In Art, Style Matters As Much As (Or More Than) Substance – A Ramble

Although this is an article about making art, I’m going to have to start by talking briefly about watching a review of a modern computer game (of all things). As usual, there’s a good reason for this that will become relevant later.

A short while before I wrote this article, I ended up watching a cynical game review on Youtube (viewer discretion is advised). Although the game in the review is too modern to run on my computer, the footage of it looks like the coolest thing in the world (eg: a “Blade Runner“-style cyberpunk horror game). But, the reviewer is heavily critical of the experience of actually playing the game since it aparently includes relatively few game-like elements.

This made me think about the subject of “style vs substance”, and – since this is supposed to be an article about making art – I thought that I’d look at how this relates to art.

Unlike games, films or novels – style can often be as important or possibly more important than substance in art.

For a great example of this, just look at a genre of art called “Conceptual Art“. This is a genre of art/sculpture that prioritises meaning over aesthetic concerns…. and it’s terrible! Seriously, the average work of conceptual art often just looks like a pile of random bric-a-brac that has been lazily thrown together in about five minutes.

So, yes, style matters a lot in art. This is why, for example, historical paintings from the middle ages to the 20th century are still revered as great works of art even though the vast majority of people couldn’t care less about the religious stories, historical events and/or people from the past who are depicted in these old paintings. The style of these paintings is appealing, even though most people don’t pay much attention to the substance.

Likewise, another way to prove the value of style in art is to look at a comic written in a language that you don’t speak. Since you can’t understand the dialogue, the only way you can judge the quality of the comic is by looking at the actual art. And, if you keep reading it despite not understanding the dialogue, then that’s usually a sign that the art is of a suitably high quality.

Yet, despite this, substance does matter in art. But, not for the reasons you might expect. Going back to the comic-based example, one of the reasons why a comic can still be compelling even if you don’t understand the dialogue is because the art contains a high level of visual storytelling. So, visual storytelling can be one way to add some “substance” to your art.

Likewise, substance can be a useful thing when it comes to being inspired. Often, when an artist is feeling highly-inspired, it is usually because they have a very interesting idea they want to turn into a painting or a drawing. So, having some “substance” behind your art can be a great way to feel inspired. But, even if you’ve got a good idea, you still have to express it in a visually-appealing way.

For example, the night before I wrote this article, I prepared a digitally-edited painting that will appear here later this month. The painting had a good idea behind it, but it didn’t end up looking as good as I had hoped. Here’s a preview of it:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 29th.

In this painting, I’d planned to paint a 1980s-style rural pub. Although I’d originally planned to depict it in a rather romantic and rose-tinted way, I suddenly realised that it would be a lot more interesting to make a painting that was both warmly reassuring and eerily ominous at the same time. A painting that evoked both the friendly coziness and the dreary, heavy traditionalism of an old-fashioned pub. A painting that showed how these two elements interact with each other and how they are both equally important parts of what makes old pubs so interesting.

But, although I sort of achieved this, I didn’t really do it that well. The emptiness and gloomy lighting ended up tipping the picture slightly more towards the “ominous” side of things than I’d expected. Likewise, I messed up the composition, perspective and shadows slightly too. Whilst it certainly isn’t the worst painting I’ve ever made, the stylistic elements certainly don’t live up to the original idea that I’d had.

Although my painting had an interesting meaning behind it, I messed up how I expressed that meaning. And, as such, the painting suffered as a result.

So, yes, style matters as much as – or more than – substance in art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Art Practice Works! – A Ramble

If you’re new to making art, then it can be easy to feel discouraged. After all, even if you practice regularly, then it can sometimes be difficult to see improvements on a day-to-day basis. But, even though your improvements might be very gradual, you will get better at making art if you keep practicing.

When preparing a remake of an old painting of mine the night before I wrote this article, I was reminded of an amazing quote (from this page) by the webcomic creator Winston Rowntree. Rowntree’s quote is: “Practice is weird: pyhsically, you just do what you’ve always done, except one day you notice it’s resulting in far better artwork.

Never have truer words been spoken!

Anyway, the painting that I had decided to remake was an old painting of mine from 2016. It’s one of my favourite paintings from that year and I’d finally got the push to remake it after realising that I felt too uninspired to think of a good idea for a new painting.

