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Brian Kesinger: Character Driven

Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:39 AM
Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 4.28.13 PM by techgnotic

Disney Artist Brian Kesinger on Creating Story through Character

Foreword by techgnotic

It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and Bolt. Brian is author and illustrator of his own octovictorian creation, the wildly popular Walking Your Octopus, featuring Otto and Victoria, about a young turn-of-the-century London lady of distinction and her pet octopus.

Take a moment and think about your favorite movie. Now imagine that movie without the main character, as you know them, in it. I think it is important to make a distinction between the plot of a story and the arc of your main character.

The plot is a series of events that result in a character going through an emotional arc. You can briefly define a character arc as how a character feels and acts at the beginning of the story versus how the feel and act in the end. In Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and at the end he loves it. That is an oversimplification of his arc. The plot is there in order to provide obstacles and choices to show the the audience who they are and what their attitude toward their situation is. A good plot keeps you interested in the story but a good character will make you want to rewatch the movie over and over again. I am personally a fan of movies that have very simple plots as those films leave much more room for character development.

One way to look at a story is a series of choices made in creating the main character. As a storyteller, the more time you put into your character, the easier it will be for you to make those choices for your character be truthful.

Truthfulness is talked about a lot when discussing character creation. Fictional characters are, of course, not real. They do not exist in the real world. They are made up. You must give them reality with relatable traits. Let’s say your main character is a farm hand. How does he feel about that? Does he enjoy the hard labor, or is he bored out of his mind? Let's choose the latter. Note that we are not talking about plot, just discussing character. Does this farm-boy get along with his parents? Let's add mystery by making him an orphan. So we now have the highly relatable story of a bored young man with a decision to make. Should he continue his duties on the farm or answer an inner calling to explore the rest of his world? We know this character. Some of us are this character. So when Luke Skywalker makes his choice, it rings true, because his character has already been established as someone we understand, someone who wants more out of life. We can all relate to his situation. His story will be a bit more exciting than most tales of fugitive farm-boys, but even Star Wars might have bored us had we not been pre-invested in such a relatable character by skilled storytellers.

As an illustrator, my job is to create believable characters. At Disney it is not uncommon for us to start drawing before a writer has even been hired to write a script. Animation and art are a visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Drawing your character is one of the best ways to kick off the generation of those words. It is all in the details. How your character dresses, what sort of hair they have, are they big or scrawny? All these questions can be answered and explored through the drawing process. When we work on our films it is common for the character designers and story artists to work at the same time because one department constantly informs the other.

I love this part of the process, as you draw your character and you explore all aspects of them and the ideas start to gel. You put one image next to another and suddenly a story starts to develop, to talk to you. It is very exciting. We had an interesting challenge in creating the character of Baymax for the up coming film Big Hero 6.

I asked Joe Mateo, head of story on the film to talk a little about the difficulties that arose when creating a character without traditional features.

We knew that Baymax was going to be a challenge given his limited amount of facial features to express an emotional range. It's amazing though, what you can achieve with those charming dot eyes combined with a subtle head tilt, a well timed blink, and body gestures. These things plus line delivery can be very effective in expressing different emotions. We're careful though how much emotions we want Baymax to show given that he is just a non sentient robot... or is he?”

Joe Mateo, Head of story on Big Hero 6

On the film Frozen we were tasked with taking a fairy tale “princess movie” and putting a fresh spin on it. One way that we did that was by exploring the characters of Anna & Elsa and creating a believable relationship between the two of them. Paul Briggs, head of story on Frozen speaks more about that here.

One of the great things we had working for us was the tropes of princess films we had done in the past. Audiences already had an expectation we would deliver the familiar romantic love story... a romantic kiss from a prince/knight in shining armor would save the the day. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck knew they wanted to deliver something fresh and different and took the idea from the original Snow Queen story that "an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart" and coupled that with a story about two sisters. The movie really started to focus more about family love than romantic love. The challenge was crafting two siblings that couldn't have that love between one another. We had Elsa, who was hiding a power that she thinks will hurt or kill her sister. So she lives in fear and is afraid to share her love towards her sister. We developed Anna as being fearless but she lives in a world where we she wants to give her love but it is never reciprocated by her sister. She holds onto that true love for her sister though and it's ultimately the thing that saves the day and protects and saves her sister. Anna makes the biggest choice in the movie which is she sacrifices her life to save her sister—an act of true love.”

