Friday, June 29, 2012

Coty: Palette: Secondary Triad. Crits welcome.

I have had in mind for a while this image and I decided to work with a secondary palette: Green, violet and orange. It really proved to be harder than what I originally thought, and I don’t know how well I did honor the secondary theme, but the final image has the energy I was looking for.
Comments and critiques, always welcome!

Enchanted Visions (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

That puts my list down by two themes! Yay!

Limited (Circe)
Secondary (Enchanted Visions)
Split complementary

Big group of people
one point perspective
two points perspective

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Maria's Surrounded By Design results

I tried the Surrounded by Design challenge, and this is what I got:

From a wee bit of this dress:

I got this winter scene:

And from part of this theater curtain:

I made this mossy cave:

They're really more thumbnails than finished pieces, but I just wanted to experiment with texture and color for the moment. My backgrounds are pretty abysmal, and I think either of these would be an improvement over what I've done in the past. So, success! I may have to do more of these in the future, and keep them around for environment ideas.

Monday, June 25, 2012

ART EXERCISE: Body Language

Snagged this meme from Sam, who snagged it from DeviantART!  The 25 Facial Expressions meme is a pretty common one, but what we tend to forget is that the face is not the total of a character's expression.  Expression comes from the hands, the posture, the movement, and a character's presence. It is the sum of its parts and can make or break a character's impression on the viewer.  The challenge of this exercise is to take a character and to define the various expressions in a way unique to those characters.

Don't have a character to try it out on?  You can try using a generic figure instead and just practicing body language in general.

NOTE: If you try this exercise, be sure to tag it as 'Body Language' in your results post, so we can keep up with who has tried this one out.

The meme:

By ReincarnatedParano on DeviantART.   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Design is everywhere - Sam's post

When Ang did her set of design is everywhere photo paintings, I was doing them at the same time. Here are my results. Most of these were done in less than an hour. Photos were rotated and cropped in pretty much every case!

Original Photo: Withered Shade by nexion

Original photo: Bird by Yowlot

Original photo: Cranes by SuzyTheButcher

Another introduction - Sam Hogg

Hi there, my name is Sam Hogg. I'm currently a professional concept artist, working for Jagex on the Transformers IP, though my first love is fantasy art. I work in pretty much any medium going aside from pastels and markers, and enjoy a healthy balance between traditional and digital. My job means I draw for pretty much at least 8 hours a day during the week, and I'm always looking to do more in my spare time. Having burnt myself out doing 2 high profile concept jobs a couple of years ago though, I also appreciate the time to be able to relax and enjoy things like movies and games.

My main reasons for wanting to improve are the constant pressure I feel being in an industry where the young and talented are always on the rise, and seem to be even more multi-talented than ever. So while I think my technical level is now pretty high, I also want to be sure I'm producing the best work I can, and not just getting lazy with what I'm comfortable with.

So, here's my overview of things I'd like to get better at. Currently I'm not sure exactly how I'll be improving these, so I'll probably go back and amend as I go.

The problem:  The everlasting study. Can never know enough and work currently isn't working that part of my knowledge hard enough.
   · Do more copies from Michael Hampton's brilliant anatomy book. Try to learn the names of key muscles properly so it sticks in my head better

The problem: Default to standing or calm poses. Always from straight on, and never suggest movement.
   · Gestures  -  do a good number of sheets of simple gestures. Work on different types of gesture. Standing, calm, more action based, more with pushed proportions.

The problem: Tendancy to always default to a calm or sad expression.
   · Do sheets of both gesture and more in depth expressions
   · Study muscles of the face and how they affect expression.

The problem: Tendancy to think of everything as a flat 2d surface. Over complicate things. Don't use visual rythym enough.
· Work on simple thumbnail sketches - gestures for composition essentially. DO some with line and some with just flat colours
· Break down my existing artworks into simple shapes and values.Try to figure out what the key things that work and don't work are.
· Simplify -  I'm already aware that I have a tendency to over complicate things thinking more = better.
· Camera angles. Look at films, try things other than head on viewpoints.

