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posted by marrael 2013-06-26 01:41:22

Advice on Publishing, Part 4: Cover Art
More for authors going into self-publishing, I do think this is a good run-through of the considerations and skills that go into designing a good book cover. Artists aiming to be cover artists can benefit, and at the least, you can stick a link to this up on your website so your author friends start considering your work. I personally feel painted art makes a real impact and is a bit more sophisticated than stock photography, but I am, of course, biased.

Sad that this has to be found on a joke site, but it does give good drawing advice.

How to Draw Boobies (Warning: has boobies.)


Drawing Tutorials and Exercises

posted by marrael 2012-02-18 17:07:57

Just a collection of links today while I recover from some (more) traveling undertaken this past month. These online sites will be especially useful if you've had little or no formal art education--you'll get a taste (or reminder) of the exercises that students of drawing do. First one is the most nifty:

Figure & Gesture Drawing Tool
(Yeah, it's the online equivalent of the drawing exercises done with a live model.) Before you think it's just hours of bliss copying a nude girl's likeness on your canvas, know that that isn't the only point of figure and gesture drawing. The great thing is, the page itself explains gesture drawing exercises, and you get a choice of BOTH female and male models.

Still here? 
Wings on Humans Art Tutorial 
 (found via Elizabeth Barrette's blog entry, Wing Tutorial Art)
I wish I could credit the maker of this tutorial, but am having trouble finding the original source. If you know, let me know!

Fantasy Art Study on Ning
This group combines drawing studies and exercises on both drawing and rendering techniques (mostly traditional media) and subjects of fantasy art. So if you think you need the basic lessons, but still want them focused on fantasy art, this is a great site! Regular "study group" exercises (using Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for All It's Worth and Peter Stanyer's The Complete Book of Drawing Techniques) are posted on the site, and the comments section is where members can respond by posting results from their own practice. It's a place which encourages participation because of this semi-formal format where you read the tutorial, then show your own work.


Artists Helping Artists

posted by marrael 2011-11-24 00:36:07

In the free-wheeling and dealing world on the Internet, it's always been interesting for me to note the wide range of artistic styles and abilities out there that are still quite dazzling to me, who managed to live the first 17 years of my life without it. Prior to the Internet, my exposure to art was in the form of books, stationery, art classes and museums. Even with regular exposure to the widest variety of books, it was still looking at art through the filters imposed by industry experts and book editors. It wasn't bad (on the contrary, it was all good stuff) but it was rare to find rough sketches or pictures of work in development outside of biographical books about artists. Even in the early days of the Internet, scanners weren't common, digital painting was (more or less) in its infancy, and the artists to be found online were probably just a fraction of a percentage of the artists you can find online today.
Recent explorations on the Internet revealed to me that it isn't just artists of various abilities flourishing online, but the tutorials written for artists of varying levels by artists at varying levels. It really shouldn't have been a surprise to me, because some of these tutorials have been the subject of hilarity in some of the forums I roll in (frequently, tutorials by obviously young-male artists trying to teach others how to draw ladyboobs). Maybe it's just the Thanksgiving spirit getting to me, but I had an epiphany looking at these tutorials yesterday, even some of the ones I know I'd have written completely differently: It's all artists trying to help other artists. And this motivation to help is found at all levels of ability--which is brilliant.
Now, I could end here after pointing out that we could be grateful for this alone (and I'll also provide links to general tutorial sites at the bottom) but I'd like to take it further. Sometimes I find stuff on the internet alluding to artists behaving badly, whether it's stealing (not cool), being flaky (as artists, we're allowed some slack being "creative types", but not too much), ungrateful, jealous, not good at sharing, et cetera. I'm not going to be schoolmarm here, because I've hardly been the model for any type of moral behavior for much of my life, but I will share something: It's definitely no fun being in an insecure place, and being in so deep that looking at other artists gets you down. And after looking at so many tutorials, I wonder if the trick to coming out of negativity is to turn it around, recognise one's strengths, and use them for helping others (this includes other artists). Because everyone starts somewhere. No one is born Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci right out of the womb. There are art teachers, there are informal art teachers, and there's art by tons of other artists we look at everyday, and all and every one of them is going to affect our own art, whether we're conscious of it or not. 
OK, so some artists may look like they don't need help anymore (if so, good for them; but remember there was a time they did); they're still vastly outnumbered by other artists and beginning artists looking for encouragement. And giving encouragement is something that will keep you in a positive place--and grateful when it's returned!

