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Art improvement tips

8 Apr 2020, 10:44 am (Edited 12 May 2020, 5:56 pm)
I'm really trying to get better at drawing, but it seems everything I do comes out worse than before.
So, I've caved and I'm asking for help. I've been pretty depressed lately so that could be the source of this whole issue, but it doesn't really matter.
Anyways, here are some examples


12 May 2020, 5:56 pm
Reuseing thread bump
12 May 2020, 6:10 pm
The biggest tip I can give you is reference images and don't rush improvement. As long as you draw regularly you will get better even if you don't realize it.
12 May 2020, 6:11 pm
Are there any areas in particular you're trying to work on in your art?
12 May 2020, 6:20 pm
Morphie :

-Never be afraid to use references! Everyone needs to use them; no one perfectly draws from memory. And don't be afraid to deviate from your reference or combine it with other images to create the piece you want.

-Study real-life animals as subjects, even if the creature you want to draw does not exist in real life. For example: if you want to draw a dragon, you can study lizards (general body), bats (wings), and deer/antelopes (horns). Knowing basic anatomy is your friend!

-Tracing is *not* the biggest evil in the world. If you want to take an image and redline it to block out shapes to see how the artist (or animal in general if you're observing a photo) is shaped/constructed, that's ok! Really! But still, never post traced artwork without an artist's permission and always remember to credit the artist even if they've told you it's ok to upload.

-All art is good art. Everyone is constantly learning. If you're drawing, you're practicing, and you're doing something right. Remember to focus on the positives and to not be too hard on yourself when criticizing. If you wouldn't say it to someone else, don't say it to yourself!

If you ever want to talk to/ask me about art or ask for constructive criticism, my DMs are open (though I'm by no means a professional, haha) <3 Art is a journey! Remember to take your time~
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12 May 2020, 8:30 pm
Transient I do draw quite a lot, normally at the very least two pieces a day.

Waap Just in generel. Maybe so it doesn't look all the same

thePurple
I do indeed look up references; however my art program doesn't HECKING LET ME PUT IN IMAGES! So that's a little hard...
I actually looked up so. Many. References. For my species, the Aercid.
Going through my history, I looked up: Cat skulls, cat faces, bird wings, bird skeletons, bat wings, bat skeletons, kangaroos, giraffes, human skeletons, human skulls, and a whole lot more.
As for knowing anatomy, I really, REALLY try to, but in the end they all look exactly the same. And when I do a different pose I lose interest because it looks horrible
note to self: in high school get a better art program.
And I truly can't bring myself to trace. I know, I'm not posting and it's for practice, but than I feel like my art will just be a fabrication of somebody else's.
12 May 2020, 8:49 pm
Morphie What art program are you using right now? Do you use a mouse or do you have some kind of tablet?
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12 May 2020, 8:55 pm
thePurple
here we go
..Chrome Canvas.
OKAY I HAVE AN EXPLANATION. It's the only art program I have access to, since I'm on a school chromebook. On June 6th I will be FREE OF THE BURDEN!
And I have a very, very old drawing tablet. Probably from at least 2010
12 May 2020, 9:34 pm
Morphie Chrome Canvas isn't too awful! I'd not judge you for your choice in program, don't worry <3 I just played around with it a little. It's definitely limited with brush options and I wasn't able to find a way to import images either, which is a bit weird. I'm assuming you're not able to download any other software onto your Chromebook since it's a school one, but that's ok! I started on MS Paint lol. I would recommend upgrading to something like FireAlpaca (free) or Clip Studio Paint (which costs money but I don't remember how much); I use FA personally and love it, but I've heard great things about CSP too. For now, though, keep practicing with what you have! There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not as in-depth. I think when my school had Chromebooks we sometimes used a program called SumoPaint? I don't remember a ton about it, but if you can access it, then maybe check it out, too.

If your tablet works it doesn't matter how old it is ^^ If you can use it, that's great! If not, I'd suggest saving up to get one that's newer, since they really do help. Mine is a Wacom that was I think $80? You definitely don't need a really expensive one, especially as just a hobbyist.

Another thing I'd recommend in general is to sketch and draw a lot traditionally ^^ Traditional art isn't any less than digital and vice-versa. Maybe try filling some pages or sketchbooks with drawings referenced from images on your Chromebook, or maybe print out some pictures and block out the shapes in them (like the ones that make up the head, body, legs, etc)?

Here's a pretty good, short YT video I found with some comprehensive tips: Click me!

Here's another video that's more about style but it's overall a good video for tips, too. Click me!

I hope this isn't too much or annoying ^^;
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12 May 2020, 9:48 pm
It's good that you're doing a lot of art, and I expect that's part of why you're currently dissatisfied with your work. It's very normal for artists to go through phases of hating their work when their eye has improved but their hand doesn't yet match it. Seeing flaws in your work is a sign of improvement.

