Month: February 2017

How To Find Your Art Style!

I’ve heard a lot of young artists say that they don’t have an art style.

Hamburger Cat Style

Now THAT’S style!

They treat it as if it’s this THING. This thing that constantly eludes their grasp.

So I’ll let you in on the secret to finding your art style.

How You Draw Right Now IS Your Art Style

Long ago I heard a quote saying, “What you draw wrong, is your style.”

That’s what an art style is, drawing something “wrong” but it looks good.

Your style will always be changing.

As you get stronger at the fundamentals. When you find new artists that you like and get influenced by. As you find shortcuts to get similar results faster.

That being said, however.

You Can DEVELOP Your Style

So how does one do that?

Let us go through all the ways that YOU, the beloved reader, CAN DEVELOP THEIR ART STYLE!


  1. Practice Using Construction – Construction is used to draw complex characters or objects, using simplified shapes like spheres and cylinders. This is an important skill in drawing as it trains your eyes and mind to break down things you see as simplified shapes that you can combine to recreate them from imagination from any angle.
  2. Understand Proportions – Knowing proportions is the skill to be able to know how big or small something should be in comparison and where it should be placed in relation to adjacent elements in the drawing. For example, knowing that the hand is as long as the face, etc.
  3. Learn Perspective – Learning perspective will help you to better understand foreshortening and to draw multiple characters in an environment in relation to each other much easier than having to trial and error until it looks right.
  4. Study Your Influences – Using construction, proportion, and perspective; study artwork by artists that you enjoy. Break down their figures into basic shapes, try to reverse engineer their process and try to figure out how they got from point A to point Z. Do gestures of the characters poses. Copy the characters using construction. Either by looking, or even by tracing, figure out where they placed the horizon and where the vanishing points are. If you’re studying their colors, try to eyeball making the same color (traditionally or digitally) and then compare (this is much easier to compare digitally).
  5. Learn Anatomy This one doesn’t apply to all styles. Super stylized and cartoony art may simply not require any anatomy knowledge to draw. But if you want any semblance to real life, then it can be very useful to learn some anatomy. You don’t need to know all the muscles and their names. You don’t need to be able to draw every bone from every angle. Well, unless you’re drawing an anatomy book or drawing skeletons and cadavers. But, for everything else you mainly just need to know how the muscles push and pull each other and landmark details. Landmark details being things like the collar bone, shoulder blades, etc. You’ll also understand how your influences simplified the real thing into their own art.
  6. Apply What You Learn – This is probably the most important thing.  Studying without applying what you learn is a trap that I see a lot of young artists fall into. They’ll refuse to do original pieces of art because, “they don’t know anatomy” or “they don’t know perspective” or they “can’t draw X.” Don’t fall into this trap. Apply what you learn by drawing things from your imagination. If you study how to draw legs but can’t draw a character with legs afterwards, you’ll know you need to go back and work on legs more. Create a project of some sort for yourself. Be it creating new characters. Drawing a short comic. Something. Just make sure it has a definite end to it so that you can see it to completion. As you do this project you will find parts that you’re struggling with, let this inform you on what you need to practice. Hair coming out bad? Study hair. Having trouble thinking up clothes for the characters to wear? Study fashion. You’ll improve AND have stuff to show for it!

That being said, I also recommend you listen to this short clip by Ira Glass.

Now go create something original, and then make it better.

Should You Go to Art School? What You Must Consider!

If you’re considering art school, you’ve probably decided to pursue art as a career.

If you’re not sure if you want to pursue art as a career, I talk about it in the previous article, here.

Anyways.

Art School

ART SCHOOL!?

Should You Go to Art School?

The answer to this question is one that only you can answer. However, here are all the things in my experience that you must take into account.

Does the School Have a Good Reputation?

There’s a lot of art schools out there that aren’t worth the money. Schools like AI (Art Institute), Academy of Art University, etc in my opinion aren’t.

Art schools that aren’t part of a state university are for-profit institutions. A lot of them try to enroll as many students as possible. More students requires that they get more teachers.

They will tout that their teachers have industry experience, and they probably do! They’ll hire almost anyone that has industry experience. But just because someone is a great artist, that doesn’t make them a great teacher.

