How to create "Finished" art?
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    How to create "Finished" art?

    Short and sweet:
    How does one work on "polish?" So much of this site is amazing, but since the focus is often so much on improving fundamentals (and it's really big), I have a hard time finding support in moving from a sketch I love to a finished piece that retains that same life and energy. Also, am I doing something wrong, or does it take everyone absurdly longer to create colored, shaded stuff than just line art? I mean I feel that inking alone takes longer than the sketch?!? I dont make that loose of sketches I think :/

    Resources and suggested exercises would be appreciated. The art I am dying to create and what I am capable of are two very different things.

    One other thing (so much for short and sweet right? ) but what is a healthy attitude toward growth as an artist? I have old stuff I love and old stuff I hate (a major example being my stuff on this site), but I try to not be too destructive so I can see progress. Sometimes though it seems like it is demotivating, when I feel that I still make the same mistakes or I see something I hate again.

    I have a hard time seeing myself as a career artist, but like I said, I am not happy with where I am artistically. Without half a lifetime of practice, or a full-time art career (possibly), I don't expect to be a classical painter, but I want to be able to communicate my ideas in an attractive and appealing manner.

    (sorry in advance for any typos)

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    Finish is something you have to be aware of from the beginning of a painting. You should be finishing the painting from the first stroke. My process is layered and I work towards a finish deliberately. To keep things fresh don't over paint an area. Decide each stroke or series of strokes for a passage and then execute them accordingly. If you know how to mix color and value correctly you don't have to blend everything to death and you blend by laying two strokes of close value next to each other and let them blend optically as opposed to physically blending with a brush.

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    So, in a sense, there really aren't different steps, but a continuous process.... does that mean the the steps would change depending on the end goal? (sketching for a study is not the same as sketching underneath a painting) I know that sketching is affected obviously, but really all steps are affected.

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    For me the process gets squeezed depending on time, so if I'm outdoors and painting, I know I can wiggle four hours in a good spot and maybe only a half hour in a bad one time wise. Knowing how long I have tells me how long I have for each step. but the steps are basically the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    If your fundamentals are weak, you're not ready to polish anything; you can try, but you'll just end up with an over-rendered mess. Conversely, if your grasp of the fundamentals is strong, polishing is easy and intuitive.

    Best advice is to just hammer on the fundamentals, especially drawing, as much as you can. There's a reason people here are so hardcore on that stuff.
    Yes and no. You have to practice everything, but that includes practicing making finished artwork as well. Otherwise you get the problem that many people here have, where they stick with doing technical exercises because they're safe and comfortable, and never move on to actually making any art. So, to answer the OP's question, you learn to finish stuff by actually trying to finish stuff. Will it suck? Of course. But the more you actually do it, the less it will suck.

    Also, am I doing something wrong, or does it take everyone absurdly longer to create colored, shaded stuff than just line art? I mean I feel that inking alone takes longer than the sketch?!? I dont make that loose of sketches I think :/
    Two points: number one, of course it takes longer! And number two, obviously your sketches aren't as resolved as you think if you are finding that much to fix in them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Yes and no. You have to practice everything, but that includes practicing making finished artwork as well. Otherwise you get the problem that many people here have, where they stick with doing technical exercises because they're safe and comfortable, and never move on to actually making any art.
    It would be massively helpful if someone could point out sources available that tackle exactly this problem. It might be straight-forward for those who know, but I find myself very confused over how far one should go especially when knowing that skills aren't exactly matching ones wishes for making artwork.

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    Damn.

    I looked at the post title and thought 'why you steal my name?!'

    But I guess I stole yours..

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    It would be massively helpful if someone could point out sources available that tackle exactly this problem. It might be straight-forward for those who know, but I find myself very confused over how far one should go especially when knowing that skills aren't exactly matching ones wishes for making artwork.
    You keep going until it looks good, the deadline hits, or you have fucked it up beyond all repair. The more you do this, especially on deadline, the better an idea you have of how much work you can and should do, and when it's time to commit to a course of action and see it through.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quixotic
    Also, am I doing something wrong, or does it take everyone absurdly longer to create colored, shaded stuff than just line art? I mean I feel that inking alone takes longer than the sketch?!?
    That's like asking whether the road trip takes longer than packing the car. Yeah, of course it's going to take longer and if it doesn't then you're doing it wrong.

