Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about how to find your own unique artistic interpretation of a particular genre (eg: science fiction, horror, romance etc..). This is a subtly different thing to finding your own art style, since two artists can have very different interpretations of the same genre, whilst also using similar art styles.
To give you a non-art related example of what I’m talking about, I’ve been going through a cyberpunk computer game phase recently, where I’ve been playing two classic PC games – “System Shock” (1994) and “Deus Ex” (2000). Or, rather, I’m about one and a half levels into “System Shock” and I’m about the same distance (or slightly more) into “Deus Ex” too.
The interesting thing about these two games is that they have at least a couple of common inspirations – both of them seem to take at least some inspiration from “Blade Runner” and “Neuromancer“, the defining film and novel (respectively) of the cyberpunk genre. The protagonists of both games are also cybernetically-enhanced humans.
However, despite having a lot in common, they both interpret the same genre (using similar influences) in radically different ways. “System Shock” goes down a more “classic” route, with surreal-looking “cyberspace” areas, spaceships, Borg-like robots, mutants etc… with some gory horror elements too. Whereas, “Deus Ex” goes in a somewhat more gritty, ‘realistic’ and dystopian direction. Here’s a screenshot from each game to show you what I mean:
Now, compare these games to two cyberpunk “point and click” games called “Gemini Rue” and “Beneath A Steel Sky” (screenshots in the linked reviews). All four games are in the exact same thematic genre (and both “Gemini Rue” and “Beneath A Steel Sky” use similar art and gameplay styles), but they are all clearly very different from each other.
Hopefully, this long-winded and nerdy example has shown you what I mean about interpreting the same genre in different ways. So, how can you find your own interpretation of a particular genre?
The first thing is to get to know the genre. Read, look at and watch as many things in the genre as possible. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself “What visual elements of this genre do I REALLY love? What are the coolest-looking things in this genre?“. Then learn how to draw or paint things like this – through observation, experimentation and practice.
If you have to, start by precisely copying specific things when practicing. But, also learn how to draw more general things of this type too (to use as a basis for your own designs) – so that your final artwork will be original, rather than just a copy.
For example, if you really like the Tyrell Building from “Blade Runner” (Best. Fictional. Building. Ever! :)) then you could start practicing by drawing a copy of the building from a photo. However, since your final art is going to be original, you need to look at the building in more general terms. At it’s most basic level, what is this building? It’s a giant pyramid and/or a giant trapezoid. So, learn how to draw pyramids and trapezoids, and then create your own original futuristic buildings that use this general shape.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t research a genre too much- then just remember what you have seen and see which parts of it really stick in your memory. Try to work out a way to draw these specific things, and then to draw more general versions of these things (which you can use as a basis for more original designs).
Likewise, pay attention to things like lighting, shading, colour choices, fashions and themes within a genre. Decide what your favourite ones are, then reduce them to their most basic and general elements, before using this as a basis for your own original designs.
Once you’ve repeated this process enough times, then you will have found your own unique artistic interpretation of a particular genre.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