Hi. I suck at art, turns out most people do, but I had the pleasure of going through my old imgur posts and instead of deleting it all in a blind panic (I had to restrain myself) I wanted to compare the old to the new and show what my artistic progress has been like over the last five years, since about mid-2012. Mostly I'm doing this because a lot of people say "I wish I could draw" and I assume they think it just happens, that somebody good at art is just good at art, but I think I'm gonna make it damn clear that is not the case. It's just practice, like literally anything else, and a fair bit of understanding techniques to put in your own work. I am anything but dedicated when drawing, I fizzle out a lot, get distracted and have ten unfinished pieces for everything you even see in WIP format never mind actually done, and only get inspired in month-long bursts. Until halfway through this year I hardly even dedicated my time to it regularly. Anything I made before that that was any good was a fluke, or took over 10 hours, because I am lazy, and my five years could be any dedicated person's two years of progress. If you want to get good at art go get good at art. It takes a few hours for a good piece, and your early ones will never look great, but don't toss it. It's good to look back on, you improve the most noticeably in the first few months of effort, very significantly, and it's very much clear in the pieces I have here. There were some tragic losses on the way because I refuse to share what I used to think was good dialogue, we'll never see those images again, but I kept a few (and it's all on my drive anyway still). 2012 - The dark times Spoiler: April - Sky Ship My earliest surviving piece without dialogue here. It's a flying ship being attacked by flying octopus. Can you see what's even going on? I only know because I have vivid memories of this idea. I could not draw humans at all five years ago. It's full of problems, it's very busy, but that's because I thought white space was the enemy. When doing black and while drawings and you can't do shading, it's not. You can see where I just crammed a part full of mountains (triangles), stuck in a distant crap city shape, and even just scribbled away some of that white space for some reason I can't fathom. Not even my clouds are white. Spoiler: June - Forest Clash Still pretty bad but this is one I remember taking a LOT of time on to get right. This was at least five hours of my time, I did it with pencil first but I didn't understand things like basic skeletal anatomy, and the quickest easiest route was preferred (I think back then I was always time-pressured, I wonder if that formed any bad habits of mine) so a lot looks flat and bland. I did go all out on this one. Or at least what I considered all out at the time. Coloured pencils boy, that's where it's at. I did the main character in ink to make him stand out, it was part of his style or something? I don't remember. In drawing him and the other in more detail I totally neglected the background (I still neglect that today actually) and some major flaws are present thanks to it (that boy got long legs to have his foot in FRONT of that tree). Spoiler: November - Forest Clash 2 A brief hiatus, a gap in progress to show. I have comics and sketches, but I remember drawing this one about half a year later. I was actually pretty dedicated to my art in this period and made some immense leaps. For years I'd been at the level you saw just above, and I finally started taking myself more seriously. At this point I've FINALLY learned some pretty important stuff. Camera angles, perspective (still dodgy but I'm making attempts), finer details, and whitespace. I remember this being my first actually complex piece, made in response to inspiration when somebody made me a piece of fanart I wish I could find somebody did of the original robot dude in the first version. It's still a sin on the eyes. It's god-awful, but it's not generic anymore, and it's actually trying something. This was only a few months of off/on dedication. I could have made this amount of progress in half that time if I had the free time I have today, and one if i was actually competent at keeping focused. Spoiler: December - The Anime Eyes Every beginner artist's first serious attempt at eyes. They're big, distinctive, and easy as hell to draw compared to real eyes. I don't have much commentary on this one. I was attempting shading by now, I could get better shapes, but straight lines, a lack of any complexity, and proportions were major letdowns. I never did any research, so it took me forever to improve. I always recommend research, get a reference. Your piece will drastically improve with it. Everyone uses references right in front of them. Da Vinci, Bob Ross, whoever. It's not cheating. I used to think it was. It's not. I'm going to skip 2013, there was not much to show for it. I was at university, I had no time, I did nothing at