Although I’ve probably talked about this before, I thought that I’d take a look at the subject of remaking your old art. There are a lot of reasons why this can sometimes be a good idea – it’s a quick source of ideas when you’re feeling uninspired, it’s a way to see how much your art skills have improved etc… but it’s something that every artist should do every now and then.
Still, if you haven’t really done it before, then I thought that I’d provide you with a few handy tips:
1) Don’t be afraid to make changes: When you’re remaking an old painting, then don’t try to copy it verbatim. Keep the basic “idea” of the painting and try to replicate any distinctive features of the painting but, when it comes to things like perspective, composition, colour schemes, lighting, small details etc… don’t be afraid to make a few changes. Treat it as a totally new painting, but one which you have a few guidelines for.
Remember, the whole point of a remake is to show off (if only to yourself) how much your art has improved or changed since you made the original painting.
Sometimes, these changes will work out and sometimes they won’t- but the best kind of remakes generally tend to preserve the basic core of the original thing, whilst also making a lot of interesting changes too. When this actually goes well, you can really end up surprising yourself.
For example, here’s a horror-themed painting of mine that was posted here early last year:
This is one of my favourite “recent” old paintings and it was one that I’ve wanted to remake for a while.
But, when I eventually got round to remaking it, I found that the improved remake actually looked very different. Although the full painting won’t be posted here until mid-late April, here’s a reduced-size preview of it:
As you can probably tell, I spontaneously ended up using a different perspective (since it seemed like a good idea). I also used a larger colour palette (since the original painting was made at the very beginning of my “limited palette” phase). But, most of all, I was able to apply all of the new knowledge about realistic shading, digital editing techniques etc.. that I’d learnt since I made the original painting.
2) Give it some time: If I remember rightly, the last time I wrote about remaking old art, I said that you should wait at least a year until you remake an old piece of art.
Thinking about it more, this time limit is possibly a bit excessive. I mean, since I make my art ridiculously far in advance, the was actually only about a ten-month gap between the times I actually made the two paintings that I showed you earlier (even if they will be posted here more than a year apart).
Still, you should probably wait at least six months, if not more, before remaking your old art. This is mostly because you need to give yourself time to practice and learn more than you did when you made the original painting. But, if a mildly old piece of art interests you enough to warrant a remake, then don’t hold yourself to arbitrary time limits.
One of the reasons why remakes are so interesting is because they show how much you’ve improved – so, give yourself time to improve!
3) Start from the source: If you’re remaking a painting that is based on something else (eg: a fan art painting, a study of an old painting, a painting from a photograph, a still life etc..), then go back to the original source material when making your remake. Don’t base your remake on your old painting or drawing, base it on the thing that that drawing or painting is based on instead.
The reason for this is that, since you’ve learnt more, you’ll probably be able to copy the source material with a greater degree of detail, accuracy and/or intelligent artistic licence than you did when you made your old painting. However, if you only base your remake on the old painting, then you will be limited to copying whatever you could copy back then.
To give you an example, here’s an old fan art painting (itself a remake) that is based on a live music video from the 1980s. I originally posted this picture here in 2015:
And here’s a reduced-size preview of a new remake that should be posted here in a couple of days. This remake was made by looking at the music video again and treating the remake as a totally new painting:
As you can see, I was able to include a lot more complex lighting and detail than I was in the remake from 2015. This was because I based my new remake on the original source material, rather than just copying the previous one. So, always go back to the source material if you’re remaking art that is based on something else.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