Although I might possibly have written about this topic before, I thought that I’d look at how to make art that you consider to be “cool”. Even though this may seem like an absolute no-brainer, making cool pieces of original art and coming up with an art style that you consider to be cool can be a bit more challenging than it might sound.
I mean, although I’ve been practicing art regularly for about about 4-5 years, it was only within the past year or two that I finally settled on a version of my own art style that I consider to be really cool. To show you what I mean, here are a few of my paintings in different genres:
So, how can you make the kind of art that makes you think “Wow! That looks really cool!”
1) Commonality: Chances are, there are probably lots of different things that you consider to be cool (eg: movies, games, comics etc..). If you want to make art that is as cool as all of these things, then you need to take a careful look at your inspirations and see what they all have in common with each other. Once you’ve found this, then you can use it to create cool original artwork.
To give you an example, some of the things that I consider to be cool are the cyberpunk genre, heavy metal album covers, film noir, gothic comics, the classic “Doom” games, sci-fi horror movies, vintage 1950s horror comics, 1980s horror novel covers etc..
One of the visual features that all of these things have in common is their attitude towards lighting. Often, they’ll be set at night or in gloomier locations in order to make the lighting stand out a lot more, or they’ll use bold colours contrasted against a dark backdrop. From this, I was able to refine my frequently-mentioned rule of “30-50% of each painting should be consist of black paint” which helped to make my artwork look cooler.
So, look at the things that you consider cool and see if they share any common “rules” with each other. Once you’ve found those rules, then apply them to your own art.
2) Inspirations: Often, if you really want to make “cool” art but don’t know how, then this means that you don’t have enough inspirations yet. Even if you don’t have a large budget for comics, games, DVDs etc… then you can still find lots of visual inspirations right now by doing a general image search for the types of things that you consider to be cool.
For example, if you absolutely adore the retro-futuristic look of a classic movie like “Blade Runner“, then don’t just do an image search for “Blade Runner”. Instead, use a slightly wider search term like “sci-fi film noir”, “1980s cyberpunk” etc…
One of the benefits of doing a more general image search is that, because you’ll be confronted with literally hundreds of totally different “cool” images, you won’t be disproportionately influenced by any one image. Just remember the difference between inspiration and plagiarism though.
Generally, the more inspirations you have, the more distinctive, original and cool your artwork will look. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true.
If you only have a couple of inspirations, then your artwork is probably just going to be a thinly-disguised copy of those things. But, if you have lots of inspirations, then your artwork probably won’t be a copy of any one thing. It’s kind of like the difference between repeating sentences from a phrasebook and learning a language.
3) Practice and study: This almost goes without saying, but you actually need to practice if you want to make cool art. Likewise, whenever you see something cool, you need to take a close look at it and work out how and why it looks cool.
Look at the techniques that the artist used (and experiment with them), look at the colour combinations that are common (and experiment with them) etc… I’m sure that you get the idea.
Going from making art that you think is “ok” to making art that you think is cool isn’t something that happens instantly. It takes practice, study and experimentation. Yes, this sounds boring – but it also means that you’ll get to look at lots of cool stuff and to regularly make art that will slowly become cooler and cooler as time progresses. So, enjoy it 🙂
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