Okay friends, I thought it was time to share a few more drawing tips as well as drop some bombs of truth. Now, I may get some angry responses, but please know that I don't do this to crush anyone's dreams, but to instead help some see the reality of some situations and not to forget what's really important.
TRUTH BOMB#1: The odds are against you making a living as a professional artist
Explanation: Think of how many comic books there are....a lot right? Now think about how many comic artists there are on just DeviantArt, let alone around the world. The number of comic books seems a lot smaller, doesn't it? That doesn't mean to stop trying if that TRULY is your dream. However, keep in mind that industry is just like any other job...while you may enjoy drawing or art in general, that can definitely get negated when you are drawing stuff that you have no interest in drawing. So let's say you want to be a comic book artist, you aren't going to be put on Superman or Batman. Not for years....YEARS if not decades. You'll be put on "Space Gremlins from Mars: Rebirth" and you'll be tasked with drawing space ships, interiors, monsters...all that will often be described in detail to you by someone else. You will be underpaid. Now, if that still sounds good to you, then go for it and again, some love drawing so much they don't care what the subject is and I think that is AWESOME. But what many artists enjoy are drawing what THEY want to draw. It's why many artists charge commission prices...not only the money (which is important for supplies and time spent) but also because if it weren't for the commissioner, you wouldn't be drawing that piece in the first place. Don't limit your growth in skills to be in only one area, because you may be able to incorporate your artistic skills into an area of whatever your standard job ends up being.
TRUTH BOMB#2: Practice, Practice, Practice...is OVERRATED
Explanation: Send all hate mail to:...Seriously though, ask most people what the key to becoming a great artist is and they'll say "practice, Practice, PRACTICE!" While drawing to get better is essential, honestly, art is something that is unique in the sense that studying other artists and their techniques CAN actually make you a better artist. Watching a youtube video of a great piano player won't do anything for your own skills, but watching a great artist complete a piece from start to finish WILL teach you things you can use in your own work.
I believe I am a living testament to this point. Check out my gallery. I post probably 80% of everything I draw. The point being there are dozens of pics over the past few years, not hundreds or thousands. I don't have a bunch of sketchbooks filled with me practicing things over and over and over again. However, you would probably be challenged to see where my growth as an artist over the years doesn't keep in step with someone who does draw hundreds of little sketches every year. Why? Because to draw, it takes space, tools and time, things that a person with a full time job and family responsibilities among other things often doesn't find themselves in plentiful supply of. However, I can always have pictures of my favorite artists pieces on my phone or tablet and check them out while standing in line, in the can (I know, TMI), on Lunch, while waiting for the wife to finish shopping, etc. I can browse deviant art any time, and I can view videos from various artists on their techniques. Why struggle for years to learn how to draw a cape in a way you actually like? Check out how some of your favorite artists draw them and use some (SOME, not ALL) of their techniques in your drawing. Boom, you learned and incorporated in a few weeks a technique that the "Practice, Practice, Practice" guy will take YEARS to learn and even then he probably will just be able to match you in skill, and not any better. I have books about anatomy, haven't read hardly a word, but rather studied the pictures visually. Those images have been committed to memory and I have been able to incorporate them in my pieces without drawing a foot a billion times (though i did practice hands for 2 mornings straight during a vacation)
Keeping the above points in mind, here are some drawing tips for what I consider to be the realist artist. That is, the person who would love to find a career in art, but realizes that it may not be possible to do given the fact that life gets in the way.
Drawing Tip #1: Use the tools at your disposal.
Explanation: I see artists snub others because their pieces are done digitally, or because an artist uses a technique digitally that can't be replicated on a real medium like oils or canvas. Here's the secret: WHO CARES? Do you have plans to take up oil painting? No? Then use a gradient in photoshop for that sky. Why spend hours blending from light blue to dark blue manually? Let those who have time to do that, do so. The artists who make the "you need to learn traditionally" argument remind me of those who still say they refuse to use a tablet or kindle to read, that they like the heft of a book, the smell of the pages. That's fine, but is it more efficient than my iPad that has hundreds of books and magazines on it which I can read in the dark? Absolutely not. So if you want to use the shortcuts that digital art affords, then do it. Plus people who make that 'traditional is better' statement forget that early artists had to make their own charcoal pieces, mix their own paints from trees or whatever. They didn't just walk into an art store and purchase burnt orange in a tube. So even those traditionalists are modernists without even knowing it. It's all in the point of view.
