Digital art shortcuts and sekrits
October 8, 2017 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying digital art again for the first time in forever. I have an iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil, and ProCreate, and yes, there are so many tutorial videos out there that I'm watching. But! What I'm looking for are simple strategies that I can use right away to make my illustrations look better. That'll help me be happy with my experiments as I work to improve, if that makes any sense. Do you have tips or links to tips?

Tips don't need to be tool-specific--they can be about using color, image placement, or anything else. An example would be "choose a color, rather than white, for your background and then draw using a contrasting color" (maybe?). Googling for these little tricks doesn't work because most results are more involved tutorials (or are somehow too basic, e.g. "You should really use layers!").

I hesitate to give examples of the types of illustrations I aspire to, because that might limit suggestions unnecessarily. (I do love Jen Bartel, Kate Leth, iguanamouth, vickisigh, etc., but I'm not specifically asking how to draw like them). If it helps, though, we're generally talking representative illustration here, not "fine art."

And I really am asking for shameless cheats/tweaks/strategies that can turn an OK drawing into something more appealing. (I'm not skimping on practice, watching more complex tutorials, and generally doing the work, I promise.)

I would appreciate your suggestions!
posted by wintersweet to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is perhaps overly simplistic, but the biggest thing I've been trying to do lately is to do a horizontal image rotation periodically on things I'm working on digitally (for pen and paper drawings this is what the good old-fashioned mirror is for). This really reveals the flaws in a drawing--at least, in my drawings, which always seem to slant towards the upper right.
posted by whistle pig at 6:24 PM on October 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Convert your drawing to greyscale once in awhile to make sure you have a wide range of values and that the highest areas of contrast occur in the areas you're most interested in drawing attention to. (There are many others types of contrast and other tricks for composition, but this is an easy first year art student type of contrast that you can do.)

Turn your drawing upside down and flip it horizontally to fix the blindness that happens when you've gotten used to looking at something the same way for more than an hour or two.

Pick color schemes from movie stills.

Make your first layer a grid by choosing the grid texture in ProCreate and coloring it in. (There are also downloadable textures for perspective drawing and rule of thirds composition.) Grids can help you line things up and copy reference more quickly.
posted by xyzzy at 7:43 PM on October 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Mirror flip your work to see flaws you miss. Do a monochrome values layer to make sure you have good contrast and balance. Don't forget lighting sources and be consistent with direction, don't skip edge lights and bounce light on the subject. Use contrasting colors as accents. Practice more :)
posted by ananci at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2017

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