Paul Briggs, Head of story on Frozen

Interviews Brian Kesinger's Q&A with the Following Deviant Artists


In creating your Lost Kids graphic novel what were some ways that you made your characters believable teenagers even though they are inhabiting a fantastical world?


Felipe Cagno

It's all about really turning your characters into real people, people that you could walk past in the streets and that means tons of research and world building. For every character in the Lost Kids comics I have these extensive character sheets with dozens of questions ranging from their family background, their homes, where they grew up in, the environment around them, to their biggest fears, their hopes and dreams, their psyche, etc.

All that comes into play and you must know your characters better than yourselves, you really must ask the tough questions and come up with interesting answers. A kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, will most definitely talk and behave very differently than a kid growing up in Orange County, CA. Do they come from a rich family, a blue-collar one, from poverty, where do they go to school, are they outgoing or shy, do they use slang, or perhaps they speak perfect English, are they popular or outcasts, what are their deepest secrets and so forth.

And the most interesting task I had to go through was actually finding a way of these very different kids that should not get along, get together for this adventure. Good storytelling comes from conflict and there is nothing more boring than seeing characters agreeing on paper or screen, you want them to duke it out, you want them to have completely different opinions about the stuff that matters so you can exploit different points of view on a given subject and let the audience choose sides.

Believable teenagers have very strong opinions and views of their world, I just made sure to get all that right even before writing a word of the script.


Can you talk a little about how your characters developed from random sketches to the storylines in your web comic?


Der-shing Helmer

I don't actually sketch randomly and home storylines come out, it's pretty much the opposite... I come up with story elements that I find interesting and work to develop a character that might fit into the scenario in a unique way. For example, in The Meek, I wanted to write a story about a girl who doesn't care much for societal pressures. She started out in sketches as several types of girl, but with the goal of a story in mind, eventually developed in the my character Angora who is introduced as not wearing clothes (that portrayal is pivotal to her essential nature). I don't think the character would have been quite as effective if I had just been drawing naked women, and then tried to mould a story around that visual.

For the new comic that I am making (and will be posting more art of to deviantArt as well), I'm doing something similar; trying to create a certain vision of the future and the people who live there. With the future in mind, I get to create characters that represent my hopes and expectations, vs just randomly hoping to strike gold. My general advice is always to give a context to your sketches, even if you don't ultimately use them... it will help your characters develop into living people who feel like they might really exist somewhere.


When creating your character Veloce Visrin, what were some of the choices you made in designing her look and outfit to help tell the reader what she is all about?


Shilin Huang

I've given Veloce outfits meant for show, as well as casual outfits for the story she is in. The more story-oriented decisions were made with her casual outfit. Naturally, her look should immediately convey her character, because insignificant details on how a character chooses to dress himself/herself are usually a good reflection of their values. I've kept her outfit casual and unimpressive,despite her being the main character, to match her preference for staying away from the spotlight and blending into the crowds. Her clothes are also kept loose fitting rather than skintight, her hair kept free and not diligently kept, giving her a more relaxed air. However, she did come from a respected/feared family, and a hint of the fact that she is supposed to be an upper-class lady still comes across through the halter top, which is the same top/dress featured in her other, more extravagant and impressive outfits, covered up under the guise of her hoodie and otherwise unassuming look.


Your character drawings are so expressive. What are some tips for drawing animal characters with such human emotions while still maintaining their animalistic anatomy?


Tracy Butler

Thank you! Foremost, I’d say it’s important to get to know the subject matter. Gathering some overarching observational knowledge about anatomy, gesture and expression is pretty vital to drawing convincing pictures of such things. It also applies to the ensuing Frankensteinian drawing experiments that I would recommend as a generally effective approach to designing characters that fall somewhere between human and animal (though I’d argue that distinction is mostly philosophical).  Do a lot of sketching, in other words.