Different people value different things in art, so what would be considered an improvement would change from person to person. If you want to improve your art in a way that is quick for you to notice, having more specific styles and techniques to focus on would be a good way to go about it. Less focused practice is going to help you develop your skills more generally, but the slow, even progress will be less noticeable.

People generally consider art fundamentals practice to be the best starting point for art practice, and also a good thing to revisit. Some art fundamentals excercises you could do include:
-Practicing straight lines (and figuring out what angle your hand naturally draws the straightest lines at)
-Practicing different kinds of lines (builds line confidence and general hand-eye co-ordination)
-Markmaking practice (Making different lines and dots and shapes, to see what your hand can do. This also includes trying out different tools, or trying out different brushes and brush settings in digital art)
-Drawing 3D shapes
-Shading and gradients practice (Trying out different shading techniques and getting a feel for it. Learning to use different shading intensities and gradiate shadows. Learning to apply shadows to 3D forms.)
-Contour drawings (Drawing a person, creature, or object, and drawing contour lines that follow the 3D form. Good for developing a sense of form, as well as practicing line control.)
-Texture practice (Replicating textures such as hair, fur, stone, grass, and bark from photo or real-life reference. For more advanced practice, try applying textures to simple 3D shapes, and applying lighting to them.)
-Figure drawings, still-lifes, and other reference drawings (Try to replicate what the eye sees, not what shape you expect the object to be. Good for building an understanding of shape, 3D form, silhouette, proportions, and light.)

Most of my art fundamentals practice I did in school with pencil and paper, but it's all doable on a tablet. It can be super dull so I recommend injecting stuff you're actually interested in drawing into art exercises to make it more enjoyable. Art fundamentals lessons tend to use subjects that are familiar, and either easy to draw or something that most artists are assumed to draw a lot of. That's why fruit (simple shapes) and humans (common subject) are often chosen. The same practices can be done with all sorts of subjects, so long as you can get decent quality real-life images of them.

Fundamentals practice is very good because the skills you learn from it can be applied to all sorts of styles. It most directly applies to more realistic work, but having an idea of how things would look in the real world and how they should properly work in 3D space really helps make effective and believable stylised art too, because you're breaking the rules with purpose.
12 May 2020, 9:56 pm
I'm sure this has already been said, but practice. Weird comparison here, but art is kind of like working out. The more you do, the more often you do it, the more you improve. Also experiment. A lot. See what you're the best at and what you need to get better at. When I was first starting to seriously get into art, I went from super realistic scenes (or as good as I could do at that point) to cartoons, where I settled. Experimenting is a great way to figure out your art style as well, so don't be afraid to branch out and try new things, even after you're at a point where you're happy with your skill level.
Bear ♥
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12 May 2020, 10:04 pm
what program are you using that wouldn't let you out in images???

also sometimes it's okay to trace for practice only of course, it helps with muscle memory or something

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12 May 2020, 10:10 pm
Some tips that might help for proportions:
The distance from shoulder to elbow is the same as the distance from elbow to wrist.
A body is usually around 8-10 heads high

When making digitigrade legs, shorten the bone between the knee and "ankle" and place at a slight backwards angle, to account for the extended part below that would be a foot on a human. This means the legs will be a bit zig zaggy even when the being is standing straight.

And of course all the things everyone else mentioned: practice, use reference images, and trace!
12 May 2020, 10:17 pm (Edited 12 May 2020, 10:19 pm)
I recommend using Kleki.com if you are on a school chromebook, I use my school chrome book sometimes for art and it's not blocked for me and allows me to put in jmages! <3

Redlining isn't much of tracing really, it's taking a big brush and getting an idea of how the muscles, fat, bone, joints, features, etc flow when in a specific pose. If I were to take a piece of art and redlne the thighs, I would very messily make rough sketch-like marks so I could get an idea of what the anatomy looks like from that angle and perspective. I even sometimes take pictures of myself and red line them, it's like having a super rough sketch layer that you did on the side of your paper durng class because inspiration for an art came to you and you had one minute to really roughly put it on paper so you could get the general idea of what you were going for later on, it's messy, rough, and barely tracing if done with minimal effort. Not every art people make is posted, I doodle all the time but it's just that little bit of experience and practice behind the curtains that no one ever sees, yet is very important. It's like the stagecrew behind the curtain, though little to no people will ever see them, they are extremely important to what people do see, just working behind the scenes <3
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12 May 2020, 10:40 pm
Here's something I think would really help: I would like for you to start practice drawing basic shapes.

Circles, squares, triangles, simple shapes. Your current work is all fun to look at, but a lot of it lacks structure and feels "wobbly". Basic shapes exist in life, in people, animals, plants, ect., so getting better at these will grant better structure to your work, especially when drawing things like skulls and poses.

The other thing I would like to see you do is just practice drawing lines. Just draw a straight line, then another, and keep going slowly and work on controlling your hand. I think it would be best if you practiced this traditionally along with digitally.

I really think If you got better at simple shapes and learned to control your hand/lines a little better, it would make a world of difference.

