Illustration: How to Improve your Skills

January 31, 2018

 

 

 

For several months now, I felt like my skills as an illustrator hit a plateau. Recently, I also hit a major artist's block and stopped drawing for 2 months. This was not a fun place to be. only managed to create 2 pieces in 2 months! It felt like I was starving and in desperate need of "artistic food" to have the necessary energy to create more art but there were 2 important questions to answer:

 

  • What should I "consume"?

  • How do I break this plateau and stay motivated?

 

 

What should you consume?

 

Just like you need to watch what you eat, you need to watch what you SEE!

 

 

The internet is full of artwork created by artists who are in different stages in their journey. Some of them your friends that need your support. After a while, you lose sight of where you can be, what you can become. You feel no need to improve because you're good compared to your circle.

 

You need to FOLLOW great artists whose work you love. Your Instagram feed and Facebook feed should provide you with your daily dose of artistic nutrients. It can be the masterpieces of the old masters or those of contemporary professionals in the field of illustration. 

 

Consume great art.

 

Do you remember how you felt when you first went to this new place? How amazed you were by everything?  Then a few weeks or months later not much gets your attention anymore and you just go from point A to point B like a zombie!

 

 You need to keep this curiosity for life alive. Visit new places and also expose yourself to new art. If you can take courses with new teachers and mentors that would be great too. I finished doing several courses on New Masters Academy and I am currently doing a course with Schoolism.

 

Consume NEW art and courses.

 

 

How do you improve your drawing skills?

 

I am still working on my 2018 goals which I mentioned in my previous blog along with some tips. To stay motivated you need small wins on the long path to your goal.

 

I love working in color so much but I noticed it was starting to hurt me as an artist. Instead of creating perfect drawings, I was using colors as a crutch. If your art is not amazing in black and white then you need to work on your craft.

 

Take a step back... and slowly put those brushes, pencils and markers down!!

 

I gotta admit though...

I am a simple woman, I see colors I use them xD

 

So yeah sometimes I fall off the wagon but I try my best to flex a certain muscle until I'm happy with the result. 1 day at a time :P 

 

I painted several assignments from this black and white stage, this time they're digital paintings. Examples include: garden, man (below), woman 1, woman 2, giraffe, frog, statue.

I figured this covers: environment, people (both genders), animals (mammals and non-mammals) and also inanimate things.

 

Here's how it works

 

  • Start with only 3 values:

Whether you're working traditionally or digitally... use only 3 values: black, grey, white. What you create is the matrix, your underlying design, the skeleton of your illustration. It helps you simplify and build better shapes. Shapes are important for the success of your design. at this stage you can work on thumbnails. Not getting caught up in the details lets you finish quickly which means you can analyze and practice more. 

 

 

  • Repeat step 1 with a twist!

Instead of copying what you see, now you get to be more creative and inventive. Change the shapes or their values. This helps you get different moods out of the same subject.  

 

  • Use gradients and several value ranges

So far, your black and white studies look somewhat like paper cutouts. meh... It's not fun to look at! to add a sense of depth use gradients. You can use more values but stay in grey scale. Now we're talking!

 

​​Ever asked yourself how black & white movies look so good without any colors? This will help you improve your perception and representation of form. Notice how the planes change on your subject.

 

 

How to stay motivated? 

 

Stop masking your mistakes. You are hurting yourself. Work in black and white first.

After your work is done in black and white you've earned your colors! Go ahead and make your inner child happy :D 

 

Reward yourself!

 

 

 

Join me on my journey and share your art with me on my Facebook Page :D

would love to see your work.

 

I have a plan in store for my 6-month illustration boot camp. Still in the drawing stage, but I'll mix it up to stay motivated. I will use different mediums and I will also work on other areas such as gesture, colors, environment design, character design, composition, digital sculpting. not necessarily in that order. Don't go anywhere!

 

update

*1 month has passed, 5 more to go in my boot camp! Check out more examples of practicing in black and white with a splash of color at the end in my portfolio, Facebook Page, Instagram

 

 

Heidi Ahmad  (@heidiGFX)

Digital Illustrator & Colorist

Telling Stories Through Light & Color

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Third Culture Kid (TCK)

Freelance Writer/Translator - Design Guide Magazine

Facebook Page | Instagram | Contact Me

 

 

 

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