Human capacity for self-aware emotional complexities aside, it’d be difficult to mark a clear distinction between human and animal emotions. Among other mammals in particular, there’s quite a lot of overlap in the way we express basic things like fear, dejection and excitement, in fact. Whether human or wolf, a lowered head, fixed stare and curled lip is unmistakably aggressive.  That sort of thing can certainly work to the artist’s advantage when drawing an animalistic character meant to emote in a relatable human fashion.  Further appending the expression with the animal’s telltale posturing - raised hackles, pinned ears, bared fangs - can be mixed in to varying degrees of bestial and dramatic.  The more minute facial features add a layer of human nuance and specificity - the smallest adjustment can put an entirely different spin on an expression. For the given example, downward angled “angry” eyebrows would be well in line with the straightforward appearance of aggression, but simply arching one of the brows higher than the other can turn it into an expression of calculated anger.  Symmetrically high arching brows could make the expression more excited or crazed; furrowed brows could be used to convey a sort of consternated anger, and so forth.

Of course, species that don’t communicate in ways that are especially decipherable to humans and critters with physiognomies that don’t lend themselves well to forming human expressions can present design challenges that might require some careful finagling. To use a popular example, note the dramatically shortened heads of My Little Pony characters as compared to realistic equine heads.  Much of the animal appearance of the face is sacrificed, clustering the features together into an alignment more closely resembling a (cartoon-like) human.  This way, the expressions are eminently readable, never inadvertently shifting from cute to awkward.  In other situations, preserving the animalistic mien might be the greater priority over rendering consistently appealing human expressions. If you ever find yourself trying to draw chagrin on an anteater, consider that in some cases, embracing a bit of the awkwardness might not be a bad thing.  It can make for some defining, memorable characteristics.

My advice overall is to approach whatever abstracted combination of anatomies are at hand as an advantage rather than a limitation to building an expressive character.  The human and animal aspects each bring a toolkit array of physical features, gestures, behaviors and idiosyncrasies to utilize and draw inspiration from - all the more resources with which the character may exude life and emotion, presence and personality.


What led you to pick Korea as the location for your fish out of water story of frankie*SNATCH? And how does that specific location inform what situations your character goes through?


Lynsey Wo

When I initially came up with the concept for frankie*SNATCH back in 2001, I wanted to base it in a large, modern city in the Far East. At the time, Japan was experiencing a huge popularity boom (certainly within the target audience I was wanting to reach) and I wanted to avoid following that trend. After a little bit of research, Seoul seemed to contain the fast pace, bright lights, cosmopolitan scene I was looking for. In these early stages, a strong visual setting was all I was after, and Seoul fitted that need perfectly.

Frankie*SNATCH has always been a character-driven plot, and whilst the location had never been hugely influential as a whole, as the story developed darker, controversial issues, I still needed to make sure it was still appropriate. For example, a major theme of substance abuse within the story lead me to research the sort of healthcare and treatment available for those suffering with addictions, and how this sort of issue is perceived and handled by Korean society as a whole. This research directly impacted on how the character(s) confronting this issue would handle it, particularly from the societal angle. This idea of such an old-fashioned taboo against the backdrop of an otherwise modern, diverse city was something I found interesting, but it also made me realise the importance of making sure the characters were believable enough for them to address the issues presented to them with as little help from the outside as possible.

Questions for Brian Kesinger

  1. Brian has volunteered to answer any questions you might have in a series of video updates we will post soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for a shout-out from him.

    Leave your questions for Brian in the comments below.

I recently got 40,000 points to help myself out, but after some time I didn't want to use them, so I wanted to give
someone else the points, so I made this giveaway.

Looking at some other giveaways, I see that there are rules and places etc. Since this is my first giveaway, there is only
1 place, there is no second or third place as this is my first giveaway but I may do other giveaways with more places in
the future.

And the rules to enter this are:

Favourite this Giveaway

Make a journal about this giveaway

Leave a comment below with a link to the completed journal you made

That's it, unless you want to give me a watch or Llama or check out my gallery then you can feel free but you don't have to.

This giveaway will end on 10th November and the winner will be announced.

Good luck to everyone!



Also received notes about max points being 20,000..

Fixing this issue once and for all. Whoever wins I will send them 20,000 points. I will then ask them if they want the other 20,000 points on a new account I make (or an account the winner makes, if the winner prefers) or if they prefer being paid the $250.

So the prizes are:

20,000 points AND $250


20,000 points AND 20,000 points on new account

Winners' choice.

That is all! :D

400 Points Giveaway

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 16, 2014, 9:57 PM


Wed Oct 22, 2014, 8:20 PM


I hit 4000 watchers you guys!!!! 8D You know what that means? A giveaway, of course!! Heehee~!!!!! I will be splitting and giving away 4000 points to 12 lucky winners! <333333


-YOU MUST favourite the journal.
-YOU MUST NOT tell me you entered or you're 'done', ect in the comments, it's annoying ;^;
-IT'S OPTIONAL, but if you make a journal or poll advertising the giveaway, and comment it below, you get an extra entry!

