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June 10, 2012
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7 Tips To Instantly Become A Better Artist

Journal Entry: Sun Jun 10, 2012, 2:06 PM
Practice, practice, practice.  Gah.

Attend life drawing classes over the summer.  Blegh.

Take a sketchbook with you everywhere you go, and fill up ten of those bad boys at the coffee shop.  Pfft.

Let's be honest here.  We all want to become better artists, like, right frickin' now.  We don't even want to have to suffer through hour-long tutorials of some pompous snooty hack bloviating over the intricate methods of drawing eyes on YouTube.  We want progress, we want improvement, and we want it on our desk in ten minutes ago!

Fine, fine, I hear ya'.  While these aren't going to make an instant Leonardo da Vinci out of you, these might get you up to...ehh...Basquiat caliber.  Sure, I've made tutorials, but those are more about setting up Photoshop for the sake of coloring an image, and not so much building yourself artistically.  Those are more technical lessons.  Artistically, the learning process takes time, it comes mostly from within, but fortunately there are some things that'll make the laborious process much easier in the long run.


Seven things you can do RIGHT NOW to become a better artist:



1: Clean your work space.

Before you begin on any artistic project, take a few minutes (or hours if it has been a while) to clean up your workspace.  Dedicating some time to cleaning before working brings many benefits.  Psychologically, it gets your mind warmed up and ready to engage the task of drawing.  There are a lot of similarities between cleaning and working on a canvas; lots of arm motions, methodical approaches to the task, and a particular thoroughness to detail.  It will also warm up your arms ahead of time.

With a clean workspace, you will also be able to work better.  No trudging through stuff to locate your desired sketchbook.  No dust and particulates getting in your nose or your electronics.  And no digging through an amassing pile of clutter to find an empty space to put your beer down.

Which brings me to number two.


2: Put your beer down.

Under no circumstance should you attempt to do artwork under the slightest inebriation.  Unless you happen to be Salvador Dali, your artwork will not look better by beating up your mental capacities.  Think you're an exception to such a rule?  Tell me, do you have an awesome moustache like Dali, too?  Of course not, you'd be lying if you believed you even came close to the unparalleled epic of Salvador Dali's incredible moustache.



Impossible.  Cannot be done.  Your attempts to mimic such incredible facial trichology will only end in blood-soaked tears of regret.  Do you want to wallow away the evening in blood-soaked tears of regret?  Then put the dang beer down on your newly cleaned desktop and see just how much better you do!

Go instead with a moderate (moderate!) cup of coffee or green tea.  Having at least something to nurse while working is a good way to keep focus and comfort.  Abstain from caffeinated sodas and energy drinks, they'll just make you hyper and easily sidetracked.


3: Livestream

Very good chance if you're reading this, you're a digital artist.  When working digitally, it's really difficult to work sometimes just knowing that the big glorious icon is sitting just underneath for Chrome or Opera or Firefox (or Internet Explorer if you're really that behind the times).
Curb the temptation, and willingly put a handful of your Internet pals right over your shoulder to watch your every move.  They're going to be there on their time*, invited by your hand, to see you draw and nothing else.  So don't let them down.  They're your friends, after all.  Don't let down your friends.

*English majors: I saw you squeak in jovial admiration there. Thank you.

Just go to the Livestream website (or JustinTV or whatever), download the broadcaster software, and go for it.  That way, you'll have some people giving you encouragement while you work.  You'll have company so you don't feel like you wasted your evening without the IRL friends you keep convincing yourself you actually have.  And best of all, you'll get swift justice if you lose focus and get sidetracked by that freaky-deaky Internet porn you don't want us to know you enjoy.


4: Use References and Mimic

Let's make it clear; I don't mean tracing. Wouldn't you believe I actually saw an anatomy book that suggested tracing as a valid means of learning?  Pfft, what a jerk.

By using references and mimicing the styles of others, I mean finding a way to give your unique artwork a direction based upon what you see elsewhere.  We all envision ourselves as the perfect artist who doesn't need no stinkin' anatomy books or photographs to draw the whimsical worlds in our heads.  But that's just silly.  Even the top tier artists use references and aspire to the greatness of our artistic predecessors.  It's what makes them so good.  They don't guess how grass would act in an environment; they grab photos of it and line them up to soak in and research its behavior.  The way light shines off of bricks, stucco, marble, iron, steel, and other materials?  Never guess, always have something handy to see just how it looks.


5: Delete Black and White From Your Color Swatches

Quick challenge.  Draw a picture, but when you get to shading it, use only the primary colors.  Try it.  Use only red, blue, and yellow.  See how the colors all blend together, create this nice harmony among one another, and look more vibrant when they collide together?  Abstaining from using black and white while shading will guarantee a much more lively color palette right off the bat, and if you get really good at working with those colors, you'll really stand apart from the others.