all. 2014 - The Digital Age Spoiler: June - My First Tablet I got my first graphics tablet in early 2013 and it changed the way I drew and it's defined how I work since then. I found it a LOT easier for the way I did things and I still cannot draw on paper to save my life. This was absolutely my preferred method from the moment I first used it and I churned out a lot of pieces early on before I killed this already ancient tablet off for good. With proper tools and wider brushes I suddenly found it easier to do strong lines, properly filled spaces, background, and I immediately made use of the layering function. I remember I used to use GIMP back then. It was never ideal but it was more than enough to allow easy experimentation, erasing mistakes that used to stick around, and pushing my limits. I found this way so much easier. I was still full of issues. messy linework, awful proportions, terrible colouring, no shading, but as my first real digital piece this one stands as a big turning point for me. Spoiler: July - Nihlus, no not that one Any of you remember when I first joined TnB and I had that character Nihlus? She was named after this one, who is one of my old friend's designed for a now on-hold (dead forever) project. There's no real reason I had to tell you that, I just never told anyone why I picked that name and some people used to make a big deal about it. From this piece and the last (actually and a few before that too) it's sort of becoming clear I have a little infatuation with robotics, and that trend's gonna continue, let me tell ya. Here I am trying a wide colour palette and what, to me, was major complexity. I've killed the tablet now so there's no pressure sensitivity, my ability to stay in the lines sucks (still does) and perspective is difficult. At the time I really liked how this one turned out. For a while it stood to me as how much I'd improved from my old work back then. This was my benchmark. Spoiler: October - Hey, have you ever used references before? It took a long time but this one broke a lot of my old methods. I was still using the broken tablet and was used to it by now but my methods weren't improving until this one. I had a friend give me some tips on using references and this is what blew me down. I had a little chat and my worldview on cheating in art was turned around. It's only cheating to rip off the original, not to use it as a point of reference. You see so much of me employing that here. All of it, actually. The body, the pose, the proportions, the boots, the mountains, the sword, the crown. Every bit of this was built on references and frankly I was stunned how much of a difference it made. This one was a big moment and a big lesson. I genuinely have nothing at all from 2015 to show. Between education and a new place to waste all my free time called TnB coming into my life I didn't do much, and what I did do I'm too embarrassed to put here, so I won't. I didn't improve, I actually got worse in 2015. 2016 - Culture Shock Spoiler: February - Fandom Strikes Back in early 2016 I got into Undetale, like everyone did. I was finding more time, I wanted to do one of the more memorable scenes with my favourite character, Undyne. We see here a fair bit of change in my method, and this is because I've just bought a new proper graphics tablet for myself, the one I still use today, and changed program from GIMP to Paint Tool SAI. It's bad, perspective is wonky and the image looks flat, but it's another step up considering it's the first real piece i'd ever done since that blue dude. This entirely came out of consciously changing my approach and a year of looking at art for the first time not just for how it looked, but to try see how it was done, and how I could do that. I saw parts I liked and I tried to implement it here. I'd like to say it worked out very well, some of it at least. Flat colour might still be my forte but I kept pushing the limits of what I could manage. Spoiler: April - A Proper Redraw So up until now I'd had very little to show for my progress. I saw a lot of redraw posts here and there but never thought it was worth doing one, so I never did. Honestly I've still never done one, I probably should. This is the best example I had. A 2014 piece up against a 2016 one. I never finished it but the linework did a lot to show me my improvements. Spoiler: May - Civet I don't know what to say on this. This still holds up today, but that's because this one took me over 30 hours of work to complete. This one was an ordeal, made on a whim because Pepso told me to draw a civet. I didn't even know what a civet was. I just tried to do it like a painting, I took my time, I experimented and played with brush settings in every way I could, and it showed when the final product. Spoiler: June-September - A Pile of Sketches Anyone remember when I was offering 15-30 minute sketches? I do, I was practicing my lineart. I didn't care that it was sloppy. All I cared about