Creating a fool proof, simple schedule...?!
#1
Hi guys! Reaching out for advice, opinions and thoughts from you daggers!
 
About every 6 months or so, I assess just wtf I'm doing with my time, look at where I want to be and realise I need to be doing things differently to get there. 
 
I spend a few days with a couple of whiteboards figuring out what I want my art to look like, dividing up all the skills I need to get it there, exercises to practice them all, then try and fit it all into the available hours I have. The longer I spend on it, the more detailed the plans and steps, the more I have to cull, and the more complex the ‘action’ part of it becomes.
 
When I do finally put it into action... I realise after a while that idk wtf I'm doing, I don't know how to really practice this skill and have given myself tasks that aren't as beneficial as they could be. My plans were needlessly complex and missed out the most crucial aspects and usually end up unmanageable time-wise.
 
The time stuff is fixable, just be realistic and don't underestimate the time stuff takes or over estimate the time I have available. I’m getting better at that. The other stuff however... I'm really struggling!
 
 
For someone who has a grasp on the fundamentals. By no means mastered them, but has enough understanding to benefit more from studying pro artwork directly, rather than going through drawabox or Hampton anatomy again, what are some ways to get the most out your practice time?
 
The goal is very specific this time. ‘Be able to produce comic art like Karl Kerschl in Gotham Academy’ (here’s a reference so this isn’t just a huge wall of text!)
 
 


 
My current plans are looking something like this:
 
Schedule in a ‘weaknesses’ slot, maybe one hour per day where I dip into stuff on my list of identified weaknesses. Currently it has stuff like ‘facial expressions’, ‘lower legs’, ‘keeping stuff on model’. I don’t hammer these endlessly, just do an hour study on one then move it to the bottom of the list.
 
‘Developing a process for getting the most out of studies’: Just studying the comics above would only make me a poor imitation of those artists, so the list of artists/art parents that I want to be influenced by has been gathered. Paintings, drawings, layouts, character designs etc. Big ol’ folders full of reference. Now what XD?
 
Definitely some element of studying, making notes and then applying to my own work is required. As I delve into plans on how to enact this, it all gets muddy and overly complex. Do quick studies and then quick character drawings of my own? Redraw their characters in different poses? Use photo reference for the poses or draw from imagination? With painting studies do them quick then a long one of my own? Long then quick one of my own? Analyse the painting style but apply it in a different type of environment? Try and paint the same environment from memory? The list goes on and on, all seem like useful and valuable exercises, and I end up trying to schedule them all in, or end up with pages of exercises to choose from that’s so big I get overwhelmed and resort to just doing the quickest, easiest ones to set up (2 min gestures from photos… again…).
 
Then when I do get stuck into it, I start to doubt that what I am doing is really useful, since it was only my own amateur artist brain that thought this up, no teacher or pro said to do it in this specific way and based on past experience of my brain, it tends to make things unnecessarily complex. Sometimes I think a case study type approach would be better… like pick an IP and study the hell out of it, and produce an artwork in that style. Again it feels super useful, but then I worry I am neglecting some character skills if I am focusing on finished illustrations as the final goal.
 
It all becomes overwhelming and I fall back on doing the same inefficient studies, or pushing ahead with my work knowing it’s not improving cause I’m not learning anything new.
 
How do you guys study from pro’s? Is there a simple, foolproof method like a ‘Do this, then do this’ type of approach - that won’t cover everything - but will get a lot of it covered, so I can free myself up from thinking about [i]what[/i] I am going to do, and just get on and do stuff, churning out those studies and drawings/paintings and making those sick gains!
 
I thought about some kind of mentorship or consulting session with some kind of pro artist, but my notes and plans are so long and complicated and my thoughts so unformulated I don’t think I’d be able to provide them with the right info to get the right advice back, and don’t want to just dump pages of disconnected notes on anyone >.<
 
Yeah! That’ll do for now. Really interested to hear any responses! Guess this was a kind of rant/blog post more than a question, but I appreciate anyone who gets through it all, and hopefully the responses can help other people in similar positions!

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#2
Hey man not sure I can give you anything helpful but here are my thoughts.

I think it is definitely a good thing to have some "art heroes" who you aspire to. It helps give some direction to your art journey.

