Struggling to Self-Correct techniques

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    Struggling to Self-Correct techniques

    I have been studying art on my own for about 5 years now, and I still find myself struggling with the same things. Value. Form. Strokes. Basically, my self critiques and the critiques of others (when I have the courage to ask) come down to the same thing. My values are wrong (not pushing far enough) my forms don't stand out, they seem blurry or too soft.

    With all the books I have read and practices I have done, something is just not clicking. I can not seem to push myself to really add contrast to the values. It always looks wrong to me. I always end up softening hard lines. They always look wrong to me when I try to make them crisp or sure. I am frustrated and at a loss as to how to improve these things, and I have a couple of barriers that I can not overcome.

    For one, art books are really hard to come by in English. I am living in Japan and while I can sometimes find said books in Japanese..I can't read them! Paying twice the cost of the book just because of shipping is just not feasible, either. I have a kindle, but all the books that are recommended are not on the kindle yet. There are lots of art books that are on kindle, but I am unsure as to which are good to try and which won't help.

    Money is always an issue. I was taking figure drawing classes for a while, but the expense got too much so I had to drop them. I keep waiting to be able to afford them again (they were the cheapest ones but I had to travel to the city) but life isn't giving me the income just yet. :/

    I have found lots of images to use for references, and with the nice weather I plan on going out more for more life studies (I also have an area set aside for still lifes) but here is the thing---if I can not correct what I am doing wrong, I will just keep practicing the same bad form.

    I did a lot of Loomis studies, and I looked into several others (god, I can never remember how to type all their names...bargue...hograth? Vilppu...sight-size methods...) but I am almost positive that I am practicing *wrong*. How can I get crisp forms and less blurring. How can I train my eye to see it correctly?

    When I work on a piece, I almost always end up using a blender because it looks too harsh, to...wrong. That is the best way to explain it. I guess it is kind of hard to really describe what I mean. I am sure it shows up in my sketchbook here on CA. Can anyone help me correct whatever it is I am doing wrong when I draw? Traditional and digital as they seem to bleed into each other for me?

    I am going on a little trip for a day, so I won't be able to respond for at least 48 hours--but I am desperate and frustrated and I want to figure this out. Reading and Life studies--I get that, but if the technique I am using is bad (which it seems to be) then I won't get better until I fix it, right? I really appreciate your time.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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    I took a look at your sketchbook and it looks to me that you don't see understand form very well yet. Even when you copy something like Dean Cornwell drawings you miss or change the parts that really describe the forms of the object. You can get the shapes right but the forms are off so work a little harder on getting those things exactly right.

    You say you've been at this five years but that doesn't really mean anything. How much practice do you put in everyday? An hour? Two? Three? Be consistent with the time you practice. Its better to practice in a focused way even for a short time everyday than going weeks without doing anything.

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    ...and then i realized your sketchbook thread is f-in 4 years, stretching 2009-2013.
    mind is blown.

    One technique to work around a barrier is to make drastic changes in the way you work.

    You probably have a specific technique for how to output a painting complete with your default way to make the composition, structure the piece, build the characters and do whatever color work. Part of your inability to break your barrier is tied to your conditioning with those techniques. In other words you've learned an error and its hard for you to un-learn it.

    If you take a different technique, a different medium and draw in methods you are not comfortable with, you won't encounter the barrier of the stuff you've already learned in as strong a way, and you can focus on learning whatever you're not succeeding with "the right way" without having yourself as a disruptive element.

    and after that your new understanding should be easy to incorporate into the rest of your work since you already have the idea that what you're doing now can be improved.

    When i look at your work so far I don't see that you work with oil pastels. I think that's a good way to start. Oil pastels have a different feel to them than other mediums, they require you to "play dirty" and touch the painting to the extent that your hand gets sore from doing art, they generally have a very rich, vibrant natural color (which is what you're struggling with - giving your work these qualities) and don't allow you to get easily into any decent resolution - meaning you'll have to work your ass off to get into the amount of definition and that pushes you right into tackling your problems. They naturally lend themselves into being mixed into other oil pastels (with some coercion) Also they are cheap.

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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    ...and then i realized your sketchbook thread is f-in 4 years, stretching 2009-2013.
    mind is blown.

    One technique to work around a barrier is to make drastic changes in the way you work.

    You probably have a specific technique for how to output a painting complete with your default way to make the composition, structure the piece, build the characters and do whatever color work. Part of your inability to break your barrier is tied to your conditioning with those techniques. In other words you've learned an error and its hard for you to un-learn it.

    If you take a different technique, a different medium and draw in methods you are not comfortable with, you won't encounter the barrier of the stuff you've already learned in as strong a way, and you can focus on learning whatever you're not succeeding with "the right way" without having yourself as a disruptive element.

    and after that your new understanding should be easy to incorporate into the rest of your work since you already have the idea that what you're doing now can be improved.

