Hi friends, I still need to post up something about my recent Iceland trip (which I forgot to let you know about! I went to Iceland! The photo above is of Haystack, a little needle-felted friend who came with me for the journey) but since I got back there’s been a lot on my mind about art practice, and I’ve been trying to think of how we make and especially when you make art for a living there’s some weird things you have to navigate as you get deeper into it. Such as making work for yourself versus for a client and letting it not ‘be’ for anything but for making it, learning when and where you need to switch things up to keep it stimulating for yourself, how to go back and shake yourself out of the bad habits you’ve built up over years, how to keep patient when you just want to move onto the next thing, how to stoke excitement when art feels like work, and the like.
I’ve been doing some sleuthing online and a lot of the advice given is geared towards beginners and is a little more technically dry than I’d like. But I do think there’s some good things to mine from it; lately I’ve been trying to think of art practice like a sport or like exercise— you build up skills like muscles as you create work, but sometimes you let other muscles work to cover up weaknesses and get lazy. So drills and exercises (something I think we often think are boring/simple or for beginners) are useful to help break those habits and become a little more well rounded, as well as help you regain some excitement when things feel routine, or feel more patient when you’re hitting a wall.
I solicited responses on Twitter last night and got a good slew of ideas to practice no matter what stage you’re in! I wanted to share them with you (if you have others feel free to message me and I’ll add to this list!)
- completing a sketchbook where you work with ink or paint only- no pencil underdrawings!
- thumbnails of existing compositions/movie stills/etc to gain better color/tonal/composition sense.
- do warmup paintings in a found or altered book- working with type on a page gives you a compositional challenge, but is also less intimidating than a blank page.
- do morning warm up drawings, such as doing a small lettering warm-up.
- figure drawing sessions or drawing at a coffeeshop/public space.
- make a list of the things you get specific about and make them iconic and simpler. Make a list of things you use visual shorthand for (a t-shirt, car, bar of soap) and get specific.
- create a list of words/phrases and randomly pull from them, then illustrate something fusing those ideas. (magnetic poetry style!)
- do 100 20-minute sketches from life.
- draw with kids to find spontaneity and focus— learn from their fearlessness!
- also, have kids as art directors giving you assignments.
- take bad, rejected, or old sketches and spend time to fix them into a finished piece.
- take something you’ve made/designed and translate it into the spirit of another style/time period/art movement/voice. Or try and draw it from a different perspective or viewpoint, or try and draw what happened before or after it, or draw the opposite of it.
- give yourself an alter-ego with a totally different visual voice, and try and create work for them.
- create a project with parameters and a goal to explore, and a set end date and accomplish it.
- if you draw fast, try to redraw it really slower and slower, find places to add specificity. Or redraw with your eyes closed. If you draw really complicatedly and slowly, find ways to redraw quicker and simpler but still keeping the essence of the subject.
- blind contour drawings are really great to practice seeing without assuming. Drawing upside down, working with continuous line, or drawing negative spaces of things is also a good way to think differently.
- sitting with another person who draws, draw the same thing with your eyes closed.
- stream of consciousness drawing.
- change scale, draw standing up (or bonus, draw with your pencil on a dowel 3 feet away from the paper).
- draw something you feel very comfortable drawing. Then consider how an alien would consider that thing and what it wouldn’t know about it. Is there a way to convey more personality/information into that drawing?
- try and draw things without line.
- try and translate your drawing into a 3D medium and then redraw it after making it.
- the biggest thing is though: build time to practice, and DON’T TALK YOURSELF OUT OF DOING A DRILL. Think of it like a musician practicing their scales and don’t worry that it’s just for you. Sow those seeds and reap ‘em later!
I love that single-medium sketchbook idea! These all sound fun.
Ok here is a compilation of all the software and useful tools I’ve come across whilst writing. Some of them I’ve reviewed on here already, more coming soon.
