Like, I was playing around on DA at old people I still watch because it's funny to see what you once thought was SO AMAZING when you were a kid to see that it sucks balls. But one thing that just makes me flabbergasted is that some of these people ... still draw the same. And I'm talking about those really "popular" DA account that crank out drawings all the time and have a bajillion images.
How on earth can you draw THAT MUCH an not get better?! I don't even have a quarter of the amount images they do yet I still show signs of progress. I've also followed a few other people who's either style has changed (even slightly) over time or post one images every year that's better then the last.
They say the best way to get better is to just keep drawings and draw every day ... but at the huge amount of work these people have (and I'm talking about full drawings, with backgrounds and 5+ people) that it still... sucks.
If you dont push yourself you will not grow at a noticeable rate. If you always draw eyes the same way, without using reference, your ability to draw eyes will not improve very much.
If you dont draw from reference but experiment a lot, you will improve.
If you draw from ref, you will improve.
If you experiment and draw from ref you will improve more.
If you draw from life and do master studies you will improve even more.
If you dont do anything but draw from imagination using the same style and same basic figure model you memorized while copying "how to draw Manga vampires!" then you will improve over the years, but at speed and efficiency not... much else.
"You"=whoever not you specifically.
Art and kindness are my weapons of choice.
It's not uncommon at all for people to draw frequently, every day, pages and pages - even of what they see in tutorials and in their anatomy books, and two or three years later, still - as a whole, not really be any better.
Just take a look through the sketchbook section here on CA. Not going to point you anywhere specific because that'd be rude, but there are a great many threads lasting a few years, and people who start out with pages of hand studies and self portraits two years later are still doing hand studies and self portraits. Or they start out biting off more than they can chew with super photoshoppy fantasy scenes, and a few years later...yep, still trying to bite off more than they can chew with the complex fantasy scenes and no decent groundwork. And putting two images from the different time periods side by side, it would be very difficult to tell which one came first and which one came second.
It's an unfortunate result of people thinking that just because they're putting pencil to paper, that magic will happen at some point. They draw what they see but they never later take the time to see what they've drawn, and analyze the differences. They compare themselves to people of the same age group - other high school kids for example, but they really need to be comparing themselves to their future competition - the best of the best of the professionals. And the Internet is actually a big part of this right now, I think. People get online and they see other people doing a hundred of these, or a year of this, and they think that because it's here on some art forums that that's what artists need to be doing and that that's what they should be doing. It makes it easier to hop on the bandwagon, rather than having to take the time for personal experimentation and discovery, studying from personal observation and experience. Another fact of the matter is people simply don't all learn in the same ways, and the above keeps them a lot of times from really exploring that.
And just to clarify, badass, it doesn't matter whether or not you're using a reference in such a simple sense. In fact a lot of what you've written is black and white statements that might sound great, but lose their substance when phrased so simply. Using a reference, utilizing life, can definitely help and should be utilized (to a sufficient degree for the artist's personal needs and talents). But using a reference does not guarantee magic improvement, regardless of how much you do it. There's a right way and a wrong way to use reference. All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, sort of thing. Certain parameters must be met, certain things must be done in order to really benefit from it.
This sort of goes against what CA.org means to a lot of people, but personally I think people wouldn't fall prey to things like this quite so often if they just got the fuck away from online communities, stopped giving a shit about everyone else and what everyone else was doing, and took the time to really figure shit out on their own.
Anyway, to summarize to the OP: Yes. It is unfortunate, but not uncommon. A lot (but not all) of people in that position never wind up getting much better, and never wind up doing art as a way to support themselves and their lives. Some people just aren't cut out for it. And there's really nothing wrong with that, different things for different people.
Last edited by Two Listen; January 6th, 2011 at 02:39 PM.
Erm, this is just me but I've found that if I draw every day but don't put much thought or "effort" into what I'm drawing aka just draw what I already know how to do or doodle, my end result doesn't get better even though I've drawn the same thing 100s of times before. Day to day, the result is more or less the same. Perhaps for some artists, their skill level is at the point where they can draw five people and background without much throught and so they never work to improve beyond that point because to most normal people, being able to draw 5 people and a background is amazing.
If I want to really make some serious improvement or when I tackle something new, I have to slow down, think and focus harder, and use better and multiple references. And the end is usually(knock on wood) better than my thoughtless doodles. I may draw less but the extra care tends to give better results. But that takes time, work and discipline which I don't always have.
