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Critique: In A Rut, Want to Improve

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
Hello, folks!

Like a lot of people, I've recently found myself with a lot more free time than I'd anticipated. I figured working on my art would be good to keep my mind off things. Maybe even with the end goal of getting decent enough to offer commissions on the regular. (If I believe, in my heart~)

The issue is that I can't seem to make any real improvement -- probably because it's hard for me to focus on what needs work.

Frex, I know my grasp of anatomy is... questionable. That's something I want to work on. But when I sit down and try to figure out what, exactly, I've done wrong, I just end up more confused than when I started.

Tips, suggestions, redlines? Or, heck, just roast my art like a delicious salmon filet. Anything's appreciated.

See my FA gallery here!
 

TyraWadman

The Brutally Honest Man-Child
From what I can see it looks alright to me. You could easily start taking commissions with what you're at.
If I had to draw something from a hat though, I'd say shading. All of your art is fairly flat. Anatomy looks okay for what full-body arts I can see.

The hard part of critique is knowing what your end objective is. Do you have anything to compare to what you'd like to be able to do?
Not saying you want to draw exactly like someone else in every way, but I personally wouldn't mind being able to put out semi realistic 2D renders you can find for things like the newer final fantasy games.
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@TyraWadman

"...I'd say shading. All of your art is fairly flat."

Man, shading is something I've always struggled with. Light sources are my nemesis. And figuring out how light works around different shapes is anxiety material, so I tend to avoid dealing with it if I think I can get away with it. It's something I definitely need to work on -- thank you!

"The hard part of critique is knowing what your end objective is. Do you have anything to compare to what you'd like to be able to do?"

Hm! I suppose I've never actually given an end objective a whole lot of thought. I'd always figured it was just to become competent enough to be able to draw forms/shapes consistently, but that's sort of a non-answer.

If I could summon some sort of art genie, I certainly wouldn't mind being able to handle forms like Bill Everett or Alex Toth. Grounded in realism, but also wonderfully cartoonish in their simplicity. But then, I'm sure lots of little comic nerdlings have wished the same.
 

TyraWadman

The Brutally Honest Man-Child
@TyraWadman

Man, shading is something I've always struggled with. Light sources are my nemesis. And figuring out how light works around different shapes is anxiety material, so I tend to avoid dealing with it if I think I can get away with it. It's something I definitely need to work on -- thank you!


Hm! I suppose I've never actually given an end objective a whole lot of thought. I'd always figured it was just to become competent enough to be able to draw forms/shapes consistently, but that's sort of a non-answer.

If I could summon some sort of art genie, I certainly wouldn't mind being able to handle forms like Bill Everett or Alex Toth. Grounded in realism, but also wonderfully cartoonish in their simplicity. But then, I'm sure lots of little comic nerdlings have wished the same.

Oh my gosh, those derpy little dogs are the best! XD
Ahem.

Technically that first example isn't even shaded/highlighted. Maybe implying depth with line styles could be something to try for the next while?
The second one has the bare minimum of cell shading-- like taking a Multiply layer on a lower opacity and painting over with a black brush...
Maybe you can even come up with a way to combine the two?

Light can be super complicated if you think super realistically, but in both of those panels, light isn't being properly represented at all! You just gotta experiment, make mistakes and try to find your groove, man. :cool:

One affordable way to do it is get a poseable lamp and a cheap art mannequin and basing it off of that. Then all you really need to do is slightly refine it where the dimensions drastically differ (I.E, muzzle being dark on one side and lighter on the other).

Edit: Oh, and heavily reference stuff. If you want simple/light shading, stock photos are overly bright with minimal shadows. Searching the image "Man sitting 3/4 view" vs "Man sitting inside office/by diner window/in a barber chair" can make all the difference.
 
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tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
Maybe that's part of the problem -- growing up on comics, where the idea of a light source is, more often than not, 'no.' :V

I have tried dynamic lighting in the past, with... uh... a result. Here's an unused version of the PolyCon t-shirt art from my gallery with its' original tonal layer. Note the shadow error at the bottom of the sarcophagus!

