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Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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AgentBlue
 Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #1
that escalated quickly

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In Which A Thread Was Made To Ask General Art Questions About Art

I figure if we're going to have a forum that's more focused on art and the resources thereof, we should be able to have a Q&A thread for Good Art People to pass their thoughts and learning to Not So Good Art People (me). And now is as good a time as any!

So our first question goes to our proud host Agen... oh, and our second question too! Let's find out about their burning desire for answers:

1. This question is for Schaz and possibly Plaid. I've got several printed booklets from an author I like and I've been thinking about binding them in a ad hoc hardcover together (each booklet is like a part 1, part 2, etc.) so that I don't bash them about quite so much when I want read them. I know you did some bookbinding a while back and I was wondering if there are any pitfalls I should be aware of before I pull out (and fuck up) the cardboard and elastic and glue.

2. Okay so I've been having a really hard time diversifying when it comes to art? I mean, I'm improving at it as I practice more but I feel like I'm still essentially stuck into a really cartoony sort of style, i.e. solid outlines with fairly blocky colors and minimal shading. I feel like there's something fundamental that I didn't learn or am missing and it's starting to hold me back. Are there tutorials some of you guys could recommend?

Apologies in advance for being an impertinent ass, but if I don't ask for help now when am I going to?

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03-03-2016 12:31 PM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #2
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My unsolicited opinion on the second one is that if you want to improve as a visual artist, and especially if you want to diversify your styles and escape a particularly cartoony one, is that you should take some life drawing classes (or, failing that for accessibility or financial reasons, start practicing from posable 3d models); the greater levels of abstraction a piece reaches, the more it deviates from literal visual human perception, and the more you understand and can replicate those "rules", the more you can break them in a conscientious and effective way. Starting with cartoons is a difficult way to internalize the way people and things move and exist in physical space unless you have a very intuitive understanding of physical relationships.

I am personally a very mediocre visual artist I think because I struggle to do what I've advised above (on top of having very poor fine motor skills).

03-03-2016 12:51 PM
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Plaid
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #3
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1. Bookbinding is pretty straightforward; though one thing that jumps to mind is that a backed fabric is probably best for the cover? If you're like me and use random fat quarters you get at the local fabric shop, be aware that the glue will probably soak through because the fabric is quite thin, so don't go too hard on in and don't set it down on anything it'll fatally stick to (aka newspaper). I've taken bookbinding classes and made quite a few so idk if i'm forgetting anything thats second nature to me, but feel free to ask.

This tutorial is pretty good, though i found the sewing of the signatures a little confusing? Also: do not spread white glue over the spine like that, i'll seep into the pages a little and get messy. Hot glue is the way to go- let it cool, place it where you want it on the spine and then iron the other side of the spine to remelt the glue. Just don't use steam and be very careful not to overdo it and burn the fabric. :v

2. One thing that has been really helping me with shading/lighting lately is life drawing: i've been taking a class for a year now and i've improved hugely. (You can scroll backwards through my progress here even lol). It doesn't necessarily have to be in a class though- You can draw random objects around the place and use the sun+ an arrangement of lamps to play with light sources, and get friends to sit for you. Or even go to somewhere like a library or cafe and sketch people (though they don't often stay still long enough to get in light/shading information into the drawing, so). Check out local high schools for night classes if you have the funds to take a life drawing class. Its really worth it!

Other than that, maybe try doing some master study type stuff? Find an artist or piece you like, then try to figure out how they did it and recreate it to learn how the technique works.

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03-03-2016 12:56 PM
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seedy
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #4
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seconding what plaid said...a lot of artists who haven't gone to art school don't know about the benefits of doing a study or a sketch based off another artist's piece, because it feels too much like stealing or tracing. but it can be really helpful for understanding stylization methods, as well as improving your ability to reference things. (it can be hard to sketch real life objects, and sketching objects in photos and drawings can sort of be the shallow end of the pool. also it's easier to find cool things to sketch online than irl)

drawing from life or even photos is a tricky thing though...definitely look up tutorials on start methods (or take a class) rather than just throw yourself at it.

also it's good to use reference in general. it will improve your art HUGELY to compile reference for the feel you want to achieve with it, the techniques you want to use, and the things you want to draw. reference isn't just for when you're totally stuck with a pose, it can help in so many ways. I grab a bunch of it whenever I wanna emulate a specific style I'm not familiar with! I still don't use it enough of course

