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March 25, 2012
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I troll DA often and I come across alot of people who really crave some good art direction for themselves. Alot of people just don't know what to do or how to discipline themselves to improve their artwork/art journey. I remember when I was new to DA and at the same time new to taking artwork seriously (art school and such) that I was at a total loss at what I was doing. I had no direction, nobody would offer any advice and worse yet I was way too inexperienced to figure out that I had to ask for help. I didn't know about getting help lol. So, I was wondering around aimlessly for years.....yes, YEARS! I know at least one of you can vouch for that, as you followed me along my art journey.

So, with that said, I also don't notice any of these floating around DA. This isn't a guide to getting popular. If you're here to be popular, chances are it wont happen (because thats how karma rolls), or you'll achieve it but it will come with great sadness (drama)



1. How to draw wolves, or anything else.
There is no secret as how to draw wolves or anything else for that matter. To learn how to draw something, you must teach yourself how to draw the real thing. Don't get discouraged at your rate of progress. Art magic doesn't happen overnight. Since you can't really encounter wolves in real life, wolf photo books are excellent sources of references. I recommend that you do not get your wolf knowledge from people who are already illustrating them. These other artists are stylizing the subject and you may fall into the trap of learning bad habits or find that your wolf style is looking very similar to the other wolf artist. On top of that, ask yourself, are you really learning how to draw the wolf or are you just copying how someone else is doing it???

2. Just sketch I can't stress this one enough
...Don't actually do complete drawings every single time you're drawing something new for practice. Just do study sketches so you can get a feel for movement, shape, proportions, and perspectives. When you keep harping on one drawing and spend so much time on it, you find yourself doing more correcting rather than drawing and thats because in-experience is taking over. Yeah, I guess people can learn from that, but I don't feel it gives the brain a break so it can re-collect it's thoughts. Make your brain start all over time and time again. You'll notice your drawings come out better faster when you just purge that previous drawing and start all over again. This is the process of muscle memory, its like riding a bike; you fall down, you get back up and steadily your body begins to figure things out.
Don't get discouraged at your art flow rate, you're not trying to feed the masses, you're trying to educate yourself to better your technique!

3. Tips about developing a style.
This is the part where you want to look at how other people are drawing. Or you don't even need to study other people's style. Nature provides a plethora of artist solutions. Once you've got an idea of what you want your style to look like try to find artists who are accomplishing this (or once again, turn to nature). Understand the style and emulate it. Do not struggle to copy the style perfectly! This will cause you to work backwards and not really understand what you're trying to do. The idea is to develop something different and more personal. You do not want to become someone else's shadow. Thats the worst art identity you could have. This is not permission to steal styles. And if someone accuses you of stealing, do not let them bother you. Simply state that you are learning styles to find your own personal artistic voice. And if they still insist that you stop drawing like the way they think you are, tell them kindly to go jump in a lake.

4. Talk to other artists.
Becoming a popular artist does not mean you will always get to talk to other popular artists and learn from them. Most of the time, these people are very busy or even worse, too lazy or inexperienced to help you. Its best to find unknown artists. Just because unknown artists don't have a lot of popularity does not mean they don't know what they're talking about. Also, these people tend to be more willing to offer their advice and may have more time for you.

5. When is a critique helpful?
A helpful critique is one that actually gives the artists good advice on how to improve the art in question, not just list off a big list of things that is wrong. Anybody that wants to be better at critiquing should offer all the knowledge they may know. If they're unsure of how to improve, they should at least offer some resources that the artist can turn towards. This will help people learn to be constructive critics.

6. Experiment.
Experimenting means trying something you never thought of. This includes drawing with a pastel when you normally use a crayon or colored pencil. Drawing on a textured paper when you usually use your sketchbook paper. Drawing a few different styles when you always draw within your comfort zone. Or trying an all new art type, trying sculptures when you normally just do illustration. The goal is to see what else you like to do. If you had a negative experience with a certain medium in the past, challenge it again in the future. You probably learned alot of things since then and have better patience with that medium that you didn't have earlier.

Breaking out of your comfort zone is what makes you improve. Many artists galleries appear to be the same because they never took the extra step of challenging themselves. These people aren't to be looked down upon because they may not understand how to take that extra step. Many people don't. Taking the extra step means doing something you've never done before. If all you do is draw wolves, put those down for a while and take up horses or humans. What? Those are too hard to draw? Well, thats how you get better:)

7. Put down the fanart for a while.
Theres nothing wrong with doing fanart. I just wanted to get that clear before people just assume I'm anti-fanart. However, what I am saying here is do not build your art identity on fanart. If your gallery is just fanart, you're just another fanartist to people. If you're taking your art development seriously, you need to create your own ideas and go with it. If you stick to fanart for so long, your work will start to look like the fanart's original style. Now, I'm not judging people who just have fanart in their DA gallery and thats it, for all I know they have actual artwork they work on outside of DA. I'm talking about people (that i've known from IRL) who build their entire art identity on fanart. Thats an unhealthy approach to your art if you're taking your art journey seriously.

8. Don't be a one trick pony
The cliche is 'don't be a one trick pony', which actually means don't stick to one thing and make that your ultimate craft. Now, for arts sake, I'm referring to subject matter. Don't just draw one thing. Being a varied artist is very healthy for your own development while helping you become more versatile with different mediums and subject matter. So, in literal terms, don't draw the same thing over and over again. Then you become pigeon holed into being "that wolf artist" or "that dragon artist" and then people will just assume you can't do anything else. I only mention this because of commission work, or if you want to advertise yourself out there as a serious artist. If people think you can only draw one thing-----then you just basically limited yourself.

