It can be pretty daunting to pick up art skills, there is a lot of core foundational learning that you’ll need to do before things start to make sense. Art is really cool in the way it transcends mediums, if you learn to draw it’ll help you to model things in 3D, if you understand rhythm and style it’ll help you in 3D sculpting and so on. Conversely without basic understanding of color theory, anatomy or structure it can be really confusing and discouraging for beginner artists to become better artists. The beauty of art is that if you hang in there long enough and really try to practice foundational skills you’ll eventually make it and it’ll sometimes take you by surprise that you’re successfully doing it and enjoying it…that’s the best part and something you have to experience to understand…kind of like riding a bike or swimming.
Everyone is usually quick to sell you something and make promises that they’ll make you a better artist but the best things in life are free…or something to that effect, right? The best resources for new artists are the ones that are easily accessible without the added pressure of financial commitment (FREE).
Learn Core Foundational Skills
Proko is one of the best places to learn foundational skills for free, the artist and teacher has built a huge reputation and following for being the best free resource for learning foundational art skills.
- Proko for Free Sketching and Drawing Tutorials
- CtrlPaint for Free Painting and Drawing Tutorials
- RapidFireArt for Foundational Sketching Tutorials
You can find reference in the strangest places, sometimes even on public transport or the airport. The easiest place to find free reference is on Pinterest, artists have been sharing so much content and it only continues to grow. Another place to look is Google Images and Instagram. Whether you’re doing 3D art, 2D art the internet is full of free reference you just have to look. Don’t be afraid to look at stock photography sites for gesture, rhythm and form too!
Find your Art Style
What intrigues you? Are you into iconic cartoon styles or more into lifelike detail? Figuring this out up front can greatly accelerate your learning and help you to target areas of improvement. When starting out it’s normal to be overwhelmed by all of these decisions. It doesn’t need to be complicated though, if you follow your favorite artists on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter then you probably already have already chosen your preferred art style without realizing it. Be inspired by the art and study the work of your favorite artists, the rest will start to make sense as you build your skillset.
These are some great artists that have a unique appeal and art style that can help inspire you. When you’re starting out it’s important to have a critical eye, all artists start by trying to recreate what is before them, make sure that whatever resource you are learning from is visually appealing and makes sense.
Mitch Leeuwe is an experienced professional 2D artist based in the Netherlands that shares great quick tutorials for free on his Instagram. Mitch’s character designs are a mix of iconic and original character concepts. I was inspired by his adorable character designs, he has helped me immensely to cultivate my own art style. His teaching methodology is great for both experienced and beginner artists. He’s great at teaching construction, rhythm and appealing character design.
Jim McKenzie is a California based traditional sculpture artist that creates surreal imagery using clay and psychedelic art influences to make other worldly inspired art pieces. His cohesive character design and unique style helps to really make his work pop with appeal.
Chris Ables is another artist with amazing appeal in his character designs. He’s done work with Disney, 20th Century Fox, Marvel and more. His work features hard lines, great rhythm and exaggerated poses that really help to sell the emotion and unique appeal of his character designs.
Shape Based Drawing Techniques
A lot of cartoon style artists tend to use shapes in the construction of their characters, these shapes seem like a strange starting point at first but you’ll quickly begin to use this method when you realize how easy it easy to build out your base foundation for your characters or props.
This type of construction is used by many artists, tons of classic Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon characters are made from this construction style and artists rely on this simple shape based construction to start many of their characters to this day, even most 3D characters begin as a few simple spheres. Below you’ll find a couple of resources that use shapes for construction.
Drawing101 features all kinds of simple step by step construction of characters from your favorite shows and other common objects you see in everyday life. This is a good place to practice building out characters with simple shapes.
If you’re looking for more resources that teach the basic construction method check out books by Preston Blair and Mitch Leeuwe, both artists break down this concept in a way that is easy to understand and learn from.
We’ll keep this post updated, check back from time to time as we will continue to share new resources as we find them!