The awards go in this order:

1st - 1300pts
2nd - 900pts
3rd - 700pts
4th - 400pts
5th - 200pts
6th - 100pts
7th - 100pts
8th - 100pts
9th - 50pts
10th - 50pts
11th - 50pts
12th - 50pts

-Yes! It is possible for you to win more than one award, though unlikely TTvTT
-You don't need to be watching me, though I'd greatly appreciate it ;v; <3
-The giveaway ends on Tuesday 28th of October, at 6pm GMT, at which point I will pick the winners using
-If you comment with an advertising journal/poll, I will reply with a number. This is me marking the comment so I can find it easily later (I will be away for a few days between now and the deadline so might not respond immediately).
-Don't be offended if I hide your 'congrats' comment, it's for neatness, so I can get to the journal/poll comments easier TTvTT;

  • Mood: Pride
  • Listening to: Coldplay
  • Watching: The new FNAF 2 trailer!

:star: THE RAFFLE IS CLOSED :star:

Waaaah I can't believe it T////T 1296 people taking part in this raffle ;___;!!! THANKS THANKS THANKS!!!I LOVE YOU T////T!!!
I'll surely make more and more raffles!! :la: :heart:

But now the winner of this raffle ;///v///;

THE WINNER IS :iconkuimei: \;///v///;/ yaaaah I'm so happy for you T///u///T <3 <3 <3

When Kuimei choose her favourite pillow the others five will be put on sale ;u; <3 <3 :huggle:

Thanks a lot again to everyone to taking part in this raffle and see you soon again in the next *////v///* <3 <3

Feel free to remove this journal if you want <3

Winner Raffle 10 by Piffi-adoptables

[OPEN]FREE ADOPT RAFFLE 10 - Pillow Pet by Piffi-adoptables
Another little raffle for some Pillow Pet ;///v///; we love them a lot and we want make one of them for free \;//v//;/ <3 <3 <3

We are in vacation finally afer a very busy and tired summer ;__; finally some days of vacation T///^///T we spend our time to finish the old things and to make some new adopts \;//v///;/ But now ENJOY THE RAFFLE :la: *v* :heart:

What can you win?

  • One adoptables at your choice between those shown , they are a little project we called "Pillow Pet" they are little pet/character like a Pillow , sometimes with animal features ;u;

  • Only one winners , after raffles end the 5 adoptables left will be put for sale ;v; ( we make a poll to advertise about one hour before ;u; )

Required to win

  • Fav this Journal

  • Watch it's not necessary to win , but really appreciated it if you like our works enough to wish one of them ;//////v/////; <3 ( thanks ;v; )

  • You don't have to ask if you can partecipate , just fav this journal and you are in ;v;

NOT required to win but appreciated

  • Comment with the adopt you'd choose if winning , we love a lot know your taste ;///u///;

General Rules

  • This raffle end in 48 hours

  • I'll choose the winner with between fav numbers

Thanks again \;v;/ :heart: see you soon in the next raffle >///v///<

Our main account : Shatik / our non-human account : Piffi-pi 
Our sister Mimru

Skin by SimplySilent
  • Mood: Adoration
Many people asked me about which sites I use (or used) to learn and keep myself updated about art. So I decided to make a list with art websites that offer tutorials, advice, or other content that inspired me. Of course there are many other individual artists that inspire me greatly, but I've tried to keep this list to the ones that provide the community of advice and tutorials (otherwise I could go on forever).
I hope you enjoy it ^__^


Proko by DamaiMikaz
A large collection of video tutorials, mainly on human anatomy. Very detailed, to the point, and with visuals that make it easy to follow even for non-native English speakers.
Tutorials. Human anatomy. Traditional art.


Ctrlpaint by DamaiMikaz
Basically your starting point for digital painting. The digital paint 101 offers a great beginners tutorial on how to paint with Photoshop for the absolute beginner, explaining the absolute basics and shortcuts. Other tutorials cover more advanced topics. 
Tutorials. Digital art. Traditional art. Photoshop.


