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Style Isn't About Mistakes

Fri Jul 30, 2010, 4:50 AM
If you'd like to skip the ramble (aaawww!!), drop to the bottom for some new News.

In the meantime, it's been a while since we did one of these but I had some thoughts on the  good ol' Subject of Style. Grab a snack, this one goes down a ways.

An interesting conversation came up recently wherein someone mentioned the age-old adage, "style is in the mistakes that you make". I'd heard this 20 years ago when I first started taking stuff seriously, and I'm sure it goes back further than that.

I think the statement suggests that a "style" is made up of things that you do your own way, rather than the "right" way, and that making mistakes lets you create a unique style of your own. Which isn't wrong, exactly, but I don't think it's a very good way to talk about creating and maintaining effective style as an artist.

Just to clarify, by "style" I mean "a particular series of aesthetic design decisions made by an artist while creating a work". It's not just how the work looks (although that's a big part of it), but also how it "feels", and how it makes many different people feel and think when they experience it.

Creating a "style" is something that a lot of artists (especially those just getting started) tend to obsess over, because they see a unique, cool and appealing style as the path to fame, fortune and free fajitas. And while there's a lot to be said for happy mistakes and the unique aesthetic results that may be born from them, I don't know of any professional illustrator who makes a regular habit of screwing up a part of their "style".

Rather than say that "style is in the mistakes you make", I would say, "style is in the shortcuts that you choose to take".

Here we go, down the rabbit hole. :D

Say I choose to illustrate the human nose a certain way, with a little line and a tick (very Japanese). Someone else may choose to draw just a "c" shape, others will delineate the edge of every contour currently oblique to the plane of vision.

ALL of these choices are equally "correct", assuming that they all fulfill an all-important criteria: anyone who looks at those lines sees "a human nose".

In order to consciously control your style and make it your bitch, you need to fully understand what your stylistic choices represent and how they'll be interpreted by others. If you draw it "your way" but nobody else can understand it, you're not doing the job of communicating effectively. You may be able to work as a fine artist (good luck with that lottery), but working as a commercial artist will be... difficult.

Over time each of us builds up a library of techniques for handling whatever we're required to illustrate at a given time, whether that's expressions, or technology, or anatomy, or storytelling devices. I sometimes also refer to them as "shortcuts" or "tricks", because in my experience they're usually time-saving devices.

When we combine all these techniques in our own personal ways, people call that a "style". Every technique you create, copy or re-invent in order to feed the needs of the task at hand becomes one of the many elements that make up your "style".

When we do it in a way that induces someone to see and feel what we want them to, just by looking at the image or reading the story, they call that "good style".

If you make a mistake and it looks cool, it's still a mistake. If you do it on purpose because it's an effective way of illustrating something, then it's part of your style.

This is why it's difficult to copy someone else's style and really get away with it... because no matter how thoroughly you study someone's body of work, you're not likely to understand the reasoning and methodology behind whatever choices the artist is making unless you have a complete understanding of what led up to them (something only the artist is likely to know).

Likewise, you may have mastered a body of tricks that you use in order to represent anatomy or visual effects or emotions, whatever, and you might be REALLY good at using those techniques. And they're probably a hodgepodge of stuff you've seen and stuff you've done a lot and stuff you know "just works", but it's all based on some precedent that you've observed. It's a style based on other styles, and it can take you a long way, but it's ultimately hollow and will lead to tears when precedent fails to address the next challenge.

When you are Drawing To Get Paid, you must be able to function effectively when the game calls for you to draw something for which you have no stylistic precedents to rely upon. And in Work For Hire, this happens ALL THE TIME. Even if you got a kickass hold on your kickass "style" that you've been drawing in for years, in no time at all you're guaranteed to be expected to draw some goddamn thing you've never thought of before, in some way that's completely alien to whatever line of creative philosophy you've been currently tacked to.

This is also why it's important to learn all that incredibly tedious, boring shit that every art class everywhere attempts to cram down your throat. I hated drawing "realistically" when I was a student, and it took me a long time to understand the value of those basics back then because I couldn't see how they applied to the way I wanted to draw. I had "style", what did I need all that boring crap about grids and muscle groups for?

