Feel like I'm going backwards.
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  1. #1
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    Feel like I'm going backwards.

    Hello all, long time lurker, first time poster, stuck in old habbits.

    I feel as if I haven't improved in my technical ability, if anything, I have gone backwards.

    A bit about me;
    I'm 21 years old, self taught, hated art class in school, thought I was a know it all. I bought my first graphics tablet in 2007, a Bamboo fun, upgraded to an intuos 4 in 2009, then to a intuos 5 in 2012.
    I gave up drawing about 3 years ago, feeling like i couldn't draw, gave it a shot and drew my favourite piece, then stopped again, for reasons I'm not sure of.

    I always wanted to be a concept artist for games, growing up I was an avid gamer, and I wanted more than anything to design characters and see them come to life.

    Now at 21 and feeling empty with my 'talents' I don't know how to improve anymore. I'll attach a few images with timelines to show how I'm feeling.


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    I did this in 2006 with a mouse in photoshop, at the age of 15.

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    2007

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    2008, I did 4 images all of similar style in the same month.
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    Also 2008, I really wanted to stop using lineart.

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    2009, and my favorite pieces to date..

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    2011 I did some art work for a small indie game that I ended up not working for partway through the project and my work made redundant but I think this was some of my better work.
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    2011

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    2012

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    And now in 2013 all I can do is little chibi-like characters... And when I sit and try to draw even from photo or real life I just get nothing... Perhaps it's my own punishment for stopping for so long, my style feels like it's gone back 3 years and is stuck

    I obviously get a tonne of inspiration from games and fantasy, even then, I just cant seem to draw it! I created a youtube channel and recorded about 5 or 6 of my last pieces, and i sit and watch them and wonder "how" did i do it? Is it normal to feel as if you never knew how to draw at all?

    Feel free to be brutal with ideas/critique, I could use a kick up the butt I think.

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    Have you ever tried to do it methodically? I.e. tried to sit and do a practice still life, for instance. Sketches, perspective plots to test, value study, painting... Or did you just sit with the mouse/tablet and whip out a picture when you feel like it?

    I am asking because all these pictures look like the product of ad libbing the surface look, but not much of substance behind it. Perhaps you had been imitating superficial things too much, and that can't really sustain a skill in the long run. Most people I've seen who stayed with this sort of "wild-grown" skill either quit or stagnated in the same rut forever.

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    Sorry for the rant... People keep poping up saying they need to find thier style and whatever... Its getting on my nerves.
    Well, I don't know how it works in the other countries, but in France where I come from, I think art schools have their responsibilities with that. To enter most art schools, there is a contest, where you must present a portfolio, have an interview, and so on. However schools are mainly looking for students with a very distinctive style, with a lot of personality in their work. They are very selective, there are always much less places than candidates. They won't choose "generic" students, the applicant must have something different from the others in order to be noticed by the jury.

    Therefore, preparatory classes do exist where students are told the basics of art (including life drawing sessions and so), but also are somehow "forced" to experiment a lot, to always get out of their comfort zone and to finally find a style before the contest. And indeed, even the teachers use the expression "find a style", like if you could just pick one in 5 seconds and change if it's not good. "You'll need to change your style" is a common advice when students are recruited for these classes.

    These informations are what I've been told by friends of mine that are in some top-level art schools. I did not pursue art studies, therefore I did not experiment it by myself. However I remember my best friend (who is in art school) used to tell me that my realistic "style" wasn't very personal, and that her teachers told her realism was very plain, boring and generic, and totally not advised for contests.

    Therefore, a lot of young people I know are obsessed with "finding a style" that might allow them to be instantly recognizable and to stand out from the crowd. In France, I would say that schools are mainly looking for various kind of cartoon styles. By the way, our schools do not really prepare us to become concept artists, there are a few very new schools that are concept-art oriented, but they are not older than two or three years.

    Anyway, sorry for this long off-topic message, just wanted to try to give an explanation about this obsession with the style :o

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    I'm writing this more as a composer than an artist since I've been struggling with composing a lot longer than drawing.

    It's important to realize that your problems aren't rooted in your artistic ability. Drop the thought of having gotten worse. Unless you've suffered some sort of head trauma, you haven't. Whatever hinders you from drawing now is something else. Sure, the break can have left you rough around the edges, but I know (actually, me and you both know) that if you draw every day for a week or two you'll be back in shape.

