No king rules forever, my son.
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My name is Lily. 19 years old.
Zul'jin US

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a whole bunch of artwork advice

ALRIGHT, here’s a post I’ve been meaning to make for quite a while. Ahead is just a bunch of tips and advice that I’ve picked up over time. I’m no professional and I still have a ton to learn, but I hope you can benefit from this regardless!

also, sorry for the formality of the fancy graphics, there are some cool people who know how to make things look organized without using these types of things but sadly i am not one of them.

Often, I’ll hear an artist say something like, “I want to draw (insert subject here), but I don’t know how to draw girls!” 

Never be deterred from drawing something because you don’t know how to draw it. If you don’t know how to draw a girl, look up some references, and start learning how to draw girls. You’re not going to learn anything by sitting around and saying you want to draw something but you can’t. If you only draw things you are comfortable with drawing, you won’t grow as an artist. 

Challenge yourself! Draw something you’ve never drawn before. Sure, the first time it’s going to probably not be very good. But then try it again. And again. Remember, there is no where to go but up, so as long as you practice you will only get better at it. 

(the rest under the cut!)

Look at where you are. You’re on the internet. The most expansive library of information (and porn) on the planet. Use it to your advantage.

One thing I like to do when I’m bored is look at tutorials. If you have some free time, look at tutorials. One time I talked to a person and they were asking how to draw something and I recommended that they look up a tutorial and they quickly replied, “NO WAY! Using a tutorial is cheating!”

Spoiler alert: It’s not cheating. If using a tutorial is cheating, then asking your teacher for help on a problem you don’t understand is cheating.

Tutorials are free information (most of them, anyway.) Learn from someone else’s knowledge on a particular subject! They put the information there for you to read and learn from.

Use references, as well! If you aren’t sure how to draw something, look it up. Trust me, if you have no idea how to draw a refrigerator, you will probably draw it 400% better with a reference. 

"WHAT?! That person is 13 AND draws better than me?! I quit!"

No. Stop. Stop right there.

I used to have a huge problem with this. If someone was younger than me and drew better, I’d fall into a art slump that would last for weeks. It was really, really stupid. 

But then eventually I realized how dumb I was being. I expected myself to be the best artist at my age in the world. Now if you think about that, it’s exceedingly silly. No matter how good you are, there is always going to be someone better than you. But that is no reason to quit drawing. 

Stop paying attention to other people. Don’t set goals to “be better than ____” or “be as good as ____ by the time I’m ___ years old.”

Draw for yourself. Don’t draw to be better than someone. Draw because you love to draw. Set goals that aren’t about beating other people. Trust me, once you start doing this you’ll be much more content as an artist, and you’ll improve faster.

Jealousy is still a very strong emotion and is hard to get rid of. The key is to channel that feeling into other emotions. Don’t be jealous, be proud. That person is only 16 and draws like a professional. Wow. They’ve probably worked so hard to get there, I’m so proud of them. Leave a comment on their page about how impressed you are that they have such a high level of talent. Start following their works. Trust me, not a single artist wants to make another artist feel bad about their work. When you show them that you appreciate their skill, they probably appreciate that you appreciate it 1000x more than you do. You might even make a friend. Kindness goes a long, long way.

Not feeling very inspired? Have no ideas to draw? Look around you. Scroll through your Tumblr dashboard. There are so many ideas, you just have to look for them.

Take an idea shown in an image and utilize it in a different way.

For example, one day I saw this image on my dashboard:


and it gave me the inspiration to draw this:

Now the final image looks like a huge deviation from the original, but that’s how its suppose to work. I got two ideas from the original image: a skeleton, and nature. I used these ideas as well as some other things I wanted to include on my own (being a 3D effect, some neon blood, and mabel from gravity falls)

The idea isn’t to take an image and make a copy of it. It’s to derive some basic ideas from it and use them in a piece.

For some more examples, I’m just going to pick up my camera and take a picture of a few things and make a sketch from the general idea.

(click to make the 2nd one bigger)

i whipped up both in around 5 minutes. drawing was easy because after finding an idea i knew exactly what i wanted to do.

For the first one, the elements I took from the object were “bottles and stars”. Generally bottles have liquid in them, so i threw in a merman.

For the second, the idea I got was “a girl on a patch of land.” and that’s what I drew. By taking small elements from images or objects and letting your imagination play with them, you can come up with an idea all your own.

One thing I found really helpful was drawing in different styles. Try drawing in the style of your favorite cartoon, or your friend.

Versatility is infinitely useful to an artist. Not only that, but it’s fun to be able to draw in other styles whenever you want.

But what is most important about trying different styles is to help you grasp anatomy and poses. When you are taken out of your own style (your comfort zone), your skills are thrown out of whack! It’s tough adapting your knowledge of anatomy to another style, but by doing that you are reinforcing what you already know. Try drawing in your friend’s styles, it’s both fun and your friend will get a kick out of it!

This is something I wish was rammed into my head during my early days of art. BACKGROUNDS ARE IMPORTANT!!!! I’m not just talking scenery, but anything that you put around the subject to compliment it.

