Deliberate Practice [June 2018]

Brutal critiques and constructive feedback! Help others and get help back!

Re: Forever Improving [June 2016]

Postby Tex_McCranie » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:20 am

Thanks for the comment in my sketchbook. I too still feel the need to push my paintings to a more finished look. I have no idea what your process for making a painting is so maybe this isn't helpful but for myself I've found that creating a definitive set of steps tends to help so you're only focusing on one or two things at a time. For example, I might start with a line drawing and work out the underlying structure then paint a color layer underneath to establish a basic pallette. Then start adding in medium tones, then dark tones, then light tones, then do a first pass rendering of basic details then maybe start paying attention to edges etc. I think too many people start out good and then start trying to do everything at once and become burnt out and don't really push things to a finish as a result. Maybe this doesn't apply to you.

The second thing I've done is just force myself to tinker with something until I can't think of anything else to do to it. then look at the painting again in a month or so and really try and re-evaluate what I did, where I went wrong but also where I went right.

Maybe this is already what you do.
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Re: Forever Improving [June 2016]

Postby ubem » Sun Jun 19, 2016 4:20 pm

Lucy: Thanks, the original is from Ding WL which I think is a photo study. Definitely agreed, trying to do more and more polish pieces recently.

Tex: Really appreciate your in depth advice! My process is pretty similar to yours, usually starting with gray-scale shapes. Yea burning out on an image was common for me, I guess it's like training endurance in running and coming back to it day after day. Your process sounds very logical and reliable, I'll definitely have to look back at it if I ever feel lost in the process. Thanks again for your help!

here's another contest piece, tried to polish it but ran out of time near the end.
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Re: Forever Improving [June 2016]

Postby Zipfelzeus » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:55 am

Your pieces are getting better and better. I really liked the knight and that bird mech soldier. Espeically your understanding of edges and contrast have brougth your pieces to a really nice level.

Sorry to hear you ran out of time but that is quite the detailed piece you had going on there. Awesome work on pushing it atleast this far. Alll those feather look like they took a long time to render haha.
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Re: Forever Improving [September 2016]

Postby ubem » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:21 pm

Zip: Thanks, really appreciate your observation. These little improvements are what keep me motivated :D. Haha yea I can't stand the monotony of details, but they're worth it in the end.

Here's a couple latest paintings. I haven't posted much because I've been doing pencil on paper drawings and have piles and piles of paper which take too long to scan. Hoping to draw through 10,000 pages though, after a year I'm only about 7% done lol.

Master study Waterhouse-Cleopatra:
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The Prophet
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Re: Deliberate Practice [September 2016]

Postby ubem » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:28 am

ImageImageImageDesign Practice
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Re: Deliberate Practice [September 2016]

Postby ubem » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:06 pm

I seem to procrastinate a lot when it comes to art. I'm going to make it a goal to submit daily works every day to hold myself accountable. Hope I'm not spamming the sketchbook thread too much lol.

Master Studies
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Detail Practice:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:04 am

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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:57 am

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Doing mostly traditional drawing today but here's a quick practice anatomy pose from imagination.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:45 am

Creature practice.
Working on some master studies, will post them soon.Image
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby Hai » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:34 am

Beautiful :)
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:44 am

Thanks Hai

Been working on a couple master studies today, probably take a while to finish. here's an old one for now; original is by raun jia:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:53 am

Torso study and Ruan jia master study:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:34 am

I'm starting to run out of stuff to post. Usually, my studies/paintings that aren't sketches takes 2-5 days to do. I'll start posting at least every other day from now on.
Here are a few thumbnail master studies from a while back:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby Vladimir Gasai » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:24 pm

cool works man love em!
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:20 am

Thanks Vlad

Here's a couple stuff finished today, some character practice and master study of Tadema:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:09 pm

I feel like doing these studies teach me so much about painting. Hopefully one day I can make my own work once I get the fundamentals down.
Ruan Jia again, master study:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby Enydimon » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:47 am

You're killing it with these master studies. I haven't done one in a while, I should get on that.

I probably wouldn't wait to do some application of these master copies, though. When I had a New Masters Academy subscription, I remember Vilppu had an exercise where you took an old master's painting and changed the the mood or story of it without altering the composition itself. It would probably be harder to do with Ruan Jia's stuff with regards to posting it publicly for showing off, but I thought it was an interesting suggestion.

But honestly, any sort of application to help further understand how to recreate what you're learning would probably be good. Copying after a certain point is easy because they've figured out all the hard stuff for you. There's only so much you can reverse engineer before you have to get used to building something by yourself and the type of patience and problem solving it requires.

We might get to a point where the fundamentals are familiar, but we're never going to stop returning to them for as long as we live. At some point in between all that we have to create something.
Self Deprecation ≠ Self Awareness
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:49 pm

Thanks, Enydimon! I can't wait to see yours if you decide to do some. I find it's most useful to do one when I'm struggling with a certain theme, e.g. edges, color, values, character compositions etc. And picking a piece that excels in that area to do a copy. Great idea by Vilppu, I can see that exercise being especially useful for iterative concept art. Definitely, I agree that knowledge and study are useless without application. I tend to do a lot of side sketches and WIPs on the side while doing master studies, it's just I tend not to post those. Though just the study itself is a great way to practice painting endurance, which helps immensely when polishing a piece to a finish I've found.