    I'd like to have a guess as to what it is that's hindering your progress and maybe you can relate to some of it.
    Are you drawing because you want to or because you feel like you should? When I stopped composing because I wanted to and did it because I realized "I gotta make money from this", then everything went to shit from there. I forgot to remind myself that I actually loved doing it and it took me a few years to get back to the fun aspect of composing. It's the same with art. Too much focus on "how good you are" will only act as a mental block. And if you started this thread because you wanted praise, then I'd gladly say you're really talented, because you are, but other peoples praise won't solve the true issue which is the one you (seem to) have within yourself.
    Ask yourself if you've truly tried to outdo your former paintings. Have you 1/ spent the time to study art and learn the science behind art, 2/ spent the same amount of time and energy on a new painting as the ones you did when you were younger, 3/ made the same amount of planning before a piece and 4/ started a new painting with the same conviction and determination as you did in the past? I ask this because the "I must have lost my skill"-excuse is easier than "I haven't given it my all, and that's the real problem here" - and it's always too easy to fall back on simple excuses as a kind of justification of procrastination.
    Now, granted, it's not easy to "give it all you've got" (I'm struggling with that all the time myself), but it's important to realize that it's the core issue, and not whether or not you've "lost your skill", because you have personal responsibility over the former and can't do anything about the latter.

    Also, if you're serious about becoming a concept artist, you've got to stop thinking in terms of outdoing your previous artwork and start thinking about actually becoming a better artist. Placing too much pride in your finished work will only hinder your progress. The reason you're drawing today is not primarily to make a good painting today; it's so that you can make high quality drawings in the future.

    Anyway, I have no idea if this was helpful to you, and don't find any of this easy myself. It's easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk, and all that.
    I hope you'll get back your motivation. I'm sure you're talented enough to get far in this business if you put your mind to it. Good luck.

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    Wow Mikael, what an insightfull comment, it really made me think, thank you

    Also to the OP: when I look at your pieces, the chibi from 2013 is defenitely "better" (or whatever word to use here... maybe more skillfully made?) than your favourite pieces from 2009. It is also super cute!

    "Insert cool quote here, preferable not in Swedish"

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    Now that you've had a break and a chance to forget some habits, you have a real opportunity to review the basics and get a fresh start. Not that manga is the demon some people make it out to be, but at some point you have to step back and think to yourself "you know what... my foot just doesn't look like the thing I am drawing. What exactly are the proportions of a foot and how do I break it down into a 3D shape and how do I draw it in perspective?"

    It feels like everything you learned before was from copying other people and not genuine observations you made of the world around you. Which is problematic, because how do you know that those people you copied didn't fuck something up?

    But you have to be willing to be a beginner again. Art is a long-term investment. You can't always be looking back at what you did or comparing yourself with other people or complaining that improvement isn't fast enough. That's just going to drive you crazy with frustration and you'll hate it and quit. You have to look forward and be willing to learn stuff just to see what happens.

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    Hey Elianan, don't be pessimistic. I only believe that you are not able to draw at the level you expect and want to because you aren't seeing the bigger picture. It takes discipline and strong foundations to be a conceptual artist, it doesn't happen overnight just because you want or like drawing characters. I would say, why not start now and learn and analyze from life and make some kick ass drawings instead of reflecting on what could of been. Also stop playing video games if you still are an avid gamer or at least lessen the play time, that is if you are still firm with your goals of becoming a concept artist.

    If you have a moment, Help me improve with critiques. thank you Sketchbook

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    Your story sounds pretty similar to mine (in some respects). I wanted to be a concept artist, but instead wound up going to school for architecture for half a decade because the Art Institute wanted my first born for tuition (a tempting offer). I am currently not very pleased with my own artistic develop. Too much time was squandered, up in my youths, playing games and generally just being totally unproductive in general. On dreary, overcast days, I'll look out of my office window and think "If only I had put X amount of time into Y, I could totally be hanging with artists like Insert favorite artist here right now", and would not have to worry about whether or not this upholstery is going to contrast accordingly with that wallcovering. Then I get filled with all kinds of regrets n'shit.

