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Submitted on
February 2, 2013


46 (who?)
Alright I guess I'm gonna make another rant, and this one's been bugging me for the longest time. And I'm going to be as BLUNT as I will be and not sugar coat anything I'm about to say.

Often do I hear things like:

"what custom brushes do you use"

"how do you achieve this blur/ focus effect"

"how did you get the colors to go this way and that"

"what technique or computer program did you use"

What I rarely get asked for is:

"What did you study to be more efficient at drawing."

"What is an efficient way to study how to render certain types of materials"

"How do you practice proper lighting when painting?"

and etc...

Guys I'm just gonna say it now, there's no shortcut to art. I work primarily in digital mediums now but I do have a solid foundation in traditional mediums. I didn't simply go out and buy a $400 tablet and instantly got to where I am today. I use custom brushes and special effects in my pieces, but they only take up less than 3% of the overall work. There's still considerable amount of work that I apply in terms of composition, lighting, rendering, tonal values, colors, and dynamic flow of view. Special effects and custom brushes should not make or break the painting, what does make or break it is your ability as a competent artist to understand and convey your fundamental knowledge of painting and story telling to an audience.

I carry a sketchbook and draw in it everywhere I go, and the best thing about practice is, if you are doing it, you will get better. And if you see something anther artist does. Don't ask how he/she does it and expect an answer in a package. It doesn't work that way. A lot of artists out there including me started at a very young age, we practiced and kept at it no matter what, and that's how we are doing this today.

Whenever you see a piece be it traditional or digital and if the piece has a cool effect to it, and you really really want to replicate that effect, just start experimenting. MAKE MISTAKES! If you got the answer right away for 'this is exactly how I make this effect' (and I'm pretty sure you can google it up), what's the fun in learning? You'd be surprised at the amount of new things you can discover for yourself if you start to experiment, most likely what you sought after in the first place may not even end up being the thing you wanted.

You only benefit yourself from practicing, and often practicing the right way.

You want to learn how to be more efficient in human anatomy? Buy books on anatomy, go to life drawing classes and apply what you've learned from the books, practice, and repeat. Carry a sketchbook from you and draw anything you see.

You want to be more efficient at compositions? Watch movies and study how they place shots. Read a lot of graphic design magazines and pay extra attention on how they lay out sections of words vs. an image. Look at cubism, photography, and abstract paintings.

You wanna be more creative with your designs in terms of characters, creatures, and environments? Be a nerd and read the encyclopedia, read up stuff on different cultures and their history. Look up different religions and their history.

Wanna design cool and practical looking mech? Look at real military and civilian industrial hardware.

At the end of the day, I believe that a strong artist should focus less on custom brushes, special effect shortcuts. Yes you can get a custom brush on painting hair, yes you can get a custom brush that'll draw boulders and rocks in 2 seconds, and yes you can get a brush that draws 20 dicks in one stroke. A wise man once said "custom brushes will only make you faster at rendering, not a better artist".

So go out there and practice, make a lot of mistakes, and become a walking encyclopedia. Because it'll be 100x better than simply asking for a shortcut.

  • Playing: inside
  • Drinking: Till I look handsome
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PencilSpecter Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I prefer to render my dicks the old fashion way.. With skill!!
API-Beast Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am seriously annoyed by this "Practice, Practice, Practice"-attitude. Now don't get me wrong, you raised valid concerns, but many artists are way too reluctant to share their knowledge. Sure, to become proficient at something you need to practice but often it is just the difference between understanding and not understanding. And that is where sharing knowledge helps, a lot. Why do so few people share what they found out in their studies? Why do so few people try to formulate the techniques they've developed?

I am fairly new to digital painting but learned pixel art before, and the community for it, albeit small, was a lot more helpful. Because people defined things, theories about how certain things work, because they were open about sharing knowledge with each other. It was in the end how I was able to learn it in a very short amount of time and without art background.
ArtMagix Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
The reasons why a lot of artists who don't share their "secret" (which btw is super easy to learn about if you know where to search :)) is because

A: It's a craft of art and has its trade secrets, would you ask a magician how he did his tricks?

B: Giving out all the secrets can be a double-edged sword. Sure it will help the ones who practice a lot, but it can mislead beginner artists trying to learn the proper way. For example if you are teaching an art student how to draw basic human anatomy, but all of a sudden you say "here is a tool that does all the anatomy for you and etc". Obviously that student will think oh yea that's way easier, why do I have to do everything manually?

C: Every famous artist living in the lime life will have his/her work imitated by the mass population. For example back in 2004 when everyone copied the style of James Jean. Couple of years back in 2011 when every popular painter mimicked the style of Sam Weber. People like copying and replicating things, and if a secret is spilled, the essence of that work loses value and mystique.

That's why I am for constant practice, even though you seem to believe that it gets nowhere, but trust me as long as you're practicing, you're moving forward.
Josaho Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I completly agree with your points but you have to take something else in consideration to. Teaching people to see (not to look) at how art works is something that is very difficult and people try to overlook the fact that this is very important. You can only see if you practice, try out new stuff and look back at your progress.
CostumesbyCourtney Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
"You wanna be more creative with your designs in terms of characters, creatures, and environments? Be a nerd and read the encyclopedia, read up stuff on different cultures and their history. Look up different religions and their history."

True, so true, I've always been like that and my work reflects it, never really connected the two though, I just assume everyone thinks like that.

It shits me when people, especially on DeviantArt harrass other artists basically asking them how they can magically go from crap to talented overnight. Everyone starts out with ugly artwork, I don't know a person on earth who just picked up a pencil/brush/ect and worked magic with it. It wasn't that long ago that I looked at my own work and thought 'oh well, this is as good as it will ever get'. But without being conscious of it, I just matured and so did my abilites. I still have a LONG way to go, but it's nice to see that there is a change.
Ydriss Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Word! You pretty much said it all. It always surprises me anew whenever someone asks me "How did you do this" or "How can you do this?", and the moment I start telling them about the technicalities of the process they immediately lose interest. Or when I tell them that I started drawing at a young age. All too often people expect a magic spell or formula that'll give them instant success, but it clearly doesn't work that way!

I may not always comment on your art pieces but I am always in awe of your skills, composition, lighting and the way you draw proportions so accurately (: Thank you for this journal entry, I understand how frustrating it can be! (especially for you, you must receive countless questions such as those on a daily basis).
SamannaGene-ocide Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2013
where may i find this magical "20 dicks in one stroke" brush?
API-Beast Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ooh, I need that one. For my dickapillar.
black-ronin1228 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Couldn't agree with you more. Some of us started way back when we were 4, and haven't looked back since with our skills, so for us to assess what it is they want to know, and then put that 38 plus years of learning into a nutshell kinda makes them look stupid for even asking. :)
CarrieBest Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I find what you said here very inspiring and motivating! I think it's most important to develop as an artist this way, but I also think that piecing together techniques from tutorials can be helpful as well to a small extent. I've had in mind to contribute more tutorials to the community and I'm glad I read your journal because tuts can really only help you so much and I think it's worth noting for anyone who relies heavily on them.
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