6: Take Breaks and Manage Your Time

Take breaks.  Frequently.  Every couple hours, give yourself a twenty minute break, preferably away from the computer screen and television.  You need to rest those eyes, let them recover.  Something like doing another chore such as folding laundry can keep those muscles warmed up but clear the head nicely.  Make yourself a sandwich.  Clean your desk space if you haven't yet.  Grab your mp3 player and take a walk around the block.

Try not to be one of those "I painted for sixteen hours straight" kinds of guys.  The amount of time you spend on an image isn't nearly as impressive as the actual look of the image in the end. The only people who care how long you spent on an image are directors and producers, and to them, bragging about a single background taking you seventy-plus hours is anything but something worth bragging about.

Just get it done, and don't kill yourself in the process.  If you aren't getting a lot of enjoyment out of your work, you're probably not managing your time right, or worse, not going to pursue art much further.


7: Do Something Else From Time To Time

Make music.  Write literature.  Read a book.  Hike.  Never forget to take an afternoon for yourself and follow other endeavors.  Art can be quite overwhelming at times, but by not making it the sole aspect of your life, it won't be able to overwhelm you.  Taking on an extracurricular activity can be fun, and leave you refreshed and eager to jump back into that artistic project you were on.  Well...granted that extracurricular activity isn't trying to match Salvador Dali's moustache.



Blood-soaked tears, dude.  That's as far as you'll get.

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:iconvilatile:
Vilatile Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Student
buuuh, I wanted Dalí's moustache :c
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:iconcrypticmachine:
CrypticMachine Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love this.Very helpful. ;3
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:iconkuzco890:
kuzco890 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
love this article :)  No. 6 is what i struggle most with...(sigh)
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:iconsimpleneli:
Simpleneli Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the tip :D
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:iconmysieblondie:
mysieblondie Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014
WTF??? 

Good advice ------> "Practice, practice, practice."

"Attend life drawing classes over the summer." Although this isn't something available to everyone it is a good idea if it's something that's convenient in your area.

"Take a sketchbook with you everywhere you go, and fill up ten of those bad boys at the coffee shop."  <----- yup yup


"1: Clean your work space." Sure why not clean your work space? While your at it clean your bathroom and do the dishes cause having a clean living area and work space is always a good idea.

"2: Put your beer down." One of the dumbest things I ever heard. If your an alcoholic by all means don't fall off the wagon, but letting go of your inhibitions via beer... weed.. whatever definitely won't hurt your art. (provided you don't go get yourself in a car accident??) 

"3: Livestream" if you have the internet and time :)

"4: Use References and Mimic"
    For the record as long as you don't allow yourself to depend on it, but only use it for studies, tracing does have it's place in art.
    For example: do a speed study and draw quickly a face using photo reference. Then trace the outline of the face and finish shading the study. Then draw quickly again (as you did the first time). And voila you're able to observe more accurately the proportions because you weren't too high minded to trace.

   As far as the rest of this one... it falls under observe observe observe... practice practice practice... take a notebook wherever you go...

"5: Delete Black and White From Your Color Swatches" <---- Don't listen to this, although it might be a fun practice and all practice makes you a better artist, there's nothing magical about this exercise over any other one. (I personally am a fan of studies in black and white, in the old days a master's apprentice had to earn the right to paint in color because black and white is fundamentally first.)

"6: Take Breaks and Manage Your Time"  Anyone who needs this advice is far enough along to know you dumb the rest of these tips are.

"7: Do Something Else From Time To Time" Last but not least... I agree. Don't get too lost in your art, spend time cleaning or helping out friends and family, it totally refreshes your artistic mind.

P.S. I'm sorry if I seem contrary but if we could be "BETTER ARTISTS RIGHT FRIKIN NOW!!" then everyone would be an artist, but art is a journey and no one is ever going to arrive at the point of satisfaction.
  However if you draw everyday and find practices that help you and that you like, perhaps art instruction books, draw from life, or just whatever works for you...? if you keep at it, then there will come a point where you do like your own art and it will feel good enough to share and show to others. Just keep swimming. :)



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:iconskyblue000:
skyblue000 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Best tips ever! :iconwooowplz: Lol, seriously though I'm really gonna start doing some of these tips, 'cause they seem like really good suggestions~ ^-^ (especially the 'cleaning up my workspace' one- I haven't cleaned that up in a bajillion years so time to get started! //shot ) :iconimhappyplz: Also the 'only using primary colors to shade' one looks like something I should do (cause I really need to get the hang of coloring :iconuhuhuhuplz:) Haha, but thank you so much for sharing this; I'll be using the tips very soon!~~ :D
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:iconstar-swirl:
Star-Swirl Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Perfect! I have to start using these, esp. because I haven't posted ANYTHING on dA in fear it isn't good enough!
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