(edit: I have to kind of disagree with slorange...I don't think it's good to push yourself to "realism" and life drawing until you've built up the basic skills to actually be successful with that. and if you're struggling with diversifying your skills, more life drawing isn't necessarily the cure. it's SO helpful, but because of that massive helpfulness it's been pushed as THE answer, when really it can stunt or harm an artist's growth when misapplied. (although in agent's case I'm pretty sure they have a solid base of skills to approach life drawing and realism with.))
(This post was last modified: 03-04-2016 04:01 AM by seedy.)
03-04-2016 03:41 AM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #5
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I feel like it's implicit, or should be, that there is no objectively correct way to improve one's technical or compositional skills; if I'm responding to a question agen asked about how to improve their art, it's colored by my estimation of what would be most helpful for their specific situation, and it wouldn't hurt to make that explicit. Fundamentally seedy and I I think are both advocating learning to look at things and communicate them in an abstract visual medium effectively, and I don't think there's any universal way to do that, just various methods that have worked for different people in the past and my perception of how agen specifically can achieve that (which is itself inherently influenced by my perception of what would work for me). If my post communicated that my beliefs and recommendations were universal, it is without my intention. I agree that advice like what I've given is frequently pushed as the only way to improve when it is not, accept I could be wrong in my estimation of whether or not it's appropriate here, and mistakenly thought I had already communicated those beliefs. It is worth pointing out that any method of self-improvement has the potential to be harmful if done without the mental and physical tools to understand it, and I don't intend to perpetuate false universality by expressing that I think this particular instance happens to be appropriate for too-often-given advice.

This probably reads as defensive and passive aggressive, but neither of those are tones I intend; I am just trying to express myself precisely because I know I often do not.

03-04-2016 03:54 PM
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seedy
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #6
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oh yeah, sorry, I was less responding to What You Literally Said and more to the general trend of that type of advice being pushed? your comment was just what brought the points I wanted to make to mind, I didn't mean to ascribe things you never even wrote to you, oops
03-04-2016 07:42 PM
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Papers
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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I mean, tracing is only bad if you actually try to say it's your own. I just use it as a learning experience.

But of course, another great learning experience is life drawing. A good tip to life drawing beginners is to draw what you see without thinking about it. Because if you think about it, you'll be drawing what you think you see, which may sound useful for stylization but tends not to be as much as you'd expect.

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(This post was last modified: 03-06-2016 07:39 AM by Papers.)
03-06-2016 07:38 AM
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Dalmationer
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #8
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I still gotta get better at motion. How do you guys get that to show up in comics? Everything i draw looks real rigid!!! I've been doing life drawing but im still not very good at it.

03-07-2016 01:04 PM
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Papers
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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Animator here. Stand up and do the thing. It works for me. If not, Google dynamic poses and copy them until you can make them up yourself.

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03-08-2016 07:03 AM
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OrangeAipom
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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I don't know how to draw motion, but... straighter lines = more rigid

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05-04-2016 04:58 PM
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Cauchemar
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #11
Nice little fairy

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This thread could become very useful, but wouldn't it be more appropriate to place it in the Projects session? It's not solely related to webcomics after all.




Some common tips:


1 - Draw from life. People already said it in the thread, but it cannot be emphasized enough. Draw from life. And never stop drawing from life. It's a permanent training and it will help you with any kind of style, no matter how stylized or even abstract.

2 - Leave your comfort zone. All the time. Try various art styles and keep working with them. Try various tools and keep working with them. Especially if you do not feel comfortable. With time you will find whatever styles and tools fit you the most, but working with other ones will keep feeding your skills.

3 - Keep a handy notebook and a pen (and/or pencil) close to you. You never know when you'll feel like drawing.

4 - Surround yourself with artists. Hey, we're already doing this one! :3atermelon Art fellows will help you to progress, will often correct your mistakes (recently Plaid and other friends helped me with a big demon centaur thing I had trouble to balance) and will give you motivations and ideas to advance further.
05-04-2016 09:18 PM
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Plaid
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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Pry this thread from my cold, dead webcomic hands, Cauche

Re fluidity: Keep life drawing, really. You start figuring out how bodies work and fit together and it keeps getting easier to make things look plausible.