    But that's all hindsight, cuz. The reality is that you're either maximizing the amount of time you want to spend on art and personal improvement, or you're not. Regrets ain't going to get you that smokin-hot job as a concept artist. Do. Do not reminisce. If you think you've gotten worse, identify which aspects of your previous works were better, and then think about how you might recapture the essence of that work. If you do not want to recapture the essence of your previous work, then pursue a different vector of artistic development, in which case there are innumerable resources at your disposal. Like seriously, if you cannot find a guide, or a tutorial, or a general lesson plan (for free!) on the internet, you need to practice your interwebs skills. If you want to draw horses better, well shit, son, I've got great news for you. There's books out there that will teach you. They'll probably feature horse anatomy and everything, and all you have to do is draw it and contemplate it with your gigantic, powerful mind. So start drawing, because the only barrier to becoming a better artist is you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aliciane View Post
    Therefore, preparatory classes do exist where students are told the basics of art (including life drawing sessions and so), but also are somehow "forced" to experiment a lot, to always get out of their comfort zone and to finally find a style before the contest. And indeed, even the teachers use the expression "find a style", like if you could just pick one in 5 seconds and change if it's not good. "You'll need to change your style" is a common advice when students are recruited for these classes.
    Interesting point. Experimenting is good, but all this talk about "finding the style"... maybe you are right and it's detrimental to the substance of the studying.

    What needs to be understood is that you don't "find" your style lying on the ground. You grow your style from the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    It feels like everything you learned before was from copying other people and not genuine observations you made of the world around you. Which is problematic, because how do you know that those people you copied didn't fuck something up?
    Bull's eye. That's what must have really been bothering me in his work.

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    Elianan, drawing is a functional tool. There are various types of drawing. To resolve some of your dilemmas, you should be able to answer the question of why you want/need to draw. You say you want to be a concept artist for games. Concept artists use drawing to virtually prototype designs of three dimensional objects, living things included. Basis of this type of drawing is construction of primitives (cubes, cylinders, spheres) in linear perspective. Judging from drawings you posted here, it seems that you are not yet able to draw this way. So getting down to learning it, could be a good starting point for reinventing your approach to drawing. May be worth it because it looks like you have a lot of affinity. It's just not trained properly.

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    arenhaus: I've always drawn from my imagination, always been hasty to get that fluttering idea down onto a blank page, I've always been very impulsive, because when I get an idea, I want it to be down before it disappears, but it never turns out how I want it to. You're very right, my works don't have anything behind them, nothing to enforce what the viewer is seeing, no story to tell.

    Aliciane:
    I've been very obsessed with styles, I haven't "given up" as such on finding my own, I'd love for someone to see a picture by me and think, "Oh! such and such did this!" but I think I've accepted that it doesn't happen just like that, nor does it happen quickly.

    Mikael Eson: I'm drawing very much before 'everyone says I should' and being hounded about a talent "I'm letting go to waste" It's not that I don't enjoy drawing, it's more that the more pressure I have around me the less I want to do it, and even when I start to enjoy it, there's always that little bit that thinks "Well you will start hating it again soon." Especially after I missed my opportunity with the character design I was doing for the Indie game, drawing since then has been very hard for me, not because of failure but because it feels wasteful. I have tried to better my images, even going back and redoing them, I end up getting very frustrated and rush it until it's finished, because what I can picture in my head, doesn't relate to my hands. Thankyou for your post, it really made me think.

    vineris: Perspective is something I have -always- struggled with, and I did try quite hard in my 2012 piece with the motorcycle, and I spent a long time trying to get it right, I just couldnt hold it together throughout the entire image. I didn't ever really copy, I observed, I drew from childhood things that I enjoyed, I know my lines came from anime when I was younger like Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon, and I remember drawing them every day in and out, but other than that, I locked myself away and just drew, I never really copied any other artists, I didn't know where to look, or, I wasn't willing to find them. I used to write, and I knew that if I for instance, read the Lord of the Rings, my writing would be heavily influenced by that authors writing, I didn't want the same for my art.

