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Author Topic: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore  (Read 480 times)

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Offline MahluaandMilk

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From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« on: July 17, 2018, 10:39:57 AM »
I've been having a kind of bizarre experience with my art lately, and I figured I'd make a thread addressing this specific issue, because I get the feeling that this hasn't just happened to me. (Frankly, I don't think I'm that special of a cookie.)

Basically this all started a couple of months ago when a friend of mine made a kind of rude comment that my art seemed to be getting worse. At first, I was offended and like, outright dismissed her because I was seeing progress in my creative process, like how quickly I was starting to get lines down and getting them to do what I wanted with less strokes, but after my recent thread in which I dug up a lot of my old art from ten to only two years ago, oddly enough I think I can actually see what she was talking about.

More recently, I've taken to trying to study the fundamentals of art. Y'know, perspective, color theory, values (which can kiss my ass), anatomy, proportions, gestures, all these things. What I've come to realize is that in doing so, I've started to dismiss my previous habits as "all wrong", when really, that might not actually be the case.

I'm honestly starting to think that it's possible to get so caught up in studying art theory that you can lose the capacity to make valuable art, because that's where I feel like I've hit rock bottom. Somewhere along the line, I stopped wanting to create and just started working on it like a job or a school subject. Being a big believer in how intention can affect outcomes, I honestly think my art reflects this change. It's become more mechanical. I used to just sit around and go, hey, let me draw this character! It'll be fun! Nowadays, I have to like, mentally prepare myself to even pick up a pencil anymore.

If anyone else has experienced this kind of bump, which I honestly suspect some of you have (and I know one of you in particular, but I don't know if you recognize it in yourself, so I'm not going to call you out on it), how do you manage it?

[[DISCLAIMER: I'm not in any way trashing the study art theory. It's incredibly important for anyone who is serious about their art and getting better to do.]]

Offline eldritchmaestro

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 11:53:50 AM »
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

So you figured the true burn out. The Fundamental Grind. I hesitate to even share much on this because it was ( and is) quite a solitary experience and opinion, but I got pulled down that path as well at a point.

During a rather interesting time on the forum (and even outside to be fair so it's not like these are one time opinions. They're quite popular) it became the sacred duty of critics to ensure that no matter what, fundamentals should be held in highest regard in comparision to art. The thing is, it makes rational sense. If you want to draw good humans, you should understand how the human body looks? I mean I don't even knock on the knowledge and skill that those have gathered.

But goddamn do I never want to buy a book on biological anatomy to draw ever again. I've finished two Loomises as preached about by such artists but they just sort of made me feel drained and angry at no instant improvement. Worst of all I'd spent so much time 'levelling up' that I didn't even have a trail of my own personal drawings and works to show for it. And who could I blame for that but myself? Nobody forced me to heed that advice and follow it.

I rage quitted from then (quietly) and badly drawn legs and wacky several wacky arts later I realize acutely what my shortcomings are, but I finally got started on comics after leaving them for ages. I can draw what I like and still learn even from that, and I'm disgusted with the time I wasted being obsessed about fundamentals.

The thing is, they're mostly just talking points rather than advice. Case in point your nice buddy only had derision to share rather than actual practical and helpful advice.

For me, an artist telling a beginner 'study fundamentals' when all they want to do is draw cute nekomimi is like a musician saying to a guitarist 'study music theory and notation' when all they want to do is play Hey Jude on an ukelele. Rational advice, but far too overreaching and utterly unhelpful to someone who just wants to draw.

Personally my response has been to sink to true fundamentals e.g how do I actually draw good lines on paper rather and to focus on the expression of ideas rather than photorealistic art, but no lie, it still nags at me.

While I loathe inspiration as the untrustworthy scum that it is, a little flow in drawing is still necessary. I don't feel like doing much atm, but I'm okay with drawing stick figures because I'm not fantasizing about studying anatomy and visiting morgues and going to live drawing sessions to be a renaissance artist... I'm just doing.

The best advice I can give is do you. This is what worked for me. Also insert super insightful response from suuper in 3...2... 1...