    When i look at your work so far I don't see that you work with oil pastels. I think that's a good way to start. Oil pastels have a different feel to them than other mediums, they require you to "play dirty" and touch the painting to the extent that your hand gets sore from doing art, they generally have a very rich, vibrant natural color (which is what you're struggling with - giving your work these qualities) and don't allow you to get easily into any decent resolution - meaning you'll have to work your ass off to get into the amount of definition and that pushes you right into tackling your problems. They naturally lend themselves into being mixed into other oil pastels (with some coercion) Also they are cheap.

    P.S. what's the work process for doing this kind of pic??? : http://www.conceptart.org/forums/att...1&d=1387890369
    (mind is blown)

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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    Quote Originally Posted by anjyil View Post
    I have been studying art on my own for about 5 years now, and I still find myself struggling with the same things. Value. Form. Strokes. Basically, my self critiques and the critiques of others (when I have the courage to ask) come down to the same thing. My values are wrong (not pushing far enough) my forms don't stand out, they seem blurry or too soft.
    First things first: study form. Draw a simple object and try to get the form right, using construction lines, measuring distances and angles. Post the results here.

    For one, art books are really hard to come by in English.
    Forget about books, you don't need a lot. First, study line, form. Second, study life drawing, from Loomis. Study value and colour. This should keep you busy for a year or two.

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    And don't just do it once, do it multiple times until you get it right every single time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I took a look at your sketchbook and it looks to me that you don't see understand form very well yet. Even when you copy something like Dean Cornwell drawings you miss or change the parts that really describe the forms of the object. You can get the shapes right but the forms are off so work a little harder on getting those things exactly right.

    You say you've been at this five years but that doesn't really mean anything. How much practice do you put in everyday? An hour? Two? Three? Be consistent with the time you practice. Its better to practice in a focused way even for a short time everyday than going weeks without doing anything.
    Thank you---yes, you are very right. I am not exactly sure what I do, but I know that I have probably been doing it since grade school. I am not sure how to do it differently, but maybe I need to work in more extremes?

    As for my practice load---well, it depends on the day as I have a job with a random schedule. I try to draw something or work on small projects, but I haven't done straight up practices in a couple of months because I really needed a break. I was on a burn out and forgetting why I liked to draw lol. Now I am looking to jump back into practices, but this little break plus a few critiques has showed me that I need to change something first before I try that. I tend to get obsessed with practicing and irritable when I am interrupted, so I usually wait for a long open period to practice.

    Okay, so when I go back into the practices, try and copy 100%--I think I can use that whole overlay thing to check.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amir0 View Post
    ...and then i realized your sketchbook thread is f-in 4 years, stretching 2009-2013.
    mind is blown.

    One technique to work around a barrier is to make drastic changes in the way you work.

    You probably have a specific technique for how to output a painting complete with your default way to make the composition, structure the piece, build the characters and do whatever color work. Part of your inability to break your barrier is tied to your conditioning with those techniques. In other words you've learned an error and its hard for you to un-learn it.

    If you take a different technique, a different medium and draw in methods you are not comfortable with, you won't encounter the barrier of the stuff you've already learned in as strong a way, and you can focus on learning whatever you're not succeeding with "the right way" without having yourself as a disruptive element.

    and after that your new understanding should be easy to incorporate into the rest of your work since you already have the idea that what you're doing now can be improved.

    When i look at your work so far I don't see that you work with oil pastels. I think that's a good way to start. Oil pastels have a different feel to them than other mediums, they require you to "play dirty" and touch the painting to the extent that your hand gets sore from doing art, they generally have a very rich, vibrant natural color (which is what you're struggling with - giving your work these qualities) and don't allow you to get easily into any decent resolution - meaning you'll have to work your ass off to get into the amount of definition and that pushes you right into tackling your problems. They naturally lend themselves into being mixed into other oil pastels (with some coercion) Also they are cheap.

    P.S. what's the work process for doing this kind of pic??? : http://www.conceptart.org/forums/att...1&d=1387890369
    (mind is blown)
    I actually don't have any oil pastels...I have some kind of pastel from a kids art kit that I got several years ago. Honestly, I was lucky to find the watercolor kid (which is about 20 years old!) I have found that whatever it is I am doing with charcoal and pencil, I try to do it with other mediums because I don't know how to use those mediums. I have been using pencil since grade school lol.



    As for the watercolor, I used and followed this tutorial
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB4V5vlvzTo

    It was really fun, but then I got discouraged when trying anything on my own because I get confused that I can't do what I do with pencils with watercolor

    Right now, all I have are pencils, charcoal, kiddy pastels, kiddy colored pencils, and that 20 year old watercolor. I am unwilling to buy descent materials until I can show some kind of progress--my money is limited so I worry about wasting it.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    First things first: study form. Draw a simple object and try to get the form right, using construction lines, measuring distances and angles. Post the results here.