It’s a very expensive gamble whether or not you will get good teachers at these schools. Do a lot of research into specific schools, look for good reviews of them and more importantly bad reviews.

Read their website. Read the entire program that you’re interested in. What do they claim they’ll teach you?

Read the curriculum for the program, some schools even list what the assignments are in each course.

I’d take art schools that require a portfolio more seriously than those that don’t. Limited enrollment means a smaller more dedicated group of teachers. Much better odds of getting good ones!

Can You Afford It?

If you found a school that you’re interested, look at the cost (tuition, housing, etc). Is it in your price range? If so, great! If not you will need to look into financial aid and scholarships.

Or find a cheaper school.

For example, check State Universities. Some have excellent programs. I’m always hearing great things about the animation program at San Jose State University and they cost far less than most art schools.

It’s a bad feeling to not be able to afford the school that you’re interested in. It’s a big part of why I never finished getting a degree.

I never attended my first choice, and I couldn’t afford to continue my second best choice. But even though the curriculum wasn’t great, the short time I spent in art school I did improve. But that’s because…

You Get Out of It, What You Put Into It!

If you go to art school or attend a college for art and don’t try, you’ll barely improve. The goal isn’t to barely pass your classes, and just attending doesn’t make you a great artist.

To do that, you have to try your hardest on your assignments.  You have to supplement your school work with other materials. Drawing books! Personal projects! Online tutorials! Whatever you can find.

You should surround yourself with students that are better than you and learn from them. Be willing to teach what you learn to less skilled artists, if you can’t teach someone else what you’ve learned then you don’t fully understand it yet.

However, you could always teach yourself with these supplemental materials at home for free instead! Really though, not all of us have the discipline to do it alone and NEED to be fully immersed in it. It can make learning art much easier, just as learning a language in a different country where it’s the national language is easier than at home.

Don’t Choose a School Because of Convenience!

This is a big mistake that I made starting out. Because I lived in the Bay Area,though it wasn’t my first, second, or even third choice, I attended the Academy of Art University. I did one semester there. One semester at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco cost over 10,000 dollars. Over 800 dollars per unit (3 units per class). This doesn’t even include housing.

INSANE. 

Hands down the biggest waste of money I have ever spent.

The teachers I had were good artists, but they weren’t good teachers. Even the teacher I liked, wasn’t a great teacher.

My entire experience there was bad. They had me and my classmates copying pages out of Andrew Loomis’s books that I had already copied in High School for free that can be downloaded here.

After the Academy of Art fiasco, I took some courses at my local community college, Las Positas.

In some states here in America, community college is expensive. Where I live it is not. It was about 80 dollars per class at the time if I remember correctly.

Right now it’s 138 dollars per class (46 per unit) which is still affordable. The community college courses were far more useful than the Academy of Art for a fraction of the cost.

However, I wanted to go to school for animation and that isn’t something my community college had.

Be Willing to Move If You Have Too

Afterwards, I went to Sheridan in Canada. I took their Art Fundamentals program with the goal of building a portfolio to get into their animation program.

The American dollar was weaker at the time, and they cost more for international students. But the cost of the entire one-year program ended up being about 25k.

This includes the courses, the art supplies, housing, food, etc. All together, 25k. For art school that’s cheap. It’s even cheaper if you’re a Canadian citizen.

Not all of the classes I took there were useful, and some teachers were certainly better than others. But the experience I had was great, and being surrounded by other students trying to get into the same program created a fantastic learning environment. Very competitive!

It was hard work getting the portfolio made in time, time management is a very useful skill that I didn’t get good at until recent years. But I got it done in time and scored high enough to get in!

Sorta…

I scored high enough to get in, but not enough Canadian students did. As such, they had to lower the score to get in as to accept more Canadian students and I along with other international students got put onto the waiting list

R.I.P.

Not that it mattered, I couldn’t afford to continue attending anyways. But the experience there was one of the best I have ever had. Plus, some of the people that I taught while I attended there, DID get in!