Offline Lord Kesashi

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2018, 11:55:18 AM »
I've definitely felt this. I contemplated dropping out and the problem is none of the entry level classes involve free expression at all. At best I would have an assignment where they would give me a small selection of artists to be "inspired" by and then create a project adhering to their strict standards. It'd be like a sculpture that needs to have at least 1 hole in it and 1 interior cut be visible in the round, 10-12 inches tall, etc., and sure if you think of it like a game, there is something fun and challenging about finding individuality while fitting into a box, but that gets old very fast.

So when you're in an environment where all people look at in your art is how accurate it looks to the thing you're trying to draw, or how similar it is to the way it looks in life, you'll get caught up in that too. There is a heavy bias towards realism. I had a chance to take an entry level painting class after I passed all the other extreme photorealism classes, and the focus of the class was on understanding how to get paint to do what you want it to do for any purposes extending beyond realism.

We were never graded on how realistic our pieces looked and you could tell it was strange to virtually everyone in the class because that's not the environment we've ever really been exposed to. The only thing we were graded on was whether or not we were willing to experiment and learn how to trick paint into doing what you want it to.

I totally resonate with that feeling of drawing going from fun to becoming a pain. I would get requests all the time from people to draw portraits of them, and I would look at them like they're crazy thinking "do you have any idea how much work that would be?" one of my friends even said "I don't mean like full color or anything, you could just do a pencil drawing" and then I thought, "I wouldn't be caught dead making such hideous art, if I do it, it will be perfect"

I found myself putting standards on my art that weren't even necessary purely because of this artificial fear of drawing a "bad" drawing. I think it just takes some time to decide what we actually want our art to do and not just what everyone else told us it should do.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2018, 12:04:34 PM »
The super funny thing for me is like, the act of creation in and of itself is kind of "sacred". Before the summer even started, I had a friend do a tarot reading for me, and the general gist was "you're going to have to cut out some things, but do what you love most and make that the center of things, and you'll see great progress". Funny how you can be called out by thin cuts of cardboard with little drawings on them like that XD

So , after my constant ranting on the digital vs traditional thread, I actually have gone back to traditional, and my output today alone is blowing my mind. Unfortunately my writing project has kind of been on the backburner for longer than I'd like, but I might get around to that today even.

I'm still incorporating a lot of the fundamental stuff I learned previously, but I'm even going back to old, unfinished sketches and finishing them as they are (which means there will likely be a short burst of material suddenly popping up on our sister-site again).


I found myself putting standards on my art that weren't even necessary purely because of this artificial fear of drawing a "bad" drawing.

Ugh, slay me with that relatable content.

Offline Robin Ryuu

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2018, 03:44:00 PM »
This rings so true. Honestly, maybe you guys can see the difference in my latest art wips. When it comes to my stories or stuff for other people including my school work, things just become so stiff and emotionless. I'm reluctant to work on them because I'm afraid of messing them up. But now with the latest chibi I think I've had fun drawing for the first time since I started drawing with the goal of "getting better". And I can see it in the art itself. She doesn't look dead like the others. The chibi is the first thing I've done specifically for myself and my own enjoyment since my classmates destroyed some of my art in middle school (which made me stop drawing completely until I got an idea for a comic).

I'm planning to make note of it somewhere else too, but I think I'll be putting art development for my comics on hiatus. I think I'm going to focus on doing stuff for myself using characters that exist purely for my own entertainment for a while. I'm still developing my stories don't worry, just going to focus on getting the story written and as long as I keep drawing, my art will improve to the point where one day I'll have the speed and confidence to draw stuff for the comic again.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2018, 04:15:00 PM »
Yeah, that kinda reminds me. Since I have the complete set of it, I notice a stark difference in the art in volume one of Rosario+Vampire and the art in the final volume. It looks to me like Ikeda just went for his comic and his art progressed along the way. Some of the stuff in the first couple of volumes is pretty rough, looking back.

But hey, they still sold. Maybe we can too.

Offline Robin Ryuu

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2018, 04:24:21 PM »
Same for the art in D.Gray-Man.