(Disclaimer: Not all generous acts of helping others will be received with 100% glowing gratitude--like these flog entries--but that's OK. ;) Do it to potentially help or to just feel good without expectations of things you may not be able to control. Easier said than done, but this is a disclaimer for you.) 

Besides art-hosting sites and artist's personal websites, art tutorials can also be found on sites expressly for providing tutorials and help for various subjects. And last by...

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Some Speedy Fantasy Sketching Tips

posted by marrael 2011-10-24 18:37:44

EMG Sketch Fest for October is just over, and the results are now available for checking out (and in some cases, for purchasing). A quick explanation of how it works: During the 24 hours of the Sketch Fest, any member of the public can post prompts for the artists in the form of phrases, a suggested title, or even links to photos and videos. Artists take up whatever prompt they wish, but are limited to 1 hour of work per sketch, and they are encouraged to post their work to the site. They are also free to complete the work after Sketch Fest and upload the finished work as Finished Work. (Simple, eh?)

With the EMG crowd, you can bet most of the images are in the fantasy theme, and because the artists are drawing from imagination (mostly), I find the rules of fantasy drawing/sketching are always slightly different from ordinary drawing and sketching, because the image you have in mind isn't one you'll find in real life--readily, anyway. So regular suggestions for drawing don't really apply: Using a viewfinder for the best composition? Pfft. Only if you're talking about the viewfinder in your head. Drawing and referencing what you see? When what you see is only in your mind's eye, capturing that ephemeral idea isn't so easy, not to mention ideas can sometimes benefit from further development. Drawing from real life, in comparison, is easy.

But (did you know the "but" was coming?) a fantasy artist will always still benefit from at least the practice that comes from drawing from real life. Personally, I find my sketching speeds up if I do have a reference photo (and during Sketch Fest, the clock is ticking), so, I wind up using my reference photo folders more often during Sketch Fest than not. I could try drawing without visual references, but I always those drawings of mine harder to get right--either proportions will need to be corrected (again, losing time), or the light and shadows would be less interesting than if I had used a photo for inspiration. So, tip number one:

1. Amass folders of reference photo (settings, interesting/dynamic compositions, colours, costumes, poses, people, animals, textures) . If you have time, try a sketch that doesn't use visual reference. But then try another sketch that draws from your photos, and see if those using references doesn't result in better pictures. To save time, keep a small, changing folder of favourite and really inspiring photos.

2. Now, those regular drawing/sketching tips can apply: Trees and foliage, done realistically, shouldn't look like clouds or cotton candy on sticks. (See the examples here: Common drawing mistakes and suggestions. I do recommend Artist's Complete Problem and Solution Handbook by Trudy Friend, as a valuable resource for any artist, fantasy or non.) Draw more masses, not just lines. For looser lines, hold your pencil higher up on its length. Watch your hatching techniques, and make them work to capture textures, not just values. 

3. Because this is fantasy art, know the rules, then break or go beyond them: Pose a figure upside down--because they can fly, or they're in zero-gravity. Tilt the picture plane, because you can! After you've used negative shapes to help draw your central figure, fill those same shapes with a faraway landscape, or more story-telling details. Put in fantasy sources of light: glowing bubbles, tiny fairies, dragon ...

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Steampunk Art

posted by marrael 2011-10-06 02:06:06 is in the midst of Steampunk Week, and illustrator John Coulthart shares his collage technique and inspiration for steampunk art in Crafting Steampunk Illustrations. Collage isn't a technique commonly seen in fantasy art, but seems to fit steampunk to a T!

For those of us creating illustrations "from scratch", How to Draw Steampunk Machines is still one of the best online (and free!) tutorials I've seen. Flickr has thousands of wonderful photos of steampunk costumes (and gadgetry, and jewelry, and whimsical inventions) for inspiration, but if you'd just like a blog that show you the highlights of steampunk art, I can recommend Steampunk Costume.

Have a favourite steampunk visual resource of your own? Feel free to share!