I digitally inked a picture and had some tell me that it wasn't as good as traditionally inking it...so I took it to heart and tried to traditionally ink it. Guess what? It didn't look any better. It actually looked worse. The ones who said that probably a) didn't have access to a digital program to try on their own and b) probably wouldn't have known it was digitally inked without someone telling them. There are artists that are so phenomenal at traditional inking that it looks like they had done it digitally. So wait, if the masters of traditional are only mimicking digital, then shouldn't those who want to get better but don't have the time use a digital process? In my estimation, yes, yes they should. It doesn't mean you should switch over to digital only, I personally use a combination of the two, but it does mean to use whatever works for YOU and your time schedule. Don't let others dictate to you how you should draw.
Take a look at my individual pieces from the Women of DC picture. They were all inked using paths in photoshop. Something I had never done before. While it was a slower process, because I did it that way, I was able to resize the art and print out a 32x40 piece at a printer and it looked as razor sharp as an 8x11. If I had done the inking traditionally, every deformity and mistake would have been highlighted. Or if I had drawn the picture at that larger size, imagine how much longer it would have taken and because of the large dimensions the poses would have lost a lot of life or the drawing could have been a lot more static because of the over-rendering that often accompanies pieces drawn at a much larger size.
Drawing Tip #2: Do things your own way.
Explanation: This may seem a slight contradiction to earlier points, but let me explain. My point is that even if you see your favorite artist share their work flow, their brush, their...whatever, keep in mind that it MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. I am a huge fan of Stanley Artgerm Lau. Despite all of the videos he has posted, finding detailed settings of his digital tools are extremely hard to come by. However he was featured in an artist's magazine where he shared his settings. At seemingly long last, I was able to get my hands on the brush settings he uses to ink his work in Painter and this was going to transform everything! Guess what? I didn't like the feel of his brush. It didn't work for me. While grabbing different brush sets and other items from other artists you admire is great, just know that for your own art, you'll want to use what works best for you. You have no idea how hard your favorite artists are pushing down on the paper/tablet. How firmly they grip the pencil, etc. So the settings they have will probably not be the best ones for you. This is one of the situations where trial and error will have to be your best friends.
Drawing Tip #3: Draw what YOU like.
Explanation: In this post-Facebook era, everyone is on the hunt or even obsessed with obtaining "likes" and "page views". Obviously, artists would love their art to be seen by more people. But drawing things that you don't like, especially if you aren't going to be trying to get a job as a commission based artist, is not really worth the time and effort. I'm not saying not to branch out and draw things that you normally wouldn't, artists definitely should. But to make it your mission to draw things simply because it's popular will restrict you in that your passion as an artist won't necessarily come out. Neither would your individualism. It reminds me of a commercial that I recently saw that I shake my head at. It's a commercial with a young woman who talks about how she is an individual and unique. She says that she likes having a "Rocker Chick" style. If the clothing style you are going for has a NAME, then it's not UNIQUE, is it?!?!? Okay, end rant. If you are trying to create your own persona on DeviantArt, then draw what you are passionate about. I am a fan of comic characters, games and TV...that is not unique in the slightest, but if that means you see a bunch of pictures of similar subjects because I like to draw it, that's okay, or at least, it should be.
Point being, if you did spend all of your time drawing League of Legends, Mages and Dark Elves (or whatever else is popular) you won't find the same satisfaction that you would if you were drawing something that you were interested in.
I guess these tips are more philosophical than instructional. However, I plan on providing some of my techniques in a future tutorial if anyone wants to see how I go about creating my pieces. Not to be emulated, but to spark ideas.