Three Very Basic Tips For Developing Your Own Art Style

2016 Artwork Very Basic Art Style Development Article Sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote about how to develop your own art style, so I thought that I’d quickly offer three very basic tips that might come in handy.

1) Give it time: Your art style should be similar to your “everyday” handwriting in that it should be unique, easy to use and yet still understandable by other people. For example, even though the writing in my comics and cartoons is in traditional anonymous block capitals, I obviously have my own unique handwriting style for everything else.

Not that it's the most legible type of writing in the world though.

Not that it’s the most legible type of writing in the world though.

Unless you’ve taken calligraphy lessons or you only use keyboards/phones, your own style of handwriting will probably have evolved naturally of it’s own accord. After all, you’ve probably practiced writing so much over the years that your handwriting has had time to develop into something that looks uniquely yours.

Well, your art style is fairly similar. The only difference is that you probably haven’t been drawing every day for most of your life. Just like how your handwriting gradually becomes more distinctive over the years, so will your art style. It’ll keep slowly evolving and changing as you practice and learn more. Here’s a diagram that I made to show how my own art style has changed over the past ten years:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] Here's a fairly quick chart that shows some random examples of my art style over the past ten years. If you look closely, you'll probably notice that my style only changes gradually and subtly from year to year. However, there's a dramatic improvement from 2012 onwards because this is when I decided to make art literally every day.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] Here’s a fairly quick chart that shows some random examples of my art style over the past ten years.

2) Draw. Draw. Draw: If you spend a long time trying to search for or artificially create your own art style, then you probably won’t have much luck. Your unique art style slowly emerges from lots and lots of practice.

So, even if you don’t feel like you have much of a style or if you feel that your style doesn’t look very good, keep drawing regularly.

If you just keep drawing and drawing and drawing then, gradually, your own style will start to emerge. It might take a long time, but it’ll happen.

Even if you just try to copy another art style, then lots of repeated practice will probably mean that you’ll gradually start to add your own unique quirks and interpretation to the style (possibly without even noticing it at first). However, you shouldn’t just copy one art style…

3) Steal ruthlessly, and steal widely: Just copying one other art style won’t make your style very unique. It’ll just be an slightly different copy of someone else’s style.

However, when combined with a lot of practice and experimentation, stealing small parts of lots of different art styles will both improve your own style and make it look more unique too.

For example, the way that I currently draw noses in my art was *ahem* partially borrowed from part of Frank Kozik’s excellent cover booklet art for The Offspring’s “Americana” album. The way that I draw people’s collarbones and the bases of people’s necks was *ahem* lifted from an old 1960s “MAD Magazine” cartoon. The way that I draw shiny hair was *ahem* very heavily inspired by various manga comics. The way that I draw people when their eyes are tightly closed was *ahem* appropriated from “South Park”. I could go on for a while……

And yet my art style looks different from each of these styles. Why? Because it’s a unique mixture of parts from lots of different art styles. Each tiny part of it might not be very original on it’s own but, when combined together, they produce something unique and original.

However, don’t do this just for the sake of doing it – only “borrow” something else from another style if you think that it looks cool enough to include in your art. And, more importantly, only borrow general techniques and/or small functional elements of other art styles. Don’t blatantly rip off entire characters etc….


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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