There’s this strange little phrase floating around in art communities. It’s a phrase I don’t enjoy hearing or reading at all:
“If you’re bad, than what am I?”
It’s a bit of a toxic phrase. By saying that, you make the one who doesn’t feel like their work is amazing feel even worse, because now they feel guilty for making you sad and they feel obligated to fake being happy about their work although they aren’t. You make yourself sad by constantly comparing yourself to other artists. It makes everyone involved feel sad and awkward.
The thing is, it’s okay not to take pride in your current art. It’s okay to feel like you could and should do better. It’s okay to see flaws in your art and wanting to correct them.
I feel that this phrase is very revealing of a self-esteem issue that can eventually be solved by shifting your focus. Shifting focus away from your current artistic skill level to what you do to become better. To your progress.
You don’t have to take pride in your current art to be confident about your art, if that makes sense. A lot of those people who say “My art isn’t all that good!” have probably realised this.
Take pride in your diligence to do monotonous and downright boring tasks because they help you improve. Take pride in knowing that next year, you’ll look at your current art and realise that the progress you’ve done is insane. Take pride in working hard to achieve your goals of becoming a really good artist. Take pride in not giving up. Take pride in overcoming feelings of worthlessness if you’re feeling particularly bad. Take pride in being strong and resilient. Take pride in the knowledge you’ve accumulated and the things you’ve learned. Take pride in your wish to learn even more. Take pride in being able to get over negative comments because you know you will do better than that eventually.
It’s a long way from that ugly little phrase to taking pride in your willingness to work hard and your progress, but it can be done.
I am cursed to walk the earth ever explaining to people that programming is not significantly different from art. But I don’t think I’ve ever convinced anybody, except maybe that pretty lady who lives with me. The problem is in the roles. People expect artists to perform their role of being delightfully fruity and emotional. They assume that’s necessary to make good art. Conversely, they want their programmers to be little Spocks. Basement dwelling borderline-autistic virgins that have all the poetic emotion of a microwave oven.
This perception is fundamentally misled.
Now I have to point out that, to be a non-objective artist, you do probably have to fulfill the role society wants of you. Because non-objective artists aren’t selling their art. They are selling themselves. But to the objective artist (video game concept artist, movie visual developer, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, etc.) there’s a lot more to the craft than the angst pouring from your tortured heart as you splatter paint onto the canvas. The objective artist’s objective art will become objectively better if they get a grasp on form, perspective, composition, light and shadow, weight, stroke economy, anatomy, structure, and a thousand other technical subsystems that have nothing to do with emotions. If you have the creative mind necessary to unravel all these interesting problems, you will undoubtedly also have the necessary creativity to invent appealing concepts, and thus be a successful artist.
Programming is exactly the same. To be a good programmer, you don’t need to be particularly “gifted” at math or logic. If you have the curious, creative spirit necessary to thrive as an artist, you will invariably also thrive as a programmer. Because that spirit will drive you to learn how to sculpt beautiful data architecture and elegant algorithms and slick style and solid stability to your code. Programming is not some herculean effort of logic only suitable for a specific handful of socially hopeless freaks. Just as drawing is not a herculean effort of emotions, only to be performed by beret-wearing clove-smoking manic-depressives. That’s just a narrative screenwriters cooked up to sell tickets to people who will never know the truth.
It’s a tragic lie we indoctrinate people into. And it wasn’t always like this. In the Renaissance, it was natural for a guy like Leonardo da Vinci to paint as well as engineer flying machines and design hydrodynamic systems. There was no role of the fruity artist or the nerdy programmer. There was only the creative problem solver. I hope some day we can get back to that.
I’m glad Esoteric Life Roommate Greg has a tumblr.
When not investigating the intersection of time, place, and taste through layered colloids of outdated visions of the future nestled next the artist’s own unique take on the chromatic days to come, Tomioka Jiro puts even the quotidian in extreme perspective, highlighting how it is anything but ordinary.
hurls commentary out the window, keeps delightful pictures from favorite anime artist
Leah (Lazysmirk)’s Sef and Thane being unsanitary
Just thinking lately how much power you have as an artist working in any kind of visual communication field, and how we’re taught to distort the public eye from the very beginning.
Many times when I was in my classes I’d get critique back that this character or that character shouldn’t look like this, wear that, or what have you because “it isn’t a good design choice.” That’s why you can look at a toy line and all the dolls have blue, green or purple eyes. Not a brown eye among them. Why? “Because those blue eyes will really pop with that dark skin!” So every little brown eyed girl that looks for someone that looks like her, or looks like her mother finds nothing. As a kid it used to depress me. It made me feel ugly. I wasn’t what was wanted. I keep that in mind when I design characters- especially since I work on children’s games.
We’ve got these weird cultural ideas in the States about what certain archetypes look like and we constantly reinforce them under the guise of “good design.” Look, the femme fatal doesn’t have to have bright red, platinum blonde, or jet black hair… or voluptuous at all. And the girl next door doesn’t have to be white.
I remember I had to make a sample wedding page for my work. I used, with permission, photos of my brother and his wife. My brother is a really big korean guy and his wife is a teeny tiny white woman. The photos are really great. They are both extremely photogenic, attractive people. I put the design in my portfolio. My design teacher looked at the photos and yelled out, “Who ARE these PEOPLE?” He wanted to reject them based on the fact that they’re a mixed marriage. He back peddled when I told him they’re family. They’re a real couple. They’re real people. Real people are not formulaic. If your design theory goes so far as to dip into being racist, I don’t want anything to do with it.
my job at the time, who’s business the page was actually made for, totally loved the webpage. My boss was a hispanic woman with her doctorate in anthropology and her husband was an indian man with a doctorate in science… I’m not sure what exactly in or how many doctorates he held, I have a feeling there were several.