Offline MK

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2018, 05:31:07 PM »
While studying the fundamentals can help you alot, if you get completely burnt out then it's okay to slow down.  It's a marathon not a sprint to learn everything.  If anything it's harder to retain the information quickly than it is to focus on 1 thing and for it to slowly become second nature.

Also finding the right balance of fun and studying is important for you to enjoy the process.  Everyone is different with their process but for me, I tend to practice for a few hours before going onto draw things I like.

Online suupertramp

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2018, 02:36:43 PM »
missed this topic, whoops :P
I agree with everyone's stuff so far. A short term blip means nothing in the long term.

Just me talking about myself
ironically, this hardly ever affected me, at least maybe not as much as many others, because I never drew for fun to begin with, and never had a bunch of good drawings to compare to. I was always slightly good in art class and COULD draw, but almost never did unless I had to. I just wasn't feeling it. But after being force fed anime by my cousin and becoming instantly addicted, I saw the potential of manga and for the first time wanted to draw for the sake of drawing. I knew how bad I was and knew it was going to be a tough road. perhaps at the beginning I didn't realize how MUCH of a tough road it was, but to be honest, its been about what I expected. If i could actually draw consistently for more than a month maybe I would actually progress instead of forgetting everything each time round.

I also love working hard, and actively avoid skills that I am easily good at, so apart from mini-depression when I think I will never get good, I thrive on the exercises and constant work. Almost the more I do, the more I feel like I have achieved something even when I haven't lol

regarding what you actually said

It looks like you've discovered the difficulties of art. Generally I think of it as follows:

-I like to draw
-I want to draw better
-I draw more
-I realize how bad I am
-I don't want to draw
-I stop drawing
-I forget how bad I am
-I like to draw
(repeat)

The reason we tend to get "worse" is that we are trying to re-write our own knowledge which means moving away from a relatively stable point, to another better stable point, but with a bunch of unstable inbetween.

Like when you learnt to touch type, you drop in speed to half or worse of your normal speed. Does that mean you are now "worse"? probably, yes :P
but does that mean you should stop? no!
as you practice you gain a speed above that what you could ever have done with your old typing method.now despite doing the same thing, are you worse? no! because you can now fully apply the methods that you have learned.

so the reason we are "bad" is because we are only half applying the methods we are learning or reading about. it doesn't make the methods wrong just because they don't work immediately (think weight loss-that takes time). what matters is that we keep practicing and moving forward. if we feel that we aren't making ANY progress, then perhaps we do need to change our methods, try something else. we might be hitting a block because we need knowledge that is in another area that we haven't studied yet.

Think of it as upgrading a car's engine or something, or knocking down a building to build a better one. All the while its in the garage, it doesn't work, but that doesn't mean that it wont become better in a while. When we learn to draw, at times our entire knowledge sort of decompiles and we get bad, but thats just a lapse while our brain is rebuilding a new set of better rules. Just because our art has a bunch of "currently under construction" tape all around it, and doesn't look like what we want, doesn't mean we wont get there and it will look like we want. (and then when we learn more, we knock it down and build something better)

Something that I have been trying lately but not actually doing (well played me), is spending a little more time and doing a full-time piece every now then. So maybe every 2 weeks, spend 2 hours or whatever is your maximum skill on a piece, take your time, double check lines and guidelines as much as you need. treat it like a commission in that you have to finish it even if its (what you consider) bad. Chances are you will produce a comparatively high level piece compared to your normal sketches.

Its important to keep your goal in mind, especially during the tough patches. Make sure it's a specific goal, not just "get better at drawing". Keep the 10,000 hour mastery idea in mind, even if its wrong you know you have to put a lot of work into something to gain a skill. "Its not supposed to be easy" kinda thing.

Another general idea is just to let off steam on another unrelated skill or project, maybe an instrument or other craft that you like doing. It can help to reset your feelings so you can keep your nose to the grindwheel.


I think art is more of a memory problem than anything else. Even if you read that (for example) "a shadow will have lighter parts because of reflections", you understand it, and even copy studies and "get it", there is a strong risk of forgetting as you move on. Probably the best way to avoid this and thus benefit from how-to-draw books, is to study small parts regularly, keep your own log of information, and go back and re-learn from your own log, not the other books. this way you are rediscovering your own memories and experience that you may have forgotten.

