I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with my art...

  • Nabal #1 Fin.jpeg

    So I've been drawing for as long as I can remember, but in more recent years, it's seemed like I've stopped getting better at drawing while my technical knowledge can continued to improve. Please critique this drawing, which is one of my better ones, so I can know what to work on. And don't be shy, tear this to pieces! I have no emotional investment in this drawing anymore, and you won't hurt my feelings if you call it and insult to artists everywhere.
    Thank you.

  • Your headline is a heavy statement. We’ve all ask this of ourselves annually. No need to beat yourself up.

    Please critique this drawing, which is one of my better ones, so I can know what to work on.

    You could receive many responses to this question and not get the right answer. May I ask what are your artist goals? Could you provide a point of reference as to where you want your quality of work to be: Gundam OVAs, IDW Transformers comics, or Pacific Rim concept art? Do you wish to add more mechanical detail in future artworks, or are you happy with the balance you've arrived at.

    For now I'll make the following observations:
    It looks like you freehand with the curves. Not bad for freehand, but it's doesn't pair well with the neat, straight lines. If you want consistent smooth lines for curves, I’d recommend purchasing a flexible curve ruler. What was the reason you decided not to close the lines in the cable spool?

    Are you using a GunPla for reference? If so, play around with lighting your figure. Make sure you're getting decent hightlight/shadow contrast to study from.

    As for improving your drawing sketches, there's only one answer. You'll need to do studies of heavy machinery, military hardware, cars, medieval armor, Boston Dynamic’s Atlas robot, etc. Add to the reference library in your mind. It’s a great excuse to buy a premium Hulkbuster statue 😁 (Please don’t; it’s expensive).

  • I too think you are offering too little insight into your work with just one drawing to get too much of a response, not on your art in general.
    I see your drawing is rather intricate and you must have put a lot of work into it. It seems to have a lack of good perspective and construction, so Maybe you could try a perspective course and human figure construction and work on these on a less complicated figure. Then, the drawing style looks a bit crude to me, it looks digital but like you are using an outdated software, or have not spent much time learning to use it. Also gives me the feeling you discovered digital too soon without maybe practicing drawing on paper enough ?
    The background is another subject… at least a bit of shadow to ground your figure would help….
    So to sum it up, maybe you just have to look at fundamentals like perspective and try to apply them on simpler objects, with pencil on paper. Hope this opinion is helpful and not demoralising, as it was not supposed to be ( learning fundamentals seems great fun to me 🙂 )

  • I really like the character btw. I think your main problem is lack of structure, or proper structure to be more specific. Try learning perspective, construction and structure first. Try to focus on the big shapes making sure they are in the correct perspective before adding lots of detail. Further more the pose looks a little stiff, you might want to practice gesture drawing. So I would first practice figure drawing. You can learn gesture, structure and perspective all at the same time. Then you should see lots of improvement. In terms of rendering and style, i would not worry too much about that right now. Style comes over time, and learning proper structure and perspective comes before rendering. Although this does all depend on what kindve artist you are aiming to be. However, it may be too soon to decide on that. My advice is just what I would do, but some people learn differently. Anyways, I hope this advice helps! I was in your place only like a year ago so keep it up man. You got this.

  • I think a texture layer beneath your colour layer would help a lot👍

  • People have given you great advice already. I don't know if I'll be able to offer anything as good as they did, so I'll try to point out specifics.

    I think I'll go with themes the others brought up and detail what I see. First, maybe you could work on perspective. For example, the character's right foot looks like it's pushing against the floor on the inside part of it (the left side of the foot itself), but the foot mass in itself doesn't follow it accordingly, so it ends up looking like having a slight different form than the other foot. I'm sorry, I'm really struggling with the limitations of my own English (not my mother language), but I hope this makes sense. His left arm, the upper part of it, right beneath the shoulder thing, also looks a bit off, perhaps spun too much to the left...

