Should I invest time learning to draw?

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving art assets.
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Omega_93
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Should I invest time learning to draw?

#1 Post by Omega_93 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:05 am

Hey guys, new here so go easy! haha

Basically, just like most other people on here I imagine, I'm a one man team working on a visual novel. Now I'd consider myself perfectly capable of writing, adept at coding and I can photoshop a stock photo into a mean lookin' background. My problem is: I cannot draw. Seriously. This isn't an issue of "Talent" or "Putting in hard work" or anything, I've been trying for a long time now to improve my drawing skills and pretty much all I've accomplished is the ability to draw good looking eyes...

Now, several questions;
Since I'm a one man team trying to do pretty much everything, would it be a good idea to drop the character artwork and give it to someone else to do?
I don't have any money to pay people so where should I go to find people who're willing to work for free? What kind of quality could I expect? etc..
Then, lastly, for those who're good at drawing/have learned to draw; how did you learn? What's a good on line resource for actually learning to draw? Not just some step-by-step rubbish where they say things like "Draw a circle, okay now divide that circle into sections of the face which is such an easy thing to do for someone with no artistic skill."

Thanks for any answers you can give, I hope to post here more frequently as I get further along in the development of my Visual novel(s) =]
- Alex / Omega_93

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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#2 Post by Anne » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:09 pm

I think character sprites is the easiest part to outsource. You can expect all levels of quality (including pro) for free depending on the time you're willing to spend looking, the amount of work you need done, your idea, the quality of your writing and your communication skills.
And you can always resort to the Creative Commons resources (including the section on these forums).
There're 2 stickied posts with various tutorials in this section, but unless you enjoy drawing I don't think you should invest your time in that.
I'm curious about your artwork though :)

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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#3 Post by DarkSin » Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:10 am

Omega_93 wrote:Hey guys, new here so go easy! haha
Hello there :)
Omega_93 wrote:Since I'm a one man team trying to do pretty much everything, would it be a good idea to drop the character artwork and give it to someone else to do?
It certainly would be more efficient. Making a normal length VN can be pretty taxing for one person. It'll also take you quite long, no matter how speedy you are at writing/programming etc. Also if you aren't confident in your drawing skills it might be worthwhile to consider recruiting someone more specialised in the field, which bring us to...
Omega_93 wrote:I don't have any money to pay people so where should I go to find people who're willing to work for free?
You can make a post in this section if you're searching for an artist willing to work for free: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewforum.php?f=59
Omega_93 wrote:What kind of quality could I expect? etc..
That depends on two things, the way I see it. Project quality and luck. Many professional artists are willing to work for free for the right project. If they find a particular project that they find immensely interesting/intriguing/fascinating, they will want to be a part of it, whether or not they'll be getting a paid position. The idea is to come up with a very good concept, write it brilliantly, and deliver a catchy presentation. That's where luck comes in. Your project won't be seen by everyone. There is only a chance that a highly skilled artist will see your post and will be interested enough to sign up.
Omega_93 wrote:Then, lastly, for those who're good at drawing/have learned to draw; how did you learn? What's a good on line resource for actually learning to draw? Not just some step-by-step rubbish where they say things like "Draw a circle, okay now divide that circle into sections of the face which is such an easy thing to do for someone with no artistic skill."
Well, I would like to think I know a thing or two about drawing so... how did I learn?
Wall-of-text warning, just skip if you're not interested in long histories :p
I started drawing when I was 2, but those were mostly doodles of strange creatures :p I properly started drawing at, like 4 or 5. Growing up it has always been my main hobby. How did I learn? Hmm.. I suppose by observing and watching. It could be something I saw on TV, or something in a game.. anything that piqued my interest. There needs to be a desire to create. Most of the time I had to rely on images in my head, the way I would recall the things I saw. Sometimes I would have reference material, like a game CD or a computer image. I would try to duplicate it to precision. I also made many comic books over the years, which proved to be pivotal in my progress. There would always be a contrast between the quality of the first and last pages.