This may be irrelevant
I'm actually writing my own book/diary at the moment of all the things I have discovered artwise, and I will no doubt publish it along with everyone elses books, but I think it will only ever have true value to me, because each phrase triggers all the information in my head that it is related to. Someone else who reads that line of text only gains the information directly in those words.
heres an excerpt:
Spoiler
I may from time to time relearn things and discover that I was wrong, but it serves as a RAM extension for myself in that I can glance through that and automatically fix a bunch of problems that might have returned since the last time I drew something.

regarding how-to books and "theory" books:

I stopped believing in other peoples how-to draw advice a long time ago (sorry for being hypocritical as I keep offering my own advice to others), because I could see a great amount of conflict in talented peoples ideas of how to learn, and I figured to myself "if there is more than one correct way, then I can make my own way".

[[DISCLAIMER: I'm not in any way trashing the study art theory.
I think I might end up doing that, though, in a very confusing [disclaimer]and probably stupid[/disclaimer] manner :P

In its simplest sense, art is a projection of a mental image,form,video,idea etc to a form that can be perceived by others. This includes music too. Thanks to the absurd quantity of art, we can tag it with genres and stuff, and know what art we like, and want to draw. We either draw from life or we draw from our imagination, and often we have an idea of whose art we want it to look like, or the type of art (manga/realism/cartoon/art deco whatever) that we want to create.

So undoubtedly, knowledge is important, otherwise we cannot create what we do not know. But the methods for gaining that knowledge are very abundant. Books on colour,shade,proportions etc only exist because someone else wrote it. How did they write it? they learnt from other artists, books, online etc. How did the original artists learn? they figured it out themselves by observation. the advantage of the internet/books is that they can summarize the discoveries that others have made. So these how to draw books are not bad in that the information in them is correct, but at the end of the day, its someone else's knowledge compressed from years worth of information into 5,000 words and 25 pictures. In my opinion, IT'S TOO COMPRESSED Imagine if you compressed a 100mb image to a 25kb one. You will still be able to see what it is and understand it, but a lot of the data is gone, so you can't build up the original file, you start to fill it with guesswork. often each book will only cover one type of thing, such as shadows, or perspective, and you study it and forget the last book you read, along with the skill you learnt.

This is kinda what I mean. You still see what it is, but you lose so much information to create it

heres my most favorite creative quote (by memory, sorry I can't find it in my quote book) which I apply to art:
"It's easy to write music - you just have to remember something that hasn't been written yet"

aaaaand once again I talked too much, and probably contradicted myself a lot :P
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 04:09:12 PM by suupertramp »

Offline devola

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2018, 04:24:52 PM »
While I generally agree with what you're saying, I'm not sure I totally understand everything you're saying so I want to clarify some of my confusion.

(tl;dr Build your visual library by being selective about what advice you take and what you discard, try your best not to be sucked into semantics when it comes to "how to learn" art stuff and if you're feeling down about your art, remember your goals and work towards small victories.)

I stopped believing in other peoples how-to draw advice a long time ago (sorry for being hypocritical as I keep offering my own advice to others), because I could see a great amount of conflict in talented peoples ideas of how to learn, and I figured to myself "if there is more than one correct way, then I can make my own way".

I can see how you might be disillusioned with how much conflicting advice can come from good sources but at the same time, I always thought it was less about WHO gave the advice and more about whether or not that advice actually works. What I mean by this is, generally speaking learning art to me is all about building your visual library. The more stuff you understand, the more you can work with, trying to understand too much at once means you'll have little time to test and apply what you learn, but disregarding the advice of other's because it conflicts also sells short the value of conflicting advice. If two sources compete with opposing advice, it's up to you, the individual to test and decide for yourself what advice you want to keep.

Remember that advice is free to give, but you don't have to accept any of it. At the very least, even bad advice can offer a new perspective and way of thinking that can open up even more possibilities for you (you just have to be absolutely aware that it IS bad advice). The point I'm trying to make though is that one shouldn't accept ALL advice, but should at least hear and test it if you think it may be of value. You decide what goes into your visual library, not talented people or anyone else for that matter. Don't close out potential information just because two sources conflict, cross reference and decide for yourself what works better! In a way I think that's basically learning your own way, but it's not a unique method of learning either so that's where my confusion is, I'm not really sure what you're trying to suggest.