    But of course that's the part that makes everything look good so it's totally worth it. If you never finish stuff then you never get the pleasure of looking at a really well-rendered picture you've done and thinking "DAMN I'm good at this." The sense of pride that you get from making really good work goes a long way to keeping you going through the frustrating bits, even if you only do this as a hobby. Not all finished pictures are going to work out, of course, but I find that it only takes an occasional success to keep me motivated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    It would be massively helpful if someone could point out sources available that tackle exactly this problem. It might be straight-forward for those who know, but I find myself very confused over how far one should go especially when knowing that skills aren't exactly matching ones wishes for making artwork.
    Well, finish is debatable but what you are trying to achieve with most representational paintings is a reasonable likeness of the thing depicted. First is correct proportions, then value and color, then edge; this last is often overlooked. Of course you also need composition. So a finished painting is the sum of your abilities, where they are weak, your painting will suffer. How you go about it is the same as how you go about sketching. You are trying to render something accurately. A good way to practice is to start with a finished painting by someone you like and copy it being aware of all the things I mentioned. When you are done you will have a good idea as to what goes into making a finished painting. Then apply that knowledge to your own ideas leaving nothing out. I'm not trying to be flip here but there is no other way separate from how you go about sketching. A sketch just allows for inaccuracies in trade of time constraints, a more finished painting doesn't because the goal is to finish, not work within a limited set of boundaries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LordLouis View Post
    It would be massively helpful if someone could point out sources available that tackle exactly this problem. It might be straight-forward for those who know, but I find myself very confused over how far one should go especially when knowing that skills aren't exactly matching ones wishes for making artwork.
    How far you "should" go is however far it takes to make the picture look the way you want...

    There isn't any one official process or sequence of steps you go through to finish a picture. This is why finishing pictures is not easy. This is why most artists go through a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and caffeinated beverages during the making of a finished picture. The only consistent process is to work on it a while, look at it, see parts that need more work, work on it some more, repeat until you can't find anything to change (or until the deadline hits, whichever comes first.) Of course there will be many bouts of thinking-it's-done and then looking at it the next day and wanting to change everything. And there may be times when you have to trash the whole thing and start over.

    A picture is done when it looks right to you. That's it. That's the only rule. And what looks "right" depends on the picture. And you. (And the client, if one is involved.)

    So I doubt you can really teach "how to tell if a picture is done"... It's all about experience and developing your own judgment about what looks "right" for any given picture. That's why the only way to learn how to finish a picture is to try to finish some pictures.

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    You are finished when the work fits the vision you have of it when you thought of its composition. This pertains particularly to the style of composition.

    Vision of your art comes from inspiration, you would then refine that inspiration into some meaningful artistic composition. Inspiration comes from different things, such as music or a stroll in the park. One thing I have learned about inspiration is that they seem to sneak their way into your head. You might be listening to music thinking about something cool, some random image flashes across your mind, a potential next art work, which many people might neglect. I have started recording these random imageries in writing and thumbnail form, especially the ones that fill me up with goosebumps when accompanied by music. These music inspired imageries often take the emotional form of the emotions present in the music I listen to, which is to be expected.

    The inspiration isn't always yours, because someone else may be dictating the vision especially when you are working for someone. You still need to stylize the boss' vision in terms of your own vision and stylization, because that is most likely the reason why the employer hired you in the first place.

    Acquiring vision is easy, but accomplishing your vision into representational format is far more difficult, it requires knowledge and skill. Skill is the execution of knowledge, so knowledge itself is half the battle in representational art. Therefore, to achieve these vision, you need to know your fundamentals of representational drawing; how to draw people, cars, buildings, and etc.

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    HOLY MOLEY BATMAN! Thanks everyone for your great responses! I was not expecting this much activity, but as always, CA impresses me again. Excuse me, I have some drawing to do!

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