    TNiznet: I have stopped quite a lot of my gaming, now I only play very casual games, maybe for an hour or most at any day. I think I may, go back to the very basics of shape, and re-educate myself, and have patience

    The Fez:
    I guess I do need to kick my as into gear, it's not going to fall into my lap, I think a good hard dose of dedication and study are in order. I think perhaps I am focusing too much on what 'used' to be, and not 'what is, and will be.' Thanks, really, I think I was thinking I deserved to be somewhere else, somewhere better, but I'm realizing I made the choice to not make that happen,

    arenhaus: Perhaps, I don't recall ever really focusing on any particular artist, or style, mainly from TV And she* for what it's worth

    LaCan: I really do struggle so very much with the basics... Shape, form, structure, perspective most of all, architectural pieces really challenges me, and I find myself giving up when presented with the task of drawing it... I think I may have found why and what I need to improve on. I think I try to over complicate my process, to get everything down quickly and rush it out the door before I am really satisfied, or really given it my all, focused on perspective, broken it down into shapes- thankyou for your advice.

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    I'll add that I went almost 20 years without drawing a thing; and I didn't learn how to draw in the 1st place since I'd started as a preschooler. So coming back to it 10 years ago I had not only lost my limited skills, but what I did remember was dodgy to say the least. I'm not a professional, my day job is psychotherapy and I love it, but art is important to me. Important enough that I really had to sit down and try to draw real things over and over before I really started to come to a spot where I could be pleased with my work. If it's important to you, make a commitment to it, accept that your 1st pieces of life work will be crap, and learn from them. And I'm surprised that Arenhaus hasn't already said this, but: Pencil and Paper!! Really. You've relied too much on photoshops effects instead of learning how to draw it yourself. Trust me, you'll thank us later :-)

    D'Arcy

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    Well, it seems clear that the way to go here is take pencils, paper, Loomis or some other drawing manual, and start grinding on the drawing fundamentals.

    When you feel an urge to jot something down on inspiration, do it. Don't polish it - record the idea. Then take it and work on the fundamentals in it, redrawing it so that it has both the energy of the first concept and the correctness of the systematic drawing.

    It won't work at first, but keep going on. Eventually you'll internalize enough of the fundamentals that you will be able to not kill the idea with the redrawing on some attempts; then you'll be able to translate the original idea consistently; and then later on you won't even need redrawing.

    Impulsiveness will be either put to work and do its part... or make you quit. But I don't think there is another way to get any sort of clear progress, really.

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    Its a marathon not a sprint. Hard doses of study are good but can burn you out.
    Work hard, as often as you can, surround yourself with the absolute best work you can find, practice. You're not brilliant yet but you're definitely not shit, you've already learned a lot. Keep pressing on and in a couple of years youll be kicking ass. The you can start getting in work, earning dollar, and take it from there.

    Oh and to reinforce what Arenhaus said, sketches are not finished pieces. If you have an idea, draw it really rough, from different angles if you like, just to get the idea down. Then neaten it up. Then do a final render. Doing things in stages loosens you up cos mistakes dont matter, and that in turn leads to happy accidents, and more throroughly designed, glitch-free work.

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    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    Just to make this clear. All style is is the artist's shorthand. They, the artist, took the basics to an advanced stage of understanding and decided where they wanted to go with there craft and focused themselves in that direction. Each visual genre for a better term, has its prerequisites and as such said artists have determined their path accordingly. When you become well versed enough to decide, then what is called style will develop. Don't sweat it right now.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elianan View Post
    vineris: Perspective is something I have -always- struggled with, and I did try quite hard in my 2012 piece with the motorcycle, and I spent a long time trying to get it right, I just couldnt hold it together throughout the entire image. I didn't ever really copy, I observed, I drew from childhood things that I enjoyed, I know my lines came from anime when I was younger like Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon, and I remember drawing them every day in and out, but other than that, I locked myself away and just drew, I never really copied any other artists, I didn't know where to look, or, I wasn't willing to find them. I used to write, and I knew that if I for instance, read the Lord of the Rings, my writing would be heavily influenced by that authors writing, I didn't want the same for my art.
    I may be wrong about the extent to which you copied other artists, but you did not *observe* you *assumed*. Because... well, grass does not look like that. Trees do not look like that. The sky is not usually that pale washed-out colour. You can always tell when a person is not really looking at the world around them, when they are using symbols and shorthand and assuming too much. Maybe you shouldn't lock yourself away any more. Maybe it's time to go outside and see what the sky really looks like at different times and in different weathers.

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