Through them I later found out that the first two years of the Animation program were quite useful! The last two years, not so much…

That was the last of my formal art education. Overall, I don’t believe I learned anything there that I wouldn’t have learned myself as I was very motivated to learn and studied drawing for hours on end every day all through High School AND through my college experience. But attending Sheridan in such a competitive environment certainly accelerated my progress in a way that on my own and community college did not.

The other students at the community college were mostly middle-aged housewives that spent most their time talking about drinking wine and senior citizens that had picked up art as a hobby.  It wasn’t competitive. The courses there were useful. but the actual art school experience, at a reputable art school, was a MUCH better experience.

So Should You Go?

I would say that if you find a reputable one. One that you can afford. If you’re willing to put in the work and make the most out of the experience.

Only Then, I would recommend trying it.

Even if you don’t get a degree out of it.

Being surrounded by other artists, better artists. In a highly competitive environment. It’s a taste of what you’d experience doing art for a living, and if you attend and complete a degree program, they have job fairs for the industry and most studios require that you’re enrolled in a 4-year program to get an internship. Both of which can open doors into the industry for you.

 

I hope that this article has helped you in making this decision, it’s a big decision when you’re young. But ultimately it’s just one experience of many that you’ll have.

You might not finish art school (like  me). But end up making some great friends by going (like me). And learn a lot (like you know who). And still do JUST FINE.

But there’s only one way to find out! So if you’re still thinking of attending of enrolling, get researching and good luck!

 

 

Is a Career in Art for You? Find Out Now!

Should you pursue art as a career?

This is possibly the most often asked question by those who take an interest in art, along with if they should attend art school.

It’s an even harder question to answer as it very much so depends on the person asking, and they usually ask someone that doesn’t know them well enough to judge!

But I feel there is a big misconception that a lot of people believe when they’re pursuing art, which is that they just have to work hard now and then it becomes easy.

 

Art never becomes easy. Especially as a career. It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. But as an artist you do become better and as a career it can be very satisfying and fulfilling.

Art as a career is very much like going on a diet, you can’t go on and off of a diet. It just doesn’t work!

 

To keep the results it has to become a lifestyle!

Art as a career (if you choose to pursue it) will become your lifestyle, and the lifestyle of an artist is mostly sitting around and making art for hours and hours on end.

Your social life will mostly disappear and you end up with all your friends being other artists doing the same thing, art, art, and more art. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Playing games, going out, doing stuff… Those things can be too time consuming and will have to often be set aside because unlike a regular day job, the jobs not done until you finish your work. Even if you work at a studio, people end up having to work extra hours just to get projects out on time.

 

Being your own Boss

If you want to do art as your own boss, you have to have a lot of focus and self discipline.

Can you draw for a minimum of eight hours a day? It’s okay if you can’t yet. You can build up to being able to.

If you do want to be able to draw for that long or longer, work your way up to that. Don’t immediately start drawing for eight hours a day, and look up some wrist exercises so that your hands don’t explode.

That being said, one has to treat doing art as a business. Networking, marketing, finances… you have to wear a lot of hats to be your own boss!

Hamburger Cat with Hats!

That IS a lot of hats!

You could always outsource some of those roles to others, but that costs money. You would need to consider how much that would cost, as opposed to the time spent doing it yourself that you could spend on your art instead to make more money. Most people are not cut out to be their own bosses.

 

Working for a Studio

If you work at a studio instead, when a project or show ends you might be out of the job and have to get back to searching for another job.

You’ll need to be sure to save money in case nowhere is hiring and try to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. You might even have to work a different job that’s not art related at all until places start hiring again.

To be safe, you might (and should) want to build your audience and fan base online so that you can do commission work AFTER the day job just to make additional income for when a job does come to an end or should you make the leap to being your own boss.

 

That being said…

I love doing art, I love it. Even when it’s hard, even when it makes my hands hurt rendering tiny details with a pen. Even when I have to redraw the same picture ten times to get it to look DECENT. Not great, DECENT. Even if it means staying up all night to get it done on time! There’s a type of joy that comes from creating that isn’t quite satisfied in the same way by other things. If you’re thinking of pursuing this way of life, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, and be ready to set your priorities to make it happen.

Everyone has different experiences with art. Your experience will be different than mine.

If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it. The real question isn’t “Should you pursue art for a career?”, it’s “Will you pursue art for a career?”