Fzdschool by DamaiMikaz

Timelapses and videos about all kinds of concept arts make. Amazing to watch. Perhaps a bit harder to learn from, since not everything is explained in layman's terms and the drawing is certainly advanced (professional) level. Nevertheless a good source to learn from, especially if you're interested in the concept art industry, as Feng Zhu explains a lot about that in his video's as well. 
Concept art. Tips & tricks. Advice. Timelapses. Artist's life.

Imagine FX

Imaginefx by DamaiMikaz

Imagine Fx magazine  is well known among artists of all kinds for it's interesting content, and certainly worth to check out. While subscriptions are definitely pricey (especially when not living in England) the magazine comes with a YouTube channel that offers interesting content and tutorials once in a while. 
Tutorials. Tips & tricks. Articles.

Mark Crilley

Markcrilley by DamaiMikaz

Manga artist Mark Crilley showing how he draws manga. The channel contains a mixed bag of video's, some narrated and some are not. What makes it interesting is the simplicity of the drawings, making it approachable to both beginner and intermediate artists
Tutorials. Manga. Traditional art.


Sycra by DamaiMikaz

Sycra explaining how and what he draws. His channel offers tutorials and advice on all kinds of art related subjects, including common questions as "how to deal with no inspiration or artblock". 
Tutorials. Tips & tricks. Advice. Digital art. 

Level up

Levelup by DamaiMikaz

A collection of interviews and paint overs with all kinds of skilled artists and interesting figures from the concept art world. While the videos are long (over an hour) and are more something to put on as 'background' when painting or playing games, it's certainly interesting to watch one or two. The general level of artists is very high, and they tell a lot of interesting things about art and the artists life in general. Though it's probably more suited for intermediate users than for beginners. 
Concept art. Tips & tricks. Advice. Artist's life.


Cubebrush by DamaiMikaz
Blizzard artist Marc Brunet doing a good job explaining all kinds of art related topics, and showing timelapses of some of those incredible artworks. Even though his work is advanced level, his tutorials are brought in a way that they're easy to grasp, even for a beginner.
Tutorials. Timelapses. Tips & tricks.


Parkablogs by DamaiMikaz

Parkablogs isn't necessarily a website that hosts good tutorials, but it's a website that offers a wide range of reviews of all kinds of art books and art materials. While those same reviews might be found at other places, it's certainly convenient to find them all nicely ordered at once place. Parkablogs serves as a sort of library, in that regard. A great place that sparked many interesting ideas for me on which art books to buy and what materials to try out.


Skillshare by DamaiMikaz

Skillshare offers tutorials in the same way as a school would do. You can enter a program and get feedback from both the teacher and your fellow students. The big pro is the variety on programs, and the high level of the courses. The only con is the fact that it's the only service from this list that isn't free.

Bringing You Closer to the Community

Wed Oct 15, 2014, 12:52 PM

As DeviantArt grows, we strive to find more ways to connect you with the things and people that matter to you most. After months of designing, testing, and engaging in community conversations around the shape of things to come, we're proud to announce a series of features that will bring you closer to the community.

Our guiding principles are to bring you a better, fresher, yet familiar site experience, giving you more power to do what you want and, more importantly, create deeper connections between your friends and favorite artists.

Today Page

Welcome to Today on DeviantArt.

The Today page is the place to start your day. It's the pulse of the DeviantArt community. When art-related news happens around the world, deviant artists are among the first to respond in the most evocative ways possible. We're proud to unveil the Today page — the new human and dynamically powered newspaper for the community that reflects the stories inside of DeviantArt as they pertain to art, fandom, pop culture, and world culture.

Read More


Connecting you with your watchers.

The Watch Feed creates a sequential stream of activity from your watchlist, including deviations, Journals, Collections, Polls, Forums threads, and more. Status Updates let people share quick updates about what they're working on or what inspires them. Find an awesome deviation? Share it in your Status Update.

Read More


Giving curators the recognition they deserve.

You can now watch Collections, delivering you a custom stream of daily inspiration to your Watch Feed. Collections are now visible on deviation pages and tag pages, giving curators more exposure. Become a curator and create Collections of artwork around topics or genres you love.

Read More


Discover more of your favorite topics.

Tags bring together different types of content around a common topic, allowing deviants to discover new art, meet new artists, and create conversations about shared interests. As an artist, tags can help you reach new audiences. Tags can be used basically everywhere — on deviations, Status Updates, Comments, Journals, deviation descriptions, private Notes, etc.

