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  1. #1
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    Seven years in the making. Ili's sketchbook

    Oh boy, here we go. My name is ili and I'm absolutely terrified.


    It is the second time I'm writing an introduction to my sketchbook to this very site. But this time around it will be different.


    During my high school I told everyone that I didn't need to study or have high grades since you know, I was going to become an illustrator. In reality I had only just started drawing (at the age of 16) and spent all of my classes with headphones on, practicing day in and out. What I didn't do, however, was leave my comfort zone. Floating heads, front view and with one eye covered -- you guys know the deal. To be fair I did read and practice a lot from loomis and whatever master I could get my hand on, but I knew I wanted to draw stylized characters, so that is what I did. I drew A LOT but with no real vision. My father once commented on my mechanical approach to studying which valued quantity over quality. Being a (former) MMORPG-head I figured that if I just grinded hard and long enough I'd eventually get good, right? I also refused to copy other people's work, characters or use reference pictures because (in my mind) that'd make me less "original".


    By my third year I was in a terrible state. I was still practicing a lot every day, but my way of "practicing" was generally just drawing heads and eyes day in and day out. Every time I started a new drawing the clean white space terrified me because I knew that if I didn't perform up to the "standards" I had set for myself it would hurt me, and make it that much harder to start the next drawing. In my head I knew that I needed to do something about this (practice new things, new situations) but the fear of failing crippled me. Somewhere in the middle here I bought an intuos3, but the world of digital painting was a scary new place so I quickly retreated back to pencil lineart.


    Before I graduated HS I got burnt out and the thought of picking up the pen made me sick to my core. By the time I had graduated I knew that I wasn't going to become an illustrator. I hadn't sent in any portfolios to any of the Universities I had aimed for, and even though I kept telling people otherwise I knew that the dream was dead. Around this time I sat down and started composing a thread on this very site asking for help, but in the end I didn't end up posting it.


    Seven years have passed since then. During all this time I've kept a sketchbook with me to classes at University but more out of habbit than anything else.


    Late last year I realized that I wanted back -- not because I wanted to become an artist, but because I finally wanted to draw again. I dusted off my Wacom and got to work, and to my surprise I was no longer feeling any pressure. The soul crushing mental state of my HS years was gone and a mental shift has opened me up to learning from and accepting mistakes. I've been sharing things I've been drawing to friends and forums I visit, which was something I would never have done before.


    Thus I've been grinding again since last year, moving away from floating heads and more towards full body poses, adding in colours and values and practicing fundamentals. I'm happy since I feel like I'm improving, but I'm now at a level where my friends can't really give my constructive advice anymore and the comments are generally "nice" or "I don't like it" but unable to specify. I have this lingering feeling that there are some very basic things that I don't notice myself that could improve my art tenfold if only I had someone to point them out for me.


    So, fuck it. Lets go!






    I made a tumblr page earlier today where I dumped most of the "finished" paintings I've done, in chronological order, but I also have an imgur account which is a "general dump" where I keep screenshots of all the paintings done in different stages of completion in order to get a sense for how I try and plan things. I've removed the realistic drawings I've done since they are of family members, and there's a bunch of gesture drawings and whatnot that I've also removed to slim it down a bit.

    Tumblr: http://ili104.tumblr.com


    Everything is done in a slightly different style, but for some reason I don't paint in the loose style I want to. I love the sketches of NaBaBa (like this one http://orig09.deviantart.net/b296/f/...ba-d7njdrb.png) but I can't emulate the style to save my life. I want to paint looser with more livid colours with sharp edges and a distinct contrast between how detailed and loose parts of the paintings are. I sit down with that in my mind when I start painting but by the time I'm done it doesn't look even close to the style I want. Weird how that works.

    I used to paint in SAI so moving to PhotoShop has been a headache since I no longer have any idea how to mix and blend colours, or even choose colours to begin with. The lack of colour wheel is causing me some pain but I much prefer the rough edges you can get in PhotoShop over the blends of SAI.

    I'm not really sure if I should just dump all the pictures I have on the tumblr page in here so I'll just leave it be right now. All criticism is welcome be it fundamentals or tips on how to properly use the software or just general advice.

    Thanks in advance!
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    Last edited by ili104; April 21st, 2017 at 12:33 PM.