When it comes to art study - your sketchbook already shows that you know how to study - I stand in awe of your work ethic and your plethora of study techniques so I am hesitant to suggest any more study techniques for you as you probably know them already.

It sounds like your main issue is not "how" to study but "what" to study and how to prioritise your studies.

My thinking here is that this is where having an art hero comes in handy. Prioritise the studies that will bring you closer to him. I will concede that we don't want to become clones of our heroes but I believe that before we actually reach their level we will have developed our own nuances that make us more than mere clones.

So my first strategy would be to contact my art hero and ask him to mentor me. This rarely succeeds because either they are too busy or I can't afford the mentorship or they just don't do teaching.

Next I will try to find any tutorials or classes that my art hero has produced and study from them.

If they haven't produced any tutorials then I study their art directly. I compare it to my own and see if I can identify any gaps. Once I have the gaps then I have the list of things I need to focus my studies on.

Your post really resonates with me as I also have identified Esad Ribic as my comic book art hero and want to push my work to be more like his. However I am stuck as he doesn't do tutorials so I end up jus t studying his work.

Finally I did a quick comparison of Kerschl's work with yours and in my opinion you're not a world away already :).

One difference I can see is in the level or realism - your work is more stylised than Kerschl's. Kerschl's work is stylised too but he has more realism than you. For example, Kerschl includes more realistic folds in clothing than you. If you're OK with that then there's nothing to work on here but if not then try to push the realism a little more.

Anyway - I hope that was of some use but if not please feel free to disregard no hard feelings :).

In any case I wish you all the best with the schedule Jyonny :).

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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#3
Great thread Jon, and something I recognize a lot myself. What I'm about to say may not apply to you, but it is something that has helped me a lot in my own studies recently.

I have spent about one decade now studying art and trying to become an artist, and I just don't feel like I am where I should be. I always dreamt back in the days that I would become as good as the artists I looked up to in no-time if I just kept grinding away with classes, studies, and such ... But it just hasn't happened! I have come to realize that I need to make drastic changes this year if I want my art to evolve and become drastically better.

I really recommend the book "Mastery" by Robert Greene. One of the key takeaways from that book is that we tend to over-study what we are already good at. In my case, I tended to study drawing lineart and figure drawing over and over, because I am relatively good at it, and it stroked my ego to make good figure drawing. This, of course, is NOT what I need to focus my time on! Maybe that is something you recognize in yourself? You have a lot of stuff you want to learn but you fall back into studying "the basics" or stuff you already know well because it enables you to produce stuff whit little effort (Not saying this to be mean, it's simply something I recognize in myself).

This year, I have decided to devote all my time to my personal project "The Secret Valley" to become better in all aspects of Game Art. It has forced me to study a lot of subjects and software that I am not familiar with, and it has been very rewarding to break down this huge project into many, many small tasks that all come together into one solid product.

In your case, you probably need to break down your goal into many small tasks and then tackle them one by one. It's gonna TAKE TIME, but that's just how it is! Nothing comes overnight.

By looking at your reference, I can see that the artist is using a lot of cool techniques in terms of drawing, composition, the use of color, painting techniques, etc ... So maybe your first task is "learn how to draw the figure from hard camera angles". The second is "Read and study comic composition". The third is "learn how to paint those backgrounds and how to properly use a color palette like my reference" and so on ... You need to treat it like a scientific project! What software can you use? What classes or resources do you need? Maybe you need to jump to tutorials constantly on youtube to research stuff? Expect this project to be a long road!

These are my thoughts, I hope they make sense. I wrote it all out in one sitting! :)

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#4
I'm amateur compared to the rest of you, but I hope my input is okay.

I live with a large family with 10 cats so I really can't plan out any studies, just about anything can go wrong in a day. Since my siblings are either too young or mentally incapable, I'm the go to for most of the chores and problems around the house.

Therefore my plans have to be loose and flexible - for example: today I'd like to get through chapter 2 of "How to Draw" by Scott Robertson, an episode of Dynamic Sketching with Peter Han and some loose gesture drawings of the Croquis cafe models. Unfortunately I know from experience that these will either get very broken up or half assed. Plus I'm booked for tomorrow with a surprise two hour trip and back to help a relative.

