The way I used to draw vs how I draw now (need advice)

  • My art when I was in my 20's was different than it is now. Since I started focusing on becoming better at my art, my wife has noticed that I have given up the style I had, and she encourages me to use the things I am learning at SVS and apply them to my old style rather than try to completely start from scratch. Here is an example lf my old way of drawing vs how I draw now.

    0_1473212966720_image.jpeg ![1_1473212944446_image.jpeg](Uploading 100%) ![0_1473212944439_image.jpeg](Uploading 100%)


    This is what my art is looking like now:


    My wife, as well as some friends think I need to keep the old style, and just incorporate the new rules I am learning, however, the way I worked before was very much free and chaotic, and I can't figure out how to mesh the two together, or if I even should try, and just keep moving forward the way I am.

    Any thoughts?

  • Pro SVS OG

    I have no answers for you, just some thoughts. When looking at work, non-artists will often be able to point out that there is something wrong but will not be able to tell you what (they will mention something, but it will rarely be the right thing). I have learned to pay close attention to comments from anybody, but not necessarily to their exact content, rather trying to get to the root of what is causing their reactions.
    In this case, I believe your wife and friends may be reacting to the rendering. A more polished rendering makes work look less alive and sometimes less interesting (something I struggle with myself all the time). Your older-self drawing do look more spontaneous because the line is less cleaned (manual vs digital?) and they are less rendered.
    Just a thought....

  • SVS OG

    I agree that your old style looks freer but your new style looks really good too. I think that maybe you need to search yourself and find what you like to do-that makes you feel good inside when you're done. Maybe you can do both depending on the projects. One book might be best illustrated with a looser style and one with something more clean and tight or digital. Just my thoughts.

  • Thank you both for your input, I highly respect your insight.

  • SVS OG

    For me I like the line quality you have in the older stuff (especially that first piece I really like the thick and thin variation in the lines) But the rendering in the the newer stuff is very nice. What digital package are you using? Photoshop? If you haven't tried Clip Studio paint (use to be Manga Studio) you can get some of that nice line quality using that program it won't be exactly the same but you can get close.

  • @evilrobot Thanks!

    I am actually using procreate. My main love is traditional, and am currently using water color and gouache together, and will start posting those soon to get some more feedback.

  • SVS OG

    I've been going through this thought as well. And my conclusion was, draw how and what I enjoy drawing. Do stuff in that way and you'll be happy and your work will benefit from it. I think a unique style is developed from that way of thought (I think anyway). I like your whale picture and the traditional drawing, although the foreground hill looks like a boob, maybe it's the rock placement haha... Hope you work this riddle out. 🙂

  • @Jason-Bowen haha, I seriously didn't notice that until now

  • SVS OG

    @Eric-Castleman haha you will never be able to look at that picture in the same way now.

  • SVS OG

    I'm kind of repeating what @smceccarelli and @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen said, but the earlier ones have line work that is more gestural, whimsical, loose, etc. and thus the approach to adding color & shade followed suit, which, in general, I think is appropriate. The newer piece takes a different approach, which seems to be more intentional and pursuing tighter, "refined" lines & rendering.

    The difference may be due to your mindset going into each.

    The first seems as if you give yourself more freedom to flow and let it be what it will be, hiccups and all. I'm sure there is a better word than "hiccups", but by saying "hiccups", I am merely referring to things like intentional or unintentional watercolor pooling or paint bleeding/crossing past the boundary line, the squiggly or scratchiness of a line, and things of similar nature. BTW, I wouldn't classify it as "chaotic" as you mentioned.

    The second seems as if you seek to restrict yourself to controlled lines and color fills, as well as rendering (light/shadow, etc.)

    I think that both approaches have merit. However, I'm not so sure about attempting to "mesh the two together," at least not literally.

    Perhaps, you can have at least 2 portfolios of work: One that is "loose" and one that is "tight".

    Regardless, the principles you are learning at SVS still apply to both. Both need to clearly address concept, narrative/storytelling, composition/layout, value, color, shape, size, character & environment design, etc., not to mention the business & marketing side of things.

