Also called "What happens when you outgrow your artstyle"
So, I'm 34 and an aspiring iOS app artist. I really enjoy making games. But when I go to design characters and whatnot, I realize that its really hard divorcing myself from the Anime art that I've done for so many years. Honestly, sci-fi and fantasy concept art is what really appeals to me and I've felt like I've lost interest in the whole anime/manga scene. Most of the fans are younger kids and I've felt a bit alienated at conventions. However, that's the art that I'm proficient at. I'm finding it really hard to shift styles. Anybody else ever feel like you've outgrown your art style or finding it hard to shift gears? I'd love to hear some comments or opinions on the matter whether it be advice or your own experience.
I was going trough something similar, i grew up drawing nothing bur anime, then i started learning anatomy and drawing from photo references, and still i was found it really hard to not end up with something anime like, then i enrolled in art school, and now i do nothing but draw live models, and voila, problem solved, drawing from life its what you need, when you learn to draw things just the way they are, you can then take that knowledge and successfully change it into whatever style you want.
Learning basic anatomy and form was the worst and best thing I ever did. Worst in that I can never look at anime the same. Broken bones flat faces bug me to no end depending on the artist. Best in the the sense of simply .... drawing.... better and being happier when drawing (and more frustrated when I can't figure out something I can spot wrong).
One thing I've learned is you don't have to be able to paint at an old masters skill level. Especially depending on what your trying to do. But general foundations help all around no matter what your breaking into. Trying to do comics? Going to still need basics of form lighting perspective blah blah blah. Pixel art? Same general stuff while maybe applied differently. iOS artist? Same thing.
Foundational arts you can't go wrong regardless the visual art field.
I found myself that drawing from life and portraiture/photos of real people helped undo my being fixed on one art style (manga-ish).
After I learned anatomy, it became evident that the best anime-style concept artists often have a very good understanding of real anatomy, then add stylistic interpretations to what they know of the figure.
I don't think I get into style ruts much now (too many jobs working in completely different styles for each job will do that,) but it used to happen sometimes. What I usually did was I would do some experiments in totally different styles from whatever I was stuck in. For instance, I might do a series of pictures in the style of various famous artists or art movements with styles different from whatever I was stuck in. Or I might try drawing like a little kid. Or doing everything deliberately the opposite of however I usually did it. Silly stuff, but it made me try new things, which helped get me out of old habits.
And drawing from life can be a way to at least take a break from a "style"... and if you do enough of it, it can help you move away from the style rut. (Plus it's fun and relaxing anyway, and you learn stuff...)
Ironically, I'm currently doing work for apps and the client wants me to be more anime. But not too anime. Fun times.
I want to do enviros and landscapes but I keep ending up doing ponies because they so easy and fun, and then people actually look at my stuff. I got a little hooked on the higher than average page views I used to get.
solution is to just grow some discipline and start churning out more studies. Hard work doesn't feel as good or as rewarding in the short term but in the long term it will.
No, really. Try drawing something else. Try drawing something from real life. And fail! Try to not lapse into drawing anime, just draw it, however much it may suck int the end. And then look at it, and then think about what you shouldbe practising. Anatomy? What parts of the anatomy? Put it on the internet and ask for some critique if you need, and think you can handle it. Then you'll know what you should be working at, and voila! You've failed your way to greater understanding!
Then, just work at what you need to work on. Be it eyes, hands, spaceships, tentacles.. You get it.
For a while I felt like a complete failure after looking at my sketchbook but slowly I realize failing is good.
In hard times, go back to basics. Draw real people as they are, without any attempt to stylize, or even make nice drawings.
Try the routine that Aleister Crowley used to keep his students from wandering off in meditation: whenever you find yourself doing something resembling Anime, cut yourself with a razor. It is not only instant punishment, but also allows you to keep track of your progress...
Well, if you've spent five years drawing nothing but circles and then decide to switch to squares, your first efforts are likely to look a little round.
You've trained your brain to draw one set of shapes and proportions. Until you break this habit, your brain will default to what's easiest whenever you don't watch it. When you draw, pay close attention to what you're drawing and make conscious choices. Have a reference to look at that isn't anime so that you can correct your work whenever you start slipping back into old habits. Real people are good for this because a real human being has anatomy that works. If you're going to learn something new you might as well pick the most correct thing to learn, and adjust from there.
I haven't really "outgrown" my preferred art style (the googly eyes one), but I had/have the problem that even though I was now much better at anatomy and form, the style had been so ingrained in my backbone to be drawn in a specific way from early teens that it was hard to combine the acquired knowledge and the style together, to "level it up" so to speak.
The way that thus far has worked for me with that was changing the whole way I was drawing with that style, so that I wouldn't get that "mental lock" that would regress me back to just drawing the same from habit. So if I thus far had started drawing one way, I now started drawing the other way so that I wouldn't be following the steps that had ingrained to my muscle memory, forcing me to look at the drawing from outside the box, so to speak.
EDIT: Damn Vineris, you said basically everything I wanted to say.