9. Set aside your ego/don't get too attached to your work.
This concept is kind of difficult to adopt especially since art is about loving what you do and your creations are very dear to you. Theres nothing wrong with having a muse that you dote on and develop throughout the years, because I personally think thats a great thing to have because your character grows with you. I'm just simply referring to accepting critique and being able to put down old artwork and look forward to future artwork and work on something new. I suppose this could be experimenting as well, but the kicker is you're not letting your emotions hold you back.



You know the saying "practice makes perfect"?  Well, the saying actually should go "perfect practice makes perfect". The repetition of the correct performance is required to achieve the muscle memory you need to help you learn how to draw certain things better.

All the artists that you see and idolize had to start from the bottom too! Nobody got to where they are overnight nor did they learn the "secrets" about artwork. Hard work and dedication got them where they are.
notice in the title of this deviation's number, I update it when I add a new tip

I have compiled a nice list from my various comments/resources from previous years when people would ask for advice on certain topics/issues. This is updated with slightly better grammar (but not by much)

this list is ever changing. so its going to slowly grow. Some things people may not even agree with me on, so with that said, if you read something on here and you totally disagree just remember the fact that these are based upon my own experiences and what I've witnessed :)

Feel free to offer any of your own experiences that worked out for you. The idea here is to compile a nice collections of resources/experiences

btw, if any of you are ever wondering, yes I will give you advice if you ask. just send me a note okay? however, be prepared for honesty :3
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:iconninjakato:
NinjaKato Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013
Thank you for stating number 4 ._. I'm glad you're telling people to go seek other artists, not just popular ones. 
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:iconzombiehun:
ZombieHun Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
alot of these tips were a result of a questionnaire I conducted several years ago and one of the questions were along the lines of "What is your art goal" and the common answer was to be popular in order to talk to popular artists. A common misconception that I wanted to dispel because it looked like a hurdle people put on themselves therefor feeling that popularity = great art

also, there are others with the attitude of "if you're not popular, you're not a good artist." <--- I've actually been the brunt of THAT conception once-upon-a-time LOL therefore my legit critiques were shrugged off because I wasn't a front-page artist.
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:iconninjakato:
NinjaKato Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013
Yeah, not to mention they often confuse popular = nice unfortunately. I've talked to a few popular artists who were pretty rude and haughty tbh (I won't say who but) and that tends to leave a bad taste in people's mouths about popular artists. 
There's a TON of really wonderful and brilliantly talented artists out there who aren't well known but they're awesome teachers! 

Well, thing is art shouldn't be about being popular at all. I mean it's nice to get noticed and all but still... you started art for fun, we all started out that way as kid artists. Then you join a club or an art site and the peer pressure sets in and suddenly it's all about whose better and who is more noticed. Sadly things like dA don't really help in dispelling the need to be popular with their options of 'most popular' and such. 
Little secret (most people don't remember this) but being on the front page doesn't automatically mean someone is a bloody brilliant artist, sometimes it more depends on the subject they drew OR how many people looked and liked. It doesn't really mean you're better than anyone else at all, ever. You could only make it to the front page once in your time on dA but that doesn't mean you're horrible or less than any other artist. 
I hate when I see a lot of artists striving for popularity on a website. I mean I used to strive for it for the feedback and such but I had a lot of fun (still do) just doing the art and stuff. 
I guess it's more in your mentality, eh? 
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:iconzombiehun:
ZombieHun Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i'm still on here for fun. As shitty as dA is for promoting artists (for jobs and such) its still a great community to find very helpful art friends or just awesome people to shoot the shit with. I've found so many penpals (that are now on my FB) and a couple people that I've gotten to finally meet in person *Kamakru and =ElysianImagery and those two in particular are very helpful in giving me constructive and helpful feedback so that I can improve my own artwork.

It isn't 100% about the art, you find people from all walks of life that you can have something in common with.

But yes, I've heard about some popular artists with piss-poor attitudes, even having seen it for myself or as a third party. Its amazing what attention does to someones mentality.

Front page wonders are sometimes luck. I think I can recall only been on the actual front page twice ever since being here on dA. I wasn't trying to do it, it just happened. When you're trying to succeed in an irrelevant goal, Karma likes to say "uhhhh. no :lol:, no front page for you."

I am personally a busy person, but in the mean time when I can I like having made resources to direct people so that when i get that influx of the exact same question about my artwork, I can just link them instead of ignoring them because i'm "too busy" to repeat myself a million times lol
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:iconshadershq:
ShadersHQ Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are very right on number 8, I have been working on a way to make human anatomy in a simplex style but refrained from the idea seeing im so good at the characters im on now...I see I need to expand a bit 
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:iconredeyeangel:
RedEyeAngel Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks for the tips
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:iconfresiako:
Fresiako Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Favourited, you speak many words of wisdom. :)
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:iconsilverx8:
SilverX8 Featured By Owner May 18, 2012  Student Digital Artist
nice tips...very helpfull ^^
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:iconmilocycle:
Milocycle Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is some really helpful advice.
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:iconda-andi:
da-andi Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012
Clearly a remarkable compilation of tips for a successful and enjoyable Art-Journey!
I really should keep that in mind while continuing by very own, personal tour I've just started. :)
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