Still, as I began to sketch out my new version of it, I initally started to worry that it wouldn’t look as good as the original. But, as the painting progressed, I suddenly realised how much I’d learnt over the past 1-2 years of daily practice.

I realised how my experiments with limited colour palettes (red, yellow, green, blue and black in this case) in late 2015/early 2016 had – along with some other inspirations – led to the eventual discovery of my current colour palette.

I realised that, 1-2 years ago, I didn’t know some of the digital image editing techniques (eg: for adding rain effects, realistic shading etc..) I use regularly these days. I realised how much the lighting in my art had improved over the past 1-2 years. Here’s a reduced-size preview of the new version of the painting:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is the result of 1-2 years of daily art practice.

So, yes, art practice works. You won’t actually notice improvements happening literally every day, but every extra piece of art that you make will make you a slightly confident and better. And this builds up over time!

One way to think of art practice is that it is like a stalagmite in an underground cave. Whilst an individual droplet of water might not look like it is doing anything to the stalagmite – over time, the mineral deposits from lots of water droplets can result in a really impressive-looking stalagmite.

Yes, art practice can feel more like a marathon than a sprint, but it is important to keep going. Once you’ve been practicing for a while, then even an uninspired painting that you make on a bad day will still look better than the “good” paintings that you made a few months or years ago.

Likewise, your art can also improve in slightly strange ways too. For example, the bulk of the improvements in the comparison I showed you earlier weren’t to the actual drawing itself but to surrounding things like the lighting, colours and shading. So, if it looks like regular practice isn’t improving one part of your art much, then it usually means that another part of your art is improving instead.

But, in summary, regular practice works! It might not work quickly, but it certainly works!

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Two Basic Ways To Use Reference Images When Making Art

If you don’t know what a reference image is, it is any image that an artist uses as a guide when making a different and original piece of art. It can be a photo in a magazine, something on the TV, the results of an online image search etc…

But, before I go any further, I should point out that reference images are NOT something that artists should copy directly! Generally speaking, most reference images are copyrighted. So, unless you own the copyright to the reference image, direct copying isn’t a good idea.

However, although they shouldn’t be copied directly, reference images can still be incredibly useful to artists. But, I should obviously point out that I’m not a copyright lawyer, so any of my comments about copyright shouldn’t be considered legal advice. So, do your own research!

1) Building up a “3D model”: If you are painting a real place or a type of animal or something like that, then it is important to remember that there’s often no rule against drawing or painting such things (Again, I’m not a lawyer, so do your research here – rules do vary from place to place.).

For example, in most jurisdisictions, actual real places can’t be copyrighted (although there are or were some silly exceptions, like – until relatively recently- the Atomium in Belgium or – potentially- the Eiffel tower at night).

However, each individual photograph, piece of footage etc.. of the thing in question is probably covered by copyright. You can’t directly copy, say, a random modern photo of London that you found on the internet. However, you can look at lots of different photos of that same part of London and use the information you’ve gained from them to build up a “3D model” of the location in your mind.

Then, when you aren’t looking at any reference images (to lessen the risk of inadvertant copying), you can then use the “3D model” as a basis for a new and original piece of art that looks different to any of the photos you’ve seen. You can use artistic licence, you can use a perspective that you think looks dramatic etc… The thing to remember here is that whilst individual photos of a place, animal etc… are often copyrighted, the actual things in those photos usually can’t be copyrighted.

For example, a photo of a shark you’ve found online is probably copyrighted. But, this doesn’t mean that no-one else can draw or photograph sharks. It just means that this one specific photo can’t be directly copied.

Of course, this gets a little bit more complicated when it involves – say- photos of a city that include lots of copyrighted art on billboards etc… (and it’s usually a good idea to change these and/or make them generic and indistinct in your art). But, on a basic level, using multiple reference images to build up a mental “3D model” of a location is a really good way to use references.

2) Learning general rules: If you want to make a particular style or genre of art, but have no clue how to do it, then try to find as many images of it as you can on the internet. Watch DVDs and Youtube videos that feature this style of art, read comics that include it and play any computer games that include it. Try to look at as many different example of it as time, money etc… permits.

