Feeling very discouraged but here's another try.

  • SVS OG

    Does anyone else feel as discouraged as i do? Mayeb I need to spend more time on the lessons and less on trying to enter these 3rd Thursday things....or is it just par for the course? I redrew my idea bu tam still not too happy with it. My figures are stiff and I seem to do work that is flat.....or maybe I shouldn't ask my kids to critique my work πŸ™‚ Oh well, here is a picture of what I've been playing around with today. I have take other peoples comments to heart and come up with a new plan.


  • SVS OG

    Don't feel discouraged @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen ...you've got great drawing skills looking at this sketch πŸ™‚ Last time in 3rd Thurs Lee White said he wanted us to struggle..because that's how we get better. I feel just as frustrated now with my art as I did before, even though it is better...because there is always a bit more mountain to climb, the learning is never finished. I think you just have to make peace with the fact that learning new things can be difficult and just use your passion for what you do, to push through it. It might not feel like you are making progress at the time, but one day you'll look back and see just how far you've travelled πŸ™‚

  • I often feel discouraged but I try not to let it dictate whether to keep drawing or not. I find as I keep drawing, I see improvement in myself that counters the discouragement. Spending time on the lessons to increase your drawing knowledge and skills is important--but so is entering contests. I learn a lot from the critiques I get from others. You have a wonderful idea and some cute characters in your sketch. To make your characters less "flat" try drawing them as simple shapes and lines first. Don't add the details until you like the movement of those lines and shapes. What ever you do, don't give up! Good luck and you can do it!

  • SVS OG

    The fact that you're unsatisfied with your work is pretty solid proof that your skill is improving.

    There is a quote in photography that goes something like "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst". It probably applies to drawing too. I like to think that every drawing I do is like taking a step closer to my goal as an artist. Sure, I wish I could take super long steps...unfortunately, I don't have super long legs. So to compensate, the only other thing I can do is take a lot of steps. And having a destination in mind has helped make those steps more effective.

  • Hi Marsha, I think I have an exercise that might help you. For lack of a better title I'll call it " the Right Shot ". I used to teach Art (kindergarten to grade 12), and this is what I tried with my students who had similar problems with their spatial awareness which I think is part of your problem here.

    I could give you a lesson on figures, and proportions, but that might not be the best approach. Instead I want you to focus on telling your scene and or story from a point of view that gives you the most oomph.

    For this you'll need 3 figurines or toys of 3 distinct sizes. Small, medium and large. Make sure the figures have movable parts and are not of the same type, so not all soldiers or girls, etc...

    Okay now arrange those 3 toys on a large flat surface you can walk around, and think of yourself like one of those old time movie cameras on a crane. You can zoom into the figures by moving closer to them, or zoom out by stepping back. It's up to you.

    But finding the right angle is the goal here. Now quickly block into a sketch, the 3 figures, with the following:

    1. 1 drawing where there is only 1 complete figure.
    2. 1 drawing where there are 2 complete figures
    3. and lastly 1 drawing with all 3 complete figures.

    By leaving out the full figure, you will draw our eye to the complete figure. By having 2 complete figures, you will draw our attention to the incomplete figure. And by having all 3 figures in, you will have to decide which one you want to make the most interesting either by including more details, enlarging of diminishing their size, or giving them more action.

    I think the problem with your design in your example is, the top scene is almost identical to the lower scene, so our eye is already in conflict about where to focus. If we minimize the scene to Santa and the 3 elves in the foreground, you can tell a more direct story.

    But my figurine exercise can also be done with a camera phone if you don't want to draw, the idea is to find interesting shapes and relationships of light and movement in the 3 figures in relation to each other. If you want to get overly creative you can light the scene with a bright lamp, or flashlights held at close distances, or even candle light.

    The idea is to make your brain think about what makes a scene interesting? Is it the action? The details? The mood? Or all of the above...

    Now try drawing your Santa and elves over thinking in the same terms of the exercise. In your head move each figure around like you did the toys, and look for the perfect shot, that makes you the most excited to draw.

    Good luck, I hope that helps...


  • @Bobby-Aquitania This is very good advice. you are a good asset for this forum.

  • Hi Marsha. I think everyone feels discouraged sometimes, but just remember the only one you can compare yourself to is you (easier said than done, I know) and as long as you keep working at it you will improve (even though it sometimes feels like you get worse.)

    As for your drawings looking stiff and flat, here are some videos that might help: https://youtu.be/DQYoVXXlGt0 some good exercises to get you thinking 3-dimensionally (helped me a lot), and https://youtu.be/74HR59yFZ7Y?list=PLtG4P3lq8RHGuMuprDarMz_Y9Fbw_d2ws gesture drawing can really help loosen your drawings up. I would also highly recommend checking out the book "Drawn to Life" by Walt Stanchfield.

  • Don't feel discouraged, use your weaknesses as a strength. I love not being able to do something or something not looking right. The struggle is where you learn.