I seriously started drawing in 5th or 6th grade. After watching many anime, I found a style I liked very much. I would study it for hours and hours on end; screenshots, official art, pausing the episodes etc. I kept trying to recreate that style until I was satisfied with the results. Later on I started working on a more ambitious comic using the a variation of that style. Well I abandoned that project at one point, and begin working on smaller things, like illustration. For that I studied anatomy extensively, from books (google is your friend, book stores are a good option too), photography and what not. I also kept studying online pictures, magazines, and books of architecture, machinery and sceneries. I experimented and experimented until I worked out a suitable style for drawing that I was satisfied with.
My advice to an interested person would be that referenced art is the way to start. That will teach you the basics of drawing. Never stop until the illustration is complete. After it is complete compare it with the original and scrutinize it. Find every little flaw and ponder over how it could be bettered. After you feel you've improved some (or even alongside), start studying anatomy. Books, photos, guides... anything and everything. Work on original pieces, apply everything you're learning. Keep yourself inspired. Inspiration leads to creation. Good luck :)
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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#4 Post by SundownKid » Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:32 am

In my opinion - if you have absolutely no art skills, and no personal urge to start drawing, yourself, then you should do what you do best, and make money to hire an artist. It's a rather long and hard road to learning to draw, and it requires constant practice that will take up many hours. You will need the dedication that comes from actually wanting to draw, not just doing it as a means to an end.

Of course, there is a huge reward that comes from being able to draw things. If you can code, draw and write, you are a one man game making machine. But is the time investment worth it versus hiring an artist? Probably not, unless you really want to be an artist.

HOWEVER - I would recommend actually learning the basics of art, design, and drawing, even if you can't draw a spectacular image. Being able to draw in a basic way gives you a ton more insight into how good art and good design looks, resulting in you being able to better manage an artist. There are plenty of horror stories about people with no art knowledge having zero idea how much time it takes to draw something or whether it looks good or not.

Finding someone to work for free can sometimes be harder than actually making the money to hire them via some other job. Mainly because of several reasons:
1) They might take so long to finish that you will have lost time you could have used making more games and/or money.
2) They might make low quality art you have to throw out because it's not up to standards, or which people won't enjoy when they play your game. Even if they don't, the art might just not be what you really wanted.
3) They will abandon you when someone offers them money and/or a more interesting job.
4) It's just not fair to artists to make them draw for free, unless they are not very skilled, in which case see reason 2.
5) Actually finding them is a task unto itself. There are a ton of artists looking to draw for money, not so much for free. You will likely need a demo complete to convince people to draw for you.

So for these reasons, I highly recommend hiring an artist even if it's not the highest rate you can afford to pay them per picture. Since you are adept at coding, you might be able to become a freelance programmer and make money that way. Or you could learn more photoshop and do freelance design. Or just offer your writing skills.

Getting someone to work for free might work when there's a sketch. But when there are a bunch of character sprites, background and other stuff on the line, there are a million ways they can leave you hanging if you can't afford to hire them.

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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#5 Post by Anne » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:42 am

2) They might make low quality art you have to throw out because it's not up to standards
It's really easy to avoid that, just ask them for several examples. I don't think it's very nice to ask a free artist for help (when you don't really like what they do but are afraid that you won't find anyone) and then throw their work away when you have a chance to get something better.
3) They will abandon you when someone offers them money and/or a more interesting job.
Paid artists do that just as often. I'm not trying to say that paying your artist is a bad thing, it just doesn't guarantee anything.

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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#6 Post by -Ren- » Sat Nov 22, 2014 3:38 pm

I've been trying for a long time now to improve my drawing skills and pretty much all I've accomplished is the ability to draw good looking eyes...
That right there is probably your big downfall.
I've seen this a lot in concept design stuff at the university I attend, most people, especially beginners generally tend to dive into the tough stuff.
I don't know what else you've tried drawing, but if it's only the eyes you can do well, I'm going to go ahead and guess that's what you focus on a lot?

if you're just starting out, I wouldn't even recommend trying to draw in a cartoony style, at all. After all, anime/manga and whatever are 'stylized versions of human anatomy'. Therefore, start out drawing realistically.
Now, several questions;
Since I'm a one man team trying to do pretty much everything, would it be a good idea to drop the character artwork and give it to someone else to do?
I don't have any money to pay people so where should I go to find people who're willing to work for free? What kind of quality could I expect? etc..
I've tried various times to find people to work for me for free too. It never went anywhere. Thought that could be just because my projects weren't interesting enough for them, I'm not sure. But people generally want to be compensated for their hard work, especially if your project is a large one.