No instructor ever explained to me that if you master the basic, fundamental rules (rules of Composition, Anatomy, Lighting, Perspective, Storytelling, etc) then you possess a framework from which to consciously direct your style. And the more thoroughly you understand the basics, the more effectively you can work to create a style that suits your needs best, while simultaneously being able to improvise when you are forced to think outside the box.

You've must master the basics if you want to be an unbeatable illustrator. Without them, you'll always have a weakness. Something will drag you down until you fix it (I can't draw feet, I can't draw ears, I can't draw backgrounds, I can't draw cars or guns or cyborgs or interplanetary comet-dwelling space llamas). And the less you know about the basics, the more vulnerable you'll always be to a moment where you're expected to effectively, skillfully illustrate something that you have never seen, heard of, or thought about before.

It's in those moments that the basics, the damnable Basics, the stupid, boring, tedious BASICS will not fail you.

I'm not saying that you can't have a good-looking, effective style without a solid understanding of fundamentals. What I am saying is that without 'em, I don't know if you're really in control of your style, or if you're just relying on what you know and making it up as you go whenever you don't.

You can be stylish as heck, but if your style is reliant upon "happy mistakes" or the use of particular techniques to the exclusion of all else ("this is how I draw, this is the only way I know how to draw"), then sooner or later (barring a lottery-odds lucky break that propels your stylish-but-fundamentally-unschooled ass into the spotlight) you will hit a wall and be unable to do something the job requires. Actually, if you get famous BEFORE you have a full mastery of your skills, it can be worse because your embarrassing mistakes are going to be on display for a lot more people, and at that point you can really damage your reputation.

It's the difference between riding the tiger and holding onto it by the tail.

As an Editor or an Art Director looking for an illustrator to fill a role, I may decide not to offer you the job if your fundamentals are weak. I can't take a chance that you'll drop the ball if I need you to draw something you've never thought about before.

When you're a master of the fundamental principles, you will never (hardly ever) hit a situation where you don't know what to do or how to work around it effectively. You can always break it down to the basics, and then build it back up so that whatever it is, it's a part of your style that's entirely yours. Furthermore, every time you do you'll pick up a whole new host of tricks that vary your arsenal even further.

Best of all, you can more easily make up new styles that will be fundamentally attractive, well-rounded and capable of wide application. If you need to draw cartoony, you can do it. If you need to draw real, you can do that to. It's easier to break down any style that you study enough, and pick it apart for the good bits. This is why both Cho and Frazetta can (could) draw the hottest women and the goofiest cartoon critters with equal skill.

Anyone can be stylish by accident, but it takes work to do it on purpose.


-EDIT-

If you're into the subject, this DA posting says many of the same things I just did, but more clearly and with pictures:

whitetrashpalace.deviantart.co…

Well worth reading.


* * *





Whew! Some news:

I'm animating again, hooray! The Joe is Japanese graphic novel goes on hiatus for a few months while Fates gears up on a new 2D short production. This means I had to pack up all my comics thinkin' and dust off the parts of my brain that focus on keyframing and timing and element composition, and actually I'm damn rusty. It's been almost two whole years since I've worked the lead on a production like this. The Nike spots last year were intense, but they were a trio of 30-second solos, and this is several minutes with lots of cool action and sci-fi elements. It's basically the stuff I'm always dying to do, so it's a welcome switch-up, but I've got to shake the squeak out of my gears because it is on, baby.

I'm wrapping up the final touches on a new cover for Crafty Games (not sure of the book title yet but I think they'll show the art at Gen Con in a couple weeks), it's the most intense painting job I've done since the last cover I did for them, back in late 2007. Color and I are wary acquaintances at best, but I'm getting over it with practice, as always. I'm feeling good about my current brush technique (basic additive/sampling process, though I think I accidentally reinvented the Flemish method) but I'm having a hard time consciously directing overall palette decisions and maintaining even values. Thankfully PS painting allows for easy manipulation of the color range and contrast, but it's a crutch. The sad thing about all that crap I wrote up there is that it applies perfectly well to me too, whenever I need to paint anything outside of a flat or 'animated' style. The only gratifying aspect of the whole mess is that lately I feel a genuine sense of progress almost every time I sit down for a good painting session. I think the new cover looks pretty nice, certainly better than the 2007 painting, and I can't wait to share it.

