. Stegosauruses with brains in their tails? CLEAN THAT SHIT OUT.
So my general process for using reference of any sort is:
loose thumbnails and brainstorming. If you have an idea, get that raw thing- unadulterated in it’s potential shittiness- onto paper. Good art is a combination of both instinct and discipline, so you don’t want to entirely discount those lightning strikes of brilliance. Or idiocy. Happens to all of us.
research and reference. Start gathering and internalizing whatever reference is pertinent to your piece- could be diagrams, art, photos, good old-fashioned READIN’, whathaveyou. Please note that this doesn’t mean find one picture of a giraffe- this means find tons of photos of giraffes, read about giraffes, understand giraffes, and learn how to incorporate that knowledge into your art with purpose and intent (Justin uses the word “intent” a lot so I’m stealing it). Don’t blindly copy what you see, but understand how to integrate it in an interesting and informed manner.
studies and practice. Could be lumped in with the previous step, granted, but it’s worth reiterating- if you’re drawing something new, it’s worth doing some studies. You discover things that you wouldn’t otherwise by just staring at them. It’s weird how I’m still learning this- “Gee golly, six-shooters are way easier to draw now that I’ve drawn a ton of them!” Yes wow Claire BRILLIANT. Gold star.
go for the gold. Finally, I’m sure it goes without saying, you integrate all of that research and knowledge into your initial thumbnails. If you learned something about anatomy, or fashion, or color, or butts, now you can drastically improve your original idea with this newfound knowledge. Also, per the images above, this is also your chance to improve on the reference- photos are a fantastic tool, but trust your instincts. Cameras can’t make informed decisions.
…So that’s my soapbox- it’s pretty easy, and it’s totally worth it. Research and reference lets you stand on the shoulders of giants- it lends legitimacy, specificity, and allure to your work that wouldn’t be there if you were just drawing out of your head 100% of the time. To put it simply- it makes your work ownable. It makes you stand out.
Hey, cool kids! a couple of days ago i made this post about a really fun, free dating sim called Great Personality! It looks like a few of you guys already play it. :^) If not, let me give you the cliffnotes version:
it’s fucking free god bless america im broke
MALE, FEMALE, AND NON-BINARY ROMANCE OPTIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO **ALL** PLAYERS CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH???
32 unique characters from all walks of life. I’m talking about different races, different economic means, different goals and dreams.
In case you need to re-read the last bullet point, yes I did say 32 entire routes. you are literally living in a bustling city full of attractive, single queer people. heaven is a real place and i’ve found it. (well, it’s a fictional place that can be accessed through your computer screen, but uh.)
it’s being broken up into four smaller games, so right now (i made this post february 2nd, 2014- check the website) you can only do 8 different routes, but most of the art is already done for the other games, so I’m fairly sure that they’ll be released soon.
The art and environments are so cute??? They are so cute. All the characters are drawn by different artists with unique, gorgeous art styles. The illustrations are incredible.
You aren’t gendered! no one uses gendered pronouns to describe you! You are a genderless entity with a name and a hometown that you enter at the beginning of your playthrough. that means:
A) no awkward queer media trope bullshit! (because they don’t know whether you’re a queer couple or a heterosexual one, so there’s no opportunity for that. i can date a girl and get the same amount of respect that i would get dating a guy. no one mentions it it’s GREAT)
B) are you a non-binary person who’s sick of having to answer, “IS YOUR CHARACTER A BOY OR A GIRL BC OBVIOUSLY THESE ARE THE ONLY TWO POSSIBLE CONCLUSIONS” for every god damn roleplaying game on the market? today is your lucky day.
C) You can play as yourself! Or, if you’re the writing/artsy/character-creating type, you can make an oc that you ship with the character you’re romancing! :^)
Out of 32 characters, you are BOUND to find someone that you like! especially because…
It’s based on the Meyer’s Briggs personality classification system! (that means, somewhere, there’s a character that might resemble you. pretty cool, right???) the romance is also based on the Meyer’s Briggs theories of compatibility. Your Genderless Entity self takes on certain personality traits that are complementary to the person that you are romancing. (never in an uncomfortable, i-would-never-do-that kind of way, or at least, not from my experiance!) You might even learn a thing or two about what draws you to different people!!
Tonight is the opening of Light Grey Art Lab’s Boss Rush show!!! The show features tons of incredible artists and their depictions of a wide range of videogame villains. This show is seriously badass.
Here’s ‘The Great King of Evil’ from Ocarina of Time- after a long battle he still has one or two more tricks up his sleeve. I was super nervous to draw such a timeless(literally) villain but I ended up having a ton of fun- hope you enjoy!
I’m pretty excited to be a part of this show! 78 artist collaborated to create an all new Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Light Grey Art Lab will be producing a limited run of those and will sell prints of each of the pieces.
My piece for the “6 Degrees” Show at Light Grey Art Lab. My piece depicted my five white cats at home. They moved with me to USA from Hong Kong six years ago and they are all biologically related. The cat at the bottom is the father, Bobo; then is the mother, Joyce; then is the daughter, Bebe; then is the son, Cathy(father: Bobo, mother is Bebe) , the top one is Dickie, (father: Cathy’s brother, mother: Cathy’s sister) Cathy and Dickie are lovers and they also have four kittens, but our family didn’t keep one.
I hope you understand what I am saying… their relationship is kind of complicated.
Please visit the art store for prints and all other amazing pieces by artists all around the globe.
The Zhangye Danxia is a unique landform found in China. The mountain range seems to be made of candy-bright stripes of different sedimentary rock layers that have been forced upwards and carved down by time, revealing slices of Earth’s colorful past.
This little piece is part of the Light Grey Art Lab show Macro & Micro (Minerals category), which will be opening this Friday in Minneapolis, MN. Check out the site for more info. You can also buy this print or any of the other pieces in the show HERE! I am floored by all the awesome art that was made for this show, and really honored to just be a part of one of LGAL’s awesome exhibitions!
Excited to finally post my final for Light Grey Art Lab’s Animystics show, opening April 25th! The topic was very personal, so this was a fun piece for me. Framed and signed prints are available here, if you’re interested. Part of the show proceeds go to animal rescues of the artists’ choice, so be sure to support and check out the rest of the show! There’s so much great stuff. :)
Now that the Macro & Micro show is basically upon us (opening THIS FRIDAY!) I am now willing + able to share the full image in all its battling glory.
So I’m part of the “everything else” category and as such had pretty much free reign over content (avoiding plant, animal, or mineral). I opted to go micro and offer what I’m sure is an entirely accurate depiction of white blood cells fending off a bacteriophage.
Right? White blood cells are tiny space folk with laser hands?
And if you’re so inclined there are prints available at the LGAL shop!
Whoops sorry the prints are no longer available! If you’d like a copy then let me know and I’ll see if I can whip something up.
I can finally post the piece I did for Light Grey Art Lab’s GIRLS: Fact + Fiction show! I did Aisling from the Secret of Kells. Prints are up in their shop so if you’re at all interested check mine out here.
They’re also running a promotion that gets you the full book of images from the show for free if you spend over $100 in the store before December 7th! Check out the details along with some photos of the book here. There’s some incredible artists involved and I was so happy to be a part of it.