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Am I arting right? (nsfw)

mildlymorbidmildlymorbid Registered User regular
Howdy all. I have been a lurker on penny arcade for a good long while now. It was mostly in the DnD and Graphic Violence side of things, and I have only just recently started looking into the Artist Corner. I created an account a little over a year ago and then almost immediately forgot about it. I am finally popping my forum cherry, because I have decided what I really want to do.

I want to make comic books.

Story telling is my passion; Movies, TV Shows, Novels. I love all of it really, but comics is where I want to leave my mark. I'm absolutely bursting with ideas. I have even written one or two of them down. With a few scribblings of some kind of narrative put on paper and out of the way, it was on to arting.

I enjoy drawing and doodling, and I have taken a few art and graphic design classes back in the day. I also purchased an iPad and there are plenty of cheap art programs I could get on it. I can do this. This shouldn't be a problem at allOH GOD, IT'S HIDEOUS!


What!? What is this nonsense!? This will not do. This is just terrible all around. No! Time to put the serious face on. Time to get better.

So, after some snooping around, I found that every expert seems to say the same thing. I needed to learn the fundamentals. I needed to draw from life. Well, can do.

I began with gesture drawings, and for the past month of have tried to do 1 - 2 hours a day. I have been mostly using this thing: artists.pixelovely.com/practice-tools/figure-drawing/, which I found in the tutorials thread, and it has been fantastic and fun all around.


I'm sorry that there is so little to see here, as I rarely hold on to these.

About a week ago I felt comfortable enough to try light studies. Here is my first attempt.


Hmm. It seems a bit dark. Maybe it's my monitor. Let me try another one.


Yep, it's my monitor. Well, lets try one of them with color.


Hmm, again. Perhaps I shouldn't have picked something so small. Here is the second attempt that I did yesterday.


I got nothing.

With the earlier stuff I could at least tell somewhat where I made mistakes and what I probably had to improve on. With light and color studies, I'm at a complete lost. I'm not even 100% sure what exactly I'm supposed to be looking for. It was a lot of fun when I was making these, but that feeling goes away whenever I come back to them later.

This is where I come crawling to you guys for help. I clearly have no idea what I'm doing in these drawings. My friends tried to give me advice, but they were entirely too nice. I do believe that with a littlelot of guidance, I could improve. So, if you could give any feedback and pointers on what lessons I should be doing and where I'm at my weakest, it would be most appreciated. I plan on posting periodically as I (hopefully) grow as an artist.

Thank you

3DS: 1908-2926-7428


  • mildlymorbidmildlymorbid Registered User regular
    Updating with baseball and sadness.


    3DS: 1908-2926-7428
  • McDMcD Registered User regular
    I'm pretty shit when it comes to colour, so I'm afraid I can't help you there... For those tonal studies, I actually got some great pointers on here aaaaaaaages ago when I posted a piece. In fact, I'll re-post the paintover Bacon was kind enough to do for me back in the day. You can see how he starts out with just two values, then builds it up a bit and blends those and how much more effective that is than my clumsy attempt to pick out every single little shift in tone (top left is my original drawing, the rest are the paintovers AoB did and then the reference image at the end):


    Squinting at the image really helps you to focus in on exactly where the lightest and darkest areas of any image are, rather than getting bogged down with trying to identify all the little subtleties. Try it with some quick, simple subjects, rather than having the stress of dealing with anatomy on top of the values.

    Your gestural drawings are getting there, but try to limit the number of lines you use, it looks like you're drawing a line, then going over it and over it again, which ends up making things a bit messy (and also wastes crucial seconds on those timed poses!). One thing I found that helped me to chuck that habit was drawing with a long stick and some ink... Sounds a bit weird and at first it's frustrating, but it forces you to draw a line and commit to it, even when it's not exactly perfect. Another good exercise is single line drawings, not taking your pen/pencil/stick off the paper.