As you are looking at all of these examples, see what they have in common with each other. Look at the colours, look at the style of lighting, look at the art styles, look for common themes and visual features etc…

For example, if you wanted to make some “film noir”-style art, then you might do an online image search for “film noir”.

This will, no doubt, show you lots of greyscale pictures of people in 1930s-50s style clothing, often in gloomily-lit urban locations. There will be clever use of shadows and silhouettes. There will often be a high level of visual storytelling (eg: people brandishing guns, couples kissing etc..) and the perspective will often heighten the drama in some way. There will be cigarettes, typewriters, whisky bottles, pistols, trench coats and trilby hats aplenty. Almost all of the windows will have blinds instead of curtains. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea……

So, if you wanted to make some “film noir”-style art, then you could just make sure that your art includes some or all of the general elements in this list.

Once you’ve worked out a common set of “rules” that most pieces of art in a particular type follow, then it’s just a simple matter of following these rules when you make your next piece of original art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Very Basic Tips For Learning How To Paint Realistic Shadows/Shading

Well, at the time of writing, I’m experimenting with adding more realistic shadows/shadows to my art. Here’s a reduced-size preview of one of the daily (digitally-edited) paintings that I prepared for next month:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th May.

1) Software can be useful: One of the advantages of using digital tools when making art is that it’s easier to experiment, make mistakes, undo your mistakes and experiment again. This is also true if, like me, you use both traditional and digital materials in your art.

For example, the muted purple shadows in the preview that I showed you earlier were one of a number of elements that I added to a scan of my painting using digital tools (other elements include more realistic skin tones, the dark blue starry sky in the background and my usual adjustments to the brightness/contrast/colour saturation levels).

By adding the shadows digitally, I was able to experiment with different colours until I settled on one that looked realistic (eg: a rather desaturated purple). In addition to this, I was able to experiment more freely with the shapes of the shadows until they started to look at least vaguely realistic.

This allowed me to take the lessons I’d learnt from studying old paintings, looking at reference photographs and from previous experiments with realistic shadows and then try out different things until the picture started to look “right”. Since most image editing programs include an “undo” function, there’s a lot more freedom to make mistakes without worrying about irrevocably ruining your painting. And mistakes are an essential part of the learning process.

2) Think in 3D and look at other examples: I’ve already written about “thinking in 3D” ages ago, but it is an essential skill if you want to add more realistic shadows and shading to your art. If you can think of everything in your painting or drawing as being a 3D model of some kind, then working out which areas the light will and won’t hit becomes much more easy.

Likewise, look at the shadows and shading in lots of photos and see if you can learn any general rules from this. Go online and look for photos, try to work out where the light sources in these photos are (eg: the opposite direction to where any shadows are) and then see how this affects where the shadows are. Likewise, look at the work of other artists and see how they handle shadows. The aim here is to look at as many examples as you can until you start to notice similarities that you can deduce general rules from.

For example, the contours beneath people’s eyebrows will usually be at least slightly gloomier than the surrounding areas since, if you look at this area on your own face, you’ll notice that there is at least a slight recess between your eyebrows and your eyes (since your skull evolved into this shape in order to protect your eyes). Unless you are standing directly in front of or above a light source, then less light is going to reach this area. So, it will look slightly shadowy.

3) It won’t be perfect: Chances are, the shading in the preview at the beginning of this article isn’t perfect. I’ve probably made at least a couple of small mistakes.

Yet, I’m still fairly proud of how this painting turned out for the simple reason that it looks more realistic than the paintings I was making a few days earlier. It also looks at least mildly better than my previous attempt at adding realistic shadows to a painting that I’d made the previous day.

If you’re learning something new, you probably aren’t going to get it right the first time (or even the second, third etc… time). But, this doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it at least slightly better than the last time you tried it. In other words, if it looks good in comparison to your previous painting, then you’re doing it right.

For example, here’s a close-up of the preview and the painting I made the day before. Both of them include attempts at adding more realistic shadows to people’s faces, but the more recent one also includes better shading in the area around the character’s nose.

This is an example of how practice makes perfect, albeit gradually.