The art mannequin is a great idea.

The only downside is that I'd suddenly have A Toy and I feel like I'd spend more time letting Mr. Model fight my Funkos than using it for its' intended purpose!

ETA:

"Oh, and heavily reference stuff. If you want simple/light shading, stock photos are overly bright with minimal shadows. Searching the image "Man sitting 3/4 view" vs "Man sitting inside office/by diner window/in a barber chair" can make all the difference."

A very good point! Thanks!
 
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Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
sculpting / life drawing can helps develop an eye for anatomy. Grab a pack of crayola model magic and have some fun, then you can do sketches on uncommon angles referencing your sculpture to further study shading / anatomy. ( • ̀ω•́ )✧
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@Vinfang

An excuse to buy modelling clay? YES. GOOD. :D

My largest annoyance, using Sculptris, is that I can't move the light source, so this makes way more sense.
 

Vinfang

Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
masks are mandatory fashion accessory these days ( yay, we can all be ninjas, without getting ridiculed ), making one out of clay is pretty tempting to me. I am thinking maybe a animal skull / Asian inspired animal halfmask.
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@Vinfang

I know MissMonster had some pretty good success in sculpting half-masks a few years back. If I'm remembering right, they'd had in-progress pictures on their journal, and talked some on the resin casting process. Might be good for research purposes.

Def post up pictures if/when you do it.
 

hara-surya

Deviated Prevert
FWIW, the 3D software Poser was literally invented to be a virtual 3D artist's mannequin. You can set up the figure in a pose you like, with lighting appropriate to the scene, and use it for reference. However, once the 3D rendering side got good enough the software really moved into something used to create artwork in its own right.

If that idea interests you, look at DazStudio instead of Poser. DazStudio is ostensibly free*, easier to use and has a larger, more active community.

* The 3D files you need to actually create the scene costs often lots of money (but... drink up me hearties, yo-ho...) and you need a monster computer to run it (a mid-range nVidia-based gaming desktop with tons of storage is a bare minimum).
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@hara-surya

Innnnteresting!

It looks like my computer might just barely run Daz, so I might have to do some fiddling to make it work, but I definitely want to give it a try!

I'd had a copy of Poser (2?) back in ye olden tiems, but I don't remember much of it. I doubt I even still have a workable disc. When even a simple, single-frame render took up to an hour, it was easy for a wee!fish to get bored and lose interest.
 

hara-surya

Deviated Prevert
On my monster computer with 64GB of RAM, a Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core processor with two GeForce 1070s taking an hour for a render a picture like the one to the left (at 1440p levels of pixel count) isn't uncommon. I also run into the limits of my hardware on a regular basis (the graphics cards run out of VRAM and they have 8GBs).

"Just barely being able to run it" really means you can't run it.
 

GlitterFog

Active Member
Man, shading is something I've always struggled with. Light sources are my nemesis. And figuring out how light works around different shapes is anxiety material, so I tend to avoid dealing with it if I think I can get away with it. It's something I definitely need to work on -- thank you!

Hello! Soo, maybe some resources I have could turn some of that anxiety into fun. :p They're based on painting, and I'm not sure if you're interested in that at all, but it's great for learning the fundamental concepts that can be applied almost everywhere afterwards.
So I really like Izzy Medrano's approach to teaching about light:
he has an updated 2019 course on his Gumroad I think
There's also the ultimate god of art and teaching Marco Bucci:
the whole series has lots of entertainment value as well :D (could be just my fangirling though)
And basically all of Sinix Design videos are all about designing appealing shapes with light and shadow, there is a ton of super useful tips in his videos, especially Paintover Pals.

These three gentlemen always get me pumped to light something, and not on fire, so I hope this will be of some use to you as well! Not to mention, your art is awesome already.
 
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Saokymo

Art Cookie
Your artwork is very good! You have a very good grasp of basic body forms & anatomy, and your lines are nice and fluid. I especially like your attention to detail!

