Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Art of 2020


Year of the Rat!

The year of 2020 has seen many changes throughout. Obvious plague aside, this year has been by far my most productive year in terms of output. So much so that I can't really review every piece I made during the year, as I have during previous blog posts so instead I've made a selection that hopefully tells a story of my progress through the year.

Part of this surge in productivity may be due to lock-downs earlier in the year, part of it may be due to improved mental health thanks to starting my transition around the same time. Turns out that reducing dysphoria does miracles for motivation, big surprise. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Art of 2020 started off with another slow art block, as the years often seem to do. A few sketches and unfinished pieces not really worthy of noting. I also dabbled in 3D modelling again during the early year, but found sculpting too time consuming to keep focused on. This first completed piece began in the second half of march.

This picture defined quite early on a rendering style and work flow that I'd continue to refine over the year. It also marked the creation of a character that I'd draw repeatedly, called Doll. I used a combination of references to create the pose, and I'm quite happy overall how it turned out, if a little unrefined in areas, particular the hair.

The hands are also some of the best I've done all year--probably because I shot reference for once.

However my next couple of pieces didn't quite follow on from the success of this first image, I still had a bit of experimenting to do.

The incomplete Demon Girl. This is a take on another character whose conception is a few years older. This was my first foray (this year) into painting and really rendering things out. I learned a lot from this piece, but my rendering skills and my anatomy knowledge (particularly in the face) were not quite up to scratch for this project, and I continuously stalled on it due to frustration.

But that didn't stop me from creating more art, this time.

This piece dialed back my efforts into less of a realistic approach to rendering. This character is one of my old Dungeons & Dragons characters, and she is a wizard. Overall there's a lot of parts that I like about this picture (the rendering on the arms and hands, once again shot reference for these as well as the crossed legs.) but there are also areas that needed a lot of refining: the face in particular, and much of the rendering on the clothing is bland and uninteresting.

Some things were changing though. Starting my transition had empowered me to socialize more, and I began sharing art in a discord community around the time of Demon Girl. Eventually this led me to streaming on twitch to help teach a fellow artist some of my tricks--it started off with some gesture/figure drawings but eventually culminated in this:

Shameless self-promotion:

The next iteration of Doll. This picture was another defining moment in the development of my style over the year, but most notably it defined a split in styles, where I began to allow myself a simpler style to explore with and have fun, instead of pursing the grueling realistic rendering that I'd been pursuing for much of the early half of the year.

I found that it was important to create art that didn't pressure me to perform to the best of my ability, and to instead create things that gave me joy. I found this very important as the year progressed; it was around this time I started getting increasingly frequent requests for commissions from members of the community.

Goddess of the Hunt.

I'd taken a handful of commissions earlier in the year, when I was still defining my style and workflow. Much of them are in a similar vein to the Wizard piece, but around August things were starting to change, and my art was improving, I feel, in a major way. This Goddess isn't the first commission, but it does mark the beginning of a particular style I developed for commissions. And I'm quite proud of how this one turned out, too.

It was around this time that I was getting requests back-to-back, and found that I rarely had time to express myself through personal artwork. Having developed a simpler style, and having a muse for personal outlet helped a lot during this time or I probably would have suffered burn out.

Doll and Cyan, the muse

I created a lot of art of Doll and Cyan through the year. Cyan is the character of one of the first people to commission me this year, and who would later become my best friend. I would often sketch the two of them doing stuff together and most of them were rough and unfinished. However, during October I took on a drawtober challenge to produce a drawing every week throughout October, and these two characters were the subjects. It provided a lot of variation between my commissions, but also a lot more work!

The picture above is the last picture of the two I made for the year.

The last commission of the year was this character turnaround, which represented the largest amount of work I'd ever done on a commission before, and I think also the best work of the year so far. It shows how far my art ability has progressed over the year quite well, I think!

For 2020 I had set myself a couple of art goals: The first was to produce more character concept art, and more environmental art. I wanted to focus on creating finished pieces that I could use to build a portfolio that was more than just sketches and half-finished work.

For the most part I succeeded in this goal. I produced quite a lot of character art, designing many people's OCs through commissions. I also finished a lot more of my art work, thanks to having the deadlines of commissions to help motivate me. I still didn't finish very much of my personal artwork, however.

I also did almost no environmental artwork, and very few detailed backgrounds.

For 2021 I have a few new art goals, a little harder to define progress than the previous years. I want to improve the overall rendering fidelity of my work, and continue to develop my techniques. I also hope to improve my brush stroke confidence--I am quite a messy and loose artist, and as a result I tend to over work my lines and brush strokes. My stroke accuracy has improved, but is still far off where I'd like it to be.

The end goal is to produce higher quality work at a reasonable output. Since September I have been doing art commissions full time, and if I want to make it into a full-time job that I can support myself with then I'll need to up my game.

Here's to another year of art!