The problem: A natural inclination towards over saturated colours and not working with enough hue shifts.
· Figure out colour by doing more photo and life studies. Work out how much light affects colour's saturation, hue and value.
· Work with more desaturated palettes.
· Work with limited palettes. Learn the terms for various colour combos.
· Practice using more subtle turns of hue and saturation
· Study master paintings. Artists like Bougereau, Leyendecker and Sargeant.
· Do some concept art studies - looking at how other artists in my field control their colors and value.

The problem: Not enough knowledge of how more dramatic light works. Defaulting to a more matted light set up with rim lights.
· practice small compositions with more dramatic lighting
· Do photo studies for cast shadows.
· Do a few pages of simple 3d shapes lit in different ways.

Erin's introduction: trying to get back in the game


I'm Erin.  I'm struggling to write an introduction, because I am quite unfocused as an artist (and definitely less accomplished than all of you).  I used to do a lot of fantasy art, mainly digital paintings.  Then came a six-year foray into a stressful career path completely unrelated to art… and the artistic side of me shriveled up and died.  My husband's job recently took us across the country to San Francisco, and I am finding myself without a license in my field, plenty of free time, and a desperate desire to make art an important part of my life again. 

I am fascinated by religion and spirituality of all sorts, and will be turning to religious stories and mythologies when trying to figure out what to paint.  One of my goals is to paint the angelic hierarchy, which is how I found Angela's blog.  

My plan for improvement is to have two tracks: one is lots of drawing and painting from life and from photographs to boost my technical ability.  The other is creative pieces where I don't stress out so much about technique but work on letting creativity flow and on actually finishing paintings (I have a problem with that).  

- Make better use of marks in shading (directional crosshatching rather than smudging, etc.)
- Finally learn proper perspective, so buildings are not intimidating  
- Continue to study color theory and never be haphazard about color. 
- Work on drawing from life to improve proportions and flow of drawing

- Use more detail!
- Stop having areas obfuscated or covered in darkness or texture (I use it as a crutch)
- Do more illustration - have each drawing tell a story, with dynamic figures and expressions

The first thing I'm planning to tackle is perspective, so I checked out a couple library books and will I'll be posting some challenges about that.

I look forward to working with all of you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nicole Cadet's foray into art improvements

Hi, I'm Nicole Cadet (sometimes known as nixjim13) and I'm a part-time fantasy artist (the rest of the time I'm a computer programmer). I mostly work in the private commissions arena, doing RPG character portraits, and the occasional book cover, but I love painting fantasy, goddesses, fairies, mermaids, sci-fi, myths and legends, and elves (I got hooked on painting more 'manly' elves, if that is possible, a few years ago as a laugh :) )

Anyway, I'd like to push my skills towards more RPG game card art and cover art, but also take a step back and pull out my watercolours and acrylic paints (as I've mostly been doing digital paintings for the last few years)

My goals are relatively fluid at the moment

  • improving narratives/ storytelling through character and composition
  • improving my composition skills (in general, might look at Loomis as a starting point)
  • trying to get more dynamics into my paintings (dynamic poses, interesting POV)
  • improving my values (so they aren't so flat, stuff like chiaroscuro and the likes)
  • simplify my colour palettes
Exercises (this is going to sound like a menagerie as I want to push my subject matters)
  • participate in sketchfest regularly (to keep the traditional drawing skills fresh & try new things)
  • learn to draw horses (so I can go to unicorns and pegasus)
  • gryphons
  • dragons ... of all kinds, and more than just a head!
  • paint a cartoon character in the style of a realistic painter (like the Disney princesses exercises that happened a few years ago)
  • sci-fi ships/ concept art / character concepts - like you see in game art concept books
  • more character concepts - different types of ethnicities, races, roles etc
Likely I'll be inspired by other people's posts ... I like joining in on the fun :) But Sketchfest tomorrow!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Angela's Result: Surrounded by Design (cont.)

I did a few more tries of the Surrounded by Design exercise (where you take random photos and create characters or environments from them).  I can tell that this exercise is really striking at two weak points of mine - environments and atmospheric lighting.  It was very difficult for me to come up with interesting compositions when there weren't human figures involved and to light them accurately so there was a sense of depth.

