How to get better

One hurdle we often face as artists is how to get better? It’s hard to look at your own work subjectively sometimes. You might have an idea and think that’s good. And then later say, Oh, wait, lets do this! And you have a better idea. Then you show it to others, who offer much better ideas, and you think…man, this sucks compared to what it could have been…

The fact is, we all have to make our own choices on the road to the final piece. I’m working on some illustrations for myself, as a form of practice and skill building. Recently I sent this to a few friends to get some feedback on it.

From those three friends I got 3 different kind of feedback. All valid too. It’s my choice on how much of that feedback I use and incorporate into the piece.

I then posted the image on a site that has a monthly crit of work either finished or in progress. And I got some more feedback, some of it similar and some of it different. All good and valid. So this work will have some tweaks done and some parts reworked in more major ways. But hey, since it’s for me, that’s fine!

Right now, though I had another idea I wanted to get down on paper. A goblin raiding party.

So, here are the first rough pencils:

I just wanted to get the different characters in place and a general composition set up. After I went and did tight pencils of each of the different goblins. First I did the axe wielding goblin in the back.

I knew he needed a much more action ready pose then what I gave him. Then I moved onto the goblin mage to his right. This one, man is that boring, it looks like he’s just doing parlor tricks and is about to ask “is that your card?” rather then blast you eldritch energy. But he took a while to get something I liked. First I thought I would make him more sinister, but also frail. Wasn’t to happy with that, so I made him less frail. Then I decided, it’s partly the direction he’s facing. I imagined he was the kind of mage that delights in his craft, and cultivates an air of mystery by being devious. So he might hide what he’s going to do. So I turned him away from what the group is looking at. It added some variety to the com as well, so that not everyone looks like they are holding the same pose.

I like this set up much better.

So, on I went, with each character. What were they wearing, what features in their face made them different from another goblin? In particular the Rat Master was fun, since I decided that he’s kind of filthy and particularly smelly compared to your average goblin, he does after all, sleep with the rats he trains. After I had all the characters penciled in, I tweaked their positions, as I had a few spots where I had bad tangents, where several elements meet that become distracting. For example the Squatting goblin, the archer and the one rat all meet up and made it a confusing mess, it wasn’t clear what was what.

So here is the tight pencils as they stand now. I will not start on the final version till later, so I can go back in a day and look and see if there is anything I want to change.

For example, I think the lower leg on the squatting goblin is too short compared to his upper leg. So I will go back and fix that. I’m also not sure about his hair. Maybe he just needs to be bald and an eye patch. His dagger will certainly have a poisonous  The goblin mage needs bigger hands. Maybe a few animal skulls and feathers and such. These aren’t quite savage enough right now. Perhaps the archer needs to have his cowl down over his face more. The warrior and rat master I think are at good where they are. The rats are certainly what I want.

After heating some good feedback on the first illustration, I took those thoughts into developing this drawing. And before I start on the final work, I’ll get some feedback on that as well.

If you don’t know any artists personally or professionally, I suggest finding a site that offers a forum for posting work and getting feedback.

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