This is a question I’ve been asked a lot, but to be honest it never really gets that much easier to answer. Every artist being an individual, it’s tough to find catch-alls that work for everyone, you know what I mean? And hell, truth be told, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out for myself. :]
Let me get this first bit out of the way, the bit nobody wants to hear: “Practice, practice, practice.” It’s the biggest, stinkiest old chestnut in the book, the one you’ve probably heard a million times before, but unfortunately, it is the most rock solid, time-tested advice any artist can swear by. Even when you feel down and out, even when things don’t look like they should. You keep on drawing, because art has a funny way of growing with you, even if you’re not aware of it.
But try different things. Some personal suggestions:
- Draw from life. Do figure studies. Your art will only go as far as the strong foundation you’ve built on. It can be arduous, but it is worth it. There is no way around this, much as many folks find this the token ‘boring’ advice.
- Look up light and color theory online. Nowadays there is a ridiculous amount of information on this subject on the internet. You could probably cobble together a near full education on the subject just from all the different people who have guides, examples, even youtube videos on the matter. It’s really amazing. There are tons of people out there trying to help young artists get on their feet, and they aren’t charging a thin dime. Take advantage of it. :]
- Warm up before you draw! Draw scribbles, cubes, shapes with some zing to them. Drawing can be a workout! So like any workout, warm up! Don’t dive right in and injure yourself. :] It’s a good way to stave off feeling discouraged because things didn’t turn out looking brilliant right off the bat.
- Try emulating a variety of other artists’ work. (With their consent if you’re posting it somewhere of course.) Sometimes when drawing in someone else’s style your own little mannerisms and stylistic influences tend to pop up in the result. This is more a fun exercise though, certainly not something to fall back on as a means to improve. You don’t want to end up relying on the same artistic ‘shortcuts’ your chosen artists employ in their own work without a firm understanding of the basics yourself.
- Draw quickly, loosely, even carelessly. Less thought, more winging it. Fly by the seat of them pants. Have fun letting go! At least, for a practice run at first. While ‘style’ is at best a nebulous concept, I’ve always found that if you draw speedily, you tend to put emphasis in certain areas, sort of feel your hand moving a particular way? If you don’t let too much thought get in the way, you can sometimes see the raw tendencies you have underneath the art.
- Animation! Regarding stuff to read to improve your skills, there is no shortage of books available in places like Barnes & Noble. Entire sections on art. I recommend, personally, books on animation techniques. I was originally an animation major in college, and I think any artist can benefit greatly by studying it thoroughly.
- Draw for yourself, not for the internet. This is a more fairly recent issue I’ve been seeing with some people, but there are folks out there who get a little too attached to the reception (or lack thereof) they receive for posting their work online, or worse still, seem to only draw with the specific intent of putting things online. While it’s all well and good to share your work with other people, please please please do not forget that you are drawing for yourself. You don’t have to post everything you make. Allow yourself plenty of time to make plenty of terrible drawings. Fall flat on your face. You can share the stuff you’d like, but you don’t have to feel compelled to share everything you do.
- Art blocks and burn out will happen. Don’t sweat ‘being stuck’ so much. Don’t rush getting OUT of it either. Art blocks are kind of a way of telling you you’re running on empty in one way or another. I’ve gotten asked quite often what I do to get over an art block. The answer is really simple: wait. Haha. But you find things to do that get you feeling charged up again. I like listening to music and playing games. Games are what got me into art in the first place, so it’s kind of a back-and-forth process for me. But what I’m trying to say here is, art and your life are pretty much connected in every way. If your art just doesn’t want to come out easily on the page, maybe you should find something else to do that you enjoy. Refill, recharge, re-energize, but NOT just to get over an art block. Your daily life might be more attached to your work than you realize. Which brings me to my next point..
- Don’t look so hard for ‘your style’. You need to grow as much as your artwork. As I said before, style is kind of a strange subject. To most people style is simply ‘how your art looks’, what sets it apart from other folks. But if you ask me, style is whatever ignites your passion to create in the first place. Style can be influenced by other art, sure, but it can also be influenced by music, games, sports, books, your background, the things you enjoy, just the person you are from the ground up. Style comes from pouring yourself into your work. And you know what? You need to grow just as much as your artwork. If you put a piece of yourself into your art, it will undoubtedly be unique, because you’re a unique person yourself. Find something you want to say and let it come out through your art.
And yes, that’s about the floweriest answer I’ve ever given on the subject of style. I guess when it comes to the subject of art I can be a sappy sap. But DAMMIT I BELIEVE IN YOU. And anyone else reading this that might have been feeling the same way! And I really appreciate the question! Hell, I’m honored, and hope in any way at all I can help, because art is a beautiful thing to have in your life, and I wish you the absolute best of luck with it.
Now DRAW. DRAAAAAAAAAW, I SAY!
Hey there Anon! Thanks for dropping me a message. :)
Thank you for the sweet compliment!
