So I know I write a lot (I don’t talk half as much as I write lol!) but from now I’ll be sharing what I’ve been learning in my struggles in Digital Art. (Ref to the first post in the Digital Art Series). And I’ll try my best to be as short as I can be. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of tutorials, articles, videos and guides out there that you may find are even better, created by established artists, people already established in the industry.
I’m here to share my journey, as I live it now, as I learn it. I might reach the level of those professionals, I might not. That is definitely my goal, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m going to get somewhere anyway, whether or not it’s that of being a professional artist in the game industry, I’ll definitely be an artist of some level. A high level, hopefully, freelance at the least. 🙂 Be positive always.
It’s also a way for me to document my observations so I can come back to them later, if I ever get confused. And the journey has just started, I’m going to get confused. A lot!
Digital Art is hard. Especially if you’re weak in traditional art. So the first step for you to do is to improve your pencil strokes. You can do this by scribbling all over your sketchbook or paper, make meaningless lines. Or you can make things you like. Either way, it’s going to be exercise for your hand to get used to using the pencil.
Now, if you want to forego the traditional pencil, and jump to digital straight away, you CAN do that as well. But it’ll take you slightly longer to get good enough to make any meaningful thing.
Traditional art aims to teach us not only about proportions, but also about being flexible, and about light and shadow. When I was taking Figure Drawing (FD) classes, my teacher continuously made us do the proportions over and over. Though later, when you have more practice and experience, neither the shape nor the angles will matter, it’s necessary to know the extreme ordinary fundamentals – the common features so to say, in every being.
Or, what I’ve learned/observed/discovered so far.
Now, when you’re starting out, try to do the things I’m setting below, if you can. I mean, it’s not necessary that it will suit you as it suited me. I discovered them suddenly:
- Start big
No. I don’t mean start drawing huge pictures. I mean, draw close ups. If you’re drawing the face, for example, try taking as less of it as possible. Like, draw only the eyes. Try drawing them in different angles, in different profiles, perspectives.
- Leave the details for future
The one struggle I kept having with my digital drawings, I noticed, was that I was getting into details too much too soon. If I was making eyes, for example, I made the borders, the pupil, the tear duct, the eye lid, the eye lashes… you get the picture.
Don’t do that. I noticed that as soon as I started to make just the outside borders of the eye and the pupil, I started to make progress. What progress? I was making it right. Where my eyes looked like dried seeds from the water melon, now they looked like structures in a face. They had started to get the right shape.
- Push colors out of your mind (for now)
Colors give structure, form to our drawings, no matter if you’re making a whole landscape, a person, or a box of balls.
However, if you keep thinking about it, you’ll lose sight of the first step – which is to get a hold of the skeleton, the basic framework of your drawing.
So leave colors alone for a while, get your structure right first. Don’t worry about that far off. Not yet. There will be time for that later.
- Don’t think about shading your work, yet
Just liked colors, shading will define your drawing, give it some meaning. But don’t worry about it yet. Stop thinking about where the hell is light coming from and how do I decide where the skin is lighter and where there should be highlights on the hair.
Focus on the outlines. Sketch it. Doodle it. Make something. Don’t start building it. Set the framework. Create a blueprint. Don’t start putting the bricks one on top of the other before you have the blueprint in place.
And remember what I said about traditional art? That’s right. Blueprint means getting your proportions right.
- Forego the hair
Or something else. If you’re uncomfortable with ears, for example, or the nose. Leave it. It’ll come to you automatically as you’re making the rest of the sketch. Believe me, I know.
Now ignoring the heading of this point, if you’re more comfortable with hair, start with the hair. There was a point in my sketching when I was surprised by the fact that I could start with really good hairstyles and create a very good proportioned face. It can happen. So keep your mind open.
- Draw what you like most
Last advice of the day. Start from drawing what you like most, or are most comfortable with. This can change without warning so don’t worry about it.
I was very fond of making lips while I was taking the FD course. I could copy a lot of angles and shapes and sizes. Not anymore. I’m more into eyes now. It happened suddenly overnight without telling me. And though I’m trying to get back my flair of making good lips, I’m happy with my improvement in eyes too, since they’re very difficult. Don’t worry about it. The face has only a number of features. Experiment, play around with them. You’ll be able to draw all of them. Eventually. 🙂
Advice to practice more and more doesn’t mean that you must do it every single day for specific time.
When I realized my eyes had suddenly improved, I started to make more and more. I made a few pairs in just one day! (Today, to be frank). I became more and more happy with every result. However, I did not forget the other features, especially the lips, that used to be my friends once. I practiced to make those too.
So practice on! You DO get better at it, it’s definitely not just a myth, it happens.
- Copy your favorite artwork/illustrations
No, I’m NOT asking you to go ahead with plagiarism. Do not trace over someone else’s work and sign your name on it and start passing it on as yours. Even if it gives you a sense of achievement for a while, it will be your loss at the end of the day.
Now that the disclaimer/warning is put away, the main advice: copy your artists, yes. It will help you to find out if you are cut out for one type of art style or the other.
Secondly, the profiles, poses you copy are not the copyright of the artist. The finished product is. If you need help with your profiles and poses, and you know you can copy, go ahead and take help, take guidance from your favorite work.
Remember, only take help, guidance from other artwork. Do not copy the whole thing, unless you’re only practicing and won’t share the art you made from copying.
After you’ve copied the profile, the features can change. You can also take guidance in the angles and shapes of the features. The sizes of each feature is unique. Someone can have big eyes, for example and small mouth, another person’s eyes can be small and nose pointy and too apparent. These things are what will give your characters their personalities which will differentiate them from other characters.
Don’t take me as a genius. I only got this far after watching infinite number of digital art tutorials videos and speed painting videos online. Oh, and the most important thing of all: Start working! Just watching videos is not going to get you anywhere, you’ll have to start working if you actually want to become an artist yourself.
That said, I’ll sign off now! See you next Friday! Oh, yes, I’ll try my best to be as regular Friday as possible. Hope this will help somebody. Else, I’m already in queue anyway. 😉
P.S. I did make a lot of stuff while I was observing all of these points, and while I was writing everything down, I was debating with myself whether I should share the stuff or not. I’ve decided not to, since they were all made using someone else’s artwork, even if I may have copied only the profile or the angle or just the eyes or lips. They were copied. Hence I’m not sharing anything. Not yet. Some day, soon, Insha Allah, I’ll be capable of making my own art which I will then start sharing as I share advices. So my readers will understand better what I mean when I say something.
Good night now.