    Forget about books, you don't need a lot. First, study line, form. Second, study life drawing, from Loomis. Study value and colour. This should keep you busy for a year or two.

    I guess I have been studying form wrong ::shrugs:: I did a long time on setting up construction and thought it was enough--key word is thought. Self assessment of progress is not always accurate.

    So basically, set up a still life and use sight-size or whatever methods I can to match the physical object as much as possible and then go from there. Once I get that down, I can start trying to work in values again--this time using more dramatic differences and then going for more subtle--and from there, I can start adding color. This will keep me busy. ^_^

    I will have to clear my easel to get to work on that.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    And don't just do it once, do it multiple times until you get it right every single time.
    I think that is why I do it wrong--I stopped thinking it was "good enough" rather than right.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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    ...I get confused that I can't do what I do with pencils with watercolor...
    That's the whole point of the exercise. To give you an easy way to get to the the place of "lack of knowledge" where you learn everything for the first time.

    As for Oil Pastels just so we are both talking about the same thing this is what im talking about (maybe it's the kit you already have):

    Name:  msLBzCKalRkcCZgEkMABwMA.jpg
Views: 443
Size:  26.6 KB

    The kiddie version should cost about 2 USD in a general writing instrument shop and you don't need anything fancier (considering 2 sticks of high quality stuff cost the same as the entire kiddie kit and the kiddie kit gives good enough results).

    When buying care get ones with no tip. the ones that have a conical tip in the shop are hard and more like pencils which is crap for you you want the ones that are like plasteline that you can just plaster into the paper and then squeeze them into shape with your fingers on the paper.

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    Last edited by Amir0; April 14th, 2014 at 01:12 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amir0 View Post
    [QUOTE...]

    That's the whole point of the exercise....
    And that is where I fail the exercise! hehe I understand what you mean, though.

    I have no clue what kind of pastels they are, but this is the art kit I am talking about. I don't use those watercolors, though. The ones I use are older...twenty years old, back when my husband was in school and they had art classes. I will have to keep my eyes open at the art stores for what look similiar, or maybe the 100 yen shop. They sometimes use different names in Japanese or katakana which can be confusing.

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    That art kit above I have tried using---I have found that it is horrible for any kind of blending, so I don't think any of that is oil based...

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

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    Name:  art set.JPG
Views: 441
Size:  77.9 KB

    These should be those. But ofc they should be a bit soft to the touch. When you pressure them into the paper they smear which is how you do the blending (force required).

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amir0 View Post
    Name:  art set.JPG
Views: 441
Size:  77.9 KB

    These should be those. But ofc they should be a bit soft to the touch. When you pressure them into the paper they smear which is how you do the blending (force required).
    I just touched them to be sure---they are chalky and a bit hard, not really soft. They feel and go on like crayon almost, at least from what I remember of trying to use them.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

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    I thought it would be better to run a test, so I grabbed a random one and ran it across my sketchpaper. Then I smeared a part of it with my thumb on the edge. Hmm..maybe it is more oil based then I thought? It just goes on and feels like crayon but it smeared pretty well with my thumb...better than I remembered...

    edit::sorry didn't realize how big that shot was

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    I kinda did the same thing there...

    Here's the sticks:
    Name:  Capture 01.PNG
Views: 453
Size:  1.03 MB

    Apply to paper:
    Name:  Capture 02.PNG
Views: 449
Size:  661.7 KB

    Smear a bit and apply more yellow:
    Name:  Capture 3.PNG
Views: 453
Size:  598.9 KB

    Use thumb aggressively to both blend and smear:
    Name:  Capture 4.jpg
Views: 439
Size:  31.9 KB

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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    Great minds think alike Hmm....maybe they are a kind of pastel. Just really low quality, I guess. It looks very similar based on your shots.

    So I guess, when I start on my forms again I should use these pastels. They will prevent me from over blurring and are not very forgiving, so no erasing either. I think I am too dependent on stumps/cloths and erasers so this will be a good thing

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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    Also their capacity for definition is shit so you probably want to draw big.

    anyway there's a number of different textures you can reach with these you can play with that, removing paint with knife, painting over with another layer, with or without smudging the paint, can make them really opaque or really translucent based on how you use them.... lots of stuff you can do.

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

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    I feel a lot more confident with all these suggestions from everyone. It's helpful to have a plan rather than just banging my head against the wall. I want to implement all these now, but I have to finish this project for my family as I promised them. I am actually excited and anxious to get back to my studies now, though

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

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    Changing the medium to help you get away from old mistakes is a good idea.

