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Quarterly Art Review: stepping up my digital art game in Q3, 2021. 🎨

14 October 2021 - Reading time: 8 minutes

It's time again to pause and look back at July to September. Here are Quarter 1 and Quarter 2's reviews.


I continued with Drawabox, finishing three modules: 250 Cylinder challenge, Lesson 6, and 25 Wheel challenge. One more lesson left, and I will complete the whole curriculum. These later Drawabox lessons haven't taught me "technical skills" as much as help me keep developing spatial reasoning, observation skills, artistic problem-solving, and patience and perseverance.

I've also been reading James Gurney's two instructional books, Imaginative Realism and Color and Light. Both are broad flyovers of landscape of illustration, so I've just been appreciating the breadth of this introduction to painting techniques and approaches, and gleaning what small practical, actionable methods I can. These books are so rich in content, I will definitely revisit them again.

Personal work

Digital illustrations and graphite drawings/sketches made in July - September.

This quarter was largely about developing my digital painting process, following the initial discovery and experimentation process of Q2. I chose to use small art projects to iterate on my full painting process, while testing and experimenting on each smaller subprocess (ideate, sketch, draw, paint, polish). To focus on this, I gradually dialled back substantially on my graphite sketches.

Throughout July/August I used my series of "Anthem Freelancers" to establish my process, and then in August/September I pushed myself further into new territory: drawing interior environments. I was also simultaneously developing my understanding of colour. All this stretched both my skills and my painting process, and while I'm learning a lot through experimentation, I plan to do some formal courses on both colour theory and painting of interiors and landscape environments.

This quarter also saw me do a number of art trades, including one with my friend and professional illustrator, Mari of Fleshwerks Art. This was the piece I hinted back in Dispatch 26.5! The trade is now complete, and I can finally show the piece here. It was my first attempt at interior environmental painting, prompted by a short fanfiction that my friend wrote for her original character.

Art trade with Mari, featuring her Freelancer character and a couple of NPCs from the videogame, Anthem.

(Caption:) Haluk: “I’m going to break into her shitty, sad little home and put a very large ursix plushie in it. She can donate it to the orphans if she hates it, I don’t care.” Happy Icetide, Mel Mossine.

50 Bird Challenge

I started the 50 Bird Challenge in May (first recorded in Dispatch 20), and finished it at the end of September (Dispatch 32). As said in #32, 50 Birds was a sandbox for me to test different art techniques. I had a great deal of fun drawing these birds, and got plenty of good technical practice out of these.

Birds 1-10: pencil, linework and shading.

Birds 11-20: fineliner, each drawing was drawn without lifting the pen.

Birds 21-32: brush pen.

Birds 33-41: Digital painting, freestyled.
Birds 42-50: Digital painting, timed (1 hour max) with a single brush. Birds 48-50 had linework.

My first foray into commission work

August saw me acquire my first paid commission. I documented the whole experience in Dispatch 29, but withheld the client name until it was published.

Well, the magazine issue has been published and it's in my hands now. Many thanks to Soul Tread Magazine, a local magazine on Christian living and the arts, for generously commissioning me to illustrate one of their articles.

Editorial illustration for Soul Tread Magazine, issue 4.

The Art Life, and what's next?

This quarter has seen a number of breakthroughs. I'm starting to establish a digital painting method and refine it. The commission with Soul Tread Magazine is a big "first" on the freelancing front and I learned a lot from it; I also did several art trades with artists at and above my calibre, which were bonus challenges.

I plan to spend the rest of the year consolidating my digital painting methods, perhaps through another small project/series of drawings. I expect to finish the Drawabox curriculum by the end of the year as well.

I also want to pause and revisit my freelancing career. This is still challenging to think about, so I want to spend some time revisiting the question of what kind of work I want to do, and how to move towards that kind of work.

Topics for next time: Back to the usual update - and what I've been up to for Inktober!

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I'm Vega.

Welcome to my blog.

My Weekly Art Dispatch🎨 is posted every weekend (usually on Sunday) to this blog and email newsletter.

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Email me at: vega{at}