    The mechanics deserve some development as well. This is hard and requires meticulous training and a large repertoire in your head, but look at the guy's abdome, for instance: it seems he's twisting his "spine" to his right-front side, making it shorter to the viewer's left and longer to the viewer's right, but then, if those are metal parts, they could't simply be shorter on one side, they'd have to overlap (and be of different sizes so that they could fit inside the other when overlapping). Here we see them as being some elastic material, like skin or tissue, but at the same time having lines that suggest that these are different pieces put one over the other.

    The hands, especially, deserve some more love, care and understanding... 🙂

    The line work in general also deserves some more love. I guess that the natural way to go would be to vary line weight according to light direction, position, distance from viewer, weight etc. (think of Jake Parker's stuff--which is great, of course). If done right, this 9 out of 10 times results in something beautiful, but I also think that some machinery like this can get very interesting if treated a bit like technical drawings, with "cold" thin lines but some Moebius-esque light colors and subtle gradients, somewhat like this:


    It really looks like outdated software, almost vintage, by the way, but it's not vintage enough to become appealing due to its antiquity. It seems you color dropped a darker green on some parts that were already green before and didn't correct the variations (look at the green on the head, for example): I cannot know for sure if this is lighting or the rough color drop.

    These are all things we have to go through sooner or later. Keep going!

  • @willicreate
    Thank you for the feedback.
    Currently my ultimate goal as an artist would be able to draw marvel or dc style comic book characters and settings, and I would like to add more detail as I get better.
    I did this drawing entirely in krita with no references or external tools, and I'm not very used to the drawing tablet yet, which is my weak defense for the freehand stuff being bad 😉 I chose to leave the lines open on the spool because I thought closing them created too much noise in that area, and I was trying to imply detail.
    For the lighting I drew a bunch of lines from a point off page to corners on the figure and then worked out how the lighting appeared from that.
    Yeah, I probably should do more studies of similar material. And yes, I absolutely have the money to drop on a Hulkbuster as a casual artist.

  • @Oana
    I didn't think I would be able to attach multiple files based on how much I had to compress this one to get it small enough, but yes, I agree that one drawing is not enough to fix someone's art. Here is my Deviantart in case you're feeling generous enough to have a look though it: https://www.deviantart.com/pisquid
    You're probably right in saying that I focus too much on details and not enough on getting the fundamentals right. That is admittedly not what I wanted to hear, but stubbornness will only hinder me. I am not very familiar with digital art in general, I started with GIMP because I saw someone else use it, and I didn't know what else to go with. Right now I'm using Krita, which I've been told is a good program for beginners. Frankly I don't think that I came to digital too soon, I've spent as long as I can remember drawing on pencil and paper, and have only started playing around with digital for a couple years now.
    You're right! I can't believe that I didn't figure out that shadows help my characters not look so floaty.
    Thank you for taking the time to write to me

  • @phoenix-yip
    Thanks! At this point it does feel pretty unanimous that I need fundamentals and structure. The posture was one of the first things that I knew was wrong. During layout I tried several poses, but none of them were panning out, so I wound up with something where I don't really know what the character is doing. As I said in a different reply, I'm aiming for a superhero comicbook or graphic novel style, but I know I'm a long way from that.
    As always, I really appreciate the feedback.

  • @kylebeaudette
    In this particular case, I chose not to texture it to save work. I have a bad habit of not finishing drawings, and since this is one of the first color drawings I've done in a long time, I left the texture out to increase the chances of getting a finished product that I was semi-happy with.
    But thanks, I do agree that texture would help

  • @fmb
    Wow, thanks for the detailed reply!
    Yes, I defiantly need to improve my posture, perspective, and form skills. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a long response in a second language. Don't worry, I think I understand you clearly.
    In the abdomen I was imagining overlapping plates like a wasp or bee's abdomen, but I guess I didn't show that clearly enough.
    For the hands, I didn't know what I wanted them to look like right up until I was drawing them, so they are quite lack luster. I also do need a better understanding of the mechanics of a hand.
    I hadn't thought so much about how the line work affects the drawing, I will have to think about how to use the lines better.
    I think most of the color problems come from my bad lighting and the compression that I had to do in order to get the size down. There are some discolored patches on this version that don't exist in my uncompressed file. But I probably should keep an eye out for any weirdness that Krita might create.