Got an idea? Well get planning! Here’s some useful outlining, brainstorming and mind- mapping software:
- Tree Sheets
- Visual Understanding Environment (VUE)
- Oak Outliner
- Work Flowy
- The Outliner of Giants
Just want to get writing? You want a word processor:
- Google Docs
- Microsoft Word
- My Writing Spot
- Open Office
Making notes? Here you go:
Timelines giving you a headache? Try these:
Now perhaps you want to organise those notes. Got a lot of research? Character sheets? Images? Well here’s some tools to keep all that together:
Are you easily distracted? The following tools will keep you on track:
Even more productivity tools to help keep you focussed on your task:
- Cold Turkey
- Productivity Owl
- Simple Blocker
- Strict Workflow
- Time Doctor
- Waste No Time
- Website Blocker
So you’ve got something down? Need to edit?
All done? Perhaps you’d like some e-publishing tools:
- Mobipocket Creator
I’m feeling generous, have some more cool stuff:
Enjoy! I may update the list as I find more, or I’ll make a second list.
IF YOU ARE STREAMING, DON’T USE PROCASTER.
DON’T. USE. PROCASTER.
Livestream procaster consumes large amounts of cpu for nothing. No joke, nothing. As a result your stream can become laggy and sometimes it can damage your hardware as your PC has to push itself to keep what your streaming functioning as well as possible.
"But if we can’t use procaster what can we use insteaaaaad?"
Simple. There’s two programs, both that are free, that you can use that uses very little CPU and has more options than procaster. These programs are called Xsplit and OBS. To keep your head in one piece, I’m going to go over how to stream on Livestream with Xsplit.
Under the cut of course.
It has been requested, and I agree that we need to take a look at the basics in this value shading exercise! Check it out and download the practice sheet HERE.
when in doubt use popular internet dogs for life drawing purposes
I’ve been needing some life drawing practice / pet portrait commission examples…
THE “DRIVEN TO BARK” CAMPAIGN
Petplan has started the 'Driven to Bark' campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars. There is also a White House petition which encourages the passing of laws to address this issue. Unfortunately we hear reports every summer about dogs being left inside hot cars. Click here to learn more about the Driven to Bark campaign. Please share!
Human hand versus tiger paw. A tiger’s front paws are large and strong to bring down prey. Their retractable claws can be pulled inside when this large carnivore walks. Tigers also mark their territory by scratching on trees, which conveniently also sharpens their claws.
Day 1 - Harpy for the 30 Day Monster Girl Challenge.
Not sure how many of these I’ll get done but here goes!
This is vaguely inspired by the harpies from Dante’s Inferno, who ate the leaves from trees which contained peoples souls.
speaking of monster girls…
maybe I should complete this challenge.. someday…
I always get nervous talking positively about things I don’t quite know / remember. Maybe it was bad. But it was very exciting to the under-read young’n.
schazardous said: fuck yes the Dark Materials trilogy was huge to me
God. YES. High five. Everyone was reading Harry Potter while this made my mind explode.
Like, this series was my first step up from American Girl books and Goosebumps and Animorphs and junk. And it opened my mind open to a world of possibility in fiction. It ramps up so much.
My memory of isn’t the best… I really need to re-read it because I have a hazy memory of just what the heck happened in the final book. But dang, I remember how much it affected me.
dimensionbomb replied to your photo:quick Tejo doodles. because Tejo. and I <3 monster…
Were there non graphic books that inspired you in your style? Like fantasy, fiction, etc?
Like things? That are just words? Whoa.
Hm. I’m not sure anything 1000% directly effects what I draw. But in terms of inspiration I really, really loved The Golden Compass series, especially Amber Spyglass. I read it around 5th grade and it heavily affected things that I sought out in fiction ever since. Most people only know it for the crappy 99%-talking-polar-bear movie that cut out the last 1/8th of the book before things got incredibly bleak … but shit gets much, much weirder in book 2 and 3. (hell yeah)
More ramblings below
Commission of Pint for silvermender!
A more surreal take on Pint’s shapeshifting. Also teal. TEAL.
Click through here to see it in full res!
Anonymous said: I graduated from a not so known art school a year ago and haven't had much luck getting jobs. I'm looking to get into boarding and feel like I've tried everything but it seems almost impossible. Any advice other than go to figure drawing, watch movies, etc. or is that really all there is to it? Thanks!
