Two Things That Remaking Your Old Art Will Show You (Apart From Your Skill Level)

2017-artwork-two-other-things-remaking-art-teaches-you

For today, I thought that I’d look at a few things (other than improvements in your skill level) that making new versions of your older works of art will show you. For best results, it’s usually a good idea to wait until a piece of art is at least 1-2 years old before attempting to create a new version of it.

So, here are two other things than how much better you’ve got at making art that remaking your old art can show you:

1) Your influences: Whilst writing yesterday’s article, I went looking for a painting that I remembered making in 2015. When I saw this painting, I just had to remake it. But, something interesting happened when I did…

Here’s the painting from 2015:

"Data Tower" By C. A. Brown [2015]

“Data Tower” By C. A. Brown [2015]

And here’s a reduced-size preview of the new version, which will be posted here in December:

This is a reduced-sized preview, the full-size painting will appear here on the 17th December.

This is a reduced-sized preview, the full-size painting will appear here on the 17th December.

As you can tell, both versions look radically different. This is mostly because of all of the extra inspirations I’ve found in the time between making these paintings.

When I made the original painting in 2015, the two main influences were “Blade Runner” and a game called “Dark Forces“. But, when I made the remake, I’d also been influenced by other things in the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre like these “Doom II” levels, “System Shock“, “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex“, “Technobabylon” etc… too.

So, remaking an old painting in your current style can be a great way to see how many extra influences you’ve picked up.

2) Your best works: Generally speaking, you can find out a lot about what your “greatest hits” are by seeing which of your old paintings or drawings you really want to remake.

Whilst everyone’s motivations for remaking a piece of art might differ, it often happens because you want to see what one of your favourite pictures looks like at the highest level of quality that you can produce. In other words, you probably want to see a clearer picture of what you really wanted to draw when you had less experience.

This can be a good way to find a group of paintings or drawings you can show off if you ever need to give a brief overview of your art to anyone. Seeing which paintings you’ve remade (or want to remake) can be a quick way to find your own collection of “classics”.

Likewise, if you try to remake a picture and find that any remake doesn’t look as good as the original does, then this is usually a sign that the original is one of your best works because it has stood the test of time (although it can sometimes mean that you need to wait longer before remaking it). For example, here’s a painting of mine called “La Chanteuse” that was posted here in 2016:

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown [2016]

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown [2016]

I really like this painting! It’s dramatic, gothic and atmospheric. So, naturally, I tried to remake it about a year or so later. The remake was an absolute failure – although the lighting looks slightly more realistic and the characters are more well-drawn on a technical level, the remake just really doesn’t have the same atmosphere and ambience that the original did:

"La Chanteuse (II)" By C. A. Brown

“La Chanteuse (II)” By C. A. Brown

So, if you really want to remake a painting and/or if the remake doesn’t turn out as well as the original, then this usually means that it’s one of your best works.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Four Basic Ways To Recycle A Webcomic Story Arc

2017 Artwork Recycling story arcs article sketch

Well, although it won’t appear here until early June, I started making another webcomic mini series shortly after finishing the first draft of this article.

This mini series will be slightly similar to an older webcomic story arc of mine from 2013(which can be seen here, here and here). Here’s a preview of the new mini series:

The mini series should start appearing here in very early June.

The mini series should start appearing here in very early June.

Since this could potentially be one of the closest things I’ve done to remaking my old comics in quite a while, I thought that I’d talk about several of the ways that you can recycle your old comics into new ones.

1) Keep the premise, ditch everything else: One of the best ways to keep a remake of one of your older comic updates or story arcs fresh is to keep the basic premise of it but change everything else. If your story arc revolved around your characters visiting somewhere then keep the location the same but change what happens there.

If your previous story arc was from a few years ago, then set your current story arc in the present day. If you’ve introduced new characters since you finished the old story arc, then add them to the new version of it (if it works in context, of course).

Basically, keep the basic theme or premise, but change almost everything else.

2) Add a full story, or don’t: The simplest way to make a webcomic story arc is just to place your characters in an unusual situation and see what happens. Sometimes, this can lead to a detailed and continuous story, sometimes this can lead to a collection of stand-alone comics that only have a few things in common with each other.

If you’re remaking something like this, then just do the opposite of what you did the first time round. Or don’t, if the original structure went really well. But, try to change the pacing or the panel layouts or something like that.

3) Time gaps and clean reboots: First of all, don’t assume that your readers have read the old story arc that you’re recycling.

If your webcomic has been going for long enough to merit recycling a story arc, then it’s likely that you’ll have picked up new readers who won’t have the time to read every old update. In other words, either make every update of your new story arc totally self contained, or make sure that all of the updates in your new arc tell a totally new self-contained story.

Yes, this might have an effect on the continuity of your webcomic (eg: a character seemingly encountering the same situation for the first time twice etc…) but this can often be covered over by either distracting members of the audience with a few subtle references to the old story arc, or by making the moments in question especially funny and/or dramatic.

4) The obvious way: If you need to take a break from planning comics and you want a quick webcomic project, then you could always just do a “traditional” remake where you do literally nothing more than update the art and streamline the writing slightly.

This obviously works best when it happens in webcomics that don’t tell one continuous story, when your remake is openly declared to be a remake and where the old story arc is old enough that there’s an immediately noticeable difference in art quality.

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Sorry for the short and basic article, but I hope it was useful 🙂