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  4. #2
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    Painted two more. Done in photoshop @ ~3000-4000 pixels wide, round/square/chalk brush with 100% opacity, opacity set to pressure sensitivity, rest default.
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    A friend asked for a sort of realistic take on Harley Quinn, but I think she ended up looking too much like a for my liking.
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  6. #4
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    Hi Ili. It's great thatyou've started a sketchbook here! I had a look at your tumblr too.You should post the things you want to draw attention too. Are youhappy sticking with the cute / sexy anime style? You draw very welland to me it is obvious you have studied hard to get to thisstandard.

    It all looks great but then I see what you mean about thedeviant art image you like. I think more experimentation withbrushes, texture and push the lighting will help develop your forms.It's almost like pushing the cartoon style into a more fantasypainterly style. Check out a Korean artist called Tahra art, he is amaster of these characters and maybe do film studies from Studio Ghibli to understand shapes and colour more.

    Good luck, I look forward to seeing whatyou do next.
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  8. #5
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    I really like your style! Maybe you try to keep your lines clean and your edges sharp!

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  10. #6
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    Wow, you are both all too kind.


    I'm in a weird position where I have a quite clear idea of what I want "my style" to be, but I keep on going "hey lets try this and see what happens!". Both of the Harley Quinn paintings along with a bunch of others had the theme and style set by friends of mine.

    - Draw a young cartoony Harley!
    - No she should be grown up and sexy!

    So I the ended up doing both.


    Dayle: I started out drawing but always wanted to paint, but was too scared of going the entire way so I've been just doing lineart and then going about the really... systematic? approach where you bunch everything into different layers with clipping and what-not. I find it to be terrible boring to do (so much time spent setting up the painting!) and I like the looser look you can get working closer to the traditional media much more. Also many of the racier pictures are just me doing stylized anatomy practice . Specifically I spent two weeks practicing drawing breast so all the NSFW stuff is from those weeks and not really what I want to do.

    I want to paint something that mixes traditional touches with Japanese/korean pop culture aesthetics like the NaBaBa link I showed, or PAPARAYA (https://images.plurk.com/c82e298be4b...3c1bf03a55.jpg) or Oguchi (http://sekijitsu.com/wp-content/uplo...ll_.940909.jpg). The only painting I've done that gets sort of close (but doesn't push it far enough) is this one: http://ili104.tumblr.com/post/137871432692, my first PhotoShop painting. I have very little experience with using brushes and have never used any textures so that is definitely something I will work on. I've been trying to "keep it simple" while learning PS, and seeing how NaBaBa barely used anything other than a square brush (I think?) I've been vary of expanding.

    Tahra is really good, thank you for the inspiration.



    Dascia: thank you! I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting zoomed in at 400% trying to "perfect" the lineart (like for this one: http://40.media.tumblr.com/3e15b09b9...uvno5_1280.png) but then I saw this portrait by Manet (http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/art...risot-1872.jpg) and thought the style so much richer than anything I had ever done (well duh, it's Manet). So I jumped ship and ran to Photoshop to try and learn how to paint. I think you make a very good point though because I'm having problems with deciding how many "lost" lines to have, how detailed to make the parts I want subdued and so on. I might have turned back the dial too much.



    Right now I'm doing a free commission for another friend that asked for a 16:9 wallpaper of two characters from the game series Disgaea battling (Priere and Overlord Priere). I've never done two characters at the same time, I've never done a proper background, never drawn a battle and never played any of the Disgaea games so this is... a challenge.

    Photo album with WIP pictures of it: http://imgur.com/a/71UtY. The characters are just blocked in and will be coloured and fixed tomorrow, I just wanted to get an idea for how the scene should be. To be honest I reallllly shouldn't have started painting (and sort of finishing...) the background before I moved onto the characters since as you can see they are both floating.

  11. #7
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    There is nothing wrong with trying different styles and experimenting, it will all help to confirm your own path and actually will be better for you in the end. Keep investigating and learning, you have made a great start. Send me a message if you ever want any feedback or advice (not that I am great at this stuff myself).
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  12. #8
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    I've been trying to incorporate the things you told me about in this new piece. I found a brush set which I've been using, tried to add textures to the rock formations and ground and painting over them, and pushing the lightning more than I usually do.

    So yeah, a lot of "firsts". I haven't cleaned up the lines and its still only ~60% finished (the second character has gotten 0 love so far) but I'd love to hear some comments on what I should fix.
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    Last edited by ili104; January 29th, 2016 at 06:29 PM.

