If you’re anything like me (and you probably are not, because I’m completely strange unique), then you like to find tutorials on the web and try them out. Or, you know, buy those Disney “How to Draw” books. Does anyone else remember those? Are those still a thing? I need to see if I still have mine. I’m pretty sure I got twenty.
(No, that wasn’t a reference to Little Mermaid. I swear.)
Ehem. Anyway, the point being, I love tutorials. And so, I’ve scoured the web for days on end (translation: I googled for about ten minutes) and found a list of art tutorials and projects that I love and want to try — and I hope you try them, too!
Tips for drawing backgrounds: I will be the first to admit that I hate drawing backgrounds. I don’t know why, but I do. So, that of course means that I should be practicing drawing backgrounds as much as possible because if it’s not something you love doing, you aren’t going to do it, then it’s going to suck, and then all your art is going to suck, and then you’re going to curl up in a ball and cry. So.
Step-by-Step Digital Painting Tutorial: Not only do I love this artist’s style, but the infographic-style of this tutorial is beautiful to look at and extremely thorough. I already follow several of her steps, so it will be easy for me to try this one out and tweak my current process!
Head over to Clementine Creative for a list of 12 watercolor tutorials that you can check out. (I, for one, want to strengthen my weak skill in watercolor. It’s a medium where you kind of have to let go — which I have a hard time with!!)
Talking about references… Looking at other artist’s work to help your skill along is never a bad thing (we all do it, and these tutorials are a great example). But, when at all possible, use live references (or at least photographs of live references).
Not only will you ensure that your style remains your own, you will also make sure you don’t inadvertently pick up any bad habits from other artists, either. (Sorry. We ALL have them.)
Along the same vein as clothing, shoes are something I am always trying to improve on. Well, feet and shoes. And I was going to look for a specific tutorial when I came across this link to a bazillion (okay maybe not quite that much, but close) tutorials and references on Pinterest. So, why try to invent the wheel?
Another aside on clothing: this book by John Peacock is amazing! I have one of its older siblings, but I may have to upgrade. It’s a great reference on different clothing styles throughout (most) of history.
One final tutorial on drawing figures – this article on Design Your Way has a ton of video tutorials on everything from eyes, to faces, to gesture drawing and poses.
You can also view more art references and tutorials on my Pinterest board, Art Reference – I update fairly frequently.
So, about those tutorials… Seriously. Try them. And let me know how they are in the comments.
I’ll wait. 😉
(P.S. If you have Netflix, they now have the entire Bob Ross series available to stream. That man fostered my obsession with art at a very early age. And, c’mon. Bob Ross. I dare you to watch it and not laugh you @$$ off or end up in a good mood by the end!)
“Why have a brand?” you ask. “I’m only an illustrator/writer.”
Good question! Personal brands are great for establishing a professional image. They help you to stand out from the crowd.
But where to start? Design is an evolutionary process. It starts with a whisper. Ideas emerge from that single thought and we let them roll around in our minds, where a small number start to take shape. We mold them. Then, when we have the idea in just the right atmosphere, we move it to pen and paper.
Half of the time we shred that paper into tiny bits and throw it into the wastebasket.
No? Just me? Okay, okay, maybe not quite so dramatic. But, I have never taken an idea from thought to reality without multiple revisions. It starts as one thing until I change this or switch that.
Branding has no magic pill. And, what works for one person may not work for another. But I can give you a few tips that I think will help – at the very least, it might give you some food for thought!
Check out the infographic below for more information:
As you can see, I have tried to keep my look consistent across my blog posts and various social media sites. I have:
a designated color scheme,
a basic look and feel to my graphics so that someone looking at them can easily distinguish this is something that I created,
Words no creative professional wants to hear. Pair it with an incredulous look and it’s enough to make blood boil. The truth is, real artists and artisans put a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears into the creations they make. They toil for hours. They lose sleep. They forget to eat. (Trust me. I’ve experienced it all.)
When someone implies (or outright says) that they think an artist/artisan’s creations are somehow worth less…
Honestly, I can’t even describe it.
Here is the best example I can think of: say you just interviewed for a big promotion at work. The interview went well, the committee seemed suitably impressed, and you feel confident that you are the best person for the job. Later, your boss comes up to you and says, “We like you, [name], but that raise you’re looking for? We just can’t afford what you think you’re worth. I mean, [so-and-so] would do the same job for half that price.” Then, the company low-balls you on their offer.
How would that make you feel? Pretty crappy, I’d imagine.
I have wanted to do a post on how much an artist’s or artisan’s time is worth. Recently a friend posted a blog post that perfectly illustrates just what goes into an artist’s creation, so I thought, why mess with perfection? The post, titled “Materials, Time, Creativity,” written by Matt Munson (on the site The Project Workbench) goes into detail as to why artistic creations are worth so much more than the average person assumes.
As the name implies, the cost of most artisan pieces can be broken down into three major categories:
“This is the easiest one for people to wrap their heads around. These are the hard costs of the stuff used to make the thing you’re looking to purchase.”
Simply, these are the supplies we use to create the finished product. For someone like me, it would be things like paper, paints, brushes, etc. These numbers are easily quantifiable, and oftentimes they are the numbers that most people assume should encompass the entire price.
Just because I spent $20 in supplies does NOT make my illustrations worth $20.
“Contrary to what you may believe or understand, the time of the artisan is worth something. Just as you would not do your job for free, it’s a bit short sighted to expect an artist to do their job for free.”
I love the quote above especially. Developers may love their job, but they still expect compensation for their work. Teachers may have a passion for education and children, but they still spent a lot of time and money learning to do the job they do, and do it well. Is that not worth something? Should they not be compensated for their skill and knowledge of their profession?
