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Learning to be a novice again: Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 17 🎨

18 April 2021 - Reading time: 5 minutes

This second week of digital art was more challenging than last week.  I finished a great pencil drawing and made some mediocre digital drawings; started thinking of turning professional and was encouraged not to think too much about it yet; and tried to come to terms with all of it.

Study Art

Digital painting went relatively well.  My aim was to copy existing photos to get familiar with a basic painting method and learn how to manipulate colours and brushes.  In this second painting study of still life, I started exploring the powers of painting on layers (handy) and using clipping masks (even more handy).  I'm definitely more comfortable with using digital tools now.

My painting (left); photo reference (right) from Flickr, ©2017 Serena Tan.

I'm still moving through Ctrl+Paint's free video library.  Also watched several great videos by Sinix Design: his introduction to digital painting for beginners, and this YouTube playlist about design theory.  Amongst other things, he addresses image composition and values in an accessible, practical way that I can apply immediately.

Sinix recommended doing two-value studies on artwork by good artists, as a way to train one's eye to recognize what good composition looks like.  I plan to tackle this study in the coming week.

Fun Art, traditional and digital

As a break from digital work, I started a quick pencil sketch that turned into its own drawing.

(Yet another) drawing of Vega and Zhael, travelling up a mysterious tunnel.
I was subconsciously channelling the Historia Crux from Final Fantasy XIII-2...

Unfortunately I fell into the comparison trap when I picked up digital drawing after finishing this pencil sketch, and I started to get frustrated with how my digital drawings appeared.  But I was able to step back and analyze where my annoyance came from -- and it came from becoming a novice again.

Going from (relatively) confident pencil linework to novice digital linework is humbling indeed!  But that's what being a student is all about.  When I came to terms with this (and remembered that I'd only been doing digital art for 2 weeks), I recovered some confidence and began to enjoy the art process again -- this time, as a problem-solving challenge.

This week's drawings: my original character Faiye (left), and the Kid from the video game, Bastion (right).

Line quality comes with practice, and I have to keep persevering here, instead of giving up and falling back into the comfort zone of my pencil drawings.  The future will hold lots of digital sketches like these...

The Art Life

Apart from experiencing this mindset challenge about digital art, I was prompted, by real-life circumstances, to think about my "art career". After receiving good advice from some professional artists on Discord, I now have a more helpful, healthy way to approach the Hobbyist-to-Professional matter.

I've made it a separate blog post here since it's a rather long musing.

Next week's topics: more digital drawings, and it's time to start two-value painting studies.  Thanks for reading this week's edition of the Art Dispatch!

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