Having good knowledge of a subject’s relation to it’s surroundings is a VERY VALUABLE skill. It’s one thing to draw a character and put a tree behind them. It’s another thing to make it look like the character is actually in the environment. 

I’ll use one of my pieces to express how much background can compliment an artwork.

Ah. Yep. That sure is a homestuck troll. Kind of boring, isn’t it? Let me make the background visible.

Woah! That catches your eye a lot easier.

Now the character alone probably did look like it needed a background because I drew her with the background already in mind (which means i reflected the surrounding colors on her in certain places.) You also have to keep that in mind when drawing a piece with a background. Don’t start planning a background AFTER you draw the character. Make sure you already have a background planned out before you even start sketching, and think of ways you can make it look like the character belongs to the environment (the way I did it there other than reflecting colors on the subject was putting leaves in front of her.)

Very, very important!! Having a group of people that you enjoy drawing with and who enjoy looking at your work goes a very long way.

I’m not limiting this to any certain kinds of groups. Join the art club at school, join a roleplay on tumblr, check out some dA groups, start an independent group with your friend circle, anything. Just do something that will require or inspire you to produce work.

Not only will you create more art, but you will meet people who have the same passion as you. I’m sure everyone reading this has friends, but having a lot of friends in the art scene is especially fun and helpful! Not only can they pass on word of other art-related things to you, but they can help critique your work and pass on ideas.

There is nothing wrong with observing artist’s works, and trying a technique they did. In fact, that is an excellent way to improve and help you find your own style. What IS wrong is only studying one artist’s style and copying their works piece by piece, so that essentially your style is their style, but not as good.

Stop! Don’t do that! You will never draw someone’s style better than they can draw it themselves, so don’t try. No matter how wonderful and fantastic you find another artist’s work, DO NOT COPY THEIR STYLE! Take bits and pieces, then move on to the next inspiring artist and observe their works as well. Staying stuck worshiping the same artist and trying to create works just like them is bad. It hinders you from developing your own style and can be damaging to other elements of your artwork. It’s almost sad how often I see this happen to aspiring artists.

If you have an idea for a project, start it! Whether it be a group on deviantArt or gijinkas of all the Pokemon, just go ahead and do it! When you have the initiative to do something like that, take advantage of it. Inspiration is a valuable thing, and it’s too good to be wasted just because you don’t think you’ll finish or you don’t think you’ll be good enough. 

It’s perfectly fine to not finish a project. In fact, most projects go unfinished. Though it’s great to get it done (and beneficial in many ways), don’t feel bad if you just lose all inspiration to finish a project. But chances are, that unfinished project will pave the way for another project. And that for another. And each time, you’ll probably get closer and closer to finishing until you finally settle on one you like and you DO finish it.

And if you’re not one to start a project yourself, join in on a project. There is always something going on that will need artists. Ask around, or start something with your friends. And be willing to think outside the box! No matter what, it will probably benefit you in some way. (You wouldn’t be able to tell, but I was once an artist on a petsite! It really helped me out with drawing objects and scenery.)

But also, don’t get roped into something that you don’t want to do. Your time is valuable, and don’t waste it on something you don’t like. If someone approaches you and asks you to draw an image for free and you don’t want to do it, decline. If they give you a hard time about it, they aren’t worth it. No respectable person would get angry at an artist for wanting to create work without some kind of compensation.

A fun thing to do when you don’t have many ideas is to redraw some old works. But don’t redraw it exactly as it was, move some elements around and improve on the idea. The point is to see how much you’ve learned, not how good you can copy the work into your current style.

This helps a lot to get out of art block as well, when you see how much you’ve improved you can get a lot of inspiration! 

A lot of artists feel bad about posting their art. Maybe they think it isn’t as good as what everyone will expect, or isn’t worth it. Wrong! If you want to share your work, do it everywhere possible. Join art sites, join forums, do anything and get your work out there. YOU worked hard to create it, so don’t feel bad about showing it around! Publicity is valuable for an artist, and you shouldn’t feel bad about wanting it. And shame on anyone that criticizes you for doing so.

Of course, though sharing and being proud of your work is good, don’t get conceited. If someone has a critique, remember it and thank them! No matter how good you are, there will always be something you need to improve on.

Music absolutely works wonders when it comes to getting inspired. Though it’s okay to have a favorite type of music or favorite band, don’t be afraid to explore other genres! And for goodness sake, don’t say that any of them ‘suck’.  All genres have good and bad, and by saying you won’t listen to any songs from a certain genre is just being closed-minded.

Ask your friends for their favorite music. Search up your favorite song on youtube and just start clicking through related videos. Search up OSTs from your favorite shows or video games. Start listening to a certain genre in a different language. You never want your music to start ‘getting old’, so make sure you have lots and lots to listen to.

A good challenge is to listen to music, and to draw a piece that you feel embodies the song. 

Drawing comics are an amazing way to improve. I’m not saying you should start a series or something, but every once in a while try to draw a comic page. Because comics are essentially visual stories, you’ll have to practice a lot of the basic elements of art to make your comic convey what you want to. Comics require tons of knowledge in posing, composition, expression, and more. By drawing them, you’re practicing all of these all at once! Go check out your favorite comics/manga and look at the panels, and see how the author conveys the subject’s ideas and actions. You’ll be surprised at how much skill is needed into making a good comic.