Don't overthink it, don't try to make everything a masterpiece. Give yourself the time and patience that you deserve, and break things up into their simplest forms. This is why I think basic shapes and lines are the best place to start. From reading previous comments, I also understand you are stuck using a program that is not the best kind of quality. That's ok! When I needed to practice digital art, I started out using MSPaint of all things! Use what you have to its fullest. I hope things get better for you and good luck practicing!
12 May 2020, 11:14 pm (Edited 12 May 2020, 11:24 pm)
thePurple I actually do do traditional art! I recentally experimented with a lineless colored pencil peice which turned out pretty bad
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Waap I did read all of what you said, and yea, those are some pretty good tips. Recentally I changed from my sketches being a line in the middle of the leg, like where the bones would be, and circles at the joints into 3-D shapes such as cones, spheres, ect. I do think I should practice drawing other things other than animals, but I'm kinda scared, in a way.
TropicalDeer I use chrome canvas ^^
katethemarten t h a n k y o u ! I actually really struggle with arm proportions alot, so this is really helpful <3
DimkaDimintriFeline YOU JSUT SAVED MY LIFE
IT HAS A STABALIZER AHAHAHAHAHHAH
*dies*
I drew this just now, tell me if it looks any better
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MalGV not gonna lie MS paint is better than canvas.
Alright, shall get to my lines! The main problem is that I tent to use my elbow to draw and.. ya'know... elbows curve. I should stop doing that.
12 May 2020, 11:32 pm
Wrists and shoulders curve, too, so that's kind of unavoidable. I think the Proper way of drawing is with your shoulder, but I can't work out how to do that, honestly. Elbow is probably better than wrist, though?

Drawing stuff outside of your comfort zone can be a bit scary, but like worst case scenario is it's kinda boring and doesn't look very good, right? And even then you'd still be making progress.
12 May 2020, 11:41 pm
Some more proportioning tips:

Eyes are usually halfway down the head on humans, and only slightly higher than that on anthro animals as a guideline.

When I draw I always think about the bones underneath.
Take the mouth for example. The opening/lips part is only so big, but think about where the jaw bone is and how it connects up near the ears.
13 May 2020, 12:04 am
Knee to hip length is about the same as hip to top of chest length, though this will change a bit based on character height.
In a neutral standing position with arms rested at the sides, fingertips reach about mid-thigh.
On a human, the hand is about the same size as the face, though I don't know how this translates to anthro faces.
Human ear more or less lines up with the eyes at the top and the top of the upper lip at the bottom.

Using your own body as reference can be really handy when figuring out humanoid anatomy, proportions, and posing.
13 May 2020, 1:10 am
If you're looking for new better art programs, then I recommend MediBang Paint and/or FireAlpaca! They're both similar programs. Only difference is that you can animate on FireAlpaca. Both art programs are completely free and they're the main art programs that I use! They have some pretty neat brushes on there and you can crank the correction all the way up to make your lineart look neater. If you have a phone then you should try out MediBang since they have a mobile version.

As for improvement in your art, I don't have any amazing advice rather than to look up references of animals, practice using different shapes, and trace over photos of different animals to understand their anatomy better (though don't use the traced sketch for your final piece!). If you want me to, I can redline over your art to point out any anatomy mistakes that you make. I'm no expert in art but I have a decent grasp on cat/dog anatomy and could definitely help you out if you need it! Just PM me anytime you'd like and I'd be more than glad to help. :)
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13 May 2020, 2:06 am
Oh my gosh I absolutely love that lineless traditional piece omg <3 <3
Eee I'm so glad I could help!! >w< I love it haha it's really nice~
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13 May 2020, 12:52 pm
Katie-Kats I can't use other programs because they're all blocked :( And I can't download any extistions on my chromebook until June 6th. I plan on getting Firealpaca
I also did a thing where on the left I didn't look up any references but I did on the right
would you care to guess what animal it is?
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13 May 2020, 1:35 pm
Ah, okay! That makes sense. And is it a hyena? Because the rounded ears and the way you colored the snout and ears reminds me of one (sorry if I'm wrong!). :0

I definitely see some improvement here and there! I especially like the paw, leg, and the headshot in the middle on the right page. Just keep drawing and you'll eventually find a style you're comfortable with.
1EcPJjR.png » Katie • She/Her • Digital Artist « nkOnSpH.png

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13 May 2020, 1:45 pm (Edited 13 May 2020, 1:46 pm)
Morphie

I suggest if you really want a good art program in the near future using Krita. It's a neat program, though you have to download it.

As for help.... not amazing with anthros. Don't trust me helping.

I know anatomy, though. If I was good at digital I'd redline for you.
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13 May 2020, 1:55 pm
I suggest references and studying anatomy and such!

You can also try many art styles ( Cartoon, etc ) and try different ways for drawing hands/paws ^^

I don't have much advice, but I found that doing all of the listed helped, and maybe try redrawing some old characters?
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