01 DIGITAL ART
1.1 General information
1.1.1 How did I learn to draw
The short answer is that I am a self-taught artist. I’ve been drawing my entire life, literally since before I can remember. It was always something I enjoyed doing and invested a lot of time into, which helped me to develop my skills gradually. I took a few art classes in elementary school which taught me a lot about drawing from reference, but after that my art education was limited to school electives and lots of practice in my free time. [*]
People often ask me where I find my inspiration. I am often inspired by other artwork that I find on the internet, through DeviantArt or browsing websites. The things which most often inspire me are colors or color combinations, which usually give me ideas for a drawing and motivate the drawing process. One of my biggest sources of inspiration is our society, particularly the things I see and read about. The disproportions you see at all levels of our social structures. [*]
1.1.3 Artistic Influences
1.1.4 Developing my own style
Developing my own style wasn’t really a conscious decision I made, nor do I have any specific methods for it. Looking back, drawing a lot, being self-taught, and developing my own methods of handling software had a lot to do with it. As for suggestions, I think it’s important to draw inspiration from the styles that inspire you most, and to draw inspiration from a variety of sources rather than just one or two. I think working intuitively is also very important: try to draw what feels good to you, instead of getting too technical or over-thinking the drawing process. This makes it easier to develop your own unique approach to drawing. [*]
1.1.5 Old artwork and layouts
1.2.1 How often do I draw
When I started out drawing digitally, I made something like 3 – 5 pieces a week and basically spent alot of my free time drawing. Nowadays, I draw all the time because it is my job, so I guess it’s reasonable to say that I draw every weekday for a few hours at the very least. I try to hold myself to a drawing schedule, so that work and the rest of my time don`t get to mixed up. However, sometimes I do take long breaks from drawing altogether, such as summer vacations. [*]
1.2.2 Using reference
In my work as a concept artist, reference material is an essential part of creating a clear and concise creative vision. I gather reference material for the majority of my artwork, although I use it as inspiration and guidance for adding complex details that I can’t entirely pull off from memory, rather than create direct copies. These reference images are almost always photographs, either taken by myself or found on stock resources such as the Deviantart stock photo section. Using reference images for artwork is fairly essential, helping you notice things that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you if you were only using your imagination. However, I feel it is important to use photo reference as a starting point or guide rather than to depend heavily on it for every detail. [*]
1.2.3 Learning anatomy
1.2.4 How long do I take
I spend on average between 10 to 20 hours to make a detailed digital piece. Sometimes I take longer and sometimes shorter. On quicker speed sketches, I spend between 1 to 3 hours. [*]
1.2.5 Original size of the images
When drawing digitally it’s important to start at a large resolution, and downsize later for viewing on the web. This is essential to being able to make high-quality prints of digital work. I often start with a canvas that is at least A3 format (300DPI) or larger, which is around 3500 x 5000 pixels. My suggestion to digital artists is to work at the maximum possible size that your computer can handle without lagging or becoming too slow to work fast and intuitively. [*]
I use Adobe Photoshop for practically everything. I am currently using the latest version of Photoshop CC. [*]
Most of my work is created on my workstation, which consists of:
- A Cintiq 21 DTZ-2100
- HP Pavilion Elite HPE Series, i7 processor, running on Windows 7
Unfortunately I have no tips or information about Apple products or tablet computers , since I have no experience with these! As for wacom tablets, I personally really love working on tablets where you draw directly on the screen because it is very intuitive and fast, but find that any Wacom tablet tends to work great for creating digital art. [*]
1.3.3 Photoshop Brushes
I use very few brushes and like to choose one and stick with it from the beginning to end of the drawing process. I find that switching brushes during the drawing process can really take me out of my drawing flow. [*]
Sketching is a very important way for me to practice and improve my skills. Shapes, movement and direction are more important than details, which can be filled in later. [*]
Lately I’m not big on lineart, preferring instead to paint over a very rough sketch and just wing it from there. When I do create lineart, I usually do the coloring on a separate layer, and then eventually merge the color and lineart layer, which allows me to paint over the lineart in some parts and really blend it into the coloring. As for digital lineart, I tend to draw it freehand on a large scale and downsize later, which helps smooth out the lines. [*]
1.4.3 Choosing colors
Choosing colors, for me, is largely an intuitive process. I just slap really rough colors onto the image and mess around with it until I like what I see. Using color editing controls plays a huge role in this process – hue/saturation, color balance, and selective color are the options I use most. I learned how to use these simply by playing around with the sliders and observing the results. When I’m happy with the colors I see in front of me, I start adding more details. A useful tip is to avoid using shadows or highlights which are simply lighter or darker versions of your base color. Try using a different color for the shadows or highlights to give more dimension and life to your picture. Another method I use is to add textures early on in the process, which can add colors, depth and interesting effects to the colored sketch. [*]
1.4.4 Blending colors
As I explained in the previous section, I like to start out with a messy, rough version of the drawing. As soon as I like what I see, I start blending the colors more. I usually lower the opacity quite a lot (this applies to basically any brush I’m using) and just start painting in the details. A useful shortcut for this is alt+click, which makes the eyedropper tool temporarily appear. This allows me to pick colors off of the canvas and paint with them, which is why it’s so useful to start out with a rough color version before adding details. [*]
Nowadays I almost always use one layer to paint, adding extra layers for small tweaks and