What I’ve learned with experience is that it’s not as much about the number or amount of time(s) than how you “train”. You can go on for 3 years without improving much and then in a matter of months you can have a “growth spurt” by varying your angle and approach.
The way I work is really not optimal for pure improvement. To be honest, I’m not a very motivated individual and I’m fueled purely by creepiness and obsession. I know I don’t necessary go about it the right way but the way that makes me feel good and keeps me motivated. (that right there is important too)
In both situations however I feel that drawing from the mind as opposed to drawing from life will only get you so far. That means that you need to map your brain with thousands of blueprints taken from life. Draw while using reference and you will improve. You need to really understand what you draw and understand the physics that take place in reality.
I think both drawing whole people and focusing on certain areas can be good. However if you really want to improve you need to inspire yourself from and copy life.
The optimal way
Draw a lot and draw everything using observation and reference to populate your brain with a vast understanding of life.
The lazy-ass unmotivated way
Draw what you feel like drawing using reference and curb what you see to your personal style. (so much win)
The truth is I use a LOT of photo references. If you take away my reference material, my performance drops down dramatically (for real).
Draw a lot and draw everything
God Way: Drawing from observation > Drawing from memory
I READ THIS THE OTHER DAY
this is required reading for every layout artist/storyboarder seriously
Really great notes and analysis in Floobynooby’s post. Still working my way through it all but I highly recommend giving it a read.
1. Be proactive and go for what you want.
2. Go for novelty and try something new.
3. Cut yourself, and other people, some slack.
4. Look for, and think about, the good in other people.
5. Opt for kindness and tenderness.
6. Be spontaneous, and please yourself sometimes.
7. Make time to relax – to laugh, and have some fun.
- Character creation questionnaire
- Character foils
- Core values
- Core values 2
- Creating a character from scratch
- Eating an orange
- Fears, weaknesses, and pet peeves
- Mary Sue / Gary Stu
- Outline for a distinct character
- Personal effects
- Supporting characters
- Swoons and wounds
- Throwaway characters
- Your character as a paradox
- Your character’s closet
On the page:
Sadly a lot of them are one shots, but there’s a few longer ones. A lot of yuri manga is tragically too short and I’m always left wanting more. D:
After some struggles with myself, I ended up putting stories about college aged women so long as it’s not “innocent school life” heavy.
- Love my Life (this one has a movie. A uni student coming out to her father and finding that her parents were both queer as well.)
- Indigo Blue (A novelist caught between feelings for her boyfriend but also her feelings for another woman.)
- Free Soul (22 year old aspiring manga artist writing a manga about a black jazz singer. Artist falls for a trumpeter of a jazz band.)
- Sweet Lovin Baby (A young woman befriends a lesbian couple and falls for them. With three other short stories.)
- Conditions for Paradise- An OL in love with a world hopping freelance journalist
- We’re Aiming for Love Now (Journalist and a cutie in a cosplay store)
- Happy Picture Diary - (REALLY FUNNY. An social worker and an editor’s daily life together. All chibi but with some really real lesbian life jokes)
- Off-Time (an aging lesbian short one shot)
- 20-Year-Old Girl x 30-Year-Old Maiden- (one shot, a 30 year old sensitive about her age with a 20 year old woman in her art class)
- Princess of the Stars- (short- almost didn’t make it b/c high school flashbacks but it’s college roomies and it’s short and sweet- and challenges that “girls experiment with girls in high school then grow out of it” thing that people in Japan sometimes think)
- Ohana Holoholo: Torino Shino (Saya lives with her bisexual former girlfriend and her son. Nico, an actor living up stairs and a close friend, drops by for a visit almost everyday. Somewhat like family, and somewhat not, a story about their lives)
- My Unique Day-Sakamoto Mano (women in an acting troupe together. one shot)
- Abracadabra- Tanaka Minoru (a magician and a cute girl dealing with confessing to a girl for the first time)
- Lonely Wolf, Lonely Sheep- Mizutani Fuka (two women with the same name meet. Warnings for self harm)
- Cirque Arachne: Saida Nika (Two women working in the circus in a trapeze act. Stellar cute.)
- Maple Love- Otsu Hiyori (meeting in college; really cute)
Two that I recommend but are set apart from the others because one is written by a man and one is written with the male audience in mind respectively
- Kusari ha mou iranai- Uso Kurata; two Office ladies
- Octave- Akiyama Haru (seinen manga; a talent manager and a songwriter)
This is by no means an exhaustive list and I know there’s more (one particularly that I wanted to put on here but couldn’t remember the title of) so feel free to add on your favorite adult queer lady manga to the list!
just pick a theme you like, a sidebar image you want, and then go to this website and it’ll give you a color scheme that’s nearly perf every time. it’s like super easy and it’s totally how i do all my schemes
*CRIES LOUDLY BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW THAT EXISTS*