Back in January 2017, I started a skill improvement exercise of digitally painting human portraits, something I was struggling with a bit. With the goal of completing 10 paintings, I could then compare and see if the exercise helped improve my skill over time. I’ve been hesitating to share because looking back, I’m almost embarrassed by the 1st attempts, but… learn from the past right?
Here are the results!
In the end, here are the lessons learned:
Study how other do it. After the first few failed attempts at drawing eyes/noses/mouths in a way that rendered as imagined, I went online to find tutorials for these things. It was incredibly helpful.
Tools really make a difference! Not that you can’t draw well with lower-quality tools and not that more expensive tools means better artwork. It just means, at least for me, that the tool in your hand can really define how the image renders out. I did another study/skill improvement exercise rendering ebi sushi in different art styles and found that whatever my intention was, the type of tool selected really defined how I ended up using it.
For the 1st 4 images I used ProCreate on an iPad Pro. And for the final 6 I used Clip Studio on a Cintiq 13HD. To me, the resulting painting was like night and day. Partially b/c of the physical feeling of pen-to-screen of the Cintiq 13HD. Partially b/c of the easier zoom in/out aspect of my computer setup (had a 2nd monitor with the full image on a mirrored canvas so I could just look up and see how the piece as a whole was doing). Partially because of the easier color-picker and eyedrop shortcuts of the software/tablet. And partially b/c of the color blending of the tools in Clip Studio. In the end, Clip Studio + Cintiq 13HD was a more natural-feeling setup for me to use whereas I felt like I had to struggle a lot with the ProCreate + iPad combo.
Consistency is key! Just like any other skill, it can become rusty if you don’t use it over time. But just like riding a bike, you CAN pick it up again. It will just take time and probably a few practice runs.