Last off, I've got six fully-painted (monochromatic) illustrations featuring in the pages of Brandon Sanderson's new epic novel The Way of Kings, coming out from Tor books at the end of August. Brandon is the author tapped to wrap up Robert Jordan's 14-volume fantasy series "The Wheel of Time" (totally separate series, but its given him a huge publicity boost this past year), and he's also the author of the "Mistborn" trilogy, which inspired several works you can find in my Fan Art gallery. I'm super-psyched about The Way of Kings, I've read it and I love it even more than the Mistborn books. Being an actual concept artist and illustrator for this new series is just pure sugar, and I hope it lasts a long time.

If you're attending Dragon*Con this September 3-6, I'll be on a panel with Isaac Stewart, Brandon Sanderson and Irene Gallo (art director at Tor) where we'll discuss the art in the book and the unique way that Brandon is approaching the visual development of his new fantasy epic. It oughtta be interesting stuff, I hope to see you there!

And that's about all I got for now. Lots of stuff keeping me busy, if you know where to look (and you should, 'cause I've told you before) you can follow some of it, but as always the updates here on DA will be unpredictable at best. I do check the messages frequently though, so don't hesitate to drop a Note or a Comment and let me know what you're thinking!

Add a Comment:
 
:iconrockthearts1212:
rockthearts1212 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
man i wish u would talk to my friend of my mine. all he cares is about style and he hasnt gotten any better in the 5 years ive known him. ill make him read this for sure. thanks
Reply
:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I hope it might help some. You can easily hit a wall when you're too focused on style, and then you're unable to proceed because you don't know where to go next. That's not so much of a problem if you can return to the fundamentals.
Reply
:iconrockthearts1212:
rockthearts1212 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ive been telling him that. then i started believing what he said that style is everything. it blocked me from progress. i didnt care about value or color like him and would focus of line work. so i had to drop him. now feel like im on the move again. thanks for journal u have open my eyes.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I spent a good long time focusing on line work and style without applying fundamentals, and it only worked for while. At some point you need either a lucky break or a stronger grasp of the basics so that you can build against what you know.
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:iconrockthearts1212:
rockthearts1212 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
u speak truth
Reply
:iconturtleboat:
turtleboat Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2010  Student Artist
your insights are always spot on and a good read.
Reply
:iconneon-drane:
neon-drane Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Damn well said mate!
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:iconpatmax17:
patmax17 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this journal reminded me of something I saw here on DA not so long ago:
[link]
[link]

It's interesting to see how you two tackled the topic from a similar point of view ^^
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I also find it funny/interesting that we both chose noses to make our point, though I think his reference to them as "symbols" is much better than my reference as "shortcuts".
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:iconpatmax17:
patmax17 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I know, It's something i noticed too, not without a smile, I must admit ^^
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Nice! I think he actually might have stated it more clearly than I did (then again, he spent a week putting that together, and I spent about an hour reformatting on-the-fly thoughts posted on a message board three weeks earlier). That's good stuff.
Reply
:iconicimodd:
icimodd Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010
Man, that just blew me away.
It didnt sound like a rant, but more like a lesson. I need to print this out and remember to read this day by day.
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:iconwolfspiritzero:
WolfSpiritZERO Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Wow interesting that you brought this subject up. A while ago I decide to take art class because I don't have a fine arts background and felt I was lacking because of it. And like you said most of it is pretty boring but I get to do things I would never try to do on my own. Like draw the human skeleton or draw from life. As mundane as the tasks are I have slowly noticed how it's affecting my drawings. When you have the fundamentals to fall back on you will be ability to draw from them and manipulate them to make your style more polished.
Reply
:iconkingskullkid:
kingskullkid Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010  Student General Artist
make this into an artical :D i reckon itd be a good read for everyone on devart
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I'm not sure I know what you're talking about. Is that a new category of submission or something?
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:iconkingskullkid:
kingskullkid Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010  Student General Artist
no i meant as news :D ya know the community news articles
everyone has a read of now and again
Reply
:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Nope, no idea. I almost never visit DA through the front page, and I don't pay much attention to community news. I didn't even know that was user-submitted content, I figured it was admins blogging.
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:iconkingskullkid:
kingskullkid Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010  Student General Artist
well now ya know :D
knowledge is power whooo XD
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:iconaimee5:
aimee5 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
I think style is to drawing, as accent is to language.
Reply
:iconakirashimada:
AkiraShimada Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2010
"Don't try to develop style. Ignore style. Just concentrate on drawing and style will just occur." - Richard Williams Animator's Survival Kit