Been trying to work on my design skills; Here's some color and drawings:
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My drawing is pretty terrible at the moment, will definitely have to double down on it. Also working on a personal piece inspired by some of the designs, might be a while til I finish.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:23 pm

Slept for about 28 hours over past two days, all these studies have been pretty mentally demanding. Here's a quick study, trying to learn horse colors for a personal piece I'm working on. My monitor was miscalibrated somehow, apologies for the oversaturated colors:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:49 pm

Got stuck on certain props when working on a personal piece from imagination. Did some studies to fill that visual knowledge gap.
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Painting 5+ hours a day is starting to burn me out haha. Hope to keep posting every day though, it's surprisingly helpful in keeping me productive.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:56 pm

Working on some studies, here are some old master studies in the mean time:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby ubem » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:27 pm

A study of architectural detail:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [April 2018]

Postby Imbalantus » Sat May 06, 2017 10:57 am

Beautiful work and great progress!

Some advanced critique I can offer is that some paintings turn out a bit cold and sometimes colours are a bit isolated from each other. For example in the horse painting, it's like „hello, I'm a brown horse, and I'm a blue sky, and I'm a green tree“. In a setup like that there are soo many opportunities to put a lot of modulations of olive, orange, purple, pink, deep blue etc in there to make the colours more interconnected.

Some strategies to tackle this is to start out with a warm (even hot) background layer and paint over it, so that the background layer shines through here and there. This solves the coldness problem and ties the painting together. And additionally another strategy is to make the second layer a spitpaint layer where the artists tries to feel out colour modulations and pushes them up in saturation and squeezes in lots of vibrant colours. This produces a lot of happy accidents and in the latter render phase one can still decide what to keep, but either way the modulations will shine through and the painting gets more vibrant as a result.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby ubem » Fri May 12, 2017 4:21 am

Imbalantus: Thanks a ton for the critique! I think you're spot on with your assessment of the colors. I'll have to experiment with your strategies more, and in the meantime, I'm going to work on some color variety studies to work on bringing colors together more. You've been really helpful, thanks for stopping by!

Here's some application of the last few studies: Image
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby ubem » Fri May 12, 2017 4:58 pm

Tried to emulate Imbalantus' critique doing a color study. I've learned that because of a limited pallet and a high saturated underpainting, you get that oil painting feeling as a result. Here's the quick master study, original by guanjian huang:
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I won't be back for a few days, going to work on a huge master study to work on my handling of detail in backgrounds and more color variety.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby ubem » Tue May 16, 2017 3:14 pm

Something I've been thinking about for a while is...

Far too often I see artists put in hundreds of hours of work and not improve at all and other artists skyrocket inexplicably. I've spent most of my waking moments figuring out why this is searching for information on how to effectively "get good". From the dozen of books, blogs, forum posts, and videos it seems 'deliberate practice' is the secret sauce. I've been applying it as much as I can for the past couple of weeks and it's working surprisingly well, but at a significant cost. It feels like taking a finals exam every day, the mental exhaustion becomes increasingly overwhelming. There are days I can't get out of bed, and when I can, all mental energy zaps away as I sit down and paint. I'm more ecstatic than ever to paint though, and improving is the ultimate motivator. But my brain is yelling at me to rest, so I'm going to take a hiatus if I can help it. Hope to be back soon!

Here's some comfort zone study since the master study was too difficult for me:
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby Chewfie » Wed May 17, 2017 3:26 am

Hey Ubem,

I think you're doing great so far, deliberate practice is indeed the key to improvement. Rejoice in the fact that you feel your brain struggling with it because this is proof that you are learning and getting better. The high achievers in any domain are the ones who push themselves to master things they can't do or don't know yet. For example I think you're really good at suggesting form in your renderings but you hardly do any pure line drawings. Doing a bit of line study could help bring new ideas into your work. In his drawing book, Harold Speed suggests that we should practice line drawing and mass drawing alternatively so that we gain some knowledge from both. So maybe take a hiatus and practice other skills and keep drawing.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby Hai » Sat May 20, 2017 8:59 am

What do you mean by hiatus? I think your last personal painting is very clean and professional. It is the best of yours yet. And now you´re stopping?

You can get freelance work from this.

As long as you focus on one thing and don´t switch focus here and then, then results will follow. Focus on the one thing you want to achieve.
However, if you feel stuck, it´s time to ask questions.
Most people, who skyrocket in skills, are those who leverage software using the 80/20-rule.
Others are getting knowledge from sources other than they used to, but also leverage 80/20.

What artists post on the internet are just 10% of their process, even in their tutorials. They have gathered knowledge from other resources, sometimes even relying on mentors.