It just goes to show that I need to start thinking of my environments like I do my characters by thinking of a narrative for them.  What is this place used for? What is its symbolic meaning?  What can I add to them that creates visual interest?  How can I arrange my environment so it has an interesting composition?  This was a really great exercise. I hope others will try it and share as well!

The original photo rotated and cropped.

The result - some kind of secret underground shrine.
The original photo  of a bird feeder turned upside down.

Bird feeder equals KILLER SPACE CANNON!
Photo of origami cranes turned upside down.

Equals alien mirror pyramids in the desert!
I think the next exercises I need to do to help my environments and lighting are studies of photos. Not so much creating environments as copying existing photos to get a better sense of lighting and color, then moving on to creating my own environments (suggested exercise of 30 thumbnails).

Maria Arnt Introduction

Hey, I'm a friend of Angela's and I've worked with her before (she was actually my instructor for a one-on-one multimedia class). I'm looking to improve my art so I can feel comfortable finishing my thesis for my MFA.

I think my main area of focus is going to be non-figural, although I'll probably do some figure work too. If you look at my dA gallery it's almost exclusively figures. I get a little lost when I try to create settings, and it shows.

For right now I'm just going to try other people's challenges, but if I come up with something, I'll be sure to post it here!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Christina's Plan

Hi all, I'm Christina Kester, aka. Ladyfireoak. I work primarily in traditional mediums using Celtic and Medieval themes. My recent work is inspired by Medieval illuminated manuscripts, Japanese woodblock prints, Art Nouveau, and Native American art. I also have a long standing love affair with fantasy art.

As I sat down to write my introduction and plan, I realized that I am not as clear on what I want to achieve in my art as I thought. I have been so focused on the business side that I have forgotten the creative side. Joining this group of artists in their journeys into improve their art has opened my eyes to my own journey.

I want to bring more creativity into my work. My subject, themes, color schemes, and overall compositions are safe. Here’s my list to explore:

  • participate in Sketchfest whenever possible to expand subjects and themes
  • Anatomy studies – hands and feet; how the head, neck and torso go together; proportions ( have a tendency to draw very short legged people); and the core/torso
  • Color – explore limited color palettes and unusual colors. Do studies in reflected color
  • Composition – explore more dynamic figures and groups of figures
  • Environment – any… I need the practice
Cheers and happy journeys

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Angela's Result: Surrounded by Design CRIT PLZ

My result after trying out the "Surrounded by Design" art exercise.  My original photo looked like this:

The layered leaves with the color shifting areas caught my eye first.  I immediately thought of the ruffles of a dress.  The curled leaves in the top right also made me think of underwater kelp.  Dress ruffles won out, however, after arranging parts of this photo ended up with the white fronds looking like an Elizabethan collar.

Created in Photoshop CS2 using a Cintiq 12WX.

I'm rather excited by the result!  This image went by much faster than my other digital pieces because I had a base for the texture.  It could still use some touching up, but I'm otherwise pleased with the spontaneity of coming up with ideas this way!  

CRIT PLZ:  Her arms feel bare to me. Should I add something more to them?  More filigree armbands?  Should I add more to the background or does the ambiguous patterns work?  Anything else I can do to make this more interesting, should I spruce it up for a portfolio piece?

I hope others try this exercise. It was tons of fun!  It's a bit like an artist's Rorschach test.  What do YOU see in that shape?

Friday, June 15, 2012

ART EXERCISE: Draw 100 Hands and Feet

We all know them and loathe them - the dreaded hands & feet of the human figure.  These elements seem to be bugaboos on everyone's list of challenging anatomy so let's take them head-on, so to speak!  The challenge of this exercise is to draw 100 hands and feet.  You can either draw 50 of each, or 100 of each, if you're feeling brave!

The lesson here is that pure repetition can teach us not to fear difficult anatomy, as well as commit more of the subtleties of hands and feet to memory.  There is a saying that you must draw something 10,000 times to know it by memory.  Drawing 100 should get us at least partway there!