So, yes, you will need to practice more than once. But, the thing to remember is that even a barely-noticeable improvement is still an improvement.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Tips For Making Daily Art More Easily

Well, since it’s six years to the day since I made the decision to make a piece of art every day, I thought that I’d talk about daily artwork today. Whilst daily art certainly isn’t for everyone, it does have some really cool benefits – it gets you used to making art, it accelerates your art practice, it reduces perfectionism and it means that you learn how to deal with being uninspired sometimes.

Whilst I’ve almost certainly already talked about how to get started with making daily art (eg: start with smaller pictures, have a “buffer” of pre-made art that you add to daily etc..) I thought that I’d talk about some ways to make making daily art easier, since it can seem like an intimidatingly difficult task if you’ve never done it before.

1) Backup plans: Your imagination probably isn’t “100% reliable”. Sometimes, it won’t work when it should. However, this doesn’t mean that your art schedule can’t be 100% reliable! If you have an array of backup plans for imagination failure, then making art daily will be considerably easier.

These include things like knowing which types of paintings you can make in your sleep (eg: for me, this is landscapes and still life paintings), finding some old out-of-copyright paintings you can make studies of when you aren’t inspired, having several favourite genres of art (in case you get bored with one of them), knowing how to salvage paintings that haven’t worked out well etc…

When you make art every day, don’t expect to produce a masterpiece every day. The important thing when making daily art is to produce (and post) something every day. So, having backup plans that still allow you to produce (lower-quality) art on uninspired days are essential. Not to mention that you’ll pick up more and more sophisticated techniques for doing this as you practice more.

For example, here’s a “low inspiration” picture that I posted here earlier this month:

“Another Metropolis” By C. A. Brown

This is a cyberpunk painting that relies much more heavily than usual on silhouettes and gloomy lighting in order to reduce the amount of fine detail I had to add to the picture. This allowed me to make a piece of daily art when my inspiration, enthusiasm and/or time were running low. Is it the best painting I’ve ever made? No way! Is it better than posting literally nothing? YES!

Best of all, find techniques that can be varied depending on your current inspiration level. For example, here’s another picture of mine that uses gloomier lighting than usual (in order to reduce the area that I have to add detail to).

“Corner” By C. A. Brown

However, since I was feeling more inspired, I was able to increase the size of the detailed area to about 50% of the total surface area of the painting.

2) Materials: Regardless of what the “trendy” artists on the internet are using these days, go for the materials that you feel work best for you. If you are most at ease with drawing with a pencil or ballpoint pen, then use this! If you like using coloured pencils, then use this! If you like making digital art, then use this!

It took me a while to settle on which materials worked best for me. These days, I use a combination of waterproof ink pens, watercolour pencils (pencils that turn into watercolour paint when you go over them with a wet paintbrush), a scanner and a couple of old digital image editing programs. When I started making daily art, I used inking pens, coloured pencils and digital tools (for about two years). So, it’s ok to experiment until you find what works for you.

When choosing materials, go for a balance between practicality, cost and aesthetics. If you’re making art every day, then your materials need to be practical enough to use every day (and possibly portable too). You’re going to burn through art supplies more quickly if you’re making art every day, so go for ones that won’t break the bank. But, at the same time, go for art supplies that make your art look like something that you want to make more of.

3) Rationing: When I started making daily art, I used to produce as many pictures as I could every day. It was new, exciting and interesting. But, whilst this helped me to build up a “buffer” of art, it isn’t a good long-term strategy. And, yes, daily art is a long-term thing. It’s a marathon, rather than a sprint.

So, set limits on how much art you make every day. In my case, this is usually one painting per day. Making one painting a day means that, on inspired days, I’m excited to make art the next day. And, during uninspired times, it means that I’ll only end up making 1-7 low-quality uninspired pictures rather than the much larger number I would make if I pushed myself to make as much art as possible. It preserves inspiration and limits the damage caused by uninspiration.

It also stops you overloading yourself too. Since making daily art will quickly become an ordinary part of your daily routine, it needs to be something that you can actually do every day. So, carefully ration the amount of art you make every day or limit the amount of time you spend making art every day. Although it might sound counter-intuitive, having some kind or rationing means that you’ll be able to make more art for longer.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Two Basic Tips For Making Art That Is Distinctly “You”

The afternoon before I wrote this article, I was preparing one of March’s daily art posts. To say that I was feeling uninspired was something of an understatement, but I was determined to keep up with my art schedule nonetheless. So, in the end, I made a digitally-edited painting – here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 12th March.

