Some artists are known to dislike their own art, and I, Empress Suma, am no exception. So here's a list of issues that bring me insane sometimes... And how I slowly work on them, learning as I go.
Reflecting light, and shadow cast.
As a self taught artist, my experience in art used to be basically on paper until I finished high school, which had two hours a week for art class. As you can imagine, that wasn't enough training, and when I started digital art, my first pieces lacked of shading and lighting. Then I started using the airbrush to shade the areas, but I always used completely dark colors for it, and white for the brightest parts. Until I found the "Multiply", "Glow" and "Overlay" layer settings. What for 4 years worked perfectly for me, I ended up accepting that it was finally time to learn the truth and move from my comfort zone. And guess what. I found out how far I have always been from doing it properly. So, how do lighting and shading actually work?
- Shading on bottom parts. It will take the color of the ground, or whatever area the piece is on. It's reflected light, not just darkness.
- Shading the upper parts. It will take the color of the sky, or the area surrounding the piece.
- The direct lighting: it will take the color of the light source, in a gradient from palest to gray, when the two kinds of shading above meet with the light.
For this reason, some artists decide to color in grayscale, so they can control the reflections before using a hundred layers of corrections.
Not knowing where to find skin colors on the palette wheel.
Orange? Pink? Red? Where are they? Which ones should I choose? There's many skin colors, many varieties, which play differently with the lighting and shading. Which is the secret?
- Pick color palettes from photos. Choosing from real human beings always helps.
- Human skin has no less than 3 variations of color in an area.
- On the color wheel, red+gray tones will usually approach you to the most realistic skin types.
- Remember that lips, hands and feet have different tonalities. Natural lips usually are darker, hand palms and feet usually are lighter.
- You can use the following guide that I created for you:
On Autodesk Sketchbook, my canvas sizes varied from 200 to 600px, meaning that the pictures were low quality, and my computer couldn't take more than that, probably because of the program itself. But when I changed to Clip Studio Paint, I started creating bigger canvases. From 600px to 10.000px, the difference is heavily noticeable.
Staying on my comfort zone for too long
A mistake many artists do is either staying on their comfort zone, or trying to escape it as fast as possible. None of them are usually good. To reach new levels, little steps must be taken slowly. If an artist's weakness is drawing anatomy, they will probably try to draw entire bodies, poses, and still feel like they are not improving. Instead, one may take themes to work with until they finally feel comfortable with drawing it.