Beginners: how are you planning and scheduling your progress?

  • Brothers and sisters in illustration,
    I'm a beginner. Started with SVS in January. Loving it! Working towards becoming a professional illustrator. Following the Foundations Curriculum and enjoying it a lot. Pleased with my progress. Taking my transition to becoming a professional seriously. Fortunate to have been able to reduce my days at work to three a week to enable me to concentrate on my illustration.
    BUT... does anyone know about how to effectively plan/schedule/timetable your progress? Have you actually sat down to plan your progress in a way that works for you? How have you done this? What have you used? Google Calendar? What does each entry say in your schedule? So you have a block of time each day/week - how are you deciding what to do with it for the most effective and efficient gain? Do you know about SMART targets? It's used a lot in education institutions (schools/universities) here in the UK and refers to your targets being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Are your planning SMART, or are you just wandering along with only the end goal, but with no real plan of how to get there?
    If you feel that you have an effective programme for progress, please do share. As you can probably tell, I'm seeking some help.

  • Hi,
    Yes I plan my days out with blocks of time dedicated to learning and practice.

    I have a block of time for learning, and blocks of time dedicated to practice each day. 2-4 hours each day. I start super early and finish these times late at night.

    For focus, I keep track of my trouble areas and set goals associated with the problem areas I find. I also keep track of other ideas I want to focus on when I accomplish my current goal.

    Ex: I am struggling with Composition and Color. So I am taking a Comp class first and doing the homework and practice focused on this area. I have some SMART goals associated with that and then plug the into my time blocks for practice. Then after this I will focus on color.

    Hope this helps some.

  • @Adam-Thornton Hi mate, I essentially started taking illustration seriously about two years ago, before that i would pick up a pencil about three times a year. I would say from my experience, you definately need a loose framework for study, but dont be too rigid or unrealistic with your goals. Its a massive undertaking, and you'll be studying for the rest of your life no matter how good you get, so theres no rush.

    Dont say things like "i want to master drawing heads" and then spend six months drawing thousands of heads, you'll just end up giving up altogether bored out your mind, and theres too much ground to cover with everything else. Try and learn the basics, the fundamentals, perspective, value, composition etc, just allocate maybe a month each, then move on. Then you can return to each for a more in depth study of the details, the contour of each individual finger etc. You'll have to revisit these things again multiple times anyway, you cant just learn things like human musculoskeletal anatomy in a couple of months and retain that knowledge for the rest of your life. Colour theory is so complex too, for me im constantly reading about how light interacts with different materials, and the more you understand a topic, the deeper you can take your study. Its a craft, theres no end to it, its just a question of how good you want to get.

    When you first start out, youre very motivated, but progress in art is so slow, its easy to become demotivated quickly. I got so fed up, i found my study and just ripped all the fun out of art, that i gave up entirely for about three months. I would say have an overall monthly plan, but when that gets tedious, just pick up a pencil and do whatever you want, its better than nothing at all.

    Hope that gobbledegook helps in some way, but im sure it won't! Lol. Good luck!

  • @gavpartridge HI Gav, thanks very much for that. Your gobbledegook makes perfect sense to me! Thanks for taking the time to write that. I'm just planning my schedule today and was indeed making it too rigid, so I've relaxed it a bit and can already see that doing so will make it more enjoyable and therefore I'll stick at it better.
    Thanks again. Hope your art is progressing.

  • @Adam-Thornton I can share some things that definitely made a big impact to my own mental game when it came to drawing and illustration...

    • There are no shortcuts. You can't do anything except put the time in to become better. Take a common example of just putting in the 10,000 hours to "master" something. If you drew 20 hours a week, every week, you'd get there in about 9 years. That puts things into a different perspective than the usual "9 tips to get better at art TODAY" world we live in.

    • The Dunning–Kruger effect was a big deal when I applied it to art. Essentially, what it means is that psychologically when we have a low skill level at a task we tend to overestimate our skill/proficiency at that task. The more we learn, the more we realize how little we really do know. That's a natural byproduct of getting better at something. The bottom line is that questioning how good you are, or that you aren't as good as a ton of other people, and that you'll never learn this stuff is a good sign you're actually improving. Even artists you envy can list a bunch of people they wish they could match skill-wise. I think some people misinterpret when amazingly skilled people respond to praise with things like "Yeah, it looks OK - we're getting there." It's not always humility or false humility - they're thinking that they literally have so much to learn still and they could have made it better.

    • Whether you realize it or not, your brain is constantly working on things and building connections we're not aware of. In other words, practicing lighting, or color theory, or noses or eyes or mouths or poses - you can't objectively see a big difference, but if you put your work side by side from say a month and you were constantly practicing, you'd see a huge difference. Don't stress out about micro improvements. Macro improvements are inevitable with practice. The micro improvements are a byproduct of that same amount practice.

    Not sure how helpful that might be, but at least for me that really changed the dynamic of feeling pressured to be a certain thing at the moment.

  • @Adam-Thornton I've been a member of SVS learn since October 2019 until now I didn't follow nearly enough courses and definitely didn't practice enough and I worked about 30h a week but with a longe commute. The world being on pause for now it forced me to reevaluate things so I made myself a syllabus in an excel document like I had in school allowing time to listen to courses and time to do the work each week. I checked how long was each course and allotted the x number of hours of free time I had per week. So a course that takes 5 hours to listen to and I estimate 10h of homework i know that I will need to plan it over a couple weeks so i can have time to just draw for fun too.
    I planned until next October we'll see how it goes.
    Make sure to leave space for things you might not have expected and be realist with yourself of the time you really have.
    Hope it helps 🙂

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