Hey everyone Drawponies here. Been doing a lot of self-reflection lately and wanted to share some thoughts.
So the convention season is drawing to a close. It's been an amazing year, and I can't thank you enough for supporting my work, both here and at the conventions.
This fall and winter, I am going to be focusing heavily on really improving my skills as an artist. I can't get complacent and rely on what I know already, it's essential to keep moving forward. I've given it a lot of thought, and first I'd like to tackle digital painting. Most of my favorite artists paint their creations in Photoshop, and so I'm eager to learn those techniques.
I've found two excellent resources I'm going to learn from first:
This website has over 100 free instructional videos for those getting started with digital painting. The lessons are clear and easy to follow, and include homework assignments and practice files. They also focus on principles, rather than being tutorials, which is a huge advantage.
Noah Bradley's Art Camp artcamp.com/
One of my favorite artists, Noah Bradley, recently concluded his 12 week long lecture series. Each talk is two hours long and goes into great detail about an aspect of painting, and specifically, how to apply classic techniques to a digital canvas. Topics include figure drawing, portrait painting, master studies, and more.
From both experience and research, I know that daily learning and practice is the key to improvement. Easier said than done, of course. I've been woefully negligent in terms of daily practice over the summer. Conventions kept me very busy, but honestly, I just didn't have a set plan or put the time aside. I've given it a lot of consderation, and I've come up with a plan. If I learn and practice each day, I think I can make a lot of progress over the next few months.
As a starting point, I'm going to set daily goals, weekly goals, and long-term goals (goals that can be completed in 1-6 months). On Mondays, I will evaluate my progress toward these goals and, if need be, set new ones. For starters, these goals will just be about artistic progress, but if the system works well then I will expand the goals to other areas of my life too.
Spend at least 30 minutes learning from a high-quality art teacher
Spend at least 30 minutes practicing artwork.
Options: Master study, figure drawing, idea sketching, drawing commissions
Practice Ctrl+Paint lessons daily
Take notes on 1 Noah’s Art Camp lecture, and the rest of the week practice homework from it
This week: Master Studies focus
Find 20 art pieces that I especially like from classic masters
Do 10 or more masters studies of composition and color (10 mins each)
Do 2 full masters studies, being mindful and focused on learning (2+ hours each)
Work on Commissions. Goal is to finish commissions from BUCK this week
Robot Luna sketch
Berry Punch poster
Write about my work in my Work Journal, about both art and other progress. Evaluate progress toward my goals, and reset weekly To Dos in HabitRPG.
Learn the Fundamentals of Digital Painting
Ctrl+Paint: Watch all videos and practice all homework assignments
Noah’s Art Camp: Complete all lectures and do all homework
Determine next step in this learning process
Learn the Fundamentals of Figure Drawing
Practice using the Croquis Cafe
Master T-shirt design
Accountability is a big part of motivation, and I have several important accountability measures.
1. On most days for the next month my sister is going to participate in the Ctrl+Paint art assignments with me. This will help me get started on the right foot, and we'll both learn a lot.
2. I'm using the website HabitRPG www.habitrpg.com as suggested by one of my artist friends. As someone who loves tabletop gaming, this system is very motivating to me, because it allows you to treat your to do list like a game. You get points and "level up" for different tasks you complete. It's super fun, you should give it a try.
3. As mentioned, I will evaluate my progress each Monday. I'm going to write a short entry in a Work Journal, and I also plan to post about it on my Tumblr. This will keep me motivated because my progress will be both written and public. If I don't make progress that week, then my update will be "Well guys I didn't do anything" and that will be embarrassing.
Now here's an important note: while I will be applying all of the techniques that I learn to my MLP artwork, many of the practice pieces that I post will not be MLP related. When I'm, for example, doing a homework assignment from Ctrl+Paint, the instructor doesn't assign ponies, as well he shouldn't. Fact is, I need to expand my artistic horizons if I'm going to succeed long-term. I want to make the best art that I can make, and part of achieving that goal is going to be drawing a lot of "regular" artwork, like people and landscapes. I know that you will love the art pieces I have in mind We will of course still be posting tons of comics, collab commissions, and other pony drawings, so don't worry, your MLP fix will still be well covered.
Are any of you interested in taking this journey with me? If so, let me know in comments! I would be overjoyed if some of you decided to join me on this daily practice commitment. Also, if any of you have suggestions for other resources or methods I can use to reach my goals, I'd love to hear them.
Here's Master Chief fighting a changeling to reward you for reading this whole thing.
I look forward to hearing what you think as I move forward.