In order to combat this most of what I do is at night because all of my chores are done and plus anyone who needs my help is asleep. I don't have a desk, so I clear off my bed and use a wooden board from Lowe's to keep my stuff flat. From there I time myself and when I'm done I like to take a step back and compare what I did to the lesson. I try to study the lines and movements they've made, how they used their pencil. Sometimes I take a picture and that helps me find all the rough spots I need to smooth out.

Most of the artists I like are dead, so I have to use their remaining work to evaluate my own. Though to be honest I have a hard time figuring out what's best to focus on when I look at them. I've found using the artists that inspired them to draw comparisons between them is effective.

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#5
Quote:Artloader
Hey man not sure I can give you anything helpful but here are my thoughts.


I think it is definitely a good thing to have some "art heroes" who you aspire to. It helps give some direction to your art journey.

When it comes to art study - your sketchbook already shows that you know how to study - I stand in awe of your work ethic and your plethora of study techniques so I am hesitant to suggest any more study techniques for you as you probably know them already.

It sounds like your main issue is not "how" to study but "what" to study and how to prioritise your studies.

My thinking here is that this is where having an art hero comes in handy. Prioritise the studies that will bring you closer to him. I will concede that we don't want to become clones of our heroes but I believe that before we actually reach their level we will have developed our own nuances that make us more than mere clones.

So my first strategy would be to contact my art hero and ask him to mentor me. This rarely succeeds because either they are too busy or I can't afford the mentorship or they just don't do teaching.

Next I will try to find any tutorials or classes that my art hero has produced and study from them.

If they haven't produced any tutorials then I study their art directly. I compare it to my own and see if I can identify any gaps. Once I have the gaps then I have the list of things I need to focus my studies on.

Your post really resonates with me as I also have identified Esad Ribic as my comic book art hero and want to push my work to be more like his. However I am stuck as he doesn't do tutorials so I end up jus t studying his work.

Finally I did a quick comparison of Kerschl's work with yours and in my opinion you're not a world away already :).

One difference I can see is in the level or realism - your work is more stylised than Kerschl's. Kerschl's work is stylised too but he has more realism than you. For example, Kerschl includes more realistic folds in clothing than you. If you're OK with that then there's nothing to work on here but if not then try to push the realism a little more.

Anyway - I hope that was of some use but if not please feel free to disregard no hard feelings :).

In any case I wish you all the best with the schedule Jyonny :).


Really great points, thanks for that! This way is to really hone in and target very precisely, starting off to learn from and emulate and along the way allow things to develop with our own personal differences. It's definitely an approach that's easier to manage, mentally, since every study will be based on one source. And absolutely I want to get that level of realism/believability in my work that he has, really heartened you feel I'm getting there. Gonna think about this approach, definitely.


Quote:Zorrentos

Great thread Jon, and something I recognize a lot myself. What I'm about to say may not apply to you, but it is something that has helped me a lot in my own studies recently.


I have spent about one decade now studying art and trying to become an artist, and I just don't feel like I am where I should be. I always dreamt back in the days that I would become as good as the artists I looked up to in no-time if I just kept grinding away with classes, studies, and such ... But it just hasn't happened! I have come to realize that I need to make drastic changes this year if I want my art to evolve and become drastically better.

I really recommend the book "Mastery" by Robert Greene. One of the key takeaways from that book is that we tend to over-study what we are already good at. In my case, I tended to study drawing lineart and figure drawing over and over, because I am relatively good at it, and it stroked my ego to make good figure drawing. This, of course, is NOT what I need to focus my time on! Maybe that is something you recognize in yourself? You have a lot of stuff you want to learn but you fall back into studying "the basics" or stuff you already know well because it enables you to produce stuff whit little effort (Not saying this to be mean, it's simply something I recognize in myself).

This year, I have decided to devote all my time to my personal project "The Secret Valley" to become better in all aspects of Game Art. It has forced me to study a lot of subjects and software that I am not familiar with, and it has been very rewarding to break down this huge project into many, many small tasks that all come together into one solid product.

In your case, you probably need to break down your goal into many small tasks and then tackle them one by one. It's gonna TAKE TIME, but that's just how it is! Nothing comes overnight.

