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April 30, 2013
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Take your art to higher lever in 4 simple steps!


For people who are serious about drawing and want to make career in art! And for me to stop getting questions on how to practice, or how do you get better :)


Are you stuck and don't know how to carry on making great art?

You just want to draw better?

If an answer to any of these questions is 'yes' then you might find this interesting...


----------------


Since the only thing I ever acknowledged myself good at is getting better I decided to share a couple of tricks.

I truly believe it works in every single case.

It's true. You can get out now or shut up and listen and get better.



(oh and do I need to mention that you need to draw a lot to get better?

I didn't draw a lot and still got better because I followed the steps listed below. But yeah, may not work without drawing a lot...)


Step 1. Honesty.


Be aware of your own limitations. They're usually bigger than you really think, despite what people say. I won't be talking about false honesty in this article.

Stop lying to yourself, for heaven's sake.

If you are not doing/drawing something, frankly, it's because you can't. Not because you are afraid to do it. It's connected in a way, but it only comes down in being or not being able to draw something.

To get better you need to become really honest with your art.


Like, in my case; I draw something, which is still so much better than most of images out there, but when I comment that I don't like it and it sucks it means that I really really think that it does. I don't care what other people think in such case (I mean I always do, I wouldn't share it if I didn't care, really, but it's not this kind of 'caring'...)

I have my own standards. I browse lots of art, go to galleries and art exhibitions and I see now there's very very few people in the world who know their shit. I wanna be those people, but the stuff I draw most of the time? It's not even half way there.

I'm just being honest with myself, I don't need people telling me 'aww it's alright I wish I could draw like you'. I mean, it's sweet, and I love you guys, it's cool if you wanna draw like that, but I don't, end of story. It's kind of okay, I'm kind of on the right path, but it's not that great.

(this is an honest explanation of my approach, please don't be offended!)


If you are honest with yourself it will help you realize your goals. What you can, and what you cannot do. What you cannot do now, and what you will become able to do, in a month, half a year, 5 years from now, if you apply the following to your workflow.


Step 2. Feedback. The most important one.


This is the ultimate trick.

You know what? 99% of people don't get it.

You wanna be the 1% that do, of course.

I've had a couple of people that I worked with in my life. I drew something and they told me what's wrong with the picture. I usually returned the favor. If you don't have that somebody you can go to for feedback, join a couple of forums!

I did... there's plenty of people willing to help you out when you show them you respect their comments. Be prepared though. I've had a couple of bruises on my heart because somebody stepped on the picture I thought looked ok, set it on fire and flushed in the toilet  But I've never let my shit fall apart.

But! The good thing about feedback is, the person you ask doesn't even have to be an artist. My mother is a perfect feedbacker, for instance. Nothing ever works for her, it's amazing. She rips my work to bits and pieces all the time.

But you don't have to ALWAYS listen to the feedback, you need to be able to defend your opinion. It's up to you what's right in your picture.


Okay, wait, if you are a beginner then it'd be better if you listen to every piece of feedback you get and be thankful to heavens for even getting it.


Listen.


To.


What.


People.


Say.


Even if you don't like it, and feel like getting into a fight with them! If you share your pictures with the internet it means that you want them to be looked at! So it's your goddamn business to listen to how people feel about them...

I started from random comments at dA, like 'this hand looks weird', or 'his torso looks like banana'. I never made the same mistake twice, ever. I literally made lists of my weak points to pay attention to!

I don't get this kind of comments anymore, because there's no need for them.

But I still go to others for feedback, I ask people I trust. Often I randomly ask people I'm talking to over Skype to tell me if they think something's off in the picture (but I need to know the person well, some people are less... inquisitive and thorough than others.)

Most of industry pros do that, it's normal.

You won't get ANYWHERE without it. It's normal that you don't see certain mistakes, you need someone with a fresh eye. It's so much faster to have your mistakes pointed out in your face the moment you're done, than let the picture rest until you can see it with fresh eye...


'I just draw stuff however I want and upload it, I don't give a damn what others think, this is my art/style/whatevs'

EEEEK.

Wrong. This fella ain't getting nowhere. He's afraid to get feedback, hear some harsh words.



Step 3. Observation.



There are two kinds of 'artists', observers and non-observers.

Non-observers irk me, because it's like, come on, what are you even drawing for. Non-observers doodle for fun on the marigins of their notebooks.

You know how easily you can define what kind of artist I'm looking at?

I'll tell you - very easy. A nanosecond. It's not even funny.

And it has nothing to do with the level of said artist (although this skill comes with time, but many people either have it or not).

There's a couple of elements that most of artist just keep getting wrong. Like hairline. Have you ever noticed how hair grows from your forhead and temples? How the hairline gets closer to the eyebrows? How easy it is to define the age of the character you draw with receding hairline? No? Yes? Are you sure? Go back to step 2, and show your pics to somebody. Also, like elbows (correctly drawn elbows are so hard to come by these days). Like metal. And so on.