The biggest single area I can see to improve is variety of line weight. Right now, all of your drawings look like they were drawn with a single size brush, which tends to make things feel flat or static. Using different line weights (thicker outlines, thinner details, tapered brush strokes, etc.) will help visually separate parts of the composition from each other and give more of a dynamic feel to the overall piece.
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@PlagueMaiden

Oh man, thank you!

I've been on an art YouTube kick for the past few weeks, so this falls right into All Of My Interests. :3


@Saokymo

Aw, thanks!

Re: Line weight -- while some of that's intentional, I absolutely agree that I could add variety for the sake of clarity and dynamism.

Were there any particular spots/pieces where you feel the limited line width hecked with things?

I'm shopping for a tablet as we speak, which will let me play around with more brush-like line variety, as opposed to trackpad/mouse inking, which makes that sort of thing harder.
 

Saokymo

Art Cookie
Re: Line weight -- while some of that's intentional, I absolutely agree that I could add variety for the sake of clarity and dynamism.

Were there any particular spots/pieces where you feel the limited line width hecked with things?

I'm shopping for a tablet as we speak, which will let me play around with more brush-like line variety, as opposed to trackpad/mouse inking, which makes that sort of thing harder.

The three most recent uploads in your FA gallery all have the same line width thing happening. It doesn’t detract from the artwork at all - everything is quite clean and “readable” even with the single line weight; it would just add more dynamism to have a touch of variety in there.

May I ask what program you’re using for your art? There are various workarounds to mimic tapered brush strokes without using a tablet. You can also get more variety of lines just by switching up your brush from time to time - using a larger one for outlines, thinner one for details, etc. That would let you keep the “technical pen” feel, too. ^_^
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@Saokymo

I use an ancient copy of PaintShopPro 6 -- my disc died years ago, and it lives on, zombie-like, on a flash drive. :V

If I end up getting a Wacom, which I'm leaning towards, I'd have access to Corel Painter... 7? I believe?

I'll be honest, I don't have a single clue what most newer art programs are like. I think I used Photoshop once, back in college, in a computer lab, for all of half an hour. I was so overwhelmed. It felt like playing with KidPix.
 

Saokymo

Art Cookie
Gotcha! I’m not familiar with that program myself, so I can’t give any specific advice on that other than “change the brush size.”

Wacom tablets are generally the best brand to go with, or at least the most consistently reliable ones out there. Their Intuos line is more or less “industry standard” for making digital art, though if you’re just a hobbyist their Bamboo line will have most of the same capabilities with a smaller price tag.

And don’t feel bad about Photoshop! All Adobe programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) have a steep learning curve at first and can be *very* intimidating if you’re not sure of what you’re trying to do! You might try your luck with Procreate - it’s a very good and very affordable digital painting program; I’ve used it on my tablet, and there should be a desktop version as well. Another similar program is MediBang Paint (and its cousin Fire Alpaca) - it’s free to use, with some premium brushes and what not.
 

tuxedo_fish

how i mine art?
@Saokymo

PSP6 was released in 1999 (!), so it's definitely not something most people have heard of, much less are still using regularly. But I'm very much in the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' camp. Also the 'cheap as heck' camp. So, y'know.

The Intuos was what I am looking at, yep! My budget is only large enough to get the small one, I think, but I figure if it ends up working out well for me, a few commissions here or there might score me enough money to upgrade to a medium later. /fingers crossed

I've heard good things about MediaBang/FireAlpaca. I'll def look into things. I just need to convince myself to get out of my comfort zone...

ETA:

sD8fIfP.jpg


Bonus hilarity -- gaze into the past, and know PaintShop in all its' obsolete glory. :V
 
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GlitterFog

Active Member
Ah, I totally get why you would hold onto a program that works well, especially for lineart and flat color / cel shaded art, but the thing about new ones and painting is that they have much better brush engines. In fact, there is some healthy competition and they're fighting to improve them as we speak - Adobe released Fresco with great live brushes, Procreate went through a major brush overhaul recently and you're able to import Photoshop ones now, Sinix uses Corel Painter I think. Generally, modern brushes are a joy to work with, compared to what was possible 20 years ago. Too bad Procreate is only available for iPads, because it's dirt cheap for what it can do. : P
 
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