  • @PiSquid I took a look, you are used more to a cartoony style (same as me) so this confirms you need to work seriously on perspective and construction, I don't think you can get away without that for a Marvel comic style (could work for graphic novels the kind where idea content is more important than visuals, like slice of life comics). Krita is ok, so maybe you can look for some tutorials to help you make the most of it. If you have been drawing on paper then it must be you just need to get more experience with the tablet. I know that's a bit difficult and I don't manage it well either (I have an older wacom), recently I bought an Ipad pro and that is much more easy for me... but I know many use tablets so I'm sure it can be done with practice.

    I notice one more thing about the way you drew the robot: the lines seem to be made using a "straight lines" tool... well, you might look into this, I am not at all specialised in drawing robots and machinery but I think the best artists don't really use "straight line tools" that much, maybe just on particular background details, or as a reference grid or longer lines. If used on all the drawing, you can see all the places where the lines meet and it looks awkward.. also there is too much contrast between the very straight lines and the freehand ones. So you might need practice the freehand very well and use that for more of the drawing so it all blends better. You an look up Jake Parkers robots. They look solid because the construction is really solid but the individual lines are really freehand and soft. (I tried to insert an image of his here but it was marked as spam 😲 ) You could try and observe this in several styles of comics you like and find ideas this way.
    One more thing about your upload, you can try a smaller sized image so you don't have to compress it too much. All the detail is visible at smaller scale too. Something like 700x700 pixels is good enough.

    Good luck, have fun drawing! 🙂

  • @fmb I like that image so much!!! 😲

  • I don't have much to add to what was said, especially since I'm going through the fundamentals myself. 🙂
    I can tell you that I finished the level 1 of the curriculum at svs, and although now I need to practice all the fundamentals I learned there a lot, the improvement and change in the way I draw was outstanding. I am actually surprised with how much I evolved and got better in 3 months of just following the courses and doing each exercise, and in some, taking the time to practice it over and over again.

    So, just to say that going back to fundamentals, no matter how simple the exercises seem to be, and taking the time to practice them does pay off a ton! 🙂

    And regarding the getting used to the tablet, doing line exercises (like the ones in How To Draw Everything, by Jake Parker at svs), although boring has hell lol, can help a lot with getting a better line control on the tablet. 😉

  • I’ve also visited your DeviantArt website; your current work is a major leap from past pieces.

    I’m not familiar with the software Krita. Have you tried Inkscape? It’s a free vector art app (equivalent to Abobe’s Illustrator program). I think it will help with laying down line and curved lines. If you choose to keep your coloring more graphic, it is good for that too. I imagine you can ‘ink’ your lines in Inkscape first, then import it into Krita for painting.

    For lighting, there ought to be more cast shadows, such as the cable over the left arm and the area on the left torso. Because the body is metal, there should be reflective lighting. For example, the right bicep being close to the chest, should have lighting on it.

    Should you feel interested in doing real-life studies, I’d recommend purchasing a cheap Gundam plastic model or a Pacific Rim action figure. With it, you don’t have to guess the light and shadows. If you enjoy re-watching the Pacific Rim movies, have a pencil and paper with you and sketch some figures.

    Thanks to illegal fireworks, I had insomnia and put together this suggestion guide. Hope it helps.


  • @willicreate
    Wow! Thank you so much!
    I haven't used inkscape, but I'm willing to try it.
    I'll try to keep the shadows in mind for the lighting, but I will say that I was deliberately focusing on the highlights for this one because I hadn't done much of that before. That's no excuse for bad shading, but I felt it was worth pointing out.
    I've look up Jaegers for reference, but I suppose that getting an actual model where I can play with the angles and lighting would be very beneficial.
    I'm deeply grateful that you took the time to make that guide. Once again thank you.

    I will certainly go back into the fundamentals. I have a couple art books that friends gave me a while back, and I never really studied because they looked boring, but I think I will start by going through them and doing all the exercises that I can find.

    I did use the straight line tool for everything that I could in order to work around my inexperience with a tablet, but I will try to avoid that when I can.
    Thanks for the size reduction tip, and all the other advice.

    There's no way that I can thank all you people enough for all that you've done for me. Thank you

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