Though this somewhat deviates from the field of solely artistic advice, be nice. Always. You never know what kind of opportunities will open for you if you are kind. You’ll make tons of friends and the only people who won’t like you are the people who dislike you for having so many friends (haha).

Besides, there really is no need to be an asshole. If you have something to say, there is always a way to say it kindly. If you’re wrong about something, admit defeat and move on. There is no use fighting about it. Being mean is so unnecessary, so just don’t do it. If someone is acting like an absolute ass to you, just still be nice to them. They’ll calm down, and will probably end up feeling bad that they were so douchey to you in the first place.

And a note on this topic as well, if someone has something mean to say about your work, ignore them. Chances are they’re 1. jealous or 2. just an asshole. The people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind.

In life, nothing is certain but death and artblock. Every artist will have an artblock, and chances are if you’re reading this that you’ve already had a lot of them. And it’s true, art block simply sucks ass. But, what sucks even more ass is not improving.

When you have an art block, you have to fight your way out of it. There’s no way it’s taking over without a fight. Just open a canvas and start drawing. Pull out a piece of paper and start sketching. Fill up every little nook and cranny on the canvas with SOMETHING. There is no other way to get out of art block than to draw. Even if it feels like a chore, it’s for your own good. The bit of suffering you have to endure to get out of the block is nothing compared to the amount of suffering you’ll experience if you just let the artblock sit.

Browse artwork sharing sites. Follow art blogs on tumblr. Go to art museums. Just… ART. You won’t be able to grow as an artist unless you’re exposed to many types of art. Even if you think you’re wasting time by just perusing other people’s work, you’re NOT. In your head, you’re learning. You’re picking up tiny details in the art. It’s just like if a chef goes around trying different meals from all over the country- he’s going to mentally note what made something taste good and what doesn’t. And a chef can’t be a good chef unless he tries lots and lots of food.

And plus, it’s not like this is a chore. Looking at art is fun and can inspire you in many ways. If just general art is boring you, check out some fanart for your favorite series’. Or look at the concept art for your favorite video game. Look at something.

This is something else a lot of people cast off as ‘wasting time’- which, if done to an extent, is a waste of time. But seriously, play some games. Watch a good show. Read a good book. Now I’m not saying spend 12 hours a day playing call of duty or marathon big bang theory or something, try a lot of unique games or watch series’ that you think will have beneficial content. Indie games are a great start, I can’t even tell you how much inspiration I’ve gotten from them. For shows, try watching cartoons or check out the discovery channel or animal planet or something. For books, well, pretty much any book is good except for a select few but read whatever inspires you.

When you expose yourself to these things, you’re learning about the characters and the environments. As an artist, you also create characters in environments. Woah! You’re actually learning as you enjoy yourself.

If you really feel like you’re wasting time, draw something at the same time. I’ll usually be drawing at my computer as I watch Mythbusters on TV or I’ll have a work open in the background while I play World of Warcraft that I’ll work on after I gain a level.

(jfc, this is getting long!!)

Always set personal goals. Keep a to-do list. By knowing what you have to do and what you’re aiming for, you’ll be able to stay focused. Spend more time on drawing, less time on planning! Not only that, but goals will help you improve and can act as an analysis. Did you not meet a goal by a certain date? What did you do wrong? How can you fix it?


Procrastination is your worst enemy. Do not procrastinate. If you have free time, draw what you need to do. Usually the hardest part is just opening up the darn program or taking out that sheet of paper, but seriously just force yourself to do it and draw a line or two and you’ll be well on your way to completing whatever it is you need to do.

Seriously. This is probably the most important point on here. Draw every fucking day. If you miss a day, draw double the next day.

This is actually something I can say I’ve pretty much stuck to. There is no better way to improve than to just suck it up and draw. Instead of mindlessly refreshing your dashboard, draw something! Draw something and refresh at the same time! In a year, it won’t matter than you saw that funny post, it’ll matter than you stuck to your routine and drew something. Think about the future.

Yeah seriously. I think I need to say this again, but I’ll bold it. DRAW EVERY DAY!!

Results of practice are not immediate. It takes days, weeks, months, for there to be a visible change. And most of the time, you’re not able to tell because you’re so used to your style.

There is a reason good artists are looked up to- it’s because not everyone has their skill.  But was their skill magically given to them? No. I assure you, every single artist you admire once sucked. They once thought that they were never going to improve. They once imagined what it would be like to get more than one comment on their work. They probably never thought they would get that good, but they did. And why did they get good? Because they never gave up. That is what sets good artists apart- because they kept going. No matter how much they hated their work, they kept drawing. Even if they cried over something that came out terrible, they kept going

Well, I think I’ve reached the end of my long post!! Dang I think it’s been 3 hours. Haha, there’s still a lot I want to say, but I’d be sitting here for days just typing it all out.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got something out of it. 

Remember, good artists are just shitty artists who never gave up.

So don’t give up!

September 7, 2012 with 1,425 notes
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