At the time, it just felt like I’d made a “generic” painting (even after using a mildly different colour scheme to my usual one). But, the more that I thought about it, the more that I realised that even though I probably see this painting as being “generic”, “under-detailed” etc.. it probably looks distinctively like the kind of painting I would make.

There’s the high-contrast lighting (eg: a technique involving covering 30-70% of the total area of the painting with black paint to make the lighting stand out by comparison, used by everyone from Caravaggio to 1980s heavy metal album cover artists), there’s the influence from classic 1980s/90s sci-fi, there are CRT monitors and retro fashions, there’s my usual drawing style, there’s the slightly limited colour palette, there are the usual digital effects etc.. It’s certainly not my best painting, but at least it still looks like one of my paintings.

So, I thought that I’d give you two basic tips about how to do something like this yourself – how to make art that looks and feels like it is distinctively “your” kind of art:

1) Take inspiration!: First of all, it is important to know how to take inspiration properly. So, here’s how to do it:

First of all, work out what the general (non-copyrightable) elements of the thing you’re taking inspiration from are. Although I’m not a copyright lawyer, it is a general principle (in most copyright laws) that copyright only protects highly-specific details rather than ideas, concepts etc.. For example, the concept of “a grey spaceship” can’t be copyrighted, but the exact visual design of the USS Enterprise, Millennium Falcon etc.. can be copyrighted.

Then, once you’ve done this, try working out what visual “rules” your inspiration follows (eg: lighting, colour choices, compositional techniques etc…). Then, once you know what the general elements and visual rules are, taking inspiration means doing something new and different (eg: not an exact copy of all or part of the inspiration) with that information. But, of course, you shouldn’t have just one inspiration.

One common misconception amongst people who are just getting into making art is that their own type of art has to be completely and utterly different from everything that has ever been made before. This is, as you might have guessed, a completely impossible thing. Even if you don’t consciously try to take inspiration from other things, you’re going to do it unconsciously. The thing to remember here is that “originality” comes from having a unique mixture of many different inspirations and not from never taking inspiration.

On the flip side, another problem with people who are just getting into art is that they can spend too much time directly copying things (eg: making fan art). You won’t be able to make art that is distinctly “you” if you do this. You’ll just end up making second-rate copies of other things.

As I mentioned before, there’s a difference between copying and taking inspiration. Taking inspiration requires you to use your imagination and, yes, this is something that will need to be exercised regularly and fed with as many inspirations as you can find if you want to turn it into something interesting and distinctive. Using and improving your imagination is harder than just copying things, but it results in much more unique artwork.

Taking inspiration is key to finding your own distinctive “type” of art. Taking inspiration from lots of different art styles will help you find your own art style. Taking inspiration from things that look cool (eg: working out what “rules” they follow and then using those rules in new ways) will help your own art to look cool. The more cool things you find to take inspiration from, the more you’ll be able to come up with your own “uniquely cool” type of art and, more importantly, the more you’ll be able to apply this style to things in different genres to your inspirations.

Taking inspiration will also help you to work out what colour combinations, lighting styles etc.. you like to use the most. As ironic as it sounds, you can’t make your own unique art without taking inspiration.

2) Practice. Practice. Practice!: You won’t find your own unique “type” of art instantly. You might think that you’ve found it but, a couple of years later, you’ll look back and think “my art used to look like THAT?!?!“.

However experienced you are, you will always have moments like this every year or two. Your own type of art is something that will be constantly changing and refining itself slowly over time. This is a good thing, it means that you are developing as an artist.

To give you an example, here is what my own “type” of art looked like on a good day in 2014 (after 1-2 years of daily art practice):

“Ravens” By C. A. Brown [ MAY 2014]

And here’s a more recent example of my “type” of art (made on a bad day, when I was totally uninspired). As well as looking at least marginally better than the “good” picture from 2014, it also has a very different “look” to it too. Practice works!