Maybe some people are just happy with where they are or maybe they haven't realized they've started to stagnate because the stuff they draw is so good already?
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)
I mean... take it for what it's worth because I still regard myself a beginner something hardcore, but just drawing without thinking about what you're drawing and analyzing for flaws gets you nowhere.
Personally, as I practice, I get more and more angry and frustrated the longer I go without appearing to make any progress. Usually this means I overheat and have to go sit quietly far away from my artwork for a day or two until I have some mental breakthrough about what the glaring error is and go back and fix it. It took me a little while on my latest one, which was about musculature and human anatomy, so I actually haven't done a gesture or pose study in... about a week. But I finally did my Anatomy for Artists class and now I'm ready to move on and improve rather than pounding the dead horse.
I guess it helps, sometimes, to have detrimentally high standards and expectations for myself?
I mean, you're welcome to judge my sputtering progress in my *COUGH-PLUG-COUGH* sketchbook.
Well if you keep drawing the same thing over and over you're only going to get better at doing that same thing over and over. You'll keep making mistakes if you don't teach yourself any better.
That, and having my girlfriend behind me to tell me off when I initiate the cycle of self-loathing, has been a huge help.
Patience ranges pretty far for beginners from what I've observed (and intermediate). I remember a guy in my drawing 1 class @ CC quitting within thirty minutes (It's a three hour class twice a week). The teacher told him the position that he was drawing the hand model in was wrong, and told him to redo it entirely. The guy got pissed, yelled, "FUUUUUU@%*(&%&%" and then slammed his easel into the ground and left. Without picking up his backpack. The professor had the biggest WTF on his face and the class did too. I was amused.
Now consider yourself lucky that you aren't that guy. He wasn't even willing to push himself hard enough to break his patience barrier; at least we are.
Self-improvement implies a conscious effort to spot and to correct your mistakes and weaknesses. If you are happy with the level you have reached then most likely than not you will not improve further that much. I guess this is the situation with many of the "famous" guys over DA.
It's not like body-building or something - the mere act of repetition doesn't get you very far. You have to think, too.
If you're complacent about your art and think it's good enough the way it is, it won't get any better no matter how much of it you do. If you can learn to look at it critically and start thinking it could be better, and thinking about how it could be better, it will get better.
If these are the types of DA artists I think you're talking about, they've probably developed to a certain point and assembled a bag of tricks they can comfortably use over and over and over, so they can repeat themselves forever with barely any improvement. And if they never look beyond their own comfort zone and have a bunch of DA fans praising them all the time, they're unlikely to realize they could do better.
(Plus they might be the sort of people who only look at a limited range of art themselves, and if the art they look at is about on par with their own, they'll think they're "good enough" and won't have any incentive to improve.) (This seems to happen a lot with the anime crowd.)
If you look at the same types of things over and over, and draw the same things over and over, in the same way, you don't get anywhere.
Personally, I find one of the best ways to push improvement is to look at stuff by people better than me, compare my work to theirs and try to figure out what they've got that I'm missing - and then try to catch up to them.
I like to compare my art with the old masters art and try to understand how they progressed and proceeded - then I directly see I have years and years of studies ahead of me. At least I am not aiming too low.
"I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams" - Zdzislaw BeksinskiMy Happy Little Sketchbook, please check it out and help me get better!
Another thing I might recommend is opening these paintings of your favorites in something like photoshop and try to discover things. For example, I had a revelation yesterday when I opened a Kekai Kotaki painting and color picked -- with the HSB slider nestled up at the top right. I noticed he was using really saturated shadows and really neutral lights on his characters. I was like HOLY SHIT that's what makes it feel so warm and glowy! And then I desaturated the image entirely and went around seeing his scale of value in B&W on his specific characters and armors, etc.
I'm going to play devil's advocate.
When I was a kid I drew the same couple pictures over and over and over- more or less like you're talking about, except that in my day it was Image Comics instead of manga or anime. Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Scott McFarlane- even some Rob Liefeld for good measure. Yknow, only the best! I filled up sketchbook after sketchbook with this kind of stuff.
Then I went to art school and had my eyes really opened to all the really great artists that are out there. I started doing life drawing and realized the joys of working from life in a constrained time period with all different kinds of media. I improved pretty quickly- interestingly more quickly than a lot of fellow students. I began to look down on all the artwork that I did as a kid. All that copying of mediocre (or terrible) artwork seemed a gigantic waste of time.