In its simplest sense, art is a projection of a mental image,form,video,idea etc to a form that can be perceived by others. This includes music too. Thanks to the absurd quantity of art, we can tag it with genres and stuff, and know what art we like, and want to draw. We either draw from life or we draw from our imagination, and often we have an idea of whose art we want it to look like, or the type of art (manga/realism/cartoon/art deco whatever) that we want to create.

I have no idea what you mean by art is a projection, but let me clear, I also think that trying to define art in a simple sense is a fruitless and frankly pretty pointless task. If what you mean to say is that art is a thing that people make for others to see/interpret/feel things, then I can understand that but at the same time I think that's kind of a vague definition and what does it really do for one that is trying to make art and going through a tough period of self doubt? I think something more helpful that defining what art is, is defining what you want your art to be. Having a clear goal/idea in your mind of what you want to achieve makes the journey to that goal much more bearable.


In my opinion, IT'S TOO COMPRESSED Imagine if you compressed a 100mb image to a 25kb one. You will still be able to see what it is and understand it, but a lot of the data is gone, so you can't build up the original file, you start to fill it with guesswork. often each book will only cover one type of thing, such as shadows, or perspective, and you study it and forget the last book you read, along with the skill you learnt.

I may be speaking for myself on this one but I don't see a lot of the books and tutorials I use to learn art as gospel. In fact, I know of very few people that read a how-to and stop there without doing further research/testing. What I mean by this is, it seems you are implying that once you start relying on a book which I agree often compresses information, that is ALL that you can draw from.

From what I understand, most people don't or shouldn't use books that way. Instead, they often treat "compressed" knowledge as an entryway or introduction to a theory, idea or concept and then work from there to understand it better by supplementing missing "data" with either more books or their own observations. Why would you fill in what you don't understand with guesswork when the whole reason you presumably read a book in the first place was to not have to guess?

The point I'm trying to make here is that books on how things work have much more value than just introducing a half baked idea, they're often there as guidelines to get you started on a path of thinking/experimentation that will open new possibilities for you. This ties into my earlier statement as well as you can basically interpret books as "advice from talented people". The same idea applies here, pick and choose what you think works best and achieves what you want out of your art, use it and then see if it actually helps.

Learning from reading shouldn't stop at "I finished the book, time to move on to the next". Analysis, questioning and application should all come with that if you're serious about learning. In fact, what you say about observation most certainly applies to how-to books as well, observe what works and then see if it's a technique that can help you achieve the "feeling" you're aiming for in your own art. In your own diary excerpt, I see you already doing that.


I think art is more of a memory problem than anything else. Even if you read that (for example) "a shadow will have lighter parts because of reflections", you understand it, and even copy studies and "get it", there is a strong risk of forgetting as you move on. Probably the best way to avoid this and thus benefit from how-to-draw books, is to study small parts regularly, keep your own log of information, and go back and re-learn from your own log, not the other books. this way you are rediscovering your own memories and experience that you may have forgotten.

This is good advice and something I think everyone should do but at the same time as I think I've already stated above, I think there is value in turning to books/databases for information. Once again, the learning doesn't stop after you read something, it stops after you FULLY understand something (and lets be real, that never happens for ANYONE) and that means using ANY method at your disposal to test and learn before you discard and move on.