now was getting a good looking picture with choppy lines. Good proportions. All of it used references to back it, obviously, but I was really proud of these. Without these I'd never have found a proper style to settle into. These were important throwaway drawings and I still do these a lot. Spoiler: November - Using Brushes I was still a victim to bad shading, bad colouring, and was about to be for a long time from here on out. In fact I'm still bad and only recently made some big jumps in my shading, but it was still important to keep experimenting. Here I mixed up my approach. The result (unfinished) was great, but far too time-consuming to keep up with my wandering attention span. I couldn't do this, even if the results were superb. You need to find the style and method that suits you best, and this didn't suit me. I'd never finish anything like this. 2017 - Now, I guess Spoiler: January-June - Linework Refined So now I had a lot down, and all it took was not going for detail in everything I did. It was mass production. Doing those sketches was THE tipping point. Low-quality pieces that taught me how to make a messy drawing that still looked great, with perfect proportions, good racial features, and all that noise. now I had to fix my lineart, I had to stylise my art. The moment i tried making this fleshed out it'd look bad unless it was stylised, and I really struggled for a long time trying to think what style I could do. I shouldn't have worried, because your style mostly comes to you naturally, and it'd been present in all of my art all the way, and I hadn't noticed until today, writing this post. You can push it one way or another, sure, but your style is your style. I've drawn Ash Vernon on request more than any other character. Bloo has a problem. And the rest Spoiler: Augfreak My best piece of 2016, a total fluke. This one took only 11 hours, I did it by accident. Spoiler: Fingerguns Pushing stylistic choices, I've always leaned toward wanting to make my stuff look like it's from a comic book. I loved the style of a certain few. This was a nudge and a wink to that, seeing what I could do. I still refer back to this one, it's influenced a lot of my other recent stuff. Spoiler: Disco Cop A stupid story that sparked an entire image, this one probably counts as another big jump in my standards. Spoiler: Cranberry My first real attempt at bleeding together references and my own work. I don't actually like how this one turned out, I felt far too limited by the rigid constrained offered by it, I think it's a stiff and flat piece because of it, and that taught me a lot. What I mean is this is the first time I dropped a pose exactly as it was on the original reference photo, and drew over a lot of the details to get it just right. I felt like I was wasting my time just doing that, basically retroscoping it, and then putting my character there instead. I didn't like that approach. It still felt too cheaty, and it very much detracted from stylistic freedom. Search "Brian Cranston Red Car" to see exactly how much I copied from the original in this one. I hated this one so much. Spoiler: Peephole Made for a short story, no real reason for it beyond seeing a scene like this in a movie I quite liked. Helped with closeups, something I didn't ever do much. Strange tendency to try do an entire body in my work. Lighting and shading needed work, I couldn't place what it was. I felt too generic, too cookie-cutter. I needed to change something, I wasn't liking any of my stuff because of this. Spoiler: Black Shadows So a little request made on a whim by a fella, I worked this out. I wasn't liking the shading, as always, but I'd been re-reading one of my comics and realised there was something that was so natural to every panel I'd totally missed it. In ever page he handled shadows by using blocks of black, and while I was borrowing so many of this specific illustrator's methods I'd not even realised this one. This was my first attempt at block shading, and I think it worked. It complimented everything else I did in my pieces and made everything else stand out so much more. Spoiler: The Last of Steve And just a couple days ago I was asked to make a piece based on the original Last of Us posters, the same scene done how I do things, and I thought why not try go all out on that black shading thing, and I really think if i hadn't learned that step so recently this one would have been a disaster. And that's it, five years of progress. I spent too long making this thread but i hope it actually showed my perspective on improving. A lot of people think art is too difficult to get into but it's not really. Get some tips from people who know what they're doing. Do variation. Do research. Enjoy it. Do it for you. You get good without noticing, and anything you do you're gonna hate. I like my work but I fucking hate every single bit of it. I made it, I know what's wrong with it. Every tiny little flaw. They don't.