I hate that we’re asked as designers to white wash everything we make. We control the horizontal, we control the vertical. We should be using that power responsibly, not hurting and alienating the people we’re selling to.
You know what’s good design? Curved lines vs straight lines. Contrapposto. Asymmetrical costumes.
Not propagating stereotypes.
Planes of the Face | Download all 22 images here
I thought this was cool so I made a single 16x9 image compilation because I like to be able to see things like this all at once.
(10:25:53 PM) me: I will now integrate even more angularity into people’s faces and piss off all my cartoonist friends
This was an experiment I ended up liking. I did it to draw this and this. Basically, it’s a quick way to get started on a painting. This is gonna be a face so I can show the details. I decided I want to draw a guy this time, with a smug expression. This should be fun.
THIS IS FOR PAINT TOOL SAI. You’d be doing yourself no favors trying it in Photoshop.
01. I fill the canvas with a dark, desaturated color. Above that I begin to block in colors in a shape that resembles what I’m painting. The color I used is a peachy skin tone.
02. Using a brown or tan color, I draw on some line art. It looks ridiculous right now and that’s ok. All of this is done on the same layer.
03. On the same layer, I begin to block in colors (over the lines somewhat). I’m concerned with just covering the blue of the canvas. I’m being bold with a lot of the color choices, but it’ll pay off.
I use this little chart for starter skin colors:
04. With my water color brush on these settings (the size/density get toggled, and usually on the side of larger + lighter opacity):
I begin to blend with a sort of pinky peach color, to start. I blend all the colors together on the same layer, just basically mixing everything. I change the color depending on the saturation of the area being painted, so I switch to an orange for more red areas. Basically, try and match the colors. If you paint over a cooler area with a warmer watercolor, it will change it, of course.
05. This is the brush I do the first few details with! I got it from Tumblr, you’ve probably seen it around, it’s that really good blend-y edit for the acrylic brush:
(I toggle the size and opacity, but on the side of smaller + darker.)
I begin to pick up colors from both the canvas and the color wheel to make details. A lot of nice pretty colors are on our canvas already and it’d be a shame to waste them. But using the same colors to blend without eyedropping new ones will make the color palette a bit flat. Thus, I do both.
06. I also tighten up with an airbrush on these settings, changing only the opacity and size. I remember that it is entirely possible to overpaint things, so I try and enhance what I’ve already done instead of trying to repaint it. This is a mistake I and a lot of artists make, I think.
07. Still fixing up with the airbrush + watercolor (sparingly) + acrylic.
08. Once I’ve made some headway on refining, I get a gigantic airbrush (about 200px) and turn down the opacity to about 8-11% and begin to brush some reds and yellows onto the face to warm it up. Alternately, I’ve brushed greens and blues and purples to cool skin before.
09. I pick my background color and begin to use it to clean up the edges.
10. Last thing I do is paint his eyes! Time to export and edit the colors a bit in Photoshop. I try and fix them as much as I can in SAI with painting, but digital lends itself to the ability to fix quickly. Pretty much why I like to digital paint, besides it being cheap.
11. Before I export, there’s a few things I can do to make it better. Since it’s kind of quick and cartoony, I can lightly line it and make it pop. Or I can refine further with a nice textured brush and make it look more realistic. I dig the lines, so I’m going with those.
12. After I PS it (which is nothing more than a linear contrast curves layer and some warming via selective color) I shrink, duplicate the image and run a Paint Daubs filter (both settings on 1) to sharpen it. I take down the opacity of the sharpened layer to about 40-60%. I’m done!
I like samecity’s skin tones a lot, so here is a quick tutorial-y thing she did on ‘em.
I admit, I like to draw things that I find aesthetically appealing. I’m not above that.
That said, it’s important to me that a character is able to emote. When I’m drawing a guy, I usually know how to draw him emoting while still keeping the set of visual symbols that make the character attractive. If I only drew a ‘default’ anatomically correct face that couldn’t emote, I’d get bored. It would be easier, but, yeah. Very boring. I suspect other people looking at my work would feel the same way.
Illustrated women, on the other hand, often seem much more limited in their ability to “emote while being attractive”. Since our Western idea of what makes a woman attractive is much more limited than our idea of what makes a man attractive, we have been given a much more limited set of “attractive female” facial symbols to work with, than we have been given for men. It makes the prospect of drawing a woman really emoting daunting, challenging, and for some people, apparently not worth the effort. Since it’s so important to many illustrators that their females be attractive at ALL times, a lot of people don’t even bother with trying to give their women a little more… well, character.
I understand why a lot of illustrators shy away from drawing women making “crazy” faces. Yeah, it’s tough to do, especially if you’re concerned with maintaining aesthetic appeal. For me, as an illustrator, it’s worth the trouble. I gotta say, looking at galleries and comic books full of women making the same two bedroom eyes/sweet smile faces is incredibly boring. And asinine. It might be worth it for you to learn how to draw women emoting, too.
I think sticking with the bedroom eyes status quo is lazy. And, it’s a copout. And, you can do better. Yes, you CAN learn to do it. The alternative is that your women are as boring as paste. They look so generic that they fade entirely into the background and stop even registering as “attractive” after a while, which defeats your point entirely, doesn’t it?
These are all taken from the same Nicki Minaj video. I hope someone out there finds them as inspiring and useful as I do.