Last week was just about creating something, it didn’t matter what. It was about getting the creative juices flowing. Likely, if you have been away from creating for a while or just getting into it, that worked for you. This week’s post is for those of you who have been creating (drawing, painting, sculpting, modeling, etc.) for a while, or maybe you just started and are ready to get serious about your passion. Where do you start? Starting to create is easy: pencil… paper… move hand around page, and done.
The real improvement comes from focused study and practice. This is how I approached prepping for my career and this is just my observation from the best artists I’ve seen. I have spent a lot of time stalking…I mean studying their work habits. The good news is if I can do it, you can do it. I am married with three kids and didn’t start my art study habits until after I was married and had two kids.
So roll your sleeves up, because this is where the hard part starts. Truthfully, it never gets any easier. It will require a lot of work, time, and frustration. But the knowledge, rewards, and self-fulfilment will change the way you view the world. A word of advice though; proceed with caution and don’t let this undertaking consume you, because it will if you let it.
I am guilty of many 18 hour days, and quite a few beyond that. You will hear this from a lot of artists, but as your mom always asked, “If everyone else jumped off the bridge would you do it too?” These are not healthy habits. The simple fact is, your brain can only take so much in a day. If you focus your time, you can accomplish the same amount as you would have if you told yourself you had 18 hours. Turn off all the distractions and get to work. Take a break when you get frustrated or hung up, and let your subconscious turn the problem over for a while. You need to allow your brain to process and chew on all the information you are ramming into it. I know there is research and science behind this, and Google can lead to all that stuff in case you want to call B.S.
Enough of the preaching, let’s get to the nitty gritty. It starts with knowing yourself. What are you most passionate about when you create? There are three main categories: characters, environments, and vehicles. If you are like me, you love them all. If that is the case, well, I’m sorry. You have a long road ahead of you. What about animals, creatures, and props you ask? I lump animals in with characters, and creatures tend to be animals, so you saw what I did with them. Props I lump in with environments because they use the same knowledge.
Pro tip: go outside and draw from life.
All the answers you need are out in the world. If you love drawing characters, go draw people (they are everywhere) or join a life drawing class. If you love drawing creatures, go to the zoo, a local farm, or anywhere there are animals. If you are the type that loves to create environments and vehicles, those are outdoors and everywhere also. Keep in mind you should also draw people and animals because they should be living in the environments you create.
: forming or relating to the most important part of something → (That something being your art education.)
: of or relating to the basic structure or function of something
Fundamentals. You will hear this word time and time again and with good reason. Take this word and ingrain it into your soul. If something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t look right, you most likely to be lfailed to understand or execute a fundamental element. This applies to everything you undertake in life, not just being a good artist. (I will link a story of my first job in the game industry as an example)(Here is the link).
So what are the fundamentals of art, or more specifically, concept design? First and foremost: arm control. Then comes composition, shape, perspective, anatomy, value, color, and understanding how to use your reference. The great wide internet is filled with knowledge of how to become a better artist. Some of it is utter crap, but there are a lot of great people to learn from out there. I will link to the books, websites, and videos that I found the most helpful learning the fundamentals.
In a later series, I will break each one of these elements down from my vantage point, and likely the resources I link to at the bottom will do a far better job than me. Most importantly, don’t burn yourself out. Enjoy the journey and value the lessons you learn along the way, because those are the things you will take with you through the rest of your life. The images you make just sit on a wall, in a book, or in a file somewhere.
If you like what you read let me know in the comments.