Hey! sorry I didn’t respond so soon, I was a bit busy and didn’t have time to get on Tumblr these last couple days. Anyways, I’m just gonna dump a bunch of random stuff here in hopes that some of it gives you a better picture of how things work and what you need to think about.
first off, there was a post Dan Krall made a little while back I remember seeing and I think this is a good read for anyone trying to get in the business regardless of what you’re doing (story, vis dev, animation, etc). If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out!
his post pretty much covers in a better way what I’d say in terms of what you need to do to get a job.
I’m just basing the rest of this off your question which I interpreted as you having trouble just getting into storyboarding and improving in general. The bit about jobs I’ll leave to Dan’s article and other people to cover for now as I don’t want this to be a crazy man’s essay.
things to do or keep in mind. (In my humble opinion)
1) Lots of practice.
I didn’t really have a class that required me to storyboard anything until my 4th year at school. So I started pretty late as far as actually doing anything goes. But during my first semester 4th year, I was probably boarding a story every week. And during class my teacher would give us a bunch of random words and statements and make us board a story using them in 30 minutes. So in that aspect, my teacher really just helped me kick up a lot of work as well as got me more into a mode of being ready to just take whatever is given and run with it. I’d say this is something I’d recommend most people who want to get into boarding to try and do. I was talking with some other story artists at work who recalled doing similar things when training or in school and it’s pretty much unanimously hated. But just power through and force yourself to do it. It’s just like exercise!
Life drawing and studying movies is very good. I don’t do that stuff nearly as much as I should and I’m trying to get back to that. But keep in mind that all that stuff is only to help you with the concepts and practical parts. Practicing and boarding stuff on your own is what’s gonna make any of that stuff useful. There are great life drawers and great composition makers, but that’s not really all storyboarding is. I could go into more detail I guess but I think you’ll understand the more you do it. There’s more to it than just being able to draw a guy and knowing what a dutch angle is you know? There’s character and being able to make things entertaining and stuff.
2) Be as entertaining as you can.
Lots of boards, mine included have a habit of being kind of boring. And it’s kind of the challenge to make it interesting and entertaining. Don’t just board people talking, nobody wants to see 50 panels of you flipping back from one over the shoulder shot to the next. That kind of stuff is a good way to make someone looking at your stuff to tune out and glaze over your work. Always try to visually show things and don’t rely on dialogue to drive the story.
Don’t always stay with your first idea. It probably wasn’t the most original way to handle your problem. Try and always take some time to rethink things and usually you can come up with another more unique/interesting solution.
3) Be yourself
This is mainly my own opinion but personally, I think it’s a bad idea to go about trying to do something because you think that’s what will get you a job or whatever it is you’re trying to get. It’s a little… too ideal of a thought maybe. I understand the importance of getting a job or whatever. But I also feel like making things you would actually like to watch and things that mean something to you is the best way to get somewhere. I don’t mean do the opposite of what you think you’re supposed to do. Rather, don’t cater so much to what you think is gonna get you in. To me, that’s the easiest way to make something boring and I think it probably translates similarly to the people reviewing portfolios. Studios probably don’t want a watered down copy of what they’ve already got. You have different tastes and different ideas, and that’s what makes you special. Not everyone is gonna like your stuff and I think that’s totally fine. Don’t stress about it and don’t take it personal. The people who like what you do and what you have to offer are probably going to be the people you want to work with anyways.
4) Ask for help
I’ve found that asking people for opinions and advice can really help you get by obstacles and problems when you’re stuck. Getting a second and third opinion is always good. You’ll get ideas and insight you probably wouldn’t have thought of simply because you have a completely different brain now thinking about the same problem. Don’t hesitate just because you think it’s cheating or taking away from the work being yours.
It’s a fine line though so don’t go making changes for every suggestion. Learn to filter everything and decide which ideas work and which don’t. This is mainly important because with more opinions, the original idea can start to change and sometimes when you listen to too much advice you’ll find you lost something along the way that was kind of the soul of what you were going for. Just be careful for that. There’s lots of good ideas but not all of them are compatible. If you ask 10 people what they think about your work, there’s a strong temptation to take all the elements and ideas you liked from them and cram them into one thing. Turns out, it doesn’t usually work. Pick and choose.
hmmm…. that’s all I can think of right now. Sorry if it’s a bit long or if the thoughts are a bit vague and scattered. I’m still trying to figure stuff out myself but I hope some of that gibberish helped!