You can try drawing your own hands, the hands of friends and family, the hands of random strangers, or even use models.  Here are some resources for expressive models who might have interesting hands to draw:

-- Pixelovely Life Drawing Tool

(Feel free to suggest more hand model sources in comments!)

Time Limit: n/a (Try to shoot for 2 weeks, for those who need a deadline)

* If you do this exercise, add the tag 'Draw 100 Hands and Feet' to your post.  If you desire critique, add "CRIT PLZ" to your post's title when you post the blog post for your results.  Good luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The QR's Ambitious Art Advancement Adventure

Hulloo! I’m Christine (Cris) Griffin—damn you, Family Guy, I was here first—and I’ve been a freelance artist for far longer than I care to admit. You may have seen me floating around the internet under the handle 'Quickreaver.' I haven’t made the progress I crave, for a couple of reasons: ambition (or lack thereof) and motivation/direction. I’m hoping to remedy this, starting NOW.

To date, I’ve been mostly doing digital book covers and private portrait commissions. They’re not exactly filling my creative niche anymore, though financially they’re lovely! What I really want to start doing is my own original properties in the form of full-length genre novels and graphic novels. Right now, I’m kinda fixated on the fandom circling around the TV show Supernatural, so I will likely use it as a point of inspiration for these studies until I reach a certain saturation level. ;) So I apologize in advance for the probable preponderance of All Things Winchester in these exercises. I figure it’s not a bad way to utilize fanart for fun and growth, and will certainly keep me inspired while I try to wrangle my shortcomings into submission. I’ll likely mention my literary exploits too, but to a lesser degree.

My formal training is in traditional painting, but my desire is to become a stronger draftsman, mark-maker and cartoonist. I want to better my grasp of anatomy and perspective, as well as pictorial narrative…quite the opposite of what I did all those years in art school. I’m pretty much starting from scratch, so bear with me!

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of The Paper Wings Podcast, hosted by the smart, funny and talented team of Chris Oatley and Lora Innes. I highly recommend them and their podcast, regardless of where you are in your artistic development.

So, now it begins! My list of potential explorations (borrowing from Angela):

-gesture drawing, action and different POVs
-proportions and body types
-egads, hands and feet!

-multi-fig scenes
-varying POV
-visual flow (laying out a page)

Character Design:
-exploring personal style
-mark-making and drawing/cartooning
-visual short-handing and consistancy

So if any of you animation students have advice, lay it on me! I don’t intend to explore animation, per se, but storyboarding is on my list of jobs to look at in the future…

Wish me luck, babies!

Angela's Art Wish List

My name is Angela Sasser and I consider myself to be a fantasy artist.  My favorite topics are myths, fairy tales, gods, goddesses, elves, rogues, and warriors, among other things.  My ultimate career goal is to end up as an illustrator for card art, rpg books, and book covers.  I would love to get involved in doing character and concept art for video games as well!

I am a traditionally trained painter with a classical education a la 'paint your feelings on canvas', but that path never suited me.  Too in love with Elves!♥  I'm currently trying to expand beyond my watercolor and ink roots into digital painting and it's been a tough road for me. I would ultimately like to be able to create digital paintings that replicate the energy of my traditional paintings.

Here are the list of the things I wish to improve on with a few of the areas I'm hoping to challenge myself with.  I still need to think of some specific exercises to do with some of these.  I'll be adding more as I think of them and will keep this list here for my own benefit.

Draw 100 Hands and Feet
Draw 100 Torsos
Draw 100 Mancrotches
Various Expressions
Various Ethnicities

Group of people
Action scene
Book cover

Concept Art:
Storyboarding - Favorite Scene from a Book

Character Design:
Fashion templates
100 Faces
Orthographic Sheets

Narrative locales from a favorite book

Color Theory:
Limited palette
Accent color

ART EXERCISE: Surrounded by Design

The first exercise I'm challenging myself to do is one suggested by the FZDschool of design.  The challenge is to take a shape from a random photo of an everyday object or scene and turn it into a design, either a character or a setting.