    You might not be able to do this, but try to make it to an actual life drawing class, it's really so much better than drawing from images. I've used that pixelovely site and it's a really great tool for practice, but it's not really a substitute for honest-to-goodness life drawing. You might have already heard this one, but one of the best things one of my life drawing tutors told me was that the ratio of time spent looking at the subject and at your paper should be around 80/20 or 70/30.

    Hope some of this rambling was at least a little helpful... I'm knackered so I don't even know if it makes sense! If you keep up with the amount of practice you're doing right now, you'll see improvements really quickly!

  • arinyaarinya Registered User regular
    Progress is always slow. Just be patient and keep practicing. What you posted is looking great. What style do you want to ultimately want to give your comic books? I think the tutorials you are doing will be very useful! I need to do more reference sketches to practice body proportions. Thanks for posting that link. I may check it out. Just keep doing what you are doing and don't worry too much about being incredible. Just keep drawing.

  • mildlymorbidmildlymorbid Registered User regular
    Thanks a bunch McD. That really helps a lot.

    A few questions: When it comes to blending, should I be using a smudge tool, or is it just super subtle value changes? Also, is there a specific brush size I need be using?

    I'm going to pick up some ink tomorrow after work and try out that stick thing. I've never tried inking anything I've done, so this will definitely be different. And messy. I have another batch of gesture drawings where I tried to be considerably less shaky and use as few lines as possible. The results were... interesting. These were all 2 minutes.

    Yeah, that's awkward. Nothing to do, but keep trying.


    Thanks for the encouragement.

    I'm hoping that whatever style I use for comics would develop naturally while learning how to draw, but I would be lying if I didn't say I really want that development to follow along the path of people like Darwyn Cooke, Ben Caldwell and Shane Glines. I wouldn't say no to a bit of Dan DeCarlo either. Maybe some Shawn Galloway too.

    For backgrounds, I figured I would just kidnap Kevin Dart and chain him to my drawing table. Gotta love how sharp and crisp all his work is.

    Thanks again.

    3DS: 1908-2926-7428
  • Luca72Luca72 Registered User regular
    Some use the smudge tool, but my preferred way is to just fill in a color and the color you want to blend with it, then kind of paint over each at low opacity (like 30-40%) until I get the color I want. There are a bunch of videos on how to do this:

    I like what you're doing so far! Particularly the woman throwing the cloth around - you have a really good value range there. Have you checked out any "pose challenge" sites? Check this out: http://www.quickposes.com/

    It gives you a 20 pose challenge where it automatically changes the picture at whatever interval you choose. This is SUCH a good way to get comfortable with multiple poses, and to also learn to quickly block in values. This is my favorite way to warm up these days. 60 seconds for 20 images means you get a nice 20 minute warm-up.

    Anyway, keep doing what you're doing! I know sometimes the fundamentals feel boring, but you've got to put your time in to get better

  • arinyaarinya Registered User regular

    Oh! Those are great styles! Practice, practice, practice!

  • mildlymorbidmildlymorbid Registered User regular
    Bloody hell this thing is ugly. I tried out the smudge tool and started off with the two tone thing. It was definitely something different. It felt less like drawing and more like moving clay around. I need so much more practice. I see everything that is wrong with it, but I worked on it for so long that I just want to try again on something new instead of trying to fix it. Again.


    Gonna start another one tomorrow.

    3DS: 1908-2926-7428
  • nocuddletimenocuddletime Registered User regular
    I would skip the smudge tool and try to just draw in the values but picking with the eyedropper.

  • kevindeekevindee Registered User regular
    A very brief bit of advice, don't use the smudge tool as your primary way to blend colours or values. You'll lose sight of all edge control. Block in what you have, and pick an intermediate value / lower brush opacity to make the transition instead. It'll feel more like drawing or painting too.

    You'll struggle with this on a form as complex as a human body right now, so I suggest you render out an egg or sphere, and focus on getting that transition and value separation. It's a big, big step, and it pays off to get it right early on.

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