...His mom said it to him really, but he did write it down!
Reply
:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
That's solid advice, but I think it's unsatisfying for newer artists who are intent on reaching for a certain style that lies at the core of their inspiration. It's hard to see the prize from down in the trenches.
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:iconcachupa:
cachupa Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2010  Student General Artist
I bow to you Oh Great Thinker!that was an awsome and inspirational journal!!thanks for the advice!
Reply
:iconbraise:
Braise Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Hobbyist
Not sure if it has anything to do with "style" per se, but because I'd like to do a lot of different things (animating, storyboarding, concept art, graphic design, comicbooks, etc), I'm a bit indecisive as to where I stand as an artist. Should I get into realism? But I love Calvin and Hobbes and cartoons... but I love landscapes.. etc. I'm on the verge of literally buying 25 artbooks from amazon, with artists ranging from Winsor McCay to Paul Pope to Frazetta, to Chuck Jones to Leyendecker to Moebius to Toriyama.. all in an attempt to study the greats and develop my own unique style. But in the end, Frazetta did all the things I would like to do, and he did it well; and the reason why? Because he had good fundamentals. He didn't trace any one else's work; he drew from life (or at worst, from references). Still on the fence with those books tho.. anyhow, thanks for the info. Definitely helped out quite a bit.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I don't know that solid fundamentals necessitates "realism", per se... you can employ symmetry and proportion and positive/neative space and perspective and anatomy and all that stuff, without ever coming near a "realistic" style.
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:iconsteelpengu:
Steelpengu Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I think a good way of saying it is style is what happens when you start making conscious decisions with the way you work. When you draw things for with purpose. I always tell young artists and writers that they need to be able to tell me WHY they're doing what they do before they can call it style.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I think why is definitely important, even if you internalize it. If you don't know why something is drawn a certain way, you're more likely to mis-use it.
Reply
:iconsebbythefreak:
Sebbythefreak Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Nothing much to add.

It's always a bitch learning new tricks, especially when you don't feel like your current tricks are "good enough".
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, and if you don't keep using 'em then you forget the rhythms and the instincts get rusty. Though with the really basic fundamentals is you end up using 'em almost all the time, regardless of the particular style or even application.
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:iconpachycrocuta:
Pachycrocuta Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010
A lot to think about. Thanks! I do feel that there's this core of basic stuff, and once you have that down you can play with it a little so that you have completely impossible stuff which still looks at some level believable.

I'm largely self-taught, and stylistically there's this weird personal level to my experience. I'll look at stuff by a whole range of artists, and like everyone else copy drawings a lot trying to figure out how the magic works - and yet not everything sticks. So for instance, how I figured out how faces work, still has a lot to do with Mitch Byrd and Peter de Seve, rather than Frank Cho or Iain McCaig (who are both artists that completely awe me). Or I know some of the playing with linework as compositional, shape-building detail, which I've been doing lately are ideas I originally found in Carl Critchlow's comics... but since I'm the person holding the pen and Mr. Critchlow's in Britain somewhere, it winds up being my understanding of light and form.

It's weird.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
There's never enough love for Mitch Byrd. That guy rocks. :D

When you're self-taught, you tend to have a very patchworky set of skills (I should know), but the trick is to recognize it and work towards strengthening your weak points. You'll have to identify and address those points yourself, which can be tricky as hell (half the time you don't even know you're doing it wrong, and sometimes doing it wrong isn't the wrong thing to do), but the benefit is that you can end up with a more thorough mastery of those things you do well. Your comprehension of certain skills is fully internalized... you know the stuff because you had to figure it out for yourself, rather than having it fed to you in a lesson.

And with thorough comprehension you're in the best position to innovate.
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:icondanielaraya:
DanielAraya Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I missed your rants
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:iconpadder:
Padder Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional General Artist
Great talk, and excellent news! That's one wholesome journal entry : )
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:iconnickmockoviak:
NickMockoviak Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Excellent journal entry mate. Truth has never rang so loud or so true. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconlavoakah:
Lavoakah Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Student Filmographer
Right on! Finally someone else who agrees!
BASICS! It's ALL about the goddamn BASICS!
Reply
:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Well, it's not ALL about the basics. But the fundamentals need to be in there right down at the very (haha) basic level.

