Become a better artist by copying better artists.
Mastercopy | Frazetta – Dark Kingdom
Years ago, I attended a Concept Art event where one of the presenters who I considered an accomplished professional revealed that he still did master copies. For him doing master copies was a method to remain sharp, learn new techniques or learn new software (or hardware).
My personal 10-year-old Cintiq broke recently and while I wanted to buy a new one, the new Cintiq Pros are due out in May. In the meantime, I needed to buy something as a replacement, but I didn’t want to pay Wacom prices for what would soon be obsolete hardware. By “obsolete” I mean “We no longer support your device(cable) you need to buy a whole new one.
I also didn’t want to buy another temporary Wacom device if I needed to buy another one to replace it shortly thereafter.
So I decided to try out the Huion Inspiroy G10T. This master copy of Frazetta’s Dark Kingdom was completed with the Huion Inspiroy G10T.
I like the Huion because it has a smooth texture, smoother than my old Intuos at my old job. It was also half the price. I can draw faster on a smooth surface with less texture to drag on my nib.
I had initially wanted my students to try doing this as an extra credit assignment, but I think it may be out of their comfort zone. Doing studies like this is akin to fan art. You’re only going to improve if you can begin to approach the level of your heroes. You will never surpass them because you will never become them. That should not be your goal. Don’t be disappointed if your work isn’t as good.
I intend to do a few more of these, to really get comfortable with my new setup. I’m still learning how to make videos, so bear with me as I Forrest Gump my way through this and working with Steem. I’m hoping to earn enough to buy a new Cintiq Pro when they come out.
There are things that you can learn by copying the work of better painters and draughtsman, things that a teacher cannot tell you. You’re far better off trying to figure out how to do something on your own by running into problems yourself that you need to solve without help. This is better than being spoon-fed a solution by a teacher before you even run into the problem. The more you can learn to do this, the faster you will learn.
In school, I had a rendering teacher who would give us an assignment and not tell us how to do it. Only after everyone brought in their work, would he show us all the techniques and shortcuts. Learning the quick and simple to produce quality and reduce time was mind-blowing. Having had the experience of doing something the hard way and taking a long time to do it, we had a greater appreciation for time-saving techniques.
While in an ideal situation, you would want to use the same medium as the artist, in the fast-paced world of technology, it’s acceptable to try to mimic work in a digital medium. It’s cheaper to buy a tablet and download an open source or cheap painting program that it is to buy oil paints, an easel, a palette, canvasses, mediums, brushes, etc. Parents of high-school aged kids who are interested in art can spend less than a hundred dollars for a tablet(non-Wacom) and download a free painting program like Krita. The problem is that most parents of budding artists know nothing about art. They don’t know the wealth of free resources on the net and on YouTube.
It doesn’t matter whether you copy drawings or paintings. Spending the time to analyze the work of another, better, artist means that for a short time you’re walking a mile in their brain. It’s like putting on Jordans and figuring out how to dunk. The Jordans themselves won’t make you dunk, but they will help you practice. You won’t ever be Michael Jordan.
You can admire others, but don’t become a second-rate version of them. Become a first-rate version of you.
This requires practice.
The more master copies that you do, the faster and better you will become. When you do this repetitively, you can start applying techniques that you’ve learned to your own personal and professional work.
Malkovich yourself into your favorite artist(s) and absorb those lessons.
Sheff | PixelColada