Years later in my own studies and beginning to teach, I realized that, contrary to what people tend to believe, art is an extremely physical activity. Not like kickboxing or the Tour de France, but still- to make art you have to interact with some sort of physical apparatus to get the job done. And like anything physical, you have to practice it a lot to get better at it.
It began to dawn on me that all that time was not wasted- although it was very misguided. It ended up paying off much later in good sensitivity with materials, particularly in line work and hatching, of all things. Later when I read about the whole 10,000 hour theory, I realized I had gotten myself a leg up by getting 4 or 5 thousand hours in as a teenager- even if it wasn't the most efficient way to do it. Recently I learned that one of the best Trompe L'oeil painters and teachers out there starts all of his students off with 1 solid month of nothing but a simple value scale exercise in charcoal (that's full time, so about 160 hours). For him, it all begins with physical control of the medium. There's something to be said for that (especially when that painter is this guy)
I'm not by any means suggesting that people should stick to comics or anime or manga, nor am I championing mindless drills or rote copying. The faster you wake up and do pay attention to what you're doing and what the great artists have done, the faster you'll learn. But, there's something to be said for just getting the pencil to paper no matter how valid it is or not. In a sense, every particle of graphite you get on the paper, every fleck of pigment on a canvas, or every stroke across the tablet is making you better, though you may never realize it if you're not lucky enough to wake up later.
I know what you mean, I think you're right to say that seemingly mindless exercise(s) that don't appear to have any immediate value may wind up doing you more good once you've come to discover something else later - something that helps put those mindless exercises into a more informed perspective.
But that only means it has the potential for making you better, not that it does and will make you better entirely on its own.
"though you may never realize it if you're not lucky enough to wake up later."
Also I don't usually say this but why not just take up photography - Anthony Waichulis... maybe they have to be seen in person?
"Beliefs are rules for action"
"Knowledge is proven in action."
"It's use is it's meaning."
The point is really that we should spend less time worrying about the right way or wrong way to study, and more time just doing the activity. If you're smart enough and persistent enough to keep paying attention as you keep the effort up, the pieces will fall into place later at some point.
Does anyone have that awesome image that charted an artist's progress? The one with your perceived skill level, your actual skill level and such? I sadly forgot to save it when I saw it, and now cannot throw it at people wondering if they're improving or not.
(I will pass on debating Trompe L'oeil, though- that's just not going to go anywhere...)
@Noah: Um, yeah, I want a copy of that chart too. I was trying to explain it to someone on DA and had to doodle a crude version of the chart in Muro (I think they got it anyway, but the actual chart would be nice. I keep forgetting to save it.)
However, there's a trap on the other side of that coin where in one form or another you start to think, "ah, now I just need to pay attention and be clever and I don't have to work so hard". This is the side where you have 30 minutes to draw and you figure it's not worth it because you can't get anything real done. Or there's an even worse situation where you draw for only 20 minutes every couple days and think it's enough because now we're paying attention and much more advanced, so 20 minutes is enough. This is why I'm playing devil's advocate here. We need to keep that drive, building up that experience- which can be especially hard when that cycle of self-loathing starts.
Last edited by dose; January 6th, 2011 at 11:56 PM.
"Beliefs are rules for action"
"Knowledge is proven in action."
"It's use is it's meaning."
Not everybody wants to be a professional, or even a proficient, artist. Some just want to have fun drawing their little pictures, and if their friends/family/strangers on the internet like them, so much the better. So, let them. What they do doesn't effect you in any way.
**Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial
Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
rest of the gallery you'll see that he's doing is trompe-l'oeil, which is slightly different than photorealism. Trompe-l'oeil tries to fool the viewer into thinking there are real objects where there are not. Some of these objects happen to be photos, so a good trompe-l'oeil painter could be expected to be capable of photorealism as part of their larger skill set.
Still passing on debating photorealism and trompe-l'oeil, though.
Not that chart, the one that has one line that goes up in a series of steps-and-plateaus (representing "actual skill level"), and another line that keeps rising above and dipping below the plateaus (representing "perceived skill level")...
The cycle chart is great too. But I already saved a copy of that.
Last edited by QueenGwenevere; January 7th, 2011 at 02:23 AM. Reason: um, yeah, closed parentheses...
I wonder if that chart is something like this one (I found it right here): http://www.marcdalessio.com/wp-conte...provement2.jpg
Hmmm...for once there's a chart that doesn't give me googly eyes. XD Might not be the one, but it's fun to dig!