Artists and artisans should be no different.
“And here we reach what I believe is the toughest pill for a potential customer to swallow. The idea that the product you are creating has some value all its own, independent of the materials and time used to create it.”
When I am looking at a priceless painting by a world-renowned artist, I would never presume to think that the item has no intrinsic value. And, while we cannot all be Picassos or Van Goghs, I believe that an artist’s creations do have value all their own.
After all, if a person does not love something about that artist’s work, why on earth would that person bother approaching them for a custom piece? It makes no sense.
As for me – if someone comes to me thinking they’ll get something for nothing, they are sorely mistaken. And if they claim that they can make the same thing for a fraction of the cost, I will smile at them and say:
“By all means, then. You’re welcome to do it yourself.”
With countless numbers of talent all over the world, it’s hard to narrow the list to just the ones below. However, I wanted to focus on my personal favorites because they have influenced my own art and writing in more ways than I could even know.
I hope that you enjoy the list and, with luck, you’ll find a new favorite or two. 🙂
W: writer, A: artist
Aimee Major (A) | I have been a follower of Aimee Major for years. I started sometime in high school (which is well over ten years ago… Yikes!) She inspired me with her impressive portfolio, and she’s worked on some really awesome animation projects. In fact, I was thisclose to moving to California to attend the California Institute of Art because of her. (I desperately wanted to be an animator. Funny how life doesn’t always work out as expected…)
CJ Archer (W) | This author is a new favorite of mine. I did a review (& illustration) of her most recent book, “The Watchmaker’s Daughter” that you can check out here. When I saw that she had a whole series of books called the Ministry of Curiosities, I went out and devoured them all! (Not literally. Sheesh.)
Dani Jones (W, A) | I have been a fan of Dani Jones for a few years now. Her work is charming and engaging. The rich colors and detailed scenes she creates draws you in, and I really enjoy reading her web comics.
Danny Beck(A) | I just discovered this man’s amazing talent, and I have to say: I am completely hooked! His mastery of watercolor is jaw-dropping and I adore his monster and hamster compilations. Cute plus scary? What’s not to love?
David SanAngel (A) | David SanAngel works as a Disney storyboard artist (win!) and has a resume as long as my arm. It’s impressive, and I am jealous. I found him on the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) Illustrators Gallery, and fell in love with his style. Especially the composition of his pieces, unique viewpoints and creative crops. (They make me realize how very much I still have to learn…)
Gayle Forman (W) | I’m a huge, huge fan of Gayle Forman’s work. I started reading with “If I Stay,” and I have been hooked ever since. She puts a lot of emotion into her stories, and the writing is smooth and borders on prose at times.
Guy Gilchrist (W, A) | My favorite childhood picture book is “Just Imagine: a Book of Fairyland Rhymes” by Guy Gilchrist; to this day, it has a place of honor on my bookshelves. When I found out all that Mr. Gilchrist has been involved in, well, it’s no surprise. The man is a fountain of talent.
Heather Theurer (A) | Well known for her amazing renditions of Disney characters as oil portraits – well, where do I start? The paintings are absolutely beautiful (Random aside: I would LOVE the Lilo and Stitch one…) and, not only that, but she captures their essence and emotion in each piece.
James Hance (A) | I have been a fan of James Hance for years. I am a lifelong Winnie-the-Pooh fanatic, and also a huge Star Wars geek so naturally his “Wookie the Chew” creations excite me to no end. His creative mashups of pop culture with geek culture also make my nerdy heart flutter. In other words – he’s brilliant!
Laure Halse Anderson (W) | This young adult author is another of my absolute favorites! She hits on the hard issues, and her writing is downright poetic. “Speak” will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Mary Uhles (A) | I met Mary at an illustrator’s intensive during an SCBWI conference. Her art is fun, full of soft colors, and very expressive. Her pieces really draw me in.
Neil Gaiman (W, A) | His books are an obsession of mine. I’m not ashamed to admit that. The man is absolutely brilliant! His work is breathtaking and amazing, full of magic and wonder. The worlds he creates — I want to live in them. And many of his works are on the dark side, which I really, really love. (American Gods or The Graveyard Book, anyone? Coraline?) Okay. I’m done gushing.
Robin Preiss Glasser (A) | Illustrator of the popular “Fancy Nancy” series. I just love her wild, whimsical art! It makes me happy, and I am forever trying to channel her talent for amazing costumes.
Susan Eaddy (A) | Susan is a fellow SCBWI member and an amazing, amazing artist. She creates eye-catching pieces with clay in vibrant 3-dimensional scenes that have a lot of depth and richness.
Tim Burton (W, A) | I’ve mentioned before that I love dark, twisted, and fantastical. Alice in Wonderland, Grimm’s Fairy Tales (the REAL ones), that sort of thing. Naturally, Tim Burton falls in that list. The man is a genius with his creepy dark worlds and whimsical characters, and he’s one of my top favorites.
This piece was done as a recent wedding present. I thought it would be perfect for this week’s Illustration Friday prompt, which is “Party.” I’d definitely say they are having a little party — especially the lone woman dancing. 😉
Illustration Friday: Party. A woman dances on the bar, smiling and in her own little world, while a man nearby playfully hits on two Russian women.
I am a professional artist who specializes in pop art, illustration, and graphic design. My work includes both digital and a mix of traditional wet media. (Check out my art gallery to view my work!) I find inspiration from animation (e.g. Disney and Japanese anime), fantasy, fairy tales, and those magical little moments in everyday life.