“Station 76” By C.A. Brown

But this can only happen if you practice. It can only happen if you keep making art. If you tell yourself that, regardless of how good or bad it looks, you are going to make a piece of art every day/three days/ week/month etc…

Regular practice not only helps you to become more skilled and confident as an artist, it also forces you to regularly come up with new ideas for paintings or drawings. Yes, this is difficult to do at first, but it is important because it forces you to get to know your own imagination. To learn what kinds of art feel best to make, what subject matter you prefer to include in your art, what type of emotional tone you want your art to have etc…

It also forces you to experiment occasionally and learn new things for the simple reason that making the same type of art over and over again can quickly get boring. It makes you focus on different sources of inspiration every now and then, helping you to discern what you do and don’t want to be a part of your own type of art. It’s just incredibly good for your artistic development.

So, practice often and take inspiration regularly and you’ll find your own “type” of art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Tips For Finding Artistic Knowledge (That Can’t Be Found Online)

During a rather long series of thoughts I had the day before I wrote this article, one intriguing phrase appeared in my mind quite often – “knowledge that cannot be found on the internet“. The phrase sounded mysterious enough to fascinate me – but, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it probably applies to most artists in some way or another.

After all, aside from more basic things, there isn’t usually a tutorial online for the exact specific thing that you want to draw or paint. Usually, if you want to learn how to do something new, the internet can only often help in the most indirect of ways. So how do you learn how to do something artistic if there isn’t a specific online guide for it?

Here are a few tips:

1) Learn the basics (then extrapolate): One of the best ways to work out how to do something on your own is to have a basic knowledge of the theory of art and to have some basic art skills. No, this doesn’t mean that you have to have gone to art school (I haven’t) or even have a particularly advanced level of artistic skill. But, the more theory you know and the more skills you have, the easier it will be to work out how to do things that aren’t explained in online guides.

Why? Because you’ll be able to see which “rules” the thing you want to make follows. For example, if you see a really cool-looking piece of art and you want to make something in a similar style, but can’t find any guides online, then knowing some basic theory and having some basic skills can help in a number of ways, including….

Knowledge of different art mediums will allow you to guess which tools the artist used. And to find the closest available thing to it that you have.

Knowledge of colour theory will allow you to work out that colour palette that the artist used, and why it “works” so well. Likewise, it’ll allow you to see the relationship between the colours in the picture too (eg: does the artist use one or more complementary colour pairs? etc..).

Knowing how to copy from sight alone will allow you to make private studies and reconstructions of the artwork in question, which might give you an insight into some of the techniques the artist used, and why they used them. You can then use those techniques in new and different ways for your own original art.

Knowledge about how lighting is often relative (eg: something can be dark, but still appear bright when placed next to something even darker) can help you to work out how the artist gave their picture a particular “look” (eg: vivid, muted etc..) and how to use similar techniques in your own original art.

I could go on for a while, but the more theory you know and the more skills that you have, the easier it is to work out how to do things that aren’t explicitly spelled out for you in an online guide.

2) Observation (and study): If there isn’t a specific online guide for how to draw something, then start by looking at as many pictures of it as you can (in books, online etc..).

However, unless you own the copyright to the images, then you shouldn’t directly copy any of the images that you see.

Instead, your goal is to see as many different pictures of the thing in question from as many different angles and perspectives as possible. To break the object in question down into it’s most basic shapes and outlines. To see what visual features all of the pictures have in common and to build up a “3D model” of the thing in question inside your mind.

The more different pictures of the same thing that you see, the easier it will be for you to work out the basic principles of how to draw or paint it. Then you can use the “3D model” as the basis for a new and original piece of art.

3) Trial and error: If you really want to learn how to draw or paint something that isn’t explained in any online guide, then sometimes the best way to do it is simply through good old fashioned trial and error. Even if the results aren’t perfect, then at least you’ll be closer to achieving what you want than if you didn’t try.

Genrally, if an impressive piece of art or an interesting style of art exists, then that means that it (and more importantly, art in a similar style/traditon as it) can be made. After all, someone has already made it. So, there has to be a solution to the puzzle of how to make it.

It’s kind of like how, in old first-person shooter computer games from the early-mid 1990s, the player would often end up “stuck” in challenging situations. Yet, because these games were often designed to be fair, there was almost always some way or another, some tactic or stratagem that the player could use to progress, even if it took a lot of thought and a lot of failed attempts. If you play enough of these games (modern fan-made levels for “Doom II” are probably a good place to start), then they can really improve your attitude towards trial and error in other areas, such as making art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