By looking at your reference, I can see that the artist is using a lot of cool techniques in terms of drawing, composition, the use of color, painting techniques, etc ... So maybe your first task is "learn how to draw the figure from hard camera angles". The second is "Read and study comic composition". The third is "learn how to paint those backgrounds and how to properly use a color palette like my reference" and so on ... You need to treat it like a scientific project! What software can you use? What classes or resources do you need? Maybe you need to jump to tutorials constantly on youtube to research stuff? Expect this project to be a long road!

These are my thoughts, I hope they make sense. I wrote it all out in one sitting! :)


Totally get where you're coming from, lots of similarities with my current struggles! Thanks a ton for the input Dennis! A project based approach is definitely the way to go, I've been doing that with the comic I was making, learning the full process and putting it into action (and the new comic that's in pre-production now will keep that side of it going). 

The breaking things down and tackling one at a time for the study part... this is what I'm struggling with. I've been doing this approach on and off over the years, but end up being very unsure that the things I chose are right which makes it hard to stay committed since the self-doubt becomes overwhelming. My tasks end up really long and complex (unnecessarily so in my case) and every now and then I'll come across a youtube video or something, where some pro breaks down how to tackle something and I see that they used such simple, obvious set of steps compared to my "Study these 3 books from cover to cover then do this illustration" kind of approach. I totally think it's a great way to approach things, but have no faith in my own ability to break it down into the right set of steps to study. Been through this loop a number of times now.


When I read interviews with comic pro's, obviously they give really concise answers that miss a lot of stuff, but the gist of it always seems to be 'I studied him, and her, and that franchise over there and that's how I ended up with my stuff'. I'm certain they went through more formal studies too (which we all did or are doing anyway), but I think there is a 'work smarter' way of getting the skills up without the need to pull back too much (provided there's a level of understanding of the fundamentals).


Quote:Typhoneus

I'm amateur compared to the rest of you, but I hope my input is okay.


I live with a large family with 10 cats so I really can't plan out any studies, just about anything can go wrong in a day. Since my siblings are either too young or mentally incapable, I'm the go to for most of the chores and problems around the house.

Therefore my plans have to be loose and flexible - for example: today I'd like to get through chapter 2 of "How to Draw" by Scott Robertson, an episode of Dynamic Sketching with Peter Han and some loose gesture drawings of the Croquis cafe models. Unfortunately I know from experience that these will either get very broken up or half assed. Plus I'm booked for tomorrow with a surprise two hour trip and back to help a relative.

In order to combat this most of what I do is at night because all of my chores are done and plus anyone who needs my help is asleep. I don't have a desk, so I clear off my bed and use a wooden board from Lowe's to keep my stuff flat. From there I time myself and when I'm done I like to take a step back and compare what I did to the lesson. I try to study the lines and movements they've made, how they used their pencil. Sometimes I take a picture and that helps me find all the rough spots I need to smooth out.

Most of the artists I like are dead, so I have to use their remaining work to evaluate my own. Though to be honest I have a hard time figuring out what's best to focus on when I look at them. I've found using the artists that inspired them to draw comparisons between them is effective.


Absolutely, your input is welcomed and valuable! I really know how you feel, I don't have such a large family, but had a baby the same year I started learning to draw. No dedicated room to practice in, trying to do it in the kitchen while everyone is bustling in and out, working a fulltime job and dealing with a newborn, then a toddler etc. Man it's hard! Now she's 8, and over the years, bit by bit things got easier, the family started to recognise this isn't just some crazy scheme of mine as I started to get better, I managed to get some dedicated space in the bedroom for my stuff, and now have a spare room which is mine to work from. Earning money from it, even though it's not much, really makes those around recognise that there's value in this (obviously dependant on their expectations, in my case I guess they weren't that high XD). 

Basically trying to say that things will change, stick with it, keep struggling, family members will grow and need less support, people may even start to support you in return. Keep at it! Your story will be so much more worthwhile too because of the adversity!

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#6
Hey, JyonnyNovice, I am just a beginner who can draw, at best, no more than 90 minutes a day... (so take my advice with a grain of salt!) I understand the need for a more 'smart' approach and I recently saw a video in Proko's Channel that helped to understand a little more the 'pro'-mind when looking for a style, it also felt like a smart way to approach this problem.

See if it helps you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMWzv87nCIk
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#7
Hi Jyonny! I've done my best to compile some thoughts into a response, take everything with a grain of salt!

