Two Ways To Save Time Whilst Making Art

As regular readers of this site probably know, I’ve had slightly less time to make art over the past few months than I did before (mostly due to all sorts of things, such as doing the reading for the book reviews that appear here, other creative projects etc..). However, I was determined to keep posting daily paintings here, even if this required some fairly major changes.

Or, to put it another way, this is what my paintings look like when I have a bit more time:

“Formation” By C. A. Brown

And this is what they look like when I’ve got slightly less time:

“Tipner Lake – Mist” By C. A. Brown

So, what are the differences and how do they save time?

1) The most time-consuming part of making a painting isn’t what you think: If you’re new to making art, it can be easy to think that the most time-consuming part of making a painting or a drawing is the actual painting or drawing itself. Or perhaps waiting for the paint to dry (unless you’re using oil paint, in which case it possibly is). Surprisingly, this isn’t true.

The most time-consuming part of making a painting is working out what to paint. And, if you’re painting from imagination, then you can sometimes spend just as long thinking of ideas as you do drawing or painting. Yes, this will result in more distinctive, unique and creative paintings that look like this:

“Haunted Mansion” By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Ruins” By C. A. Brown

But, it takes time and, if you’ve got less time and still want to make impressive-looking paintings, then this can be one thing to cut without sacrificing technical quality. But, how do you do this?

There are several ways of doing this (eg: still life paintings, making new versions of your older paintings, making studies of out-of-copyright historical paintings, making non-commercial fan art or making art based on photos you’ve taken). Personally, I seem to have gone for the photo-based approach, since there’s more room for artistic licence- like this:

(Click for larger image) As you can see, the source photo and the finished painting are both similar and different.

Even so, this approach does reduce the amount of creativity you can use in your art. Still, as a way of making ok-looking art in half the time, it can work quite well.

2) Digital is your friend: Simply put, if you’re primarily posting your art on the internet (and aren’t selling physical originals), then it is well worth learning how to use an image editing program or two (there are even free open-source ones on the internet, if you don’t have one).

This doesn’t mean that you should make entirely digital art, but you’d be surprised at, with practice, how much quicker it can be to add colours to scans or digital photos of hand-drawn line art digitally than waiting for paints to dry etc.. Although I’ve found that this approach works best for greyscale art, it can be a great way to trim 10-20 minutes off of a picture if you’re in a real hurry.

Here’s an example of this in one of my upcoming pieces of photo-based art (based on a photo I took of Tipner Lake near Portsmouth) which, if I remember rightly, only took me an hour or so to make.

(Click for larger image) This is an example of how I turned some hand-drawn line art into a greyscale digital painting.

Yes, this will look different to using actual paints (and I often just use digital tools for enhancing/improving my traditional paintings). But, if you’re in a rush and you know what you’re doing, then it can certainly shave a few minutes off of the time it takes you to finish a piece of art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Three Ways To Rush A Comic Update Well

2017-artwork-better-rushed-webcomic-updates

Well, at the time of writing, I’m still busy preparing this year’s Christmas webcomic mini series. Although, annoyingly, I had to rush one or two of the comic updates. But, hopefully, this won’t be too noticeable when they actually appear here in mid-late December.

So, I thought that I’d talk quickly about the good ways to rush a comic update if you have to make one in a hurry. I’ve probably mentioned this stuff before, but I’m also writing this article in something of a rush too.

1) Don’t skimp on the writing:
Generally, audience members are more likely to overlook rushed art than they are to overlook rushed writing. So, if you have to focus on making only one part of your comic update good, then focus on the writing.

After all, if the audience are laughing or thinking because of the dialogue, then they probably aren’t going to notice any hurried parts of the artwork as much.

On the flipside, a comic with a small amount of acceptable-quality dialogue and lots of reasonably good art can also be a good way to make a comic in a hurry.

2) Have a plan: It’s easier to make a comic update in a hurry if you’ve planned it out in advance. After all, one of the huge time sinks when making a comic update is working out what the comic update will actually be about. So, if you have this planned out in advance, then you can get on with making the comic update straight away. So, try to plan as many comic updates as you can in advance.

But, if you don’t have a plan, then either just make some quick filler content (eg: a quick sketch of one of your characters and a brief explanation that you didn’t have time to make a comic) or use something like a previously-established running joke, or possibly make a more art-based comic or something like that.

But, if you have a plan made in advance, then this can be incredibly useful if you have to make a comic update in a rush.

3) Backgrounds: If you have to hurry, background detail should always be the first thing to go. For example, when I was making the comic update that originally inspired this article, my original plan was for the whole comic to be set in an outdoor location. But, since this was a Christmas comic, I realised that this would mean that I’d have to digitally add falling snow to every panel (which is a fairly time-consuming process).

So, I set the first panel in an outdoor location (because the events of the comic required it to be set outdoors), then I just showed the characters returning home in the next panel (and spending the rest of the comic there). This just meant that I had to draw a simple hallway in the background of the rest of the comic, with no snow effects required. Like in this preview:

Yes, this scene was originally supposed to take place outdoors. But, due to time reasons, I used a simple interior location (The full comic update will be posted here on the 23rd December)

Yes, this scene was originally supposed to take place outdoors. But, due to time reasons, I used a simple interior location (The full comic update will be posted here on the 23rd December)

Yes, I had to make a slight change to the punchline of the comic to account for this change of setting – but, surprisingly, this actually improved the comic. Plus, I also saved a ridiculous amount of editing time too 🙂

So, if you have to hurry, then make sure that the first thing you do is to make the backgrounds as undetailed as you can get away with. After all, most of the time, the audience are more focused on the characters, events and dialogue than the backgrounds.

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