Long-winded thoughts on levelling up as an artist
Sometimes, I get asks from people who want to know if I have any tips on how to go about something when drawing. This is very flattering to me; I’m awed that complete strangers have the courage to contact another complete stranger and ask them for help with their art. And that this second stranger, in this case, is me is difficult to grasp. In a cool way. I would never dare to do that.
So thank you, all of you, who consider me an artist you’d like to seek advice from.
Sadly, I only reply to a very small portion of these asks. I want to respond to all of them, but unless they are very specific, I rarely get around to it. Broader subjects, such as how to convey volume and weight in a picture, or how to ger proportions and perspective right are good questions worth looking into, but they are still very broad subjects. Whenever I answer these kind of asks, I try to do it with pictures and thought through explanations. All of this takes a lot of time, and that’s hours that I don’t always have. To answer questions about the fundamentals of image composition and anatomy is a huge deal, and I don’t have any quick solutions to any of it, just a lot of thoughts and some experience. To package all of this into a tumblr post that is actually useful is close to a full time job. This is why I don’t do it so often. I wish I could, but I can’t. I’ll continue to post my process pictures and might, if people are interested, try on streaming in the future. We’ll see.
Flitting lightly over that… I’ll leave you with what I, and many others, feel is the most important part in learning how to draw: USE REFERENCES.
There are a million posts out there stressing this a million and two times, but I’ll do it again. If you like the way I draw, which isn’t exactly realistic, but not exactly cartoony either, references is your best shot for practically everything. If you’re stuck: use references. If you don’t know what something looks like (you don’t): use references. It’s not cheating (seriously, it’s not). If you’re not an abstract artist, you probably already use references when you draw, in a way, even if its just your memory’s poor rendering of them. There’s no way you can know what a human, cat, cloud or road sign looks like if you’ve never seen one. So look again. I’ve come across a few good articles and posts on how to use references, so use your Google-fu if you’re interested. Here’s a gif I recycled for this post:
There. Now I’ve said that, and can move on to some other thoughts that I’ve had. Anything below here might just be silly nonsense.
I’m pretty sure all artists have their ups and downs when it comes to their art. No one is on top of the wave all the time (and if there is such a person, they are probably a superhero of sorts). I dip frequently, then bounce back up and spit out ten pictures in two days, all in pretty regular intervals. The world ends whenever I’m at the bottom of my inspiration pool, because it ran dry, and I’ll never ever stop drawing or smiling whenever I’m swimming in ideas and creativity. At this latter point, I also forget to eat. I’m sure I could make a pretty nice, even graph out of my pattern.
But then there’s this other line on my graph. My level. Pretty much every artist I’ve ever talked to about getting better have had some sort of experience when they felt they’ve come a new, higher point in their craft. A new level of experience, often reached after finishing a piece that had something new to it. Something outside of that worn out “comfort zone”. I’ve heard it described as a feeling of achievement followed by a period of confidence, as “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE I AM THE GREATEST”, and as everything in-between those two. I’ve experienced both (and a lot of in-betweens). Few things are as satisfying as this.
And how do you level up? Yeaaaah… y’all know how to level up ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°). Ninety-eight more random encounters, five bosses and nine annoying-ass quests, because there ain’t no rare candy or cheats in this game. Only your hard work and I love it. My friends tease me for it regularly, but:
I’m a grinder.
I’m an honest to god level hundred gotta catch ‘em all gamer who explored every inch of every map to get the crystal bunnies and I’m writing like I’m running out of time. Each brush stroke is another point of experience, and I brush my strokes like I run on Duracell batteries. I believe this is one of the main reasons why I’m an okay artist. I artist a lot. I also verbify nouns.
So here comes my second piece of boring, always given advice, as worded by Shia LaBeouf: JUST DO IT.
Draw. Draw. Draw. Hate it. Love it. Do it. Tell a friend when you get there. Proud of you. How much experience you’ll need to reach the point where you feel you’ve gained a level will vary of course vary and it will be hard work, but when you get there, it’s the best feeling of all. A girl worth fighting for ~♫
That’s my longest text post thus far, I think… and will probably stay that way. You might’ve noticed that I’m a pretty shy and private person, but here you go! A peek into my head. LLAP.
(TL;DR: read the only bold words in this post. That’ll get you far.)