I'm not even mentioning hands, because they're on a whole new level of difficulty. But if you're observant enough you should get them right...

That's how when I had a break from drawing - even when it lasted 6 months - I didn't really get worse. I never stop looking at stuff that surrounds me. Not drawing means only loosing fluent brain-to-hand communication, but a couple of days and I'm back on track.

Observation is crucial for concept artists. Concept artist needs to know how things work to be able to create something fresh.

Did I mention that observers are rare.

I believe that everybody can become one though, but first you need to be honest with yourself (step 1) and answer a question: how do I look at things?


(It was also my trick, back in the days, take the hardest thing to draw and keep drawing it until you feel it, and it becomes your favorite. Use it as a mean of expression.)




Step 4. Reference.


Now, when you learned to see things through, not only look at them (kidding, it takes time, so be patient!), you can start using reference.

Reference.

That's the word.

It's a blessing, somebody who invented reference should get a Nobel prize.

No, wait... since the beginning of the world or the fine art as we know it at least, artist were basically painting what they see. Used reference, ripped off whatever surrounded them.

Rubens, Alphone Mucha, Norman Rockwell, so why can't you? Trust me, if you paint something with 100% understanding of what you see, they will teach about you in (art) schools. Reference is your friend.

If you are too lazy to look for it... it's okay, drawing is always fun.

You won't get anywhere without reference. If laziness is the case, then you need to go back to step 1. and answer the question: how much are you set on artistic career?

Harsh words, but I met many people who've been working ten times as hard as me or you.


That's all...



But there's an additional step!


Study of the masters.


Of course you can figure out stuff by yourself, but trust me, none of the artist you look up to really do.

Why not look at others' work and check out what looks nice? What works for painting?

Study masters. They knew a lot, that's why they're called masters of fine art.

Of course you cannot really copy somebody and call it your own work. Incorporate what you learn from studies into your own work. Nobody will give a damn where you learned this kind of strokes if the painting looks neat, everybody will just love it. It's all about results.

You won't really make much out of it if you're not observant (step 3), so yeah.



None of these steps is actually drawing, cause I believe progress is all about approach.

Now if you start drawing while applying these steps, you'll get better easily, I tell you. If not, then something went wrong. Maybe you're not really honest with yourself.

Always try to draw new stuff, repetition kills progress by a long shot. It's better to draw new stuff with same principles in mind, than drawing same things over and over again.


It may sound harsh, and all, but that's how it really is, if you want to make great changes to your art. I know it's just not for everybody. As I mentioned before this is only for consideration for people who want to make career in art.

So... Feel like giving it a try now?

Add a Comment:
 
:iconwhitekana:
WhiteKana Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014   Digital Artist
This is so true! (these things is what made me better back when I started this account, then I had art hiatus for two years and a 1 month break in between of not drawing; I am amazed that when I touched digital again my art felt better (observation I guess plus I studied 3d).
These points are magic! Experienced on myself~
Reply
:iconsyntheticwater:
SyntheticWater Featured By Owner May 12, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
is this up on tumblr? I would really like to put it up on my art blog thing as a reminder to myself, and if it's not, do you mind if I C/P it with credit and link backs?
Reply
:iconmonikapalosz:
monikapalosz Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
[link] there :)
glad you like!
Reply
:iconsyntheticwater:
SyntheticWater Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks! i've been on a tumblr diet and missed when it was posted~ Now to condense it and put in on my physical wall.
Reply
:iconsatoshi-ue:
Satoshi-Ue Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
"It's kind of okay, I'm kind of on the right path, but it's not that great:."

Umm...What?
Reply
:iconnintendogamer28:
nintendogamer28 Featured By Owner May 7, 2013
'I just draw stuff however I want and upload it, I don't give a damn what others think, this is my art/style/whatevs'

Oddly enough this is kinda what I think, but at the same time I want that feedback so that I can better looking drawing. I hate contradicting myself like this.
Reply
:iconmonikapalosz:
monikapalosz Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
happens to everybody :)
Reply
:iconzanagb:
ZanaGB Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Real honest? it does not work for everybody at the same speed. or at all on the least cases, for someone who had been drawing non stop. and studied all of the major details (reference, research on materials, anatomy) on what i've worked over 3 years. all i got is a slightly better scale on things (this [link] and this [link] , to this [link] and this [link] . also bad examples but they are the ones most comparable.)

Ovbserving, analyzing and feedback did important changes on my art (from mobians to general cartoony anthro for example) and they were big steps. but in 3 years, progress was quite slow. and rather unnoticable when worked digitally (hence of why the examples were in pencil sketches).

What i want to say here is that it's just a matter of keep trying and analyzing . Progress is not fast of radical, but is there, as frustating as it my seem due its variable speed..
Reply
:iconmonikapalosz:
monikapalosz Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
It also depends on how much one draws I guess. But yes, for some it's slower, for some it's faster, it depends on a person :)
Reply
:iconzanagb:
ZanaGB Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Indeed. it can be a bit frustating at times, though
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