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May 5, 2023

Art tips from Reddit

Art tips from Reddit

Text has been edited for brevity and clarity. I picked out my favorite advice.

  • Let all the bad work out, and good work will appear
  • Simplify the subject into simple shapes. It helps to push your boundaries, draw complex things and be successful at recreating it. Make silhouettes, and carve them into a more detailed and specific pose or shape.
  • Aim to make your work look more tangible. It helps you formulate the right questions on how to make your work better. Not in the sense of making things look super realistic, but making it look like you can almost touch it.
  • If you’re too comfortable with what you are doing, you are doing it wrong.
  • When you have trouble with an area of a drawing, create a large study of the detail you are struggling with.
  • It's ok to go outside your comfort zone, if you don't, your art stays the same. Now I'm drawing and painting scenery, different animals and plant matter, I didn't years ago because I restrained myself to only animals and one animal only, which can get incredibly boring and uninspiring. 
  • Do not make art for the sole purpose of making profit off it. It ruined my whole outlook on my art and I ended up hating every piece I did.
  • Good art is about the decisions you make: it’s what you do with your brain, not your hands, that matters most. What helped me was planning out my pieces and acquiring strong references when needed. Figuring out the composition and color scheme before sitting down and painting.
  • Use references for everything. Even if you think you know what an object looks like, even if you see it every single day, you don’t really know what it looks like and using references will ALWAYS make your work look better than without. My professors could tell when we didn’t draw with a reference and they would name and shame you in front of the class for it!
  • Have a drink, take your paper to the wall, sketch big and hold the pencil by its end. Really loosened me up and allowed me to see the bigger picture without getting tied up in the tiniest details.
  • Always keep at least one thing the same. Don't make "a painting", make a series of related paintings, each with elements in common, and some big changes. Then stand back, evaluate them, compare them, learn what worked and what didn't, then apply that to the next series.
  • Nothing is holy. This tip helped tame my perfectionist streak years back. Just do the work and don’t overdo things if it isn't that important. I.e. prioritize your energies. Back in my beginner years of digital art I was so overwhelmed w/ the freedom it gave me that it cost me my time. Nowadays I try to be economical and plan things out so that my energy & time isn't wasted on a single page or panel. 
  • You can stick with one medium (2D or 3D) but knowledge, technique, workflow, inspiration comes from all mediums, for example: watching a 3D lighting artist working their magic or a surface/texture artist recreating surface imperfection. I tried to understand their concept and apply it to my 2D work.
  • Learning how to wheel throw ceramics has improved my art in ways I didn’t even notice at first. With the process of learning wheel throwing you have to get used to repetitive processes and understand that even if you do everything right it could still end up wrong. Artists need to be okay with their failures. With ceramics, if you mess up, you just try again. You can't save anything and I think that's a great lesson- being able to deal with pieces that just don't work and being able to move on from them.
  • Practice gesture drawing. The difference is profound. It's easy to get caught up in the technicalities of construction and anatomy. When you do that, you lose sight of the human you're trying to draw.
  • Don't be afraid of failure. Every time we don't accomplish our goal, and we try again, we are learning. 
  • Remember to have fun with your art. I used to stress because I was so set on trying to make things for other people's happiness and that dashed my own. When I focused on things that made me happy, I now have noticed that I am way ahead of where I was. I have my comfort characters I draw once a year to gauge my progress. 
  • The ability to dissociate from the results and embrace the failures came from significantly increasing the volume of art I was making.
  • It’s hard to be precious about a single drawing when you realize there’s always going to be another one. Plus, you know that you’ll be better in the future, so mistakes aren’t a big deal.
  • I go to art school and it's frustrating to see people put so much time into saving projects when they have the skills to just start over and make something fundamentally better.
  • Get a life. Studying is great and drawing 10 hours a day is OK if that's our jam to progress, but this will only bring us bland, rehashed technique. Getting out, living our lives with the various experiences related to it is what brings our art to life.
  • If you're going to mess up anywhere in a drawing of a person, make sure you at least get the eyes right! That's the first place we look as humans, and that's the first place people will notice your mistakes.
  • Your work doesn't need to be realistic, but it does need to be convincing.
  • If you are making changes to improve your piece, then you are not finished. If you are making changes just for the sake of making changes and not to improve it, then your piece is finished. This advice helped me to move onto the next artwork and not to continue dwelling on a piece.
  • Challenge yourself with something different for each piece. I think if you're pushing yourself to practice things outside of your comfort zone you'll continually improve.
  • No one is required to master the fundamentals before they’re allowed to draw whatever they want. Just draw whatever you want and apply whatever fundamentals you’ve learned. Technical knowledge is good, but the desire to keep making art will take you much further.
  • Turn your reference image and canvas upside down. You will see so much to fix that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed
  • Tell the stories you wished you could read. Not the stories you think you would sell. For me, I had the will to keep working and progress when it got hard when I was making art I was passionate about. The effort would wither and die when I was trying to create watered down safe crap that I thought would be acceptable to a wider audience.
  • The power of community support and quality critique. Grinding in isolation and crossing your fingers for wisdom from subreddits might only gain you an inch per year, while paying for a class with feedback will get you a mile.

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