The topic title on this thread is pretty selfexplainatory, keep reading to find your information.
Becoming a better artist
As people will tell you in numerous threads started by numerous people in this forum (we really don't need more of these threads) whenever someone just asks "how to become a better artist", the answer is practise, practise and practise. There is a huge vast pit of information just on this site, and is in fact one of the reasons CA is here in the first place, helping people to become better artists. The thing is that you have to actually read this information yourself, you have to search for the things you need and you have to put it into practise yourself - nobody will wave a wand over your head and then suddenly you are the next Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Marko, Munch, Chan, Rembrandt, Franquin, Giger, or whatever floats your boat.
Now, the good part is that you have found this site. It's time to get cracking. You will find that the big mantra on this site - it will be repeated to you many times - is DRAW FROM LIFE. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to find yourself a life drawing session with naked people - they might be far away from where you are or too costly for you. (But they are indeed really great for you to progress as an artist!) Drawing your cat is drawing from life. Drawing people in a cafe, on the streets, on the bus is drawing from life. Drawing your brush laying on the desk is drawing from life. But apart from that there's also a lot of other things to learn.
A great place to get started is this Back to the Basics thread to get a general overview. Start with the first post and read your way downwards. You might get ideas on where to start or where you lack the most, maybe something becomes obvious pointers to things that you hadn't thought about before.
The other obvious place to start is the Tutorials, tips and tricks forum, a great resource on this site to a lot of information. More pointers to specific threads in here is also listed on the link list a bit further down.
The Community Mentoring forums have huge loads of information and ideas on how to get started. Not all the mentoring threads are still going, but the information you can get just by reading through them is great, and they start and helps artists on different levels.
On the reading list I would also suggest to look at the awsome SB thread by Mindcandyman showing how he started at the basics in the beginning of the thread to become the artist he is today - a thread for inspiration, motivation and an "I can do it!" feeling.
One of the main things to do is also to start your own Sketchbook thread or maybe post in the Critique Center and W.I.P. Showcase forum, which I cover in this post. That way you'll get feedback - comments and critiques - on your own artwork specifically aimed at you as an artist.
Here are some more links to get you started:
Seedling has contributed with some great threads to this forum:
- Perspective 101
- Concept Art 101
- Game Art - Advice from someone in the industry
- The Big oil paint thread
- The big acrylic thread - the info posted by Seedling is in fact on page two of this thread, go to page two if you don't feel like reading up on the conversation before that.
And here are some other links that you might find useful:
- The Dimensions of colour - also check out the site that he links to at the top of the thread
- Using photoreferences correctly
- Notes on oil painting materials
- Digital painting in Photoshop
- Advanced composition thread
- Great thread about shadows
- This thread is often linked to when it comes to questions about crosshatching
- SF/F Book cover portefolio thread
- Elwell on edges
- The artists reading list
- Free Art E-books
- Promotheus ANJ made this PSG Art Tutorial for starters, and posted it on his own webspace, even if it's off-site, it's a great tutorial, well worth the read.
If there's something that's unclear or that you want to find debates about, the Art Discussion forum is a great place to look for topics and threads. Look around a bit before you decide to jump in with both feet though, the chances are that a discussion might've already occured or started when it comes to both the most "normal" and "abnormal" things in here.
Last, but not least, CA offers a wide range of downloads and live streaming sessions. These are not for free, but so cheap it's well worth the money. And the money you might put into this are being put right back on this site to make a better experience for you as a user, so it's a win-win situation.
And of course, if there's something specific you're looking for that you're not finding here, the Search Function can be of help.
Every now and then a thread will pop up in the Lounge or Art Discussion about how little inspired someone is at the moment, how to find inspiration, etc. Quite frankly, this is a subject that keeps popping up so often that people are tired of both reading and answering them, so instead of making yet another one we strongly suggest that you read this and other threads about inspiration.
Inspiration can be found all around you. Looking at objects, maybe turning them to something else in your head, can be a great way to start. Maybe the raw meat that's about to become your dinner can give you associations to a zombie slaughter fest, your pot plant might be an evil plant alien or a home for fairies, maybe a walk outside will trigger some brain buds that were sleeping. The best inspiration is to look at things, and gather knowledge about things. Maybe random browsing for refs will make some middle age objects turn into fantasy design or old rusty and broken vehicles becomes the starting point of a steam punk scene. The more you know about something, the easier it will be to work around it and build on it. Looking at work that other artists has done might also get your brain working in one direction or another.
