January 2, 2018

My 2017 Art Progress - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

Happy 2018 to everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season and that this new year beats 2017. :)

Quite a long post ahead! To briefly summarize, these are the topics: 

- How I got into digital painting
- I reflect on my 2017's art progress
- My art related goals for this year
- Helpful links that are worth checking out if you're just starting out or if you want to improve what you already know digital art wise

When it comes to art, it really has been quite a process. I have been only focusing on digital painting a bit over a year ago and to give you a brief context, it all started in the summer of 2016 during my school break when I wanted to learn how to use Photoshop. I’ve always wanted to learn it as I felt like it could be a really good asset to add to my CV. I was searching through basic tutorials online to get the grasp of the software and the channel that I was learning it all from was a very popular one named Phlearn.

One day, I came across one particular video of theirs about coloring hair on PS and it looked so fantasy like that for some reason, I found very appealing to try and do the same on my own but on something created by me. Very clichè, but it really was like an epiphany. I remember how back in the day I actually used to occasionally watch people paint stuff on Photoshop, just never crossed my mind trying it at the time.

I started to look for digital artists on YT so I could start to follow them and I was thinking that as soon as I got myself a digital tablet, I would want to do the same type of content as them.

In the meantime, I would doodle around with my mouse and as you can imagine, those drawings were as awful as they could be, but I had a lot of fun pouring my ideas into paintings. Well, “paintings".

Fortunately, on that summer I was able to land some translation gigs that allowed me to purchase a digital tablet. I went for the cheapest one I could find, which I still love and use to this day – a Wacom Intuos Draw S.
After I got it, I was able to get to the hang of it after a few days. I was super excited yet a bit apprehensive, because at the same time I would be starting to experiment with a new skill that was never developed to its full potential before. And I knew I was going to fail at first aka not have the technique to make things look how I pictured in my mind (which can be demotivating at first), just never thought I would become so focused on improving and actually even rethink on what I want to do with my future.

So in memory of this first full year of discovery when it comes to art, I decided to compile some artworks that I made each month of 2017 and reflect on my progress. So, get ready for the good, the bad and the ugly!
Starting off with the first four months of the year, there is understandably some bad happening. Overall, I feel like I had some okay ideas, however, the execution made them fall flat. At this stage I was very eager to come up with something cool looking, but I was lacking some basics: three of them being anatomy and understanding colour and values.

It's also very funny how whenever I would finish a piece, I would feel so proud of it. They weren't exactly good, but were executed at the best of my abilities at the time. It's quite endearing to look back on it, haha :)
My main goal during this period of time was to get faces right and I can see that I leaned torwards portraits a lot. In a sense, it was kind of a safe zone for me because it's what I was focusing on more and what I was most comfortable drawing at this point.

Most of these pieces are lacking a pop when it comes to colour. For the longest time, up until July, I rarely messed around with Adjustment Layers because I wasn't aware of what they could do in terms of colour correction. Nowadays it's quite mandatory for me to at least experiment with it. It's important to take full advantage of what tools PS (or any other painting softwares) has to offer if it means it will improve our piece.

With this said, it's not like these functionalities will do the job for itself. It's up to us to know how to properly use them in our favour!

And finally the last third of the year. Looking back I can see I moved on from faces to bodies little by little. Even though the anatomy isn't perfect, it's always a start. It's like we need to get the bad out of the way to finally get to the point we want - and this is achieved by making mistakes at first.
In comparison, I feel like my work is looking a bit more tridimensional and not so flat like before.

I think my progress was as standard as to anyone else's. I started by doing whatever was on my mind and able to realise it wasn't turning out that great due to lack of practice and some knowledge. So I would focus on a specific part for quite some time (faces) and then I moved on to other areas (body).

One of my goals for this year is to practice anatomy and to be able to portray more dynamic poses as well as draw men. I also want to start recording voiceovers for my videos to add a bit more value to them. We'll see! :)

I found some really amazing YT channels along the way that taught me a lot of the things I know regarding Photoshop and digital painting. If you are just starting out or if you wish to learn some new techniques, these are very worth checking out.

Even though most of the content is geared torwards photography enhancement, they still offer some very good basics tutorials that are very useful and that you can equally apply in digital painting:

In depth and insightful instructions on technical aspects such as anatomy, lighting, color, etc. Istebrak also frequently streams and posts on YT critique videos where she analyzes and fixes her viewer's paintings.

When you feel comfortable with the software and how you put into work your painting skills, Kienan's videos teaches you some ways to make digital painting more fun. I love his energy in his videos and how descriptive he is on whatever he is doing to effectively guide his viewers. 

Here you can find an amazing and broad pose references archive. References and photo studies are also a great way to practice and learn something from.

Other than this, I learned and still do learn a lot just from watching digital painting timelapses. There is always something to learn even if it's just from a glance at a sped up video process. Many times before sleep, I would lie down and watch these types of videos. This also helps you develop your taste and decide what you like and don't like in terms of art style. From that, you will be able to find and form your own.

And that's it! If you were brave enough to read this text wall, big props to you! If you are also on this digital painting journey, I would love for you to share your experience.

I will be back soon with a timelapsed video. Until then, enjoy the beginning of this new year! :)


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