Are There Shortcuts To Making Great Art?


  • SVS OG

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    Art by Miranda Hoover

    This episode was tailor-made for our Critique Arena contestants, but there are lessons applicable to most beginning illustrators here -- namely, what are the common illustration mistakes that hold your art back, and what shortcuts can you take to make great art? This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry do a deep dive the common pitfalls that beginning artists fall into and offer their solutions.

    Click here to listen and to read the shownotes.



  • Really good topic and very insightful I will be taking this in mind when I get ready for next months contest! From what I gathered it appears I need to work on the concept/ story part for my illustrations. Wish this would have come out last week lol! Thanks guys



  • @Jake-Parker Thanks for this episode. I am grateful that you and the svs team really want to see us succeed. Although this episode is supposed to help us win I just want to put a word in for the value of not winning and sometimes not even coming close to winning in these contests for nearly an entire year! It has taken me that long to just be ok with all the uncertainty in it, and I think that is an enormously beneficial skill to gain when the professional work also has a lot of uncertainty built in. So that's a win for me and a thank you for the contests. It took real commitment to put in that many hours of not working smart, and every ounce of extra help the svs team and the people on this forum to get me here, but I really have a better way of approaching things now. It felt impossible to relax about it when I started and up to this most recent contest. So I recommend doing it even if it's mostly disappearing into pitfalls. ๐Ÿ™‚ It's kind of a way of watching myself work that I wouldn't have had otherwise.



  • Great episode gents!

    Iโ€™m learning so much and stretching my skills ever so slightly forward with each monthly contest piece.

    Thank you for the advice on improving storytelling, composition and methods for bringing emotion out.

    Good stuff!



  • Thank you so much for the episode. I have a question regarding @Lee-Whiteยดs advice on eight major shapes. I think I understand what he is talking about, but I really want to see some more examples on that.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @xin-li sure, I'll draw something up and post it


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    ok, here's two examples. The shape breakdown is basically a way to control composition and see what groups together. Note: you can have as much detail as you want, as long as it groups to that shape. So typically each area is marked off as a basic 'group' of items. Like a group of trees that go together or a group of characters that are all in the same value range. The sky and ground need to be considered as their own shape too unless they blend into something, etc. So in my examples below, if you were to squint and blur your vision a little bit, this is how the shapes would group together. For example, This idea helps me know how bright to go on the sunlight hitting the houses. If that value were too bright, it would start to break up that shape. So I keep the contrast low there and it holds together as a mass.

    This concept is at the basis of Will Terry's "draw 50 things". Even though you have a lot of stuff in there, it needs to group well to control the image. Hope that makes sense! : ) Early-start breakdown.jpg Winter-walk breakdown.jpg


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    I think of the image like a kid's jigsaw puzzle that only gets up to 8 big pieces. It's not perfect, but it gives a good guide for designing things.



  • After every single episode, weeks upon weeks (2 years?), this one compelled me to stop being a lurker on the forum. I curious where I find the Monthly Prompts and Critique-o-rama?

    Thanks for all the work you guys do! I'm excited to be on the SVS Forum.



  • @Lee-White Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! Is there a specific reason that it is 8 shapes max? (Other than just.. 9 is a lot haha). Is there a recommended minimum?



  • @Nico-Ecenarro There is usually a post every month in the forums here with the prompt where you can post your entry, and then they send out a link for you to watch it live. I think it's also in the newsletter if you sign up for that? Or at least in the posts for news and upcoming notices at the bottom of the homepage for svslearn.

    Also, welcome!



  • This post is deleted!


  • @Nico-Ecenarro I've searched for them before, but they're tricky to find for some reason. After listening to this podcast I tracked them down again. They're in Courses, under Critique, and then click the down arrow next to 'Critique Arena' for past Critiques. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  • @Lee-White My takeaway from your advice is to simplify the image by organizing and grouping value. I love your approach to thinking about it as a jigsaw puzzle. Thank you so much for providing additional examples.



  • @Cayleen and @carlianne thanks for the info!



  • @Lee-White thank you!! This is so much valuable! This solves my issue of "floating items" in my illustrations and with only 3 values, it is already so much better!!


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