Artists not being paid are also more likely to ditch your project if they get tired of the work, that would leave you dead in the water, and probably having to scrap it all together or find a new artist.
Then, lastly, for those who're good at drawing/have learned to draw; how did you learn? What's a good on line resource for actually learning to draw? Not just some step-by-step rubbish where they say things like "Draw a circle, okay now divide that circle into sections of the face which is such an easy thing to do for someone with no artistic skill."
Bolded for emphasis - This is a problem I had myself, but the thing you need to remember is that they use those guidelines for a reason, because they work.
If you're having trouble drawing circles, practice. Technical skill isn't something you're born with, you need to develop it. If you don't draw much (like how I was), your muscle memory is going to be terrible, your hands will shake when you hold a pencil, and everything you do will be bad (I know, I was at that stage not too long a go myself).

Draw from the shoulder and elbow, not from your wrist - This will improve your line-work a lot.


I'm still learning myself, but these are a few tips I can provide:

- Accept the fact that it's going to take time to learn... lots of time.
- Learn how to hold a pencil! I'm not joking when I say that either, learn how to hold your pencil properly.
- Don't blame your equipment (or lack thereof) for making bad art. This is something I did, sadly :( I figured that I could be AMAZING if I just went and bought that pack of expensive graphite and charcoal, I was wrong. I didn't learn from that though, I then blamed my crap on the fact I didn't have a Wacom tablet, so I went and bought one, my art still sucked and I was down a load of money.
All you need is a pencil and some printer paper!
- Draw every day! Even if it's just for 30 minutes, even if you just doodle on a piece of scrap paper, squiggly lines or whatever. Build up your muscle memory and your confidence.
The reason you can't draw good lines/circles/whatever is because you lack the muscle memory. This is something that you pick up as times goes on. I remember reading a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci a while back where he mentions something along the lines of "If people were to look at my earliest works, they wouldn't find my art very good." Or something like that lol. What I'm getting at is, nobody is born with the talent, they learn it over time. Even the greats were as bad as you are now at some point. Thought there are those who have an easier time learning the technical skills, they're not born with them.
- Make smooth lines, don't *chicken scratch*.
- Stop drawing eyes! :D Learn human anatomy BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE!
- Learn the '8-heads-high' rule. This will give you a VERY good understanding of how the human body is proportioned. However, do not swear by this method. Only use it to learn the major land-marks of the human figure (crotch in the center of the body for your half way point, elbows start around the navel/wrists at the hips, fingers end around mid-thigh). That sort of stuff. Draw them in skeletal form (there's a ton of videos on how to do this, just check youtube).
- When you're confident that you know all the major landmarks of the body, sign up to pintrest and pin an absolute TON of pose reference images - draw them in basic skeletal form.
Also take note of how the skeleton differs between males and females - men have shoulders broader than their hips, women have broader hips than their shoulders. This will stop you from drawing males that look too feminine, and women that look too masculine!
- Now that you have a good understanding of the proportions and landmarks of the human figure, you will NEVER have to refer to any method of measurement - 8 heads, 6 heads, 7.5. So long as you know how to proportion your figures based on these landmarks, you can draw them in any pose you can think of. Though, eye-balling this does take a fair amount of practice, but you will pick it up quickly.
- Learn the muscles, how they attach to the skeleton and how they distort when flexed or relaxed. This is probably the most important thing. Download a lot of reference images of the muscles in various positions too, they will help a lot when creating your own poses later on.
Properly study the skeleton and the muscles, I really can't stress that enough, it will mean the difference between good art and bad art. You have no idea how many times I've seen art that is beautiful, but lacks even basic anatomy - I saw one the other day where the collar bones ended mid way toward the shoulder, anyone who knows anatomy knows that the collar bone and scapula connect at the shoulder to form the socket for the arm.
Another one is breasts, good god don't even get me started :D
- You need to think of the body not as a series of contours, but as a collection of three-dimensional shapes, all connected.
- Learn the importance of gravity! The human center of gravity, in a basic standing pose with equal weight on both feet is pretty much a straight line through our body. However, this position changes depending on the pose.
Go and stand in a the pose I just mentioned, now take one foot off the ground without changing your position, I bet you will lose your balance! Now, shift one foot into the center of your body, you will be a lot more balanced :)
knowing about the center of gravity will help you draw realistic poses for your characters, go learn it!
- Learn how to shade and colour properly! As an artist, you are drawing LIGHT (when you look at anything, you're not seeing lines, you're seeing how light interacts with that object), that's a big thing to take into consideration.