Try drawing with the other hand. I've found that switching hands makes me see things differently when I draw.
I think the basic mistake is thinking you can 'switch' styles, as if another style is the same kind of thing with a few tweaks.
Transitioning from a non-realistic style to a realistic one requires beginning again from scratch. It's a different way of thinking, relies less on rules of thumb and more on keen observation, and from things like anime it's similar enough that people transitioning assume it's basically the same but actually is worlds apart.
Some of the knowledge will transfer (given you're obviously rather proficient at anime), but the thing is you won't know which parts do transfer until you check if it does. So it's like learning again from scratch anyway.
There are specific ways anime is different, so could focus on correcting those. Proportion being the main one, especially of faces/eyes. Re-learn the skull with a different method, like Reilly or something. Whenever you find anime slip out, that just means there's something you don't know about the realistic version.
^ Well, the basics for all styles are the same. It's just that if you've only learned the style and not the basics you're just a one trick monkey. It's kinda like learning a song by heart on the piano without actually knowing anything about music theory.
I'm glad I didn't reply to this right away, I got some really fantastic comments as a result.
First off, thank you everyone for taking the time to dispense some advice and expertise. I think I've read through every comment at least 3 times now. When I get time, I will go back to doing more real life and anatomy sketches. I certainly haven't done enough in the last year. I don't know about drawing with my left hand thing. I don't think I'm that coordinated. I do like the suggestion about forcing myself to draw in a different style. I'm pretty good at doing that when I put my mind to it and I usually get something out of it as well.
I think my big issue right now is time. I want to go practice some anatomy but I'm knee deep in a video game for iPad. Fortunately, characters are only a small part of the game and most of my time is spent drawing tanks, robots and environmental tiles. It's stuff I don't normally draw so it's been very fun and enlightening to jump in to such a project. Next year when i finish, I think I'll jump back and do some exercises.
Thank you again everyone, and if you feel you have any more advice for me or want to chat, feel free to post away.
get your anatomy down, learn to shade using hatching/crosshatching and blending with pencil control.
Also, study the face as much as you can - Anime tends to butcher it a tad bit.. Noses are not checkmarks, and eyes are not these giant squares.. No.. Study the face, and that alone will help out a lot.
Doctors heal you, Artists immortalize you.
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" - bullshit.
The usual staples for anatomy:
Ah the Anime Curse... always rearing it's head to the artist that began there...
my art took a very long time to escape it's clutches... but what helped is to realize how simple anime had become my style (was not proud of this but a good realization)
I'd gotten there through mimicry and thus i started with what could be similar and relate able to my current anime style, which was American comics. Joe Mad was the foundation then i used his style's progression to progress myself... culled the stylization in place for more and more detail (as Mad did with work like Darksider's concept art). then when that had settled began looking more to anatomy, studying an art coarse with actual models helped that grow comfortably.
But the best advice is to realize that Anime is VERY bad for a style or technique and you must grow away from it.
It's not the "Anime/Manga" style that's an issue. It's the lack of knowledge beneath the average person doing it that is. The 'mimicry' if you will I can show countless artists who use that genre but are amazing (1000x more fan artists that are terrible of course though)
Hell I love Gez Frys stuff. I still remember it even though he hasn't been on here in years
When I was first on here with an old account like 8 years ago I made the standard anime post as well
Realized it's not the style it's the lack of knowledge that's the issue.
I suppose I should clarify a bit. I hunger for more realism and flexibility. My goal isn't to run screaming from anime in the exact opposite direction, but rather to start again from the ground up and fashion a new style that's inherently mine. I'm a tad resentful of Anime just popping up and being reminded that its my style. I don't hate it but at the same time, I want to be original and take future art in the direction where I want it to go not a direction dictated by a certain look or cannon.
I feel like Anime is a good friend and one I look up to, but that I've relied on for too long. I feel like saying "Anime buddy, I respect you very much and we may meet again in the future, but I need to set out do discover my path for myself. Kyousukete ne (take care)."
JFierce hit the nail on the head...
it really is the lack of knowledge behind the 'style' and that it teaches you through mimicry that stops you as an artist...
Joe Mad and Stjepan Sejic both have roots in anime as inspiration... but now they treat form and detailing with a lot more respect and devotion, allowing their styles to keep strong. but their technique having a WHOLE lot more potential. If you can master a shading style similar to these, couple it with general knowledge of anatomy and you can make anything... ANYTHING! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
I've felt like I'm lacking in fundamentals and that's why I can't really progress until I go back and finish all those anatomy studies that I shirked in art school.
Joe Mad has incredible skills. I don't want to draw like him exactly but I like how he's developed his own style. A good example for sure you posted.
Start sculpting, too. That'll help you gain respect for form, and then if you sculpt a basic maquette carefully enough you can use it as reference.
Its interesting you say that. Back in art school, my human figure class was mostly sculpting. I really saw the value in it but sometimes my lack of sculpting skills was a hinderance to learning in that method.