  13. #9
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    I'm glad you came back to drawing! It's so awesome .
    Some things that really helped me over the years:
    - Sketchbook is for learning, not for pretty. As you said, "grinding" isn't really the best way to learn. Doing some quick and dirty gestures are going to improve your posing a lot more than spending 4045 hours making one perfect drawing. Sketch in pen. If you can erase you'll try to fix. Just barrel through and if it's not working, move on. Sketchbooks are messy, you're supposed to explore, make mistakes, explore. My first year of real sketching I liked about 12 images per sketchbook, and I draw 6-10 per page! Eventually I liked an image every few pages, or 1-2 every page.
    -Do long and short studies - if you want to improve your lighting, spend time shading spheres, cubes, cylinders, and cones. Also spend time setting up different objects and materials and studying how the light works.
    - If you're just out and about look at things, think about them from an artist's point of view, the shape, the light, the colours the texture.
    -Bring your sketch book everywhere. You never know when you'll be stuck waiting for a ride, or standing in a line. All those little chunks of time add up. Just draw anything that's around.
    - Keep going back to the fundamentals. No matter what style you like, or where you want to go the fundamentals are essential.
    And have fun!!

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  15. #10
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    Thank you Rhubix. You make some very interesting points.

    I'm currently finishing this piece for a friend, but when I'm done with it I'll go back to doing shorter studies. It's been in the back of my mind for some time (I used to draw daily sketches up until a month ago or so) but lately I've spent all my time making more or less "finished" art. One of the reasons I got burned out before (I think) is that I was ONLY doing basic exercises and never really spent more than an hour on anything "real", now I might've gone too far in the other direction (but boy is it fun!).

    The idea of drawing with a pen seems like a good idea as well, right now I spend far (FAR) too much time fixing mistakes compared to anything else. My left monitor is filled with screencaps of common mistakes I get, but it's so easy to just press "undo" when actually drawing something.


    I Started to paint in the second character now (in hindsight I REALLY shouldn't have worked so hard on the first one before even deciding on the pose on the second). Been re-drawing the sillhouette trying to get the pose to work but I'm not there yet. Can't find any reference pictures so basically aiming in the dark hoping that I'll know when I hit it. Hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow and maybe post some value studies during the weekend.


    I'm not sure how this subforum feels about posting "work-in-progress" pictures so I'll just leave the link instead - > http://i.imgur.com/taX7lWc.png

    EDIT: Aaaand finished: http://i.imgur.com/2mjGNMY.png. I'll do some quicker paintings tomorrow, this one was exhausting for me since it had way more elements than anything I've ever done before.
    Last edited by ili104; January 29th, 2016 at 06:23 PM.

  16. #11
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    Did two 60 minute paintings today and even though they don't look that good (and are embarassing to post...) I'm surprised I was even able to do anything at all, considering my usual snail pace. Having a clock next to me while painting was stressful to say the least, but I'll do a couple more of these tomorrow. Generally what I do is paint repaint repaint repaint repaint until it looks "right", which makes for better art but bad practice (I feel)

    I think I will change my approach though for the next ones. For these two I started with some really dark desaturated colour and did some simple lineart first before blocking in values with the same brush, which meant that I couldn't add in colours without making them look really dull so I had to improvize a bit
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  17. #12
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    Did another 60 min painting.

    This time around I started by blocking in the values (using the darkest shade first) and not doing any lineart at all. Went really heavy on saturated colours this time. I'll do another one later today.


    Edit: did another one that started by blocking in values, ran over time on this one since the face REALLY wasn't finished within 60 minutes. Used a more painterly brush for this one.

    Edit: a third one!
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    Last edited by ili104; February 1st, 2016 at 06:27 PM.

  18. #13
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    Note to self: try and get the foundation solid first before you add details. Don't paint (and finish) the background before beginning to paint the character; paint them at the same time to make the composition easier to tweak.
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  19. #14
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    This was supposed to be a 1h painting but quickly realized that it wouldn't be possible so this one is 90-120 minutes. I wanted to go for a cool and sharp look with heavy contrast and a really dry feeling. Did the same mistake this time again though and got way WAY too invested in the background before I began painting in the character. Did some light lineart before I went into actually painting it, but it didn't really help much.

    Still finding it hard to think about colour balance, lightning, composition, gesture, anatomy and value at the same time so generally two of those end up bad. Not to even mention how to properly draw backgrounds!
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  20. #15
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    Tried for a more semi-realistic style. Came out looking... weird. Not sure how I feel about it. (3h painting)
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