March 16th 2015 Monday 12.54
You know when you look at an old drawing you've made and you can easily point out all the mistakes that are in it, like why the eyes are looking off, why such a pose is looking stiff and why the shadows don't really work out? I don't mean you only have to cringe about it, but objectively observing and being able to point out what's wrong and what makes those part wrong. Even though it's not always a pleasant discovery, such a practice is known to be a positive thing about art because it means you're improving, and that you've moved out of such mistakes and that you're able of not doing them anymore.
I may have a distorted point of view on this, but I sorta imagine art improvement to be structurated like tiers, or levels in Pokèmon games; you get a certain experience each drawing you do until eventually you pass on to another tier and you're able to do more things, techniques, or figure out stuff you didn't do before, like I dunno, better perspective and proportions, the structure of some objects, certain effects... I know it's actually a smoother, more linear progress but if we'd have to explain it in a few words, I think it nicely explains the situation.
Although not always being the case, I think improvement is also related to what tools you are using in order to complete your art. Granted, there are two main rules to point out before explaining this point:
1) A powerful tool (e.g.: quality pens, the latest Photoshop program or a 1000$ deluxe drawing tablet) is never going to be used at its full potential if one doesn't have the required experience to use them;
2) A talentful person or an experienced artist can pull off nice stuff even from the most basic tools (e.g.: MSPaint, knockoff markers sold to children along with bad quality colouring books, those damn Ikea pencils) by using them at full potential or bypassing their negative features.
But when using outdated tools, and in this case I'm specifically talking about digital art programs, you find out that the more complex your art gets as you improve, the more features you actually need the program to elaborate. As to make another exaggerated example with MSPaint, while it's possible to come out with decent drawings from time to time ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb3A1T…
), one has to admit that the program can't do, for example, gaussian blurs, or other kinds of filters. And if you need gaussian blur for certain drawings, as much as you love MSPaint, you're forced to abandon it in favour of another program.
I think everyone of us has started off with simple tools and then progressively made out to newer, better ones as we found out that what we were using in that moment was acually limitating us. But why am I rambling about all ofthese pseudo-intellectual facts? I actually think I may have reached a point in which my standard colouring method and my usual programs are actually limitating me.
Ok, that sounded less pretentious in my head... but more or less, that is what's going on right now, I assume. While I'm still satisfied with how my cellshading, traditional and simple works are, and I'm really happy of the new speedpainting style I experimented at the start of the year, my biggest concern is on the digital illsutrations, and such has been for many years. What I'm trying to convey here is that for years I've experimented and implemented new details on them (coloured BG lines, textures, fixed perspective in Carapace sometimes) but still they're not looking like what I exactly imagine them to be, especially the background.
Yes, I am satisfied with the hard work I do with them overall, and all the new things I learn and figure out, and the characters are especially coming out nice. What gets my eyebrow to raise is the background; it's not exactly bad, but it looks... "off", especially when I'm dealing with light cream-like colours and textures; it has arrived to a point where I'm holding off my personal digital illustrations because I don't want to see my hard work completed with a shaded background that doesn't leave me a good sense of satisfaction.
I figured such problem would be caused by my shading method (which is STILL done with a Lighten/Darken brush and I'm starting to get a lil' bit ashamed about it), and I recall experimenting with a soft brush/multiply layer combination that I soon rejected because it needed too much layers and still didn't have a convincing result ( i.imgur.com/QBOgtXL.jpg
wow, I can't believe I was able to find that); it still looks off to me, and more over it doesn't mix well with the textures.
Just yesterday I stumbled again upon a singular, particular piece of art that I saw ages ago and inspired me to work on that shading/background style that I call "Digital Illustration" today: www.furaffinity.net/view/50885…
I first saw this artwork back in 2007 (or 2008?) when I was just starting to draw furries, and my drawings were MILES different from this. Years later now, I can say my art has improved to a point I'm able to draw such background and paint a sky like that, but I'm not able to lineart and shade it in a way that looks similar and this... irks me, for some reason.
My lineart is still a very prominent part of my backgrounds and, even if I colour it, it stands too much from the image; it has a different hue than the flatcolours and even when I shade it, it can be easily seen. On the other side though lineless art isn't exactly my taste, and I prefer having objects with distinct edges as opposed to vague splotches of colour with soft shadows inside.
I finally came up with the solution that I have to try my hand at digital painting at least once to test if my current lineart and shading style is really my problem; the look I'm trying to achieve here is sort of like tracyjb
's, obviously not in the same style, but using a similar method that would bring me to similar colouring results. I've already rounded up a nice amount of tutorials I should experiment with and this is where the problem has started, because I realized there are some things needed to follow that tutorial that my standard program, PSP9, just can't do, no matter how many times I bypass it.
And that brings us to what I was saying before: my program is probably limitating me.
Let's start by the fact that at this point, even I have no idea why am I so stubborn on using PSP9. Sure, it's habit, partly, but it's not that I'm completely alien to other programs and especially Photoshop, which sometimes I use when I'm at Lock's place. It may have started out by the fact that PSP9 is way more intuitive to use, but I've grown better from that, it's time to pass on.
PSP9 can't detect tablet pen pressure and that especially comes in handy when I'm doing cellshading and simple works: by doing a clear-cut lineart, I'm able to use the same layer for flats and shadows and it helps me finish drawings more easily. But let's face it, I can't make digital paintings without pen pressure detection and, considering I've done works with lineart and flats layers separated, I could make an exception for when I work with digital illustrations. The program also lacks a lot of brush settings that are labeled as very important in each tutorial I've seen, so it's really time to give Photoshop a chance.
I may have said everything and nothing in this journal, and surely most of this stuff is just for convincing myself to actually do better at what I'm fussing over, but it felt goodto write it: it's a promise to myself. My next piece will be different as will be my approach to it (hopefully).
To the people who are probably experiencing a similar sense of inquietude and unsatisfaction towards their own artwork, I suggest you to analyze it: maybe there's a particular step that is not convincing you and it drags on until the final version of the drawing. Look around for your inspirations, and be ready to experiment new tools, methods, and point of views. There's nothing to lose and a whole lot of experience to gain.