This exercise challenges your design sense to see if you can be a creative problem solver in making a design from a completely random shape.  There is inspiration all around us and we need to be able to identify it to be successful creative thinkers.

FZD posted a video example of taking a random photo and creating something cool out of it:

Time Limit: n/a

* If you do this exercise, add the tag 'Surrounded by Design' to your post.  If you desire critique, add "CRIT PLZ" to your post's title.  Good luck!

Coty: My challenge list

Hi there! I am Constanza Ehrenhaus, known online also as Faerywitch. I recently posted in my blog that I was challenging myself to grow as an artist and posted a list of things to study and paint. Angela here saw that list and kindly invited me to join her community blog (yay!)
I have already been asked if it is OK to repeat the exercises in this list, and my answer is "Please do! I would love to see your journey too!" So let me share with you my list:


Split complementary

Why? Because I feel that my coloring could use improving!

Big group of people
one point perspective
two points perspective

Why? Because my compositions are quite the same, and it's boring.

I decided to keep my submission for the Enchanted Visions Project: Circe, very muted and limited. I chose an earthy palette because I wanted to keep an “ancient” look, and I used a roman inspired frame. Also, I wanted to practice fur, which didn’t come out as good as I wanted, but it is a good first attempt
It was challenging, I hated it for most of the process but towards the end it started to come together. I do like the final look, with the frame in place and the wrinkled texture.
 Feel free to critique this piece!  :)

An Artist's Ambition

My name is Angela and I am a fantasy Artist and founder of this blog.  I already have an art blog of my own, but this one is different.  I want Artist Ambition to be a joint effort for multiple artists to continuously improve their art, to share the progression of their skills, and to nurture that passion to push themselves as artists.

The journey of the artist can be a long and lonely one while we are striving to improve.  It's easy to get demotivated and talk about improving your skills, but to never do what needs to be done. Now, with other artists watching, we are accountable for our own actions, we can encourage each other, and we can succeed!

What is this blog about?

This blog is dedicated to artistic improvement through art exercises. I will be posting specific exercises I am doing to improve my art and sharing the results of those exercises here along with what I learned from each exercise.  Other artists can do the same exercises and share their results and/or suggest their own exercises to do and share their own results, as well!

Note that this is NOT a work-in-progress blog.  The only posts we will be sharing here are for the individual Art Exercises, Introductions by each artist, and the Finished Results of the Art Exercises.

There is no time commitment!  Post at your own pace when you have the time. (Unless of course a time limit is part of your exercise).

Who can participate? 

This is a joint Artist blog! We will learn together, encourage each other, and provide critique, upon request.  We welcome artists of all skill levels!  Participating artists will be added as Authors and can post to share their work.  Want to participate? Email me and I'll add you!

What to do after you join? 

-- Introductions & Your Art Wish List - After you're added as an Author, feel free to post an introduction telling us a little about yourself and where you'd like to go with your art.  Feel free to tack on a list in the same post detailing what exercises you want to do to improve your art!  This helps you have something concrete to aim for and to let the other artists here get to know you a little better.

--  Send in Your Web Banner - So I can add it to the Member Artists page!  The banner needs to be of the standard 468x60px size.  Not sure how to make a banner?  You can use this handy online tool!

-- Art Exercises - Feel free to post an entry for each individual art exercise you're working on to challenge yourself and other artists.    Member artists can then do a blog post sharing their results from the exercises, talk about what they learned, and to receive critique, if they wish.
(Click here for examples of an 'Art Exercise' post.)

--  Exercise Results - If a participating artist takes on the challenge of an Art Exercise, that artist can then submit their result as a blog post. If you would like critique on your results, put the words "CRIT PLZ" in the title of your post.  This Results post should be tagged with the name of the Art Exercise it was created for under 'labels' so that we can easily search and see who has taken on the same challenge.

 (Click here for an example of a 'Results' post)

-- There is NO posting limit!  Right now, feel free to post as often as you like when you have an exercise to post or a result to share.

Not sure how to challenge yourself?  Take my Self-Critique MEME!  Here is an example of the one I did for myself:

Go forth and CREATE!