I'll be the first to admit you can get away with faking it, at least for a while. I faked it for years, and I still got paid to draw and I count it as part of my career. But I didn't start doing my best work, and getting my best clients, until I realized that avoiding or faking through difficult challenges meant that I was a weak illustrator, and I began to try fix it.

And I'm still trying. But I'm better than I was before.
Reply
:iconlavoakah:
Lavoakah Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Student Filmographer
Well, you're speaking to a young fellow who is only just starting his journey... so it's good that I learnt this lesson now, right?
And by "all about" I mean, only if you have the foundations can you build up! After all, without 'em you may as well be building a house on sand!
I like to think I know the basics and can apply them... but I have a hard time, popularity and productivity wise... my progression is very fast, but I'm still at a low level. I look up to people like yourself!
I know I could fake it, and if I did I'd probably have an easier time of it right now... but I think that it'll pay off one day.
At least, I hope so. :hmm:
Wish me luck! And good luck to you!
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:iconandrew-ak-47:
Andrew-ak-47 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
word! I run into a lot of my artist friends at my school want to right from the get go draw a certain way in a certain style (these guys are really into anime and manga) and only that, and i always tell them you gotta start with the basics, learn the rules and only then can you learn how to successfully bend and break them.

I've gotta saying; I take what i know about the right and good, and use it on the wrong and the bad, making the wrong look good. (does that make sense?)
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I think this issue of style is becoming more noticeable since the rise of very stylish Japanese work in the popular media... manga and anime are often distinct and appealing and it's not surprising that it inspires a lot of kids. I know it's inspired the hell out of me for the better part of 25 years and then some.

I don't have anything against drawing in any particular style, even a popular style. Far from it, I incorporate stuff I pick up from Japanese comics all the time. What I want is for everyone to be awesome at it, to master their style through full comprehension, not just repetition and visual studies.

The difference between imitation (even really good imitation) and comprehension of a style is pretty easy to spot, and only one of them is going to result in consistently awesome work.
Reply
:iconandrew-ak-47:
Andrew-ak-47 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I agree. Manga is the bomb! I absolutely love the stuff i see know with all the digital artists. manga has never been more appealing.

I admit, when I started drawing, all i wanted to do is draw manga. Being 12 at the time, I had no patience what so ever and just went straight for it, exaggerating the crap outta my eyes and heads, but i didn't know why. i just knew, it was what people in manga do. At some point it occurred that I do need to go back and learn the fundamentals and how everything works. Now, i know anatomy, perspective and storytelling.

Especially anatomy and the way i draw people, I think we should learn how to draw realistically first and learn the correct proportions, know all the muscles and detail so that when I want to go back and draw manga, I just pull back the detail. I want to know why I do what I'm doing like, if I'm drawing a guy with enormous shoulders. why? I'm exaggerating his shoulders to make him look powerful, because regular people don't have shoulders that big and broad. not everyone is a body builder,etc instead of saying I'm drawing big shoulders because i saw another guy do it.

Therefore, I know a lot more than when i started out and that opens so many doors and options where i can experiment and find where i feel comfortable, which I think everyone should do.
Reply
:iconquirkilicious:
Quirkilicious Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with the post, but your proposed quote "style is in the shortcuts that you choose to take". doesn't sit well with me either.

Shortcuts imply you aren't putting as much effort as taking the "main road", like you're cutting corners, the easier way out; so to speak.

Which is anything but the case.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, there can be a pejorative tone to "shortcut". But when I say "style is the techniques you choose to use" the whole thing sounds self-evident and possibly redundant.

In my mind the terms "shortcut", "trick" and "technique" are all pretty synonymous. If I'm drawing noses or eyes or lips a certain way, it's almost always a time-saving technique, so I think "shortcut" applies, but not everyone approaches their style the same way.

I guess the post as a whole is a more dragged out explanation of that. Style is in your techniques, and I'm maybe urging others to be in control of their style rather than letting their style be in control of them. Lots of kids out there use technique blindly, drawing things because that's the way they like to see 'em drawn. And that's cool, but you've got to have a deeper understanding of it if you're going to tread out into uncharted territory with that style at your side.
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:iconceryk:
Ceryk Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Student Artisan Crafter
I have to agree. Because some people's style is really complicated and doesn't have shortcuts.

