Curious: what are your ‘style rules’


  • SVS OG

    I was watching SVS’s new Composition class and @willterry mentioned how illustrators use style rules in their drawings for unity and consistency - consciously or unconsciously - and this is what makes their style consistent and identifiable . (Eg. only using dots for eyes, or a certain colour palette or completely outlining something or just using lines in certain areas of drawing etc.) He didn’t identify his rules though.

    So am just curious: Do you use a list of rules to consciously guide your style? If so, what kind of things are on your list?



  • @missmushy

    I've been thinking about this, too! I'm having a hard time pegging exactly what my 'rules' are for my linework. I think right now the only big rule I follow is 'never use two lines where one will do'. Lots of flowy curvy lines 'n such.

    But when I lay in initial values I have hard rules.

    -Work background to foreground.
    -Never go all the way to white (I try and cap initial values at 188-208)
    -Never go all the way to black (lowest I go is 28).
    -Keep in mind them basic shapes. It's not a head, it's a sphere. It's not an arm, it's a cylinder.

    Then the process looks like this:

    -Local values first. Try and tile them light and dark as best you can.
    -Multiply layer at 128
    -Pick light at 208
    -Core and cast shadows at 88-108
    -Bounce light at 148-168
    -Highlights with full white.

    That gets me to a decent starting point to start playing with colour. At which point I don't really have any rules. Which is why I really, really need to work on colour... :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_cold_sweat:



  • I haven't watched it yet, so I am not sure if this would count. But I tend to use the same kind of brush in all my stuff. I try to branch out, but I always find myself going back to the chalk brush. I just like the way it can work with what I do. I do use other brushes for somethings, but by far, Chalk brush is used almost always.

    Like I said, I haven't watched the video(s) yet but I think using the same brush types all the time fits with consistency which leads to the same style.


  • SVS OG

    @art-of-b That's really helpful.
    Have you seen Simona's video on how she works with colour digitally? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHbAGFbEwsM&t=612s

    I am finding so many lightbulb moments in that I have now watched it 3 times lol


  • SVS OG

    @jason-kilthau Yes I would think that would help a lot. I am still new to whole digital thing so is very tempting to use as many brushes as possible all the time lol



  • My number one rule when I paint is to pick the ambient hue first and tone the entire canvas in that color and then base my unlit colors on this color choice before I consider my main light source



  • @missmushy I have not watched it yet, but it's very close to next up on my list 🙂


  • SVS OG

    -Messy lines. (Probably because I don’t have a steady hand)

    • Paint must go out of the lines and also not reach the lines in other areas
      -keep to a limited color palette. Maybe use 5 colors in a painting.
      -use all colors everywhere just touches
      -let colors dance together. Basically use wet on wet and limit my hard lines. I use watercolors.
      -don’t kill all the white space.

    I don’t know if my style is a style, but it’s how I paint.

    Can’t wait to watch that class.



  • @whitney-simms You definitely have a style! It's really distinctive. Also, YAY messy lines! I'm so with you on that.



  • @MissMushy I too have not yet watched the video, but I really like the idea. The thought that comes to mind is that style rules are like creating your own language and your style is kind of like you speaking that language. It takes time to learn a new language, so for those of us who haven't yet "figured out" our style, maybe it's a bit like, I'm speaking a little italian here, a little german here, a little mandarin chinese over here... I feel that way a lot of times.

    One thing that I've been intrigued by recently is starting with purely black and white and just spending a good amount of time getting that working first. I've done it with figure drawings in school, but never in my digital paintings, so that's something I'm trying to get a good handle on. Simple shapes underlying all the rest is important to me, and I'd say seeking a strong sense of gesture throughout. I really want to create a strong sense of 3D ness and stylized realism in my work. But beyond that, into the specific details of how I work, I'm still very much working those things out.


  • SVS OG

    @eli awe thanks! One thing I can’t do with watercolor- your texture!



  • @whitney-simms I am the texture queen--Haha! 😂😂 And I am wanting to branch out into more watercolor! I've been doing Lee's digital painting class (it's awesome) and that's been fun--learning to mimic all the texture.



  • My “style” occurred naturally after trying to force a style for a year or so. I gave up trying to draw a certain way, and just made art the way I liked. I realized that style is very much rooted in the steps a person takes from the beginning of a piece to finish. Prior to that realization, I thought style was merely an intential thing.

    My first step is to not care about the drawing. I know that that is not a good thing, but I really just don’t care. It is why I didn’t participate in inktober. I like my drawings to be loose, and the objects to be more shapes than anything. So if it is a moon, a cat, and a building, I try my best to make sure the image is designed with shapes more than “characters”. I’ve noticed that the more the shapes are correct, the better the final painting is. I also have fallen in love with painting more than drawing, and would love to one day just paint without drawing at all, but that may never happen.

    My second step is to paint the underpainting. I always find the colors I want, and find the warmest color and create a value scale with that one color. I work out all of the lighting, and shadows, and the more time I spend on this process the better the final image is.

    My mindset at this stage is that I have a very detailed underpainting, and I now have to mess it up a bit. I start dropping in scanned textures. I like watercolor textures, stuco textures, bark, skin etc. I try my best not to consider where I am placing the textures. I want it to look accidental, and in many ways, I want it to ruin the fine details a bit. I like knowing that all of that work is getting covered up a bit, and only hinted at being very controlled.

    Then I move onto placing color on the image. This is the hardest step for me. Balancing color is not a strength of mine, so I tend to spent a lot of time complaining (important part of my process) to my wife that I am a fraud haha. Then it somehow starts to work, and I zero in on the details.

    The final step is the Highlights. I go in and somewhat identify shapes that have been lost in the previous steps that I want to emphasize. I hit the parts that need better lighting, and the parts that need better shadows.

    That is basically what I do every time. I am always looking for another weird thing to add to it all, but so far I like this process the best.



  • I watched this video today and it was enlightening. I don’t know what my style rules are. Maybe that’s why I feel like I don’t have a distinctive style? Everyone says that I do, but I don’t see it. I was excited to see that two of the illustrators he discusses in the video (Wylie Beckert and Cory Godbey) are in my Dream Portfolio, but maybe they shouldn’t be because I don’t have lots of flowing lines in my work.


  • SVS OG

    It is so cool hearing about everybody’s different approaches.
    @whitney-Simms I think my thing is messy lines too. I try to have a steady hand but it never works out.
    @robgale That’s a perfect analogy. I feel I am not even at the language stage yet though - am more like a toddler making goo goo sounds here and there and once in while something sounds like a word by accident 😂
    @Eric-Castleman that’s an idea - to use the warm undertone colour for the values. Whenever I’ve tried doing the values in grayscale and painting on top it has been a complete mess.



  • @missmushy you have to treat it like an oil painting. You slowly build up color over the value. It is a slow process, but it produces very nice results.


  • SVS OG

    @eric-castleman I love your statement that complaining that you are a fraud is part of your process. Although you were joking, it helps me to know that someone as talented as you are still struggles with your own self doubts. One of the most helpful thing I heard on one of the SVS videos was one of the teachers (can’t remember who) talking about going through the ugly phase of a painting because all of this tells me that much of the process of bringing a painting to completion is learning when to listen to one’s own doubts and when to ignore them and push through.



  • I used to worry I never had a style but I do think I finally found it, it's mostly very rough sketching and I let the inking find the details, going in with a finer line to draw lines in places so it looks like I know what I'm doing.


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