Advice needed - style questions

  • Hello there!

    I‘m a little ashamed to share these here, seeing all the amazing art you guys do, but I need some advice to improve my art. Here are some recent pieces I did for the How To Help The Planet week.

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    I love simple things which probably can be seen in my drawings. I‘m overall ok with them (considering I only came back to art about 2 1/2 years ago). But something bothers me...
    I think it‘s wise to wait for your opinions on my art, before I tell you what I‘m aiming for. I‘m really curious what people really think of it as Instagram mainly comes up with things like cute. nice or pretty - which is not really helpful at all.

  • Pro

    @sailorriceball Your illustrations are really cute indeed! And I can see that you like simple (nothing wrong with that, I do too!) but your work lacks structure and knowledge of the fundamentals. At this point I think it's not a question of style, but skill. I see lots of potential for you and you will grow leaps and bounds if you study the fundamentals (anatomy, perspective, composition, lights and shadows, color and tone). Right now, these look a lot like school illustrations - cute and passionate, but obviously lacking some training to back it up. I like the style a lot, but the even the simplicity of it cannot hide the lack fundamentals. You can't know what you don't know, and you can't brute force your way to getting it without actually taking the time to learn it. I hope you won't be offended, this isn't meant to be harsh. On the contrary, all artists have to go through this and once you get some training you will really level up and do great things.

  • Hi there! After looking at your instagram, I think you showed wrong pieces here. They are cute but I really, really like your inktober pieces. There is a cool vibe about them 🙂

  • Thank you for your replies. I‘m not offended at all. More like grateful. It‘s the first time ever that I get useful critique. Even backed when I got my design education my teacher just said „keep going“ when I showed him similar drawings. Then I stopped for about ten years.

    I must admit that I didn‘t put much thought into these except for ideas (they are sketchbook book drawings after all). But that‘s how I gotta do things right now ^^° I knew they are not overwhelming, but it‘s obviously more lacking than expected.

    Anatomy has always been an issue for me. I did and still do studies that don‘t look that bad in my opinion, but I don‘t want to do realism. It is really hard for me to transfer the studies into my more cartoony drawings. Do you have any suggestions how I could practise this? Since even using a reference doesn‘t seem to help me.

    I think, I will try harder to add more shading into future pieces and pay way more attention to perspective, even that means that I finish something only every few months.
    As of colour/tone and composition, these sure are things I need to work on. I’m actually taking classes, but my lack of free time is making me just want to do something I can finish fairly quick instead of just doing exercises haha
    I might redo the urban gardening piece trying to adjust things.

  • Pro

    @sailorriceball Actually you shouldn't necessarily try to add more shading into future pieces. It might just obscure the underlying structural issues more. Shadows are like a last coat of paint on a building - it's the finish that makes the place really great, but won't help if the house is crooked. Focus on your structure and composition is just as important if not more.

    Anatomy vs stylization is a hard one to figure out. Like you, I do very stylized and simple art. But even though it's not obvious at first glance, it's rooted in years and years of anatomy study, figure drawing classes, etc. I went as close as I could to realism and when my art started looking like photos, then I started to stylize it, slowly deconstructing and simplifying it. It took a few years to reach the level of simplicity my style has now. While that might seem a long roundabout way to get to where I wanted to be, it was in fact absolutely necessary.

    Stylization is just codifying real life. Try to codify something you don't understand in the first place, and it's not nearly as effective. Your art lacks an underlying structure. Think of it as a figurine of a cartoon character - it may be really exaggerated and have a head 3 times as big as a real human (etc.) but it's still an object that has a structural integrity. Or have you seen those fun drawings of the skeleton of cartoon characters?

    I'm not saying you have to go that far, but I'm saying there's a hard limit here of how much better you can make your art without studying anatomy and practicing figure drawing - even if the style you aim for is very simple, it's an absolute necessity in order to progress. Same goes for perspective. While it's most obvious on the last picture with the very crooked buildings, in fact all 3 images have perspective problems. And you have to learn it before you can cheat it and bend it to your will 🙂

  • Your work is quite appealing already, though I do agree with the advice to work on some of the fundamentals. Looking through your instagram feed, it looks like you do grasp a lot concepts that just need to be refined through a bit study. I don't think it would take long to see significant improvements in your work.

    If you want to transfer anatomy studies to more cartoony drawings- I think learning perspective and constructive drawing will help big time with that.

  • When it comes to stylization though specifically, once you learn skills that you think are good enough, for example anatomy you dont need to know every single bone but getting a general understanding of where things go is important. Once you have that checked off you can look at artists whose style you like and copy it over and over again until you have a general idea how they draw, then try to draw an original character of your own in their style as best you can. You can have their characters up in front of you while you do. I just finished my first week doing this. Im going to do this with 2-3 more artists and then going to move on to environments

  • I totally agree to the others 🙂
    Also there is a podcast episode that tackles a part of your problem. They advise you to create a dream portfolio: you choose your 20 favorite pieces that you would love to have in your portfolio and then you analyze what you like about them and how to integrate the things you like in your style. It really helped me figuring out how I want my art to evolve and where I still have to improve. Unfortunately I'm not sure which one it was, maybe this one:

    edit: i found an article about it : D

  • Moderator

    @NessIllustration well said. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for your honest opinions. Your advises are really helpful. I have a long list of homework now. Gotta figure out a route to tackle everything you mentioned.

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