Anyway, sorry if I came off as inflammatory in anyway, I wanted to highlight this particular advice because I think it's a good example of how different individual learning methods can be. I used to be in the camp of, art fundamentals suck the fun out of art (and I still believe this). But at the same, having my own hubris taken down a notch by people who have been at this much longer than I have, I've come to realize that precisely BECAUSE there are a million ways to learn, you really don't have to subscribe to any one way. There's no impetus for you to "come up with your own way" either, I think it's much healthier to do things that give YOU a tangible sense of progression rather than following advice to a T. Motivation, like time is a resource, temper your expectations and give yourself more room to grow by creating realistic goals for you to achieve. By the time you achieve 10000 goals you'll be drawing like your favorite artist before you know it.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 04:30:35 PM by devola »

Online suupertramp

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2018, 04:44:42 PM »
I think what you said was better than how i said it :P
No, it didn't sound inflammatory, if anything mine sounded more that way :P
yeah always ask if you didn't get what I meant, I do need to get better at explaining things @_@

I think what I meant was that I think a lot of beginners have the belief that a how-to book is ALL they need, and the books often give that feel, like "all you need to make your own exciting characters!" kinda of feel. So it can lead to disregarding other information, or struggling to apply a technique that doesn't suit you, and blaming "art". I think a lot of beginners don't realize the amount of hard work that's required to reach an insanely good level, and often search for how-to books in the belief that they are somehow cheat sheets for awesomeness. I know I believed that for a while when I was younger.

Quote
I always thought it was less about WHO gave the advice and more about whether or not that advice actually works.
That is correct, and probably what I meant, pick and chose all the bits that I feel will work for me, not just follow one whole persons ideologies. I meant "because there are conflicting ideas, there must be more than one correct route, so just because someone DISAGREES with my method (but someone else agrees), that doesn't mean its wrong"

like how there are two ways to do long division, or multiplication, etc. A lot of people will advocate one method to the detriment of the other, you see this with teachers at school saying "that way is wrong" (if it works, how CAN it be wrong??). I think part of my argument included being angry at that sort of philosophy that I see here and there.

Quote
I have no idea what you mean by art is a projection, but let me clear, I also think that trying to define art in a simple sense is a fruitless and frankly pretty pointless task.
Yeahhhhhhhhh I get why you didnt get that :P

I mean that when we draw we have an image of what we want in our heads and draw it, so we have to have the information in our head to draw it in the first place. (I can't draw a lion if I can't remember what it looks like)
>So memory is important is what I meant
>strength of our imagination = level of our knowledge > improves the accuracy of what we produce

Quote
Learning from reading shouldn't stop at "I finished the book, time to move on to the next". Analysis, questioning and application should all come with that if you're serious about learning. In fact, what you say about observation most certainly applies to how-to books as well, observe what works and then see if it's a technique that can help you achieve the "feeling" you're aiming for in your own art. In your own diary excerpt, I see you already doing that.
I think a couple of times I ended up saying "a lot of people..." rather than "people shouldn't...", so it sounds less like advice and more like an observation. thats completely my mistake. I think I was trying to warn against it rather than criticize the people that (may or may not) have done it.

Quote
I think it's much healthier to do things that give YOU a tangible sense of progression rather than following advice to T
100% agreement on this, thats what I totally meant to say :P
build up your own methods based off of other peoples ideas and tutorials, but not limited to one person, and also including your own ideas that you have learned.

Quote
By the time you achieve 10000 goals you'll be drawing like your favorite artist before you know it.
yes!
I suppose eventually we should be aiming to become our own favorite artist? hmmmmm

Quote
tl;dr Build your visual library by being selective about what advice you take and what you discard, try your best not to be sucked into semantics when it comes to "how to learn" art stuff and if you're feeling down about your art, remember your goals and work towards small victories.
This is the singular most best piece of advice ever :P

aaaaaaaand this is why I shouldn't give advice :P
I just talk completely off the top of my head >_<
(this is why I am an artist and not a writer lol)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 05:06:41 PM by suupertramp »

Offline devola

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2018, 05:04:02 PM »
I don't think what you say is bad at all suuper, you have a unique take and perspective on art and I'll be perfectly honest, I think whatever you're doing definitely works for you. I don't think I've seen anyone else work as hard as you have with how consistent you are at putting out your sketches and basically just working really hard.

That being said, I think for the most part we agree and I figured it was less about you wording it poorly and more about me just being dumb. But that's alright, it's ok to be stupid at worst someone will laugh at you but as long as you accept that you have more to learn, you won't stay stupid and that's the most important part!

To cap off this discussion (for myself at least) this is definitely something I missed in your first statement but I think is important enough to highlight again.