Also, just sitting in front of your monitor staring at a blank canvas, at your desk staring at a white piece of paper or alike is probably not the best way to get any juices flowing if you're really in a rot, getting up and about and do something other than art might also be the kickstarter. Like it's hard to create great novels without knowing anything about life, it's hard to make great art without knowing anything about life. Then come back to the blankness and whiteness and create something out of it.
However, being without inspiration is something that usually befells most artists at some point in their progress, or maybe even numerous times, so there are some threads around in this forum to help getting people kick started. Here are some of them:
- The Inspiration link list
- People posting images that inspire them
- Motivation, Inspiration and a kick in the ass thread
- Favourite artists in alphabetical order thread
- The official - Draw from "What does everyone look like" thread
- Words of wisdom by Jason Manley to kick your ass in gear
Also, participating in the regular activities covered further down in this post might inspire you as there are new topics all the time, and there's no rule against using the old topics for inspiration for yourself, so browse around in those and you might be hit by lightning. Or maybe reading some of the tutorials or how to become better links that's covered further up in this post might help you on your way to create your next image. If you want to read what people has suggested in threads about lacking inspiration earlier, I suggest using the Search Function.
Anyway, get cracking on it, sitting on your butt complaining about doesn't help you at all.
Regular Activities/Challenges to participate in
And for those that wants to become better, or finds themselves in lack of inspiration, the regular activites might be a great place to get inspired, motivated, better and learning how to deal with deadlines, specific briefs, etc. There are no prices for these except for particular sets of challenges/competitions that might show up now and then, but the satisfaction of finishing a piece, making it to poll or counting votes makes up for that.
First there is the Daily Sketchgroup. Every day a new topic is posted, and people find the time to make something out of it during the day, be it in lunchbreaks, when the kids have gone to bed or during their drawing study time. Great exercise, lots of fun and it'll help you gain speed doing your sketches. Go to the forum to see more on what it's about, it's pretty self explainatory.
The other regular activities are mostly weekly, and has a session with voting after each deadline for a winner. If you are a more accomplished artist it's great for showcasing yourself a bit, and to see how you're doing among other artists doing the same subject. For intermediate artists and beginners it is particularily helpful when it comes to learning how to deal with deadlines, following a brief, cometition among others and pushing yourself that extra mile. If you don't think you're anywhere near winning one of them that shouldn't stop you from participating, it's a great way to learn some tricks of the trade and make yourself ready for whatever is out there later on.
In these activities the leaders are pretty much your "Art Directors" or your "clients". So it's important to listen to them, or you might be taken away from the poll for whatever reason. Sometimes there's so many people participating that they have to shave away some entries based on level, or you might not meet the lowest level if you're a total beginner, but that shouldn't stop you from at least doing the topics. If you feel that you're not getting any feedback in them, give some comments and crits to the others participating, and post your WIPs as you progress to get the most help.
Above all though: Each activity has their own specific set of rules. Always read the rules and the first post in a thread with a topic - so you don't end up being cut because you misunderstood the subject or didn't follow up on how you had to post your final piece or didn't put in any WIPs. Remember that the rules are different for each activity, so use the ten minutes it takes to make sure you're following them.
The weekly regular activies/challenges are:
- Creature of the Week - COW - a new creature is up for grabs every week, these are species and not individual creatures.
- Character of the Week - ChOW - a new character every week, be it reintepretations of already existing characters in books or movies or alike, new ones made specifically for the challenge or historical characters.
- Environment of the Week - EOW - a new environment every week - in all forms, inside and outside, Earth and space.
- Industrial Design of the Week - IDW - new design every week - robots, vehicles, knives and forks among a bunch of other things.
- Panel of the Week - P.O.W.! - new panels every week (sometimes the challenges might be longer), comics and other ways of visually depicting a story in panels.
- Teen Challenge of the Week - TC - contains all kinds of topics, but are only for those within a certain age range - as can be deducted from the name.
I'm leaving this thread open for replies so people can add things or links they might think be a good idea to include or if you have any particular questions. The post will be updated if there's changes done, information that should be included or left out.