 

Dead hard drive? How to get back to work FAST!

It was a productive week, things were going smoothly, content was being made. Content was being finalized.

All the cards were falling into place. Excellent.

RIP Hard Drive

At least my ballpoint pen is alive.

 

And then my hard drive died. 

 

Thankfully, I didn’t lose EVERYTHING. This isn’t my first time dealing with a hard drive being doomed to eternity in Davy Jone’s locker…

The majority of important things I had enough sense to have back-ups of on Google Drive and Dropbox.

But it certainly put a delay on progress and even more so, I will still have to install a new hard drive and every. Single. Piece. Of. Software.

Sounds HORRIBLE. I know, I know. It is. But there’s a helpful solution that I’ve used in the past and would highly recommend for anyone with a new computer

or in a situation similar to mine.

 

It’s called Ninite.

 

The Ninite website allows you to choose the majority of programs that you will need to get back up and running.

You select all the ones that you’ll need that they offer and it installs and updates them all in one go, automatically saying no to things like toolbars and without having to constantly click next. All downloaded as a single exe.

 

If you aren’t sure which programs you should download I’ll share with you the ones that I get, otherwise feel free to scroll past my recommendations.


Web Browsers
  1. Chrome – This is my browser of choice, it’s the one that I feel works the best. Though each tab and window counts as it’s own process which can slow
    down your computer if you have too many open.
  2. Firefox – I like to have a second browser in case something doesn’t seem to be working in Chrome and I don’t want to have that second option be
    internet explorer.
Messaging
  1. Skype – This would be my only choice under messaging software provided by Ninite. Most people have it and use it even though it has gotten pretty
    bad over the years. Discord seems to be taking it’s place more and more each day and video chat and screen sharing are upcoming features for Discord.
Media
  1. iTunes –  I get it because I enjoy listening to podcasts. If you would like to listen to podcasts or use it for an ipod or iphone than it’s a must have. Otherwise
    skip it.
  2. VLC Player – Pretty good program for listening to audio and watching video.
  3. Audacity – I use this program fairly often for recording and editing audio. If you do either of those things or plan to. Another must have.
  4. Spotify – I don’t like to listen to Spotify in the browser since the page seems to always crash for me, maybe since I have ad block installed. But for listening
    to music for free, great app.
Runtimes

I get all of them, I figure I’ll need them all eventually anyways. These make it so your computer can run things like Youtube and Netflix properly.

Imaging
  1. Irfanview – I use this program to be able to view gifs on my computer. Just an alternative to Windows Photo Viewer.
Documents
  1.  Foxit Reader – Pretty nice PDF viewer.
  2. SumatraPDF – I use this when PDF’s don’t want to open in Foxit for whatever reason and it can open epub files.
  3. OpenOffice – I don’t really use this anymore. But there was a time, and it can be useful. But nowadays I like to use Google Documents instead.
Security
  1. Essentials – If you own Windows, this is a good program to have.
  2. Avast – Probably the best anti-virus software since it’s free. It can be a bit annoying though, if you talks to much, right click the icon on the tray and set it
    to silent/gaming mode. It does have a firewall built in, so if some software such as a game has trouble running, check Avast.
File Sharing

I don’t use any of these personally, I prefer Tixati since it’s more bare bones. But feel free to get whichever you like most.

Other
  1. Steam – A must have if you play computer games, though they do have other software on there as well.
Utilities
  1. Classic Start – I still use Windows 7 so I don’t need this, but if you use Windows 8 or higher and hate how it looks, this will change it back to the classic.
Compression
  1. 7-Zip – For zipping and zipping all types of files. Best program for this out there that I know of.
Developer Tools

I don’t use any of these as they don’t apply to what I do.

Online Storage
  1. Dropbox – Instead of having to constantly sign in to Dropbox, you can just have it installed. Very convenient.
  2. Google Drive – Same thing as Dropbox, very convenient.

You’ll still have to do some legwork going out and getting other software that you’ll need, but this should take care of the bulk.

What are some other programs that I missed that you would say are must-haves to get your computer ready again so that you can resume work on your projects? Leave your answers in the comments below!

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