    It is easy to tighten/stiffen up when going into a piece that is intended to be refined & highly rendered with lines, painting, etc. It could be a good practice to allow yourself freedom in the early planning stages to be "free" and "loose" with gestural lines and color fills, and as you nail down the direction you want—full of all that delicious energy—then go from there on refining it. It may lose the spontaneity of the specific line strokes, but the overall flow will still be there.

    On the opposite side, if you want a looser piece, when it is time to fill in the loose line work, you can do so with the same intentional structured approach to lighting, color, etc. That doesn't mean it has to be done in a highly controlled manner when applying it, but can be applied accurately yet loosely (other than the Impressionists, off the top of my head I'd point to Marco Bucci but I'm sure there are far looser styled artists that escape me right now)

    Finally, with what the others said, in particular what @Jason-Bowen said, though it is good to take into consideration and maybe even heed the reaction of others (particularly the marketplace and target demographic), and though it is even more advisable to do so with the guidance from seasoned professionals (i.e. @Will-Terry @Jake-Parker @Lee-White etc.), there is an importance to approaching your work according to your natural style, POV, enjoyment, etc. rather than attempting to force-fit yourself into what you think you are expected to be stylistically. Oliver Jeffers does what he does, Joy Ang does what she does, Peter Brown, Suzy Lee, Peter de Seve, Erin Stead, Pillot Frederic, Pamela Zagarenski, David Wiesner, Akiko Miyakoshi, Bob Staake, etc. all do what they do and all are very different stylistically (I picked picture book illustrators but any genre would work).

    If you prefer the tighter style, then perhaps the input you have received from friends and family may trigger you to push for more of that "free flowing energy" into your more rendered work without compromising the intentional refinement of the lines & rendering, or if you prefer a more loose style, then perhaps the input you have received from SVSLearn & others may trigger you to push for more incorporation of those principles into a looser style as you originally did.

    I think that "the fight" is a fight for increasing quality and not a fight for/against a particular style or medium, and like Jason said, it's driving you to a unique @Eric-Castleman style!!!

  • SVS OG

    @Jason-Bowen Ha! Ha! I didn't notice the "boob" before either. That really struck me funny for some reason. Thanks. I needed that.

  • SVS OG

    @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen haha 🙂

  • @QuietYell Wow! What a great comment!

    I looked up all of those artists and was taken back by how good they were and how different each one was. Thanks for the great insight!

    Thanks everyone for your constructive comments. It has really helped me understand how to move forward with my art. Glad we have these forums!

  • SVS OG

    @Eric-Castleman Thanks, I hope it helps!

    Yeah, they are all so different! And awesome too!

    It hit me this morning when I saw an Instagram post of his, but James Yang does pretty loose stuff. More in the graphical, cut paper look and primarily for editorial use, but reviewing his work might be of benefit for you. In fact, he has 2 videos here on SVSLearn:

    Editorial Illustration w/ James Yang

    Portfolios & Self-Promotion w/ James Yang

    Really, there are tons of artists in that realm of looseness. It may help to scan through representation agencies to find artists that have styles you relate to (I'd recommend not just looking at kidlit agencies but also ones that rep for advertising/editorial).

    After you find artists you resonate with, "follow" them to learn from what they do, whom they follow, where they get their work, etc.; kind of like what Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director of Orbit Books) & Marc Scheff (Ilustrator) of Drawn & Drafted says

  • SVS OG

    @Eric-Castleman oh btw, @Lee-White @Jake-Parker @Will-Terry each do pretty different styled work too, which is really quite wonderful to have that diversity sharing their insights. I would say that if you resonate with your previous loose approach, Lee's work, in particular, would be great for you to spend some time with.

  • @QuietYell yes, I totally agree. Lee's watercolor is definitely up my alley.

    P.s Quityell, your work is awesome!

  • SVS OG

    @Eric-Castleman Thank you so much! I am very grateful for such encouragement, because like most artists, some days I feel pretty good about my progress but other days... it's as if it is so bad that it all needs to be burned to a crisp! I guess it is always easier to focus & remain on the blemishes/issues, seeing where you need to improve.

    For both all of us: Fighting! (That's my Korean drama influence coming out. They often say that to one another as a means of encouragement, like saying, "You can do it!")

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