Read More

Norman Rockwell, All American Deviant

Tue Oct 28, 2014, 7:51 PM
Norman Rockwell Tribute by Sarafinconcepts

Few artists have so definitively reflected the lives of average Americans as Norman Rockwell.

He began his lifetime dedication to being the “America’s Illustrator” as the 19-year-old art editor for Boys’ Life, the house publication of the Boy Scouts of America. A few years later he assumed his more famous position at The Saturday Evening Post, though he never broke his ties with the Boy Scouts.  His first great achievement painting everyday scenes of America in his signature hyper-realistic style was “The Four Freedoms,” a series inspired by a speech by the U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1943 during World War II.  Two of the four paintings, “Freedom from Want,” depicting a family Thanksgiving dinner scene, and “Freedom of Speech,” with an average Joe voicing his opinion at a Town Hall meeting, have become all-American visual icons in the decades since their creation.

Freedom from Want
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Speech
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Fear
by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Worship
by Norman Rockwell

Rockwell was a true American patriot, lending his talents when needed as a propagandist of war during World War II, but also painting pleas for peace and reconciliation when inner strife tore at the nation’s fabric in the 1950s and 1960s. He painted his version of the WWII female icon, Rosie the Riveter, for the Post, and not to be confused with the “We Can Do It” J. Howard Miller government commissioned poster gal. Rockwell’s “Rosie” cradled her riveting gun in her lap as she had her sandwich for lunch, the heel of her shoe resting on a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

When the threat from without was quashed and racial division boiled over as the threat from within, Rockwell, the visual “spokesman” for the majority of average Americans, painted “The Problem We All Live With” (1964). It depicts six-year-old African-American Ruby Bridges on her way to an all-white public school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.  School desegregation brought threats of violence against the child’s admission, so she was escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals. The wall behind her is vandalized with the n-word and the letters "KKK".  A smashed tomato thrown at the little girl drips on the sidewalk.  Rockwell obviously felt it was his duty to tell hard truths when needed about his beloved America, and he did it as forthrightly and effectively as he did when evoking the joy of a family gathered for Thanksgiving.  He truly defined for all time “American artist.”

Your Thoughts

  1. What is your favorite Norman Rockwell painting?

Mashup: The Avengers and Guild Wars

Wed Oct 15, 2014, 12:49 PM

We are forever inspired here at DA HQ whenever roaming the wonderful interpretations of beloved characters that inhabit theDURRRRIAN DeviantArt page.

It seems only fitting that we recite the Charge Of The Light Brigade when imagining these otherworldly and battle ready warriors from alternate realms transformed by Daniel’s imagination as they prepare for war. “The Charge of the Light Brigade” a 1854 poem about the Battle of Balaclava (Crimean War) by then Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.

How to get Inspired

Sat Oct 4, 2014, 7:00 AM by meiyue:iconmeiyue:

Community Week

Art Block by ResoluteAssassin

Have you ever had one of those times when you really feel like drawing but had no idea what to draw? Or have you ever had an artblock you've desperately wanted to get rid of? Art is super fun, but it sucks when you just can't draw when you really want to. Here are a few of mine and a few other artists' tips to get inspired, and hopefully it'll help you! :love:

Okay let's start!

1. Make an OC

OCs, or original characters, are a great source of inspiration. If you have none, make one! It's super fun to design your own character, especially since it's original so you can go crazy with it! Think up a personality for your OC, as well as their hobbies and interests, and even a back story, so that they seem real. Whenever you're out of ideas to draw, you can draw your OC. If your OC is well-developed, you might even develop a loving for them and long to draw them all the time :meow:.

2. Make Adoptables

Adoptables are OCs that you sell. Because you're not going to keep them, you don't have to over think which design you'd like the best or be happy to keep for a long time. Just get some bases and go crazy with the designs. You might even make some points from it.

Here are some of my favourite bases: 
Canine: here and here;
Feline: here and here;
            Western: here and here;
            Eastern: here and here;
            Anthro: here;
Human: here and here;
Find more bases here. Make sure to read the rules of the lineart before using it!

3. Sketch Things

Things? Things. Anything. Sketch your tablet. Sketch a dragon. Sketch that tree outside of your house. Sketch yourself. Sketch ice cream! SKETCH EVERYTHING! Sketch things you've never tried to draw before, and sketch things you're comfortable with. 