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05-04-2016 10:14 PM
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Papers
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #13
 

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I have a friend who can just draw hands no problem with no sketch layer needed. I can do that with most of the body but not hands. Help

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05-05-2016 01:45 AM
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a52
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #14
i will fourier transform anything i can get my hands on

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Papers, I will send you some hands-drawing ability via blood sorcery if you send me back how to draw noses. Melonspa

Really, it's just lots of practice, unfortunately. This tutorial is how I learned. Another way of thinking about it is as a bunch of simple polygons that you can easily draw with a bit of knowledge of perspective. Just draw a wedge and a buttload of cylinders and fill in the gaps. It's also good to draw them a little bit bigger than you first want to because they always end up too small. At least, they always did to me.

The other convenient thing about hands is you always have at least one fully-poseable reference available at all time. Put your non-drawing hand next to your drawing surface, pose it like you want to draw it, copy it, then mirror the image if it's the wrong hand.

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(This post was last modified: 05-05-2016 02:09 AM by a52.)
05-05-2016 02:09 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #15
that escalated quickly

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Every so often I produce a decent hand. That's a step up from how I used to do hands, which was make like Doraemon and draw circles instead.

[Image: m03.png] -> [Image: 38.png]

Fig. 1 - proof that practice makes better if not perfect

Let me out Stay safe inside | You're not kind | Ethics are overrated | What is life | Men are pigs | I'm so drunk | EAT ME NOW | Click clack fuck | Is this right Only money matters | Change my clothes | Little sun rising | One cat's future | Wax and wane | Dark times ahead
----
So very British / But then again | People are machines Machines are people | Oh hai there | There's no time
----
Superhero 1920s noir | Multigenre Half-Life | Changing the future | Command line interface
Tu ventire felix? | Clockwork for eternity | Explosions in spacetime
05-05-2016 02:48 AM
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SleepingOrange
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
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I think it's important to understand the bones, understand the muscles. All the parts of the body that are hardest to portray for me (and I suspect others) have parts that fit and move together unintuitively or are shaped oddly. Shoulders and hips and hands and feet are all weird, weird shapes and weird joints. It's hard to consider all the shapes they make and recreate them without a good, intuitive grasp of their form.

Again, for me. Any improvement I've made has come from better grokking the internal structures of the human form.

05-05-2016 06:49 PM
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a52
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #17
i will fourier transform anything i can get my hands on

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Resource Dump (a lot of these were on the mspaf art thread i think)

Helpful digital art tutorial by THE HUSS
Cool drawing tuts on lots of different topics
More drawing videos, mostly focused on sketching and anatomy
Free figure drawing references

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The noises, they never stop


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06-14-2016 08:37 PM
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Dalmationer
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #18
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I'm gonna change my sig soon so you folks dont need to deal with garfield minus kanye any more but also check out the Croquis Cafe videos. Theyre not quite as good as like actual life drawing but if u cant afford like £5 per session theyre a godsend. Also theyre rly short poses so theyre better for gesture than anatomy studies.
Jack fractal & I tried to do one a day for a while till we used up the whole archive :B

(This post was last modified: 06-23-2017 02:57 PM by Dalmationer.)
06-23-2017 02:57 PM
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BreadProduct
 RE: Ask Your Elders: How Can I Be Better At Art?
Post: #19
 

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I got a general tip good for anyone starting out. Practicing is a skill just like any other activity. If you haven't done a lot of it chances are you won't be very good at it, you will get frustrated, tired, bored, distracted. That's okay that's just how it goes.

The more you do something the better you get at it. More importantly the easier it becomes to do it again and longer.

Do it every day. Doesn't matter if it's just a line on a page what matters is that you start and you go until you don't want to anymore. Let yourself recover. You'll be able to go longer next time.

What you are doing is not only learning how to art but learning how to practice. The longer you do so the more your mental and physical stamina for the activity develops and the easier it will become to focus.

Diversify. Don't let yourself fall into one small part of the skill. The folly of learning how to do something is that you only get good at what you do. If you only sketch you will only get good at sketching for example. Do everything. The more you do this the easier it will become to do that. It's a skill just like everything else you do.
06-25-2017 05:19 PM
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