As an example:

Lin Ran - Studied a lot of physical properties, famous artist course and probably took traditional painting classes from masters in china
Ruan - Traditional Atelier Training
Sung Choi - Onepixelbrush

In the end it still boils down to the 80/20-rule.
What can you do in 20% of your time to achieve 80% of the results?

In your case, it´s all about becoming pro illustrator. A pro illustrator needs at least 5 years to become really pro. See how slow @Imbalantus moves?
So this will be a maraton and not a sprint.

You need to enjoy the process as well. If you don´t enjoy the process and get too result-oriented you become outcome-dependant.

This means that you need to be happy with your work that you are doing now and incrementally improve. Your goal of having the perfect illustration is not going to happen anytime soon(godlevel). But you can do a perfect illustration with your current skills and incrementally improve until you achieved your goal.
Perfection can be really dangerous, and it´s mostly our ego standing in the way. I can see plenty of designers who don´t have polished style, but get work, because they can do what is required from the company and do their best with their currrent skill.

It´s really a process and not an event. Small steps one after another.

Take a break by any means and come back with a fresh perspective.


I will end with a personal anecdote:

Painting was really depressing to me. I woke up, went to painting and couldn´t improve at all. I thought I know how to paint, but then only s**t comes out. How can the others paint like that? I copied their paintings and everything looked like s**t.
Studying process shots just wouldn´t cut it.
The most process I saw, was when I embraced all information out there. I learned the most, when listening to mentors who laid out everything they did. When feeling stuck, I seek out other mentors and information, who could possibly solve this problem.

The best advice I got, was when I was going to THU and getting a portfolio review by Robh Ruppel, Marc Simonetti and Sparth. When they criticize your work, your mindset will shift completely. They shattered my believes and gave 80/20 advice.

Robh was saying: "You need to pay attention to the perspective"
Sparth said: "Be careful with being sloppy. Avoid speedpaintiness"
Marc: "Are you inventing something new? It looks like you are just texturing the image"

Such simple advice. So much impact.

Sometimes things are obvious, but our own believes are in our way. There is ONE thing you can change, so boost your progress by 80%. What is that?
I know you can do it, and problem-solving is the key.

Solve problems and put in the hours.


P.S: Hope you don´t mind the ramble too much. I tend to be a bit preachy, but this is just genuine thoughts as an art mate, that I wanted to share with you.
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Re: Deliberate Practice [May 2018]

Postby ubem » Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:57 pm

Chewfie: Thanks, completely agree with your assessment on struggling. I've started to do a lot more constructive gesture drawings after reading your comment, and it's helping me create much more believable designs. Most of my pure drawings I've posted but deleted since I felt they weren't as interesting as my paintings. And now there's just a sheer stack of around a thousand pages that would be impossible to upload haha.

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Hai: Hiatus as in a short break until I can handle being burned out again. It seems like I'm recovering much more quickly than before thankfully.
Thanks a lot! That genuinely helps to hear it's professional or at least near that level. Sometimes I doubt whether all the time and friends I've sacrificed is worth it, comments like these are a serious help.

Interesting take on the Pareto principle when applying it to the creative process. I suppose when it comes to learning, the vital 20% comes from a focused intense deliberate practice that targets the largest weaknesses. I definitely agree with the speed of improving to a pro level, I've given myself roughly 5 years since starting to get a serious portfolio together, I have a couple left. My biggest concern is that if I start taking jobs, I will lose the motivation to improve further and further for decades to come.

Hmm, I don't usually enjoy making art, especially when I'm working on something challenging. But after I step back, I become obsessive over art and feel ecstatic just thinking about it haha. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what that means but, in my experience being outcome-dependant is helpful to me in being critical of my weaknesses, never being satisfied with the level I'm at is my biggest motivator. Good point on perfection and ego, though I can't imagine art being 'perfect' due to its subjective nature, chasing it seems folly.

Thanks for sharing that anecdote, what I take from it is that fundamentals are the 20% that creates 80% of the quality of a piece. Thanks again for dropping by again, I always appreciate your thoughts!

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I've started to miss feeling burned out, so here's a WIP. I'm mostly focusing on design and detail, it seems to be what's lacking most in my work from the feedback I've gathered. I'm also going to try to post quality stuff at least twice a week, thanks for the support everyone!

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Re: Deliberate Practice [June 2018]

Postby ubem » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:03 am

Been struggling with designing interesting details, so here's a master study trying to improve on that. Original by Stepan Alekseev - Tomb Guard.

Half way through I started to get completely blown away on how detailed and accurate everything was drawn, especially the ornate filigree on the armor. Unfortunately, I feel like the almost monochromatic rendering kind of detracts the viewer's attention. Pieces like these remind me on how much I need to learn before taking up my own ideas. So I'll probably keep focusing on studies, I think that's where I get the highest rate of return on time and effort right now.

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I'm going to try to post once a week or so, instead of twice a week. Feeling rushed to hit a deadline when studying and understanding a subject completely doesn't feel right. To quote Miyamoto - "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.", I feel that applies to painting as well.
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