  • Hello, Marsha.​ I have a similar problem - I feel as if my drawings are very flat. ​
    One thing that has been helping me get passed the "​stiff" look is combing the SVS cources with some studies of character model sheets. Here is a link with some references: https://goo.gl/mG3wv7 We can basically try to apply these same poses to our own characters...until it starts to become second nature to us... I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I can already see a bit of progress in my drawings. The sample you submitted already shows great ability.

  • @Damien-Rambacher thank you so much for sharing the promo.com list!!!!! For anyone out there like me that has absolutely no art training this guy is awesome!!

  • SVS OG

    Wow! I sure go ta lot of replies! Thank you all so much for the advice. I have a lot to look at and try now. I have taken acrylic painting classes and I am pretty free with that, we did gesture paintings. With acrylic I could paint a whole leg in one swoop but I think that when I use ink I am outlining carefully what I few with pencil. The loose pencil always looks so much better. I have things to think about. Thanks for your encouragement. Before i came on her today I inked another picture. I probably need to work on it more but I will share it anyway. It's a little bit different than the pencil sketch. I wonder if anyone can tell what I'm trying to convey with it.


  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen said:

    My figures are stiff and I seem to do work that is flat.....

    Well has SVS got a course for you!

    Take a look at "How to draw anything". "posing characters" "breathing life into your character designs" and "creative compositions"

    That's just to start! Hopefully you have signed up for subscription service.

    They are all excellent and chock full of great info, exercises. Minimally apply the concepts to your own images, and examine them in a new light. And for extra points: (don't do like I do) but actually do the exercises!

    And in a quirky way tho, since I come from doing 3D modeling, animation world, I am finding that I want to flatten my imagery to look less CG!

    So there is, and can be beauty in flat! Think folk art, and primitive art!

  • SVS OG

    @Nancy-Gormezano I was just thinking that my style is kind of primitive, actually. I kind of like imperfections but...is that an excuse πŸ™‚ I try to make up for it with color πŸ™‚ I do have a subscription and I also need to do the exercises. I've done some of them. I spend most of my time entering scbwi and 3rd Thursday challenges. Maybe I should skip one and do the homework πŸ™‚

    Here's my colored version. I MIGHT do a couple of last minute fiddling before I turn it in.

    reindeer had teh flu so.jpg

  • I love the two sad reindeers! they are so funny!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hi Marsha, Thanks for posting this. Everyone feels discouraged with their work when they realize how hard it is to actually hit a concept. It's a very weird thing because all our life we are told that art is "fun" and "relaxing" and it is β€’ if it doesn't matter what the end result isβ€’. In other words, if you are just drawing or painting an image for yourself, if the concept changes over the course of the painting, it's no big deal as long as you like it. The second you start trying to do something specific, it gets WAYYYY harder. Combine it with a difficult client and you are in a whole different realm from what art used to be and how it used to feel when you were just playing around.

    This is why the 3rd thursday assignment is so good. It starts to develop your instincts and will really help make the transition from a student to pro (if that is what you want to do). That said, i would highly recommend doing the specific class homework assignments. You will never reach your true potential without really digging in a doing that dedicated work. It is the one benefit of a brick and mortar school over what we are trying to do here. They make you take perspective, color theory, composition, etc. which many people would skip if they could. Turns out those basic classes and assignments are so important but it takes time to really see why.

    Maybe do a 3rd thursday one month, then do some assignments the next month. Then alternate thereafter. Just a suggestion.

    Let me know if you have any questions at all. : )


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White ,
    Thank you Lee! I see what you mean! It really is hard work. I do want to improve and I would actually love to take all of those classes and have taken quite a few-some many years ago πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, I don't really have the time to take those brick and mortar classes right now so this has been really great to find SVS. I actually have a couple of books I have been trying to work on and have three books I illustrated and they have been published (of course not the big publishers and the clients aren't artists πŸ™‚ I'm really struggling with the actual thumbprints and laying out the pictures! But, of course, I need to do the assignments and develop my art skills too! I'm kind of doing things backwards. I recently had someone want me to illustrate a book and give me 50% of the proceeds......not interested for to reasons: I don't feel I'm quite competent enough yet and 2, I don't want to put hours in to a book for someone that then, doesn't make anything from it. I have already done that πŸ™‚ (though it was okay because it was my friend and I did it for the experience). I don't really need to do this as a career but I do want to do it for the challenge and wow, it is challenging. I am almost 60 years old πŸ™‚
    You guys are all awesome to teach these classes and be such a great help to us. I am so impressed with some of the art I have seen on this forum and in the third Thursday critiques..and to think that you have responded to my discouraging post is very appreciated. Thank you so much. I've been trying to work on perspective and be more free with my figures, etc. or that is what I feel I need to do anyway. If you have seen any of my work, I hope that you will give me some feedback on areas that I can work on too. Thanks again! I also do the scbwi draw this challenges.

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