I think what I meant was that I think a lot of beginners have the belief that a how-to book is ALL they need, and the books often give that feel, like "all you need to make your own exciting characters!" kinda of feel. So it can lead to disregarding other information, or struggling to apply a technique that doesn't suit you, and blaming "art". I think a lot of beginners don't realize the amount of hard work that's required to reach an insanely good level, and often search for how-to books in the belief that they are somehow cheat sheets for awesomeness. I know I believed that for a while when I was younger.

The part about struggling to apply a technique that doesn't suit you and in turn blaming art for your failures is an EXTREMELY common problem. This basically sums up the dangers of using books, and I wholeheartedly agree it is a pitfall every beginner artist must be aware of.

Remember, there's no trick or magical technique that will instantly make you good just as Suuper said, art is a long journey. Remember to fail earlier and learn from your mistakes, remember that every step forward is one step closer. Don't look for shortcuts, learn to walk efficiently instead!

Online suupertramp

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2018, 06:00:40 PM »
yeah for a split second I was like "why is devola disagreeing with me by stating the exact same point I made?" and then I was like "oh because I didn't actually make the point, I just waffled around it" :P

it's ok to be stupid
this my motto btw :P

haha thanks :) yes I would say "for the moment" I am comfortable and happy with my own methods :P

yup there needs to be a how-to-"how-to-draw-book" book with everything for beginners warning about what will trip them up that teaches them nothing about art, but rather teaches them how to learn and self examine :P
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 06:02:42 PM by suupertramp »

Offline Ryan

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2018, 12:48:14 AM »
This is an important topic. It's something I have struggled with understanding in the past, and am managing to get over now. Also, hello everybody ^_^.



In essence, theory won't make you better at drawing. And knowing what the fundamentals are won't help you much either. To make a comparison, knowing grammar rules won't make you speak a language well. The speed at which an experienced and skilled artist draws exceeds conscious thought of rules and patterns, similar to that of a native speaker of a verbal language.

Throughout western society, we deconstruct skills and try to make sense of them. It's, truly, in a sense, academic. Teachers cheerily push concepts like "push the darks" because it is easy to objectively evaluate art in such a manner. However, it is completely ignorant of art that is beautiful with low-contrast values.

The usefulness of fundamentals is, in my opinion, quite limited to its ability to give names to parts of images. Such is the same with learning language, the parts of speech; being able to recognize what is a noun, verb, adjective, or particle is good. Such ability to comprehend the parts of language helps speed up the assimilation of natural grammar.

With images, you have the elements: shape, edges, line, depth, value, texture, color, saturation, hue. They just exist; they are. They existed even before you know what their names were. The patterning of the elements leads to principles: rhythm, variety, chaos, etc.

And the usefulness stops there, similar to the ability to recognize the parts of speech in a language. Knowing what the parts of speech are is hardly the key to making you a great speaker of language. So we make up silly grammar rules with a gazillion exceptions and weird cases, that in the end no real speaker of a language know. But we think the learner would benefit from knowing the rules ; (pro tip: it just leads them astray and make speaking more difficult and frustrating). Theory encourages invention of the wrong sort, the idea that if you stick to the theories you would end up with something good. However, it encourages near-nearsightedness and the foolhardy conclusion that if you stick to the theories you are conscious of, you will have perfect and beautiful speech. You end up, really, speaking in a language that nobody actually speaks...using words that don't go together.

In drawing there are a million invisible obstacles that no theory could ever articulate well, which can never be captured. They seem obvious to the highly skilled artists that "those two things just don't go together." However, if you asked them why they would have trouble to tell you (in most cases). Just as a skilled speaker of a language doesn't know why two words are not used to express a certain concept, which could be traced back to a grammar rule that the grammarians are conscious of.

What to do about this? Lay the theory aside. Let the fundamentals do what they can do, in its own charming and limited way. Accept things the way they are. Copy art you love. Draw the art you love. If you don't know what you love, follow your ambitions and copy your ambitions, no matter how cheesy or stupid they are. Drawing is a collectively held language. Style is collectively held. Someone out there is using the same stylistic conventions, the same compositional patterns that you are. Someone out there speaks a language in just the way you do. Your original touch is a small component. It will peer through.