4. Speedpaint Things

This is similar to the sketching, but may be more fun because you can add colour. Speedpaint anything, whatever you like to paint. I usually like to do landscapes, but it may be different for you. It's alright to keep your painting messy, no need to do super clean lineart or anything. Even if you have no idea what to draw, just simply put 3 to 5 blobs of different colours down, and try to make a picture out of it. It's super fun :la:.

5. Draw Comfortable Things

Draw things you're comfortable with drawing, or know how to draw very well. If you're good at drawing a certain animal, or just portraits, for example, draw a few and really make them look nice. For me, when I get artblocked, drawing something I'm proud of usually does the trick. If you're already good at drawing it, it's hard to mess up and easy to do well at, so you'll probably end up being proud of it :).

6. Look at Other People's Art

Seriously not in the mood for drawing? Fine then, give this job to your eyes. Browse artwork related to what you're interested in. If you draw dragons, browse dragon art. If you want to draw fan art, browse fan art for whichever game/movie/show. I usually like to look at art that I know how to execute, but just don't have the skill to. Try not to look at artists too far from your skill level; it may just make you feel terrible about your own art. Instead, aim for artists who aren't leaps ahead of you, just steps, so that you can look at the artwork and think, 'ahh, so that's how they used that brush', instead of, 'how did they do this? This is mind blowing!' 

7. Watch Speedpaint Videos

Watch other artists' speedpaint videos, or even better your own. I'm not exactly sure why, but watching my own speedpaint videos always gets me inspired. I'm not sure I would recommend this, but if you'd like, you can record your speedpaintings and watch them over afterwards. It's really fun to! But if you'd get nervous from recording, then you shouldn't record, because the point of speedpainting is for it to be relaxing and free. 

I don't know that many people who do speedpaint videos, (since I mostly just watch my own haha) but here are a few:

If you know other speedpaint channels, feel free to let me know!

8. Read Tutorials and Watch Tutorial Videos

Have something you want to work on? Read a tutorial on it and it may inspire you to practice drawing it. Or just view general tutorials like shading and colouring tutorials. Here are a few tutorials you might like:

Find more amazing tutorials here

Again, if you know any great tutorials, feel free to share them with me :D.

9. Paint Stock Images

I find this extremely fun, especially for landscapes. Nature has epic landscapes that are even hard to imagine, and pictures act as a good reference so it's really hard to screw up. If landscapes are not your thing though, still check out the stock image gallery, there may be one that catches your eye! Make sure to read and follow all stock rules. You can find epic stock images here.

10. Paint Over Collages

Make your own collages with photos and paint over it. I find this really helps because the photos give you a nice colour palette and you don't have to start with an intimidating blank canvas. It's alright to use other people's photos as long as they've been completely painted over and are not visible/recognizable in any way when you upload it. Do not copy the photos completely, use them mainly for inspiration. In fact, the result may be completely different from the subjects in the photos.

For example, in one of FZDSCHOOL's videos,

He started the painting with this photo collage:

5407f833c38aa56323e3ab79 by meiyues-scrap-acc 

And ended up with this finished painting:

5407f8f4c38aa563266ad365 by meiyues-scrap-acc

The result is pretty different from the collage, eh? (beforeyouaskyesI'mCanadian)However, in this case, the building on the left is not completely painted over, and if you don't plan on completely painting over the collage, you should use your own images or stock images. 

11. Use Colour Palettes

Try to use colour palettes to get inspired! You can do this with photo collages or with premade colour palettes.

Here're some palettes I made: (some of these are terribly ugly and some are really nice. Try to make something nice out of all of them, though. :giggle: I'm gonna try use one of these to create a beautiful landscape.. let's see how it goes. :P)
Colour palettes by meiyues-scrap-acc

Here're some others:
Color Palette Resource by ConceptCookie 40 Color Swatches - SET 2 by ED-elementaldesign 40 Color Swatches by ED-elementaldesign Colour Palettes No. 1 by Striped-Tie Random Color Palettes 2 by LifeError Pallettes by AmyJonz My color palletes by Jahpan 24 Complementary Color Palette by elemis

When you're done, feel free to share them in the comments below. :P

12. Listen to Music

This one is old but gold, but music does help the creative juices get flowing. 