(01-15-2021, 03:06 AM)JyonnyNovice Wrote: Hi guys! Reaching out for advice, opinions and thoughts from you daggers!
 
About every 6 months or so, I assess just wtf I'm doing with my time, look at where I want to be and realise I need to be doing things differently to get there. 
 
I spend a few days with a couple of whiteboards figuring out what I want my art to look like, dividing up all the skills I need to get it there, exercises to practice them all, then try and fit it all into the available hours I have. The longer I spend on it, the more detailed the plans and steps, the more I have to cull, and the more complex the ‘action’ part of it becomes.
 

I feel you there Jyonny! Although I myself am a big fan of whiteboarding and detailed plans and steps, I've started to learn recently that it's just not getting me anywhere. At least, it's not getting me where the plan is supposed to take me. 

Making a plan, especially a detailed one, comes with a lot of assumptions that you could (unwittingly) have:
- Life will not throw a wrench in my perfectly planned schedule this time!

- If I do X then I will get Y
- Person A & B did this so I must too

Time and again I've been amazed by my ability to believe what I'm telling myself when I make these plans. The last time I did anything as detailed as I think you're telling me (2 years ago) I completely broke down after 3 months and was out of the game for 6 months after. 
That time it sorta sunk in that what I was doing was in fact not helping but hurting my artistic progress, because I was forcing myself through something. I believed (and continue to believe) in the power of discipline to get me through the rough 

(01-15-2021, 03:06 AM)JyonnyNovice Wrote: For someone who has a grasp on the fundamentals. By no means mastered them, but has enough understanding to benefit more from studying pro artwork directly, rather than going through drawabox or Hampton anatomy again, what are some ways to get the most out your practice time?

I don't have any specific pointers for you here but what I've found is that focus really is the name of the game. Whatever you do, you should do with full mental attention. That is, if you're sitting down to improve because there's also a time for drawing for the sake of drawing, relaxing, etc. 

(01-15-2021, 03:06 AM)JyonnyNovice Wrote: How do you guys study from pro’s? Is there a simple, foolproof method like a ‘Do this, then do this’ type of approach - that won’t cover everything - but will get a lot of it covered, so I can free myself up from thinking about [i]what[/i] I am going to do, and just get on and do stuff, churning out those studies and drawings/paintings and making those sick gains!

I don't think there is a single fool-proof method to be had anywhere in art-land. The only two advices that come to me know is
1. never quit
2. this image. 

 
(01-15-2021, 03:06 AM)JyonnyNovice Wrote: I thought about some kind of mentorship or consulting session with some kind of pro artist, but my notes and plans are so long and complicated and my thoughts so unformulated I don’t think I’d be able to provide them with the right info to get the right advice back, and don’t want to just dump pages of disconnected notes on anyone >.<
 

Perhaps you got the reason for getting a mentorship/consultant mixed up; like a psychologist, he or she's not there to answer your questions, but instead to make you see the things you didn't know how to see!

(01-15-2021, 10:35 PM)Zorrentos Wrote: This year, I have decided to devote all my time to my personal project "The Secret Valley" to become better in all aspects of Game Art. It has forced me to study a lot of subjects and software that I am not familiar with, and it has been very rewarding to break down this huge project into many, many small tasks that all come together into one solid product.

As a counter-perspective on this I would say that from my personal experience I've gotten stuck many times on these big projects because I
1. expect too much of them
2. they become too big to grasp
3. when the to-do list far, far outweighs the done list, I get discouraged.

I've had much more luck with the smaller projects, 5-piece painting projects, or 1-month daily drawing w/ a topic projects. I am able to focus on one shortcoming or software I want to learn, as opposed to having to learn 5 softwares, 3 techniques, and 2 years of work.

There might be a middle way where you do enough small, tiny projects and they eventually add up to something big! But that should, in my opinion, never be the plan from the start.


As for your original titular question.......

The only thing that's fool-proof is something that's flexible. 
Quote:When the storm was over the oak tree through its stubbornness and defiance was lying uprooted on the ground. The reeds were standing tall. Lesson learned: When a storm comes often learning to bend will help you survive. 