Dare to be derivative. Separate from your frustration and allow yourself to do things that are just the right amount of interesting and engaging to you. Let your output follow your input. Your input, what you look at, what you copy, what you enjoy observing, whether it's real life or others' drawings, should have considerable impact on your artistic output. Input the same kind of information, over the period of months, okay. This isn't some hardcore repetition I'm talking about. I'm talking about over a very lengthy period of time, you come back to the same input, the same kinds of input (and do consider expanding what you input and output ;)). It's okay. Dare to do things that are comfortable, as long as you aren't bored. If you want to trace, trace. Just do whatever the hell you want as long as you're putting your eyes in front of art and images and you're not living within a wonderland of theory.

Borrow others' voices. Stand on the shoulder of giants. Everything you could ever ask for is already out there. All of the artwork, the visuals of our worldly existence, hold all of the secret sauce. All you need to do is to look, to continually draw, and allow your being to slowly be invaded by something greater than yourself. Because, in my understanding, there is no such thing as a rational reason as for why improvement in art occurs. I don't believe it can be explained with a phrase such as "I improved at art because I did a, b, and c." But, I do believe improvement cannot occur without the inputting and outputting of art. A truth that was inspired upon by the input-learning method for learning languages. That input of language is the absolute driver of assimilation of language and being able to speak well. And, I think, what we want to do as visual artists, as illustrators, mangaka, or comic artists, is to be able to speak in a beautifully authentic, true-to-our-genre fashion, yet minutely original and true-to-ourselves, in the way that we can't stop ourselves from being. Discovering our unique place within a genre, and having it come effortlessly. During all that copying, inputting and outputting, you will be discovering yourself. Because you make the choice of what you input, of who you copy, or whatever way you want to interpret this wall of mess. Eventually, you will find a way to fit it all together in a way that only you can. Our memories, they are merely flimsy reconstructions of our past. Because it is you that will be reconstructing your output, it is yours and belongs to you no matter how many stylistic conventions you use that can be traced back to a collectively used style, or individual artists.

This is no way to improve fast. But there is no way to improve fast. Fast improvement is artificial, limited. However, this philosophy I have elaborated on depth here also isn't difficult either. Reject boredom, and reject chronic frustration. Embrace fun, enjoyment, and stress-free, low-risk drawing. Fun easily trickles down to boredom because of fear of failure. You have to expand ever so slowly, whatever that means to you. Staying still can be dangerous. Looking at art consistently is a great way to insure you are sparked by the desire to expand your artistic reach whenever boredom starts to develop.

NOTE: This post is not directed to anybody in particular, but perhaps to individuals that are similar to how I used to be. To those who internally place too much emphasis on theory and having things spelled out for them in terms of 'why' this and 'why' that, as I once did. And to those with tendencies to spend too much time trying to invent their art. To those who wallow in a great deep sea of confusion, not knowing how to compose their drawings...or even what they want to draw, or how to make engaging drawings. It's better to have wholesome generic drawings, than empty unique drawings. This is all about language, it's communication. No one is going to get down on you for saying what somebody, and what everybody, is saying. Just go for it and be free.

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: From Fun to Fundamentals to Not-so-Fun-Anymore
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2018, 08:57:35 AM »
Thanks for the huge amount of input and welcome back, Ryan.

 :ohmy:

I have to say, there's a lot to digest there, but I seem to be coming to the same sort of conclusions. I am very much a 'why' person, and if I don't have that, I feel tremendously unstable. I feel safe when I am able to explain things and understand their relation to one another, so theory is something that seems more 'correct' to fall into. However, it's turned making art into more of a chore than it ever needed to be. I have to mentally prepare myself for it because I've conditioned myself to look for failures and fix them. It's not free-flowing. I talk a lot, type a lot, and write a lot, so when I want to really hunker down and write, I can do that pretty easily. Getting the first sentence down is less anxiety-inducing than putting down the first line. Art really is a whole nother language.

I like the language anatomy because the advice for language-learning and acquisition would be the same: you have to speak it.