After you've got a decent understanding of that stuff, then move on to putting it into practice. Open up your favorite manga, anime, pictures of your favorite game characters or whatever, pick an image and draw it! But... don't just draw what you see. Most have a tendency to just start drawing by starting drawing the head, then drawing the shapes of the clothes. Use your new-found knowledge of anatomy and proportions to get a basic skeletal structure of the image, making sure your proportions and pose are right from the start will save you a lot of headaches :)
When you can do that with some success, try drawing the same image but in a different pose, or from a different angle.

Ok, this is a serious wall of text, I'm sorry lol. But I hope that it can help you a little. :)
Also, try not to get too frustrated when you're learning, drawing is something that is extremely difficult to learn, and impossible to master. Always remember that - no matter how bad you think you are, you're always getting better. Date every piece of art you do, then keep checking back at the end of each week, I guarantee you'll see fast improvements.
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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#7 Post by Blue Lemma » Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:05 am

As someone who tried teaching himself to draw and eventually reached a level of Not Sucking Completely (just mostly) I'd say don't bother. Unless you enjoy drawing and want that extra creative outlet, it's not worth the time. Obtaining a level of skill that will rival the average artist who's been drawing for a while will probably take serious time and effort.

If your goal is to make art for a VN, just use placeholder images in the game and find artists to contract or otherwise work with.

That's not an inspiring answer, but I think it's usually the right one.
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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#8 Post by DarkSin » Sun Nov 23, 2014 3:34 pm

I would like to second these points:
Blue Lemma wrote:Unless you enjoy drawing and want that extra creative outlet, it's not worth the time. Obtaining a level of skill that will rival the average artist who's been drawing for a while will probably take serious time and effort.
SundownKid wrote:It's a rather long and hard road to learning to draw, and it requires constant practice that will take up many hours. You will need the dedication that comes from actually wanting to draw, not just doing it as a means to an end.
It seems I was answering the OP's questions too straightforwardly :P
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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#9 Post by champignonkinoko » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:17 am

Blue Lemma wrote:Unless you enjoy drawing and want that extra creative outlet, it's not worth the time. Obtaining a level of skill that will rival the average artist who's been drawing for a while will probably take serious time and effort.
I'm going to second this point again. I'm trying to fly solo (and possibly cooperate with a few friends when their schedule frees up) and will not be doing BGM, because that means that I'd be learning music theory from scratch. That would make the VN take longer to produce (me learning music, you learning art) and we may lose interest in it the longer we take.

Good luck with your VN!

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Re: Should I invest time learning to draw?

#10 Post by ameliori » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:23 am

It may sound like reiterating the same point, but unless you are innately predisposed to art, then it's better to give it someone who is already passionate about it. 9 times out of 10, it is almost always a good idea to hire an artist.

I do sympathise with you as a one-man team-er and someone who is also quite short on cash. There's also some of my tendencies to be a control freak (dunno if that's the same for you). So I am in no way discouraging you from doing your art your way. It seems that you are trying your best to get to a decent quality from your art and if you are going down that route, I would suggest that you stockpile on Marvin Gaye songs and lots of junk food. It's going to a long ride.

++

Then, lastly, for those who're good at drawing/have learned to draw; how did you learn? What's a good on line resource for actually learning to draw?

As for learning to draw, One advice that I can impart is: LEARN FUNDAMENTALS. Before drawing an eye or a character, start drawing 3D Shapes. Cubes, pyramids, spheres etc. Everything is made up of shapes my good lad, and these techniques will haunt you for the rest of your path. After that, learn to draw from life. Learn anatomy. Get drawing classes. Battle your insecurities. Study other artists' work. Repeat!

You cannot skip over these, just as you cannot skip the alphabet or basic arithmetic. Most of it will be boring gruntwork (learning anatomy, learning perspective, values, etc.) but like I said, it's a long-ass ride. That's why you should enjoy what you are doing in the meantime.

Either that, or you can always trace! Get a camera, pose your (un)willing friends, and pimp those sprites. Search Daz 3D. It's a free 3D posing tool that you can use.
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