To strike a balance between ad-hoc focussed working and having a very specific goal in mind is the key in my opinion. I am reminded of Aristotle's lesson to Alexander. It goes a little something like this (extreme paraphrasing):
Quote:Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Too little of it as well.
Consider courage. A lack of courage is cowardice. But too much courage is overconfidence or even stupidity. 


I don't know if this gave you any useful info, I hope you find something worthwhile in it!

"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself." - Seneca
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#8
@Bonesworth Thanks for the comment and the link, definitely took a lot from that!

@Gerbenpasjes Really appreciate the summary and notes. Read it really carefully and nodded along throughout all of it. Have come to similar conclusions this past few weeks! Will summarise my progress below!

Really appreciate everyone's advice and feedback, it's really helped me to narrow things down, combining all the suggestions and my own conclusions I came up with this approach:

1) A plan that is flexible, but is easy to jump into at a moments notice and get to work on:

I have this up on my whiteboard.




 The headings are specific to what I figured I need to work on. Each item is 1 hour+ of study. I have a spreadsheet with about 5 exercises for each, so I can pick one and pick an exercise and immediately jump into work. Instead of setting a daily or weekly timetable to slot these in, I'm using counters next to them. One day I might do four, another day just one, doesn't matter cause I can see which ones have the least amount of checks and know I have to tackle those when my life is high.

'Painting Study' is the highest right now, cause I have a set time everyday I do those which I never seem to miss. Props/Buildings/Environment lowest cause it's the hardest for me, but will be forcing myself to tackle those and not let them stay too low.

2) FINISH WORK!

Like the advice above about doing a big project, or multiple smaller projects, I need to make progress on finished pieces. Firstly, to see how well I can really do a piece when I give it my all, secondly for the sense of pride/accomplishment with having something that I can call 'art', thirdly for portfolio/social media to work towards those goals. 

Jeff Watts says "Take care of the starts, and the finishes will take care of themselves." I've been taking care of the starts for a really long time now! Ready to get to the finishes (and they don't really take care of themselves - I get that wasn't his point in saying that - still there's a ton of additional skills required imo! need to get practising those!).

In my case my finished work will be illustrations, I have 'illustrations' on my list so I can record how many sessions I'm spending on those. Next to it on the whiteboard I have a list of the illos I'm working on, so I can bounce between them all and not get fatigued whilst not losing track of the WIPs in a PC folder. The illustrations are meant to combine all the knowledge I am gaining in the study blocks, and apply it to something useful that has value beyond simply practising. Stuff that I can care deeply about to try and reinvigorate my love of art and why I started drawing in the first place (gonna take a while to get back there but determined to feel it again!)

3) Following professional instructors is more worthwhile than going my own way.

Have started doing Schoolism courses again, with my illustration practice I am able to apply the stuff I learn beyond doing the assignments. I will balance these and give equal priority to these courses and my study blocks.




Hmm that's all I think, could probably talk more about it but will see how it goes, and leave another update here at some point.

Let me know what you think or if it's useful to anyone!

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#9
I think the most important thing when studying from pro's is knowing some design principles, gesture and a bit of perspective. When you know those things you know what to search for in their work.

What Proko does in his anatomy course for example is to trace his reference IN ORDER to break it down and understand it better before he starts drawing.

He makes few layers of tracing - Overall gesture, Overall rhythms in the body, but you can also do a tracing of which simple forms the object is made from and one about the silhouette. The point is not to just trace, the point is to search only for principles while doing it. - Gesture, big-medium-small , thick to thin like each layer should be 1 simple principle. I think many artist's did those breakdowns in the beginning of their careers, but nobody mentions it because the which hunt of " you are not a real artist" starts.

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#10
Something simillar to what im talking about, but you can search for many other principles while doing this

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#11
For sure that's an awesome exercise, thanks for sharing.

Do you think you can intuitively learn good design through doing a breakdown & accurate re-draw alone? Ethan Becker implies you can but, it feels like there is a missing step. Apply it to your own work of course but how..?

I find myself taking exercises like this and bloating them so that they end up taking all day... like not feeling I did it properly unless I do 5+ of the same character in all different poses, then re-pose and draw them myself. Is it better to do a couple weeks of these as short study exercises, and get a quantity done, or get really deep into one character design... I start down these paths and then halfway through I get doubt if I'm spending my time wisely and end up moving onto something else >.<

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