Lately I've been getting in many inquiries from beginning and/or amateur artists asking me how I carry about doing my art and improving my style because they want to try to use the same kind of methods in improving their works. Due to my constant absence from my art sites online, because of school, I came up with all the methods I use in improving my art and slapped them all here in this nifty journal for everyone to see. I've used these methods several times and they've proved useful to me, so maybe they can be of use to you guys as well.
Please note, because of the broad variety of people and personalities, these methods and tips may not be of use to everyone.
How to Improve Your Art
It's hard to improve every skill in art at one time. Even changing style can be difficult in its own way. So it’s better to try and improve by bettering your individual skills one at a time.
Say for example you are a cartoonist. You can draw the characters well, but you might not be able to shade them as well. You would work on your shading then, working from the high and low values of colors to applying them as shadows and highlights.
There’s multiple ways to approach improvement in your art.
How you carry about doing it all depends on what you want to improve in.
Experience plays a big role in how well you are at making/drawing art. Usually when you see great artists and ask them why they are so good, they’ll usually reply with something like “ I've been doing art for a long time.” I've been legitimately doing art since 2007, but I draw a lot; it's not necessarily how long you've been drawing, but also how often you draw (or doodle).
It’s important to try drawing different objects. When you stick to drawing only one thing or type of thing for an extended period of time you won’t be able to draw other things as well because it becomes a weak area.
The same can be said for other things, such as sports. If you play only baseball, you won’t be very good at playing tennis, because you haven’t taken time to play it.
Always take some time to draw unusual things, and when you do use a good reference until you get the hang of what you’re drawing
We start riding our bikes for the first time with training wheels, then we take them off after we've gotten the hang of riding the thing.
Experiencing an event in real life makes it easier to recapture it on canvas or paper (most of the time it is, anyways) since you know the feel of it (i.e. how you felt, what faces you made, how you reacted, etc.)
Another reference you can use is something usually always available when you need it: Yourself! Provided you have a mirror, you can see how your face looks and how it moves when you make a certain expression, or how your hands looks when your arm is turned in a certain direction, whatever you can imagine.
It’s okay to use other people’s art as a reference when drawing. DON’T COPY THEIR WORK. If you plan on using the same pose as the piece you are using as a reference, be sure to give the original some credit for the inspiration.
Accuracy plays a great part in drawing. If you’re aiming for a more abstract style, though, it won’t matter.
If you want to keep your art realistic, use references. Especially for things such as vehicles, buildings, or even hands, you should have at least one picture to refer to.
When drawing animals, it’s a good idea to look up the anatomy of the animal you are drawing (i/e/ bone charts, muscle studies). You might think you don’t need a reference, but it does make a difference if you study the anatomy of the critters and creatures you want to draw, especially if you want them to look accurate.
I often get a lot of nice comments on how well I shade; I appreciate the compliments I receive on my shading.
I spent my entire 2010 year learning how to shade. I learned how to shade without using my fingers to smudge, both with color pencils and graphite pencils.
Before you start learning to shade properly (on paper), you must learn not to use your hands/fingers to smooth your shading. The oils on your hands get in the surface of your paper, and it can ruin your picture by leaving you unable to erase the smudge. Do not use your finders to smudge your shades! To achieve good smooth shading skills, you must learn to shade using just your drawing utensil.
Mechanical lead pencils (7.0 lead) are great for shading since they are usually always sharp and offer nice deep shades as well as light ones. I usually tilt mine at an angle when shading so I don’t draw “scratches” as I shade. It’ll also create a nice sharp tip for when you want to put down a really dark shadow.
Before you go into shading objects, you must learn to shade from light to dark. Starters show try basic gradient without any sort of texture. You’re aiming to achieve a smooth transition from light values to dark, without any visible lines and strokes from your pencil. Also, shade with your strokes going the same direction until you learn to blend the strokes.
Once you master being able to lay down smooth shades, you can do most anything. Well, it makes the learning process much easier, in my opinion.
How you go about laying out the shades on your drawings is all on you, but never randomly place your shades, or your picture will look rushed and/or sloppy. Place a simple toy in from of a flashlight. Draw the toy as best as you can (nothing too complex). Draw an arrow in the direction the light is coming from, then shade the toy. Repeat this with the flashlight pointing at the toy from different angles. This really helps with the placement of shades (and it helps when the object isn't just a ball.)
