Focus on strengths?
#1
Didn't quite know how to word the title, but I just wondered, after watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMgLBa6ayRE if I should possibly reconsider my focus.

I started out writing - I've always wanted to write and illustrate children's picture books, but honestly, my strength in writing lies with fantasy, so I thought perhaps fantasy based graphic novels. (Writing kids books is actually incredibly difficult)
I'm very weak at drawing people, and perspective and environment, my strength and 'comfort zone' is animals. Should I maybe play to that strength and try to get into creature design type stuff, I don't even know if that is a thing that has an audience?
I'm clearly not going to stop studying all my weaknesses, I do want to become a well rounded illustrator, but I really love rendering animals, I'd happily spend 6 months doing an extremely detailed 6ft oils on canvas of a dragon, that would be good times for me.

I'm curious what other peoples thoughts on this are, I had a discussion with my author friend on how I'd love to paint the creatures he dreams up for gaming, and he asked why I didn't.. and my answer as always was "because I don't think I can do it well enough yet" but with animal anatomy study and photo refs, I dunno, maybe I could...

Is it better to work with your strengths, or try to be well rounded?

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#2
Well I do not know how the industry works, but what I do know, someone whom like what they draw really comes through their art work. You can immediately recognize if they person is enjoying what they created or not, at least for some of their work.

For me, at least, if I know I like drawing animals, I would stick with that, and learn other things which can be applied on animals per say.

For example, perspective, if you learn perspective the process of drawing the animal in perspective becomes easier.

In my case, I do not fully know which subject I like drawing the most, so I'm learning both animal/humans etc.

That's my 2 cents as well. Take it for what it's, haha. Hope to read other peoples insights regarding to this.
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#3
Don't be well rounded. Be a pyramid. Do what you would do despite the pain of doing it. Become the best at it, then branch out.


Focus.
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#4
I think this is more about finding your interest than working to strengths though they do tend to overlap.

You are in the earlyish phases of serious self-teaching. Early on in the game you mostly get told or learn to focus on developing all fundamentals in a regimented way, until you have raised all your fundamentals to a certain skill point. It is easy to feel like you are doing nothing but working on weaknesses and it can be hard.

When I was about a year and a half into self-teaching, I was told that I had to be a good generalist to get jobs. In fact, most of the pros I talked to told me this. They do have a point, you have to be able to handle much of the range of stuff that you might get asked by clients to do at some point.
So I heard what they were saying, but I also saw very clear evidence out there that people were focusing on what they enjoyed and were getting work. So I deliberately ignored their advice and decided to focus on what I enjoyed more, which was environments. It totally worked out for me!
Here's a funny thing: So people also told me, learn characters because everybody needs characters. That might be true, but what I have found is that there is one environment specialist for every 50 character designers. The market for environment specific designers is much better because there are so many fewer people that focus on it. So again, listening to often repeated job market cliches doesn't always pay off. Focus on what you love.

I tend to only get environment gigs at the moment, just as I like it. I might get bored of it at some point and then move to figurative stuff because I also really love the human form. I'm definitely less interested in vehicles/mechs etc, but I have definitely given them a go in order to figure that out.

Tastes can also change with time. I'm not so tied to this idea of what I do now, that I restrict myself from being open to doing something else in the future. Hell, I don't even have to be an illustrator for all eternity. I can see myself doing it for a while, but I have many many other interests that I also want to/am starting to explore, like writing, comics, making animation/games, teaching, making miniatures.

I mean we are all SO spoiled for the amazing things we could choose to do in this age, that I feel people understandably get too stressed about having to choose ONE thing as if it is the be all and end all of everything.

Actually all you have to do is choose ONE thing to focus on for right NOW, then change that up when it seems like it is time. You should totally work on your creatures, btw that shark painting was dope. Some issues but it clearly came through that you loved it!

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
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#5
@Hermi, I hear you, I do think I learn more and the images come out better when I'm really into the image I'm creating.

@meat, OK.. I shall be symmetrically pointy instead of my natural round shape.. :D

@Amit, thanks, that was kind of what I wanted to hear I guess, I /love/ painting animals, even doing copies teaches me massive amounts - despite the notion that copying doesn't - when it comes to detailed rendering, nothing makes me look harder and figure out perspective etc more than trying to make it look /right/.. still can't nail it yet, but it doesn't feel like a struggle, just a happy process, especially when I can take the info and apply it elsewhere. I actually started that shark with the intention of just getting the basic perspective down - it isn't quite there but that's just a matter of repetition and refinement, because I wanted to paint a dragon swimming under water towards the viewer, I started out looking for images of eels, but none had quite the right foreshortening going on. But the photos of sharks captured me, they had a clarity, detail and perspective I just really wanted to replicate and learn from.
IDK, I worry all I'll be good at is being a photocopy machine, which is why I want to get deeper into form, anatomy and perspective within animals and build my own creatures. The distance between copying and creating doesn't seem quite so far now, when I first started out it would have been impossible.

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#6
That being said, If there is something that is draggin you down, and working on it would make you that much better at the specific thing you do. Then WORK at it, til you overcome it.

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#7
Yep Jeso, I am always going to be chipping away at the fundamentals I'm weak at.

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#8
I feel you man, I -still- feel like I can't pick one thing, but it's slowly becoming clearer. I'm a character artist, I will always be a character artist -- I think about spaces and environments as characters, all my creatures tend to have evident personalities, it even bleeds into props. I recently had to do an assignment where I had to draw 200 rocks for a game, and all of these rocks had to have a different attitude, just like characters.

So I guess that's my thing? I honestly don't know, it's too early, and that's kind of exciting. Amit is right: you're still fresh, and that shouldn't be stressful! As your knowledge expands, as you see and analyze more artists and notice yourself gravitate towards subjects and styles, you will land on your specialty. The advice on versatility vs. specialty is always going to be divergent because in the end everyone's path is different. Take note on the stuff that feels right and fun, because studies should do just that, help you get better at things that made you pick up art on the first place.

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#9
I am an overly-developed directionless under achiever. I read threads like this with so much info regarding fundamentals and realize I'm 99% self-taught. I argued with all my art teachers. I remember refusing to do most written art assignments but passing high marks anyway because I debate like a Boss and had enough Prac work back then to muzzle the H.O.D. I'm not sure if it's either of those things, strengths or roundedness. I have great admiration for those who've found their direction and use it to drive them forward. Me? I got no clue. A small idea, but nothing that makes me break myself down in order to build up a more professional platform.

Direction over strength and variety. If want to be something, convince yourself you are going to be it.



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#10
You'd do well in character design though RP, you have people nailed down to a fine art, especially your female figures.

Valda, that sounds kind of exciting, making rocks with personality sounds impossible to me, clearly you have a skill there you can exploit :D

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