13. Get Out

Get off the computer for just a few minutes and go out for a walk/jog! I know there's no Wi-Fi out there, but get out, relax, and you'll find out that nature can make you feel lovely. Nature is a great source for inspiration, and maybe instead of looking for pictures of it online, get out and look at it with your own eyes.

14. Exercise

Honestly don't want to get out? Then walk/jog in your house. Exercise; dance around and do squats or something. Movement helps thinking, and as a bonus, your body will thank you!

15. Read Articles on How to Get Inspired!

Still need a few ideas? Here are some handy articles on how to get inspired:
here and here

16. Ask Artists how they get Inspired

Not everyone have written articles on how to get inspired, but that doesn't mean they don't have any tips! I did a few interviews with some artists with amazing conceptual artwork. If you want advice from another artist, don't be afraid to ask! I'm sure none of them bite. :meow:

I interviewed:
:iconaquasixio: AquaSixio:
Cross over Together by AquaSixio Mana Tide by AquaSixio Missed Deadlines by AquaSixio

:iconyuuza: Yuuza:
Painting the world by Yuuza Paint yourself the colors YOU want by Yuuza Take Flight by Yuuza

:icondrachenmagier: drachenmagier:
The old Busstop by drachenmagier Cookie? by drachenmagier Steampunk Wedding Gift by drachenmagier

How do you usually get inspired?

Mostly of my artwork are inspired form [from] my life, wish, disappointment, joy, fears... That's why it's hard for me to draw for someone, I used to refuse commission requests. The art is really an outlet for me and I dont want to see this activity becomes a job.


I get my inspiration from 2 places. I have a few concepts i repeat over and over because i always feel i haven't truly expressed them in all their glory. It's like trying to hit the center of a dart board and always missing. You're still on the dart board but never the center so i always try, try again.
The second place i get my inspiration from is other people's artworks. I browse deviantART and the collection of drawings i gathered on my computer. Watching other people's art almost always gets me inspired. Usually after 5 minutes of browsing.


I guess the reply here tends to disappoint a lot of people normally: I have no idea. I often just start with an empty paper, scribbling around till I like it. Or I walk through the city, thinking something like: "I could draw owls. Or dragons. Eh, both is fine." I guess for me it's not starting with the big ideas, it's more just letting hands and pencils work on their own and watch the results. :D

What advice do you have for getting rid of artblock/for artists who lose the motivation to draw?

Sometimes (quite often) I feel uninspired, and in this case, the best thing would be avoid to draw. I prefer listen to music, watch a movie or see friend, and finally, the motivation/inspiration is back, because I have something to say on the canvas


The first thing i do is browse all my collection of artworks. And this usually does the trick (it's a very vast collection). But there are cases when i still have an art block even after i look at all the drawings in my collection.

The second way i get rid of art block is by practicing something. I feel my mind is empty of any concept and instead of not drawing anything, i draw something so simple, it's impossible to get blocked while doing it. And i get to practice at the same time, so i shot 2 birds with the same stone! For example, tying [trying] to draw metal or wood, or trees etc. Or drawing animals studies from photos. I browse my tutorial folder and i usually find some very simple thing i could learn and just draw that.

It's when i don't do anything to get rid of art block that inspiration comes back much slower. There's a saying that i think holds much truth, inspiration should find you drawing.


First of all, sometimes it's really not that bad to take a break from drawing. It's why I have a part time job as custodian. It's 180° different from the creative stuff and gives my brain a break.

Another thing you can do when you want to draw but somehow can't come up with anything is to have a folder of unfinished drafts. You pick one and work on something that is already somewhat there, which makes it a lot easier to draw. Generally drawing something you really like drawing helps too, so don't feel forced to be original all the time and just draw what you want to draw the most.

Have you ever started a painting by just randomly throwing paint/blobs of colour onto the canvas? If so, which one?

When I started to draw, I process like this, more " randomly " strokes. I tried to interpret the " clouds of colors " I created to make a painting. The drawing which could how this process is this one:…


Yes i have, and honestly it never turned into anything. I always (without exception) start out with a concept in mind, i can't draw as i go along.


Hah, pretty much everything in my gallery works that way! XD Not with paint, in most cases though, since I start out with pencils.

As you can see, the 3 artists gave different opinions and had different answers for all the questions. As suggested by Yuuza, something you should do is try all the tips others and I have given, and make a list of what works for YOU.

What and Who Inspire You?

Share it with everyone in the comments below. :D