Copying Your Top 5 Favorites

  • Moderator

    In the Podcast "Episode 2: Am I Too Old to Get Started?" Lee, Jake, and Will proposed a 3-phase plan for those who wanted to jump start their illustration development. They suggested finding your top five favorite illustrators and compare their work together, perhaps finding common methods and similarities that you were attracted to that you could incorporate into your own work. Artists can be inspired by those who came before them, and it's good to explore their work in depth.

    They also suggested that you take those top five and copy 20 of their images, for a total of 100 drawings/paintings. For practice. To really get into their head space. Not only is this a tried-and-true approach for learning done in the past for educating artists, it also helps a person understand just how talented and singular artist can be... Will gave the example of Gregory Manchess (Above the Timberline) who, as a self-taught artist, would go to museums and study the paintings so he could figure out their artist's process--one stroke over the top of another, this part of the painting before that part--and so on.

    In that spirit, I'm sharing some work I have tried to redraw from Rogerio Coelho, one of my Top 5. I'm learning a lot about how he may have digitally created his work. My biggest challenge is "staying withing the lines"!! I keep wanting to launch off and do my own stuff once I see how to replicate an effect or make a new discovery! As I'm replicating his work, my brain is banking it and wanting to do my own spin on things. It's a really great technique and I urge you all to try it out. Will and Lee and Jake are right--it's a great educational experience.

    I don't use Photoshop that often, so these were all done in Procreate on my iPad Pro instead. It did everything it needed to.

    This first one is Coelho on the left, me on the right. On this one I learned that being able to zoom in on things digitally is both good and bad. My detail is too crisp and sharp in places I zoomed in to make the drawing easier. And that throws things out of wack. I think that zooming in a bit is okay, but zooming in too much is probably detrimental in the big picture. Keeping the strokes a consistent size helps the logic of the painting.

    That being said, I wonder if zooming in can be exploited for things like e-books, where enlarging the image can be a feature... Made me think off all kinds of fun hidden details embedded in pictures...

    0_1546981961061_Coelhocomparison1a copy.jpg

    The second image was the easiest for me, because I found that most of the heavy lifting is done by the brushes themselves. But the square format I chose worked against me, and I didn't realize how powerful scale can be.


    This third taught me that composition is really what's important. The shape of the image--rectangular-- is important, and was again something I didn't think about at first. The balance of lights and darks and textures really makes me admire Coelho even more. His subtle layering is gentle and I think he probably uses a LOT of layers in his digital work.


    Finally, this fourth image taught me about the importance of creating a visual language for your paintings and sticking to the predetermined style. Coelho uses a handful of techniques to do this rendering, and repeats them over and over. He doesn't do anything out of context, and his painting looks tight and unified because of it. His shading is all done in the same way with the same textures and the same color palette, his line work is all similar, and his repetitive use of Multiply and Overlay layers are, it seems, the only layer modes beyond Normal. It was fun to try to reproduce this. His image is on the top and mine on the bottom.


    Anyway, it thought I'd share. Overall, I learned I have a heavy hand in comparison to Coelho and that I probably need to step back and be a lot more gentle. I love his embrace of textures the way he does. It's very painterly, and I want to emulate that in my own work.

    This was a good lesson for me, @Will-Terry , @Lee-White , @Jake-Parker. I, personally got a lot out of it. It's a concrete method to learn a lot of things, and I'd never really thought about it before. I look forward to learning more about my other favorite artists.

  • @coreyartus Not only is this super informative, it's inspiring as well. Thx so much for sharing your work!! I think yours is really good, too!

  • SVS OG

    @Coreyartus I really like what you've done here! I think all of your slight interpretations add something in terms of the directionality of line (or whatever you call it!).

    I have been doing the same thing with Lisbeth Zwerger and Quentin Greban for the past few days, and get too hung up on the fact that they are working in traditional watercolor while I am working digitally. But I love the way each of them treats color and composition.

    I'm glad you did this and posted it, because I am always tempted to think it's a waste of time and I should be doing original work, but both are necessary.

  • Moderator

    @lauraa Oh, my goodness now you've sent me down another rabbit hole!! The work of those two is... well, all I can think of is lyrical and poetic! How exciting to try deciphering their approaches! I hope you take away a lot that you can turn to your own and express in your own distinctive way. I hope you share some of your discoveries with us here on the forum! I love to hear what other people think of others' work. I either learn more about my own preferences because I agree or disagree, or I make new discoveries when things are pointed out I didn't see myself. Have fun!!

  • SVS OG

    @coreyartus Yeah, I've got a deep-rooted Asian art thing (and also a medieval manuscript thing) that I have no idea how to integrate into my style, which is admittedly more realistic. This is one reason I've been so eager to take the backgrounds class. Both of these artists are able to skillfully integrate a bit of Asian sensibility into their work without it being simply a copy. Lisbeth Zwerger has evolved quite a bit over the years, and I like both of her styles!

    Thanks for the encouragement! I think I'll keep doing these studies, and please keep posting yours. There could be a whole virtual studio on this topic--learning from your favorite artists!

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