When you master correctly placing shades, you can play with it and learn to create your very own shading style.
Remember, learning to be able to shade smoothly without smudging is a great skill, but your shading does not have to always be smooth. Add texture! Make your lines curl, twirl, and zigzag to create scales, grass, and fur, whatever.
Your very own style of drawing is unique. Nobody can teach you your style; you simply just learn it, even if you aren't a self-taught artist. Style is how you go about with making your art. It can be how you shade, how you draw those eyes, or just how you mix colors. It’s good to challenge yourself by drawing different things in your own style (experience is key to making good stuff).
When you’re a cartoonist like me, you like to try and find that certain style you really love to draw and the same time is appealing to your friends and fans. It’s always good to follow the tip, “Aim to please yourself instead of others” when drawing. You shouldn't be forced to draw only what your fans like. Your goal should be to find the style YOU like. Trust me, out of the millions of people on the internet, there will be somebody who likes your style.
Now to find the style you like, start by altering the way you draw certain details. Not all at once though. Change details one at a time (i.e. change how you draw eyes.). Not sure how to change some details? Try experimenting by drawing details in other artists’ styles. You might find you really like drawing in their style. Alter it and make it your own! Even the smallest changes in how you draw small details can make your style change dramatically as a whole.
It’s great to try and offer your viewers a decent array of different drawing styles to view in your gallery. Draw different subjects, too!
Action and Posing
I often stick to drawing “original characters” or fantasy creatures and/or monsters. To keep my viewers from getting bored I try to impress them by drawing those characters in action. Lots of people love excitement and action. It gives them something interesting to look at. Even a funny face can be counted as action. Get into the habit of drawing characters doing different things, such as flying, kicking, snarling, laughing, hugging somebody else, whatever pose you can think of.
It’s okay to draw your characters in a static standing pose. These make great references for other artists to use to when they draw your characters. Make reference sheets for your most-used characters; draw them from in front, from behind, making different expressions, etc. The more you provide, the easier it will be for other artists (or yourself, even) to draw them. Keep it updated!
Use references when drawing difficult poses! References are your best friends when it comes to drawing those evil poses.
Becoming a Recognized Artist
Developing your art skills in one thing; becoming a recognized artist is another. In order to find fans you have to throw yourself out there. This stage in improving your art can be the most challenging step, but DO NOT become discouraged!
Get yourself accounts on different art sites, such as DeviantART.com, InkBunny.com, FurAffinity.net , maybe even post on Tumblr.com, Facebook.com, or Twitter.com!
NOTE: Take great caution when posting any of your information on the internet. There are fans, friends, and creeps on the internet. Use safety; don’t give out phone numbers or addresses. Don’t even give out your main email.
When posting to any website, sign or watermark (transparent signature) your artwork so it will not be easily stolen by other users. If you must, copy the original picture, watermark the copy, and post only the watermarked copy. There are hundreds of art thieves on the internet waiting to get their slimy dirty hands on any un-signed artwork, so stay sharp.
Get to know the sites you post on. Some sites offer groups you can join with people who have interests similar to your own. These groups offer great opportunities to lure in some fans. Be sure the group has a reasonable number of members so you’re not posting your art to a dead group.
While it’s nice to receive attention on your work, it’s also important to give attention to other artists (both newbies and professionals). You don’t have to, but it’s recommended. You can be seen as a polite person, and people will want to get to be your friends (beware of creeps). I've had instances where people have made me fan art and/or featured me on their pages just because I was polite to them. I've made really great friends with several people online just for being nice, and I’m positive you can do the same.
Try not to be a jerk to a person on the internet. Even if a person is a jerk to you, don’t bite back. Most sites feature blocking options in case you are being bullied. You may also refer to a site’s help desk in case a person becomes a problem; in case this happens, it’s best that you don’t try to handle things yourself (site moderators will look to see if you were arguing with the user, in which case they will not help you). Be mature when writing up any kind of statement to a website’s help page (try not to be biased, and be able to provide proof that the person was bullying you.)
Making fan art is another great way to reel in some fans.
Well, in a nutshell, I hope this information helped!
Thank you all for inspiring me to do my best at what I do! If it were not for my fans and friends, I would not be where I am now, and I probably wouldn't be typing this either.