    But also bear in mind that there is nothing that would prevent you from painting from life with your computer/laptop either. It's a little more tricky to set up, especially if you're working with a desktop, but it's far from impossible. Just about anything you can do from life, you can do digitally as well, even plein air work:
    Struggling to Self-Correct techniques

    Of course, doing these studies digitally has its own problems (disconnect between hand and painting, you're not building any traditional skills like mixing colour or using an actual brush etc.,), but the fundamentals are the same and no material is actually used up.

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    Shade box? really?

    lol. I tried this a couple of times without the shade box, computer screen is hardly readable. can't figure out color and stuff.

    sunlight's 30 times more potent than indoor light (approx). does a shade box suffice?

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

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    Depends. I wouldn't sit in direct sunlight beating down. But if your screen is matte (which it should be if you're painting) and you put the laptop in the shadebox, you've got a decent chance. You can also improve circumstances by using an umbrealla to shield the screen/yourself even more.

    Have a look at http://digitalpleinairsociety.com/ , plenty of work that was done en plein air. Here's two of mine; http://digitalpleinairsociety.com/wp...s-1024x655.jpg http://digitalpleinairsociety.com/wp...s-1024x568.jpg


    But even if you haven't got a laptop, doing a still life painting in digital with a desktop is also very possible. Here's a skull study I did from life recently: http://poli.oppono.de/stud_0414_02a.jpg

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    To be honest, I am not too enthusiastic about the oil pastel suggestion. I suggest you start in oil paint, because it allows you to mix the colour you need, directly. Watercolour is a lot more complicated, because its transparency, and pastels lets you mix colours on paper, which is not very forgiving...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Doing studies digitally is not a bad idea, especially since I need to finish the traditional portraits for my family and only have one easel. It will allow me to do both!

    I am actually very uncomfortable with purchasing oil paints mainly because of storing them. I am in a room with no air conditioning, and it gets around 30-35 degrees Celsius or more easily. I worry about fire and stuff because I have no way to keep it cool at this point. :/ I really want to get into oil some day---but I think I need to get this stuff down first before jumping into it. The pastels will give me a bit of variety and challenge and, hopefully, will help me focus more.

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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  35. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by anjyil View Post
    I am actually very uncomfortable with purchasing oil paints mainly because of storing them.
    Try gouache, it takes a little more practice to handle these, but they are safe to use.

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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  37. #26
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    Try gouache, it takes a little more practice to handle these, but they are safe to use.
    also they don't stink your apartment for hours on end which is always a big plus

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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  39. #27
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    I will have to look into that. Thanks!

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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  40. #28
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    Hi there,
    I feel like I sort of know what you're talking about.
    I tend to approach things generally the same way too, especially my mistakes. In a certain way, that's okay, it is part of one's style. In another way it's a handicap.
    But for you, I'd have a few suggestions, that could at least help you to draw things in a different way than you usually do.

    These two might help to get you out of your prefered way of approaching an image.

    1. Try to do upside down studies. That would confuse your brain, and force it to read the information out differently.
    2. Try to draw the outlines of a study just by the spaces inbetween the object, rather than drawing the object.

    And these could help you to stay away from too smooth lines and to understand other ways of going about an image.

    3. Reference pictures from artist that you like and that use a 'hard brush' technique, just to get an idea on how it is done.
    4. Reference their thechnique more than the picture.
    5. Use a brush that just doesn't allow you to go too soft too early.

    You won't succeed, if you don't learn to fail.

    SKETCHBOOK | NABYN | BLOG

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  42. #29
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    this are all great ideas for me too

    The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    For they, while they companions slept,
    Were toiling upwards in the night"

    (Henry Wadsworth)
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  43. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by TearUp View Post
    Hi there,
    I feel like I sort of know what you're talking about.
    I tend to approach things generally the same way too, especially my mistakes. In a certain way, that's okay, it is part of one's style. In another way it's a handicap.
    But for you, I'd have a few suggestions, that could at least help you to draw things in a different way than you usually do.

    These two might help to get you out of your prefered way of approaching an image.

    1. Try to do upside down studies. That would confuse your brain, and force it to read the information out differently.
    2. Try to draw the outlines of a study just by the spaces inbetween the object, rather than drawing the object.

    And these could help you to stay away from too smooth lines and to understand other ways of going about an image.

    3. Reference pictures from artist that you like and that use a 'hard brush' technique, just to get an idea on how it is done.
    4. Reference their thechnique more than the picture.
    5. Use a brush that just doesn't allow you to go too soft too early.

    These are all great ideas. I hadn't heard of the upside down one---but I don't know if my brain could handle that! Worth a try, though. I actually am not very found of the rough look, so finding an artist in that category may be difficult for me. Or it could be that I do like an artist that way, but I don't realize that they use the hard brush technique. I will try googling the term for examples to see.

    Drawing the spaces between---like the negative space? Hmm... should try that. Sounds very challenging, all of these. I like it! Thank you!

    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006
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