Five Fast Formats For Fast Art

2014 Artwork Five Fast Formats Sketch

Even though I’ve written about making “fast art” before, I thought that I’d revisit this topic from a slightly different angle today. I am, of course, talking about which art mediums work best for producing fast art.

Before I begin, I should point out that if you’ve used any of these art mediums before, then you’ll probably know all of this stuff already.

But, if you’re new to the idea of making your art quickly (eg: spending less than one or two hours on a picture), then it’s worth thinking about which art medium you’re going to use because some mediums (eg: oil paints) are completely and utterly unsuitable for making fast art with.

So, to help, here’s a list of the art mediums I’ve tried out and my thoughts about how useful they are for producing fast art:

1) Coloured pencils: In fact, up until the end of last year, I worked almost entirely in coloured pencils (and ink, of course).

One of the first things I will say about coloured pencils is that they have absolutely no drying time whatsoever – so you can scan, display or photograph your art as soon as it is finished. Coloured pencils are also, of course, one of the most precise ways to add colour to small areas of the picture that you’re working on.

But, on the other hand, they aren’t exactly ideal for shading and colouring large areas (and this can be quite time-consuming) – although this is only really a major issue if you plan to scan your art and adjust the brightness/constrast levels whilst editing it.

Believe me, if you use a lower level of brightness and a high level of contrast – any gaps in large shaded areas will stand out from a mile away. Although this can be covered up by using a “blur” effect in whichever image editing program you’re using, it’s still annoying.

2) Watercolour pencils: Ever since I got a set of these last Christmas, I haven’t looked back. In case you’ve never heard of them, they’re coloured pencils which turn into watercolour paint whenever water is applied to them.

Not only does this mean that you can colour things precisely in the same way that you can with coloured pencils, but it also means that all you need to paint are a paintbrush and some water (as opposed to a palette, multiple pans of paint etc…).

In fact, to speed things up even further, I’d recommend using a waterbrush (a paintbrush with it’s own reservoir of water) of some kind. They’re usually fairly inexpensive and it saves you having to dip your brush into a pot of water every minute or so too.

The other great thing about using watercolour pencils is that you can easily and consistently colour large areas of solid colour fairly quickly. Literally, all you have to do is scribble over the area you want to colour with a watercolour pencil and then fill it quickly using a wet paintbrush. But, on the other hand, they aren’t as good for smaller areas – so you might still need to use ordinary coloured pencils here.

But, on the downside, you really need to use watercolour paper if you’re using these pencils. This is a slightly thicker type of paper that can handle getting wet without crinkling too much or tearing easily, unlike ordinary printer paper.

Although there are some fairly inexpensive brands of watercolour paper out there (and, if you’re in the UK, I’d reccomend looking for watercolour sketchbooks in a shop called “The Works”), it’s still slightly more costly than ordinary paper is.

Not only that, there’s the whole issue of drying time too. Although watercolours take less time to dry than other types of paint apparently do, expect to wait at least 10-30 minutes for your painting to dry completely.

3) Digital: Although I haven’t really made that much in the way of digital art, I got a graphics tablet last year and I’ve been experimenting with it occasionaly ever since.

The main thing I would say about graphics tablets is that they can take a bit of getting used to – especially if you’re used to drawing traditionally. Literally, it’s almost like learning how to draw all over again.

Still, if you’re good with a graphics tablet, then digital is probably one of the best formats for making fast art for the simple reasons that you don’t have to search for different coloured pencils every time you want to change the colour you’re using, you can fill large areas of colour with a single tap of the stylus and you can post your art online almost instantly after you’ve finished it.

4) Ink and graphite pencils: Although these are two different mediums which require totally different shading techniques, the one thing they have in common is that they are the most abundent types of art supplies that you can find.

Not only that, they are both excellently suited to producing art quickly for the simple reason that you don’t have to worry about adding colour to anything you produce with them (although you can if you want to).

The only real disadvantage of this is that you have to pay a lot more attention to shading and contrast in an ink or pencil drawing than you would have to in a colour drawing or painting, since only being able to work in B&W and/or greyscale can mean that similarly-shaded areas can easily blend into each other.

5) Pastels: I’ve only used pastels (oil pastels, I think) about one or two times and, as someone who likes making precise drawings, I didn’t really like them that much. Still, I can see how they might be useful for creating art quickly – given that they have no real drying time at all.

Although pastels aren’t that great for precise (or even slightly detailed) works of art, they have the vividness of paint. Plus, they can also be used to colour large areas fairly quickly and consistently, given that oil pastels can be smudged fairly easily. Again, I haven’t really used pastels that much – but I can see how they could have potential for making fast art.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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