To me, style is all about how you make something look or feel.
Reply
:icon7outerelements:
7outerelements Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I agree entirely - it sounds like a universal truth of style, not just of drawing style. It's interesting that you separate "storytelling" as a component of the basics, when I believe that storytelling has a whole set of basics under it on its own.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Well, and so does Anatomy or Composition. I separate Storytelling 'cause I think it's a separate discipline that incorporates character into the illustration. It uses aspects of Lighting or Composition or Anatomy, but it's not a subset of any one category.
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:icon7outerelements:
7outerelements Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
You know, I didn't think of it that way. I suppose any aspect of a discipline has basics to learn, and those basics are composed of skills more basic still. Maybe the only way to tackle any task of that scale is to break it down into smaller and smaller pieces.

I didn't mean to question your list of basic skills, though. I only wanted to point out that, for an artist/writer, it looks like all of the skills that a writer must have - all of the skills I'm trying to learn - are reduced to a single subset. I don't know enough about Anatomy or Composition to comment on those, but I have an idea of how massive a subject the basics of storytelling can be. Becoming an artist/writer sounds like a terrifyingly enormous task. But like I said before, you have to break it into smaller pieces, right?
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Storytelling for Artists isn't exactly the same as Storytelling for Writers, though. There's lots of practical theory that applies to both, but in application they're pretty different skill sets.

I wouldn't reduce Writing to a single subset... it's an entirely different Art. :D
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:icon7outerelements:
7outerelements Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Clearly you've given this subject considerable thought. Makes sense though - Sandman is worlds divided from what any written work on the subject would be. Even the lack of need for descriptive narrative. (Although, perhaps because Neil Gaiman is based in words, there is an unusual amount of description in word form... odd.)

It's strangely pleasing to see Writing described as an Art (capital letters and everything). It feels, sometimes, like it's considered something less, or if not that, then something different.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Of course the written word is an Art, it's the third tip of the Art triumvirate (Aural, Visual and Written Art). Pretty much every work of art can be categorized as being part of one or more (or all) of those three.

Although I wobble on whether it should be "Writing", or if there's another way to say "expression of thought" that might be more inclusive. Good writing is the author effectively expressing their thoughts (regardless of the subject, or whether it's fictional or not) directly to another person. It's the most difficult Art to accomplish well, but when it's done right it can change the world. Music and Visual Arts rarely achieve that effect.
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:icon7outerelements:
7outerelements Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
No argument on the difficulty of writing effectively. Although I'd imagine a photograph, or an instrumental session of music, can also be used to express thought to another person. Depending on the skill of the artist, that thought can be very clear. One could even say that "expression of thought" is a main focus of art as a whole, but that may be jumping the gun.

When lines are crossed though, it's difficult to tell exactly what it is that's changing the world. Were the Beatles famous for their written lyrics or for their aural sensation? Shakespearean plays for their acting visuals or their enduring scripts? I'm not sure. Perhaps one would have been nothing without the other.

I've definitely read some books that have changed MY world, at the very least.
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:iconinkthinker:
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
That's why Visual and Aural get their own corners, because you can break them down to their simplest, purest forms and still use them to connect with other people you'll never meet in person.

I don't know that it's important to note when the areas between them are crossed... combining them just makes the Art as a whole more powerful, more effective. This is why an instrumental piece can move you, but an instrumental with lyrics can move you even more. It's why video (which combines all three) is the most potentially powerful platform for art and communications, and will probably continue to be so until we perfect something that adds direct feedback to the brain.

It's worth noting that "most powerful" should note be confused with "superior"... there's benefits and drawbacks to each. For instance, Visual Arts are very basic and often require little to no translation to experience, but as a result they tend to be a blunt instrument for communication. Sound is often more emotionally effective than words or images, but producing sound requires power, even if it's drawn from the human body. Written words can express the most complex ideas, but require you to be literate in order to understand them.

Combined, you can accentuate the positives and draw back the negatives. Sounds + Images + Words = theater, or in modern times video/film.

None of them are "superior", they're three equal parts that can be used alone or together to create "Art", something which allows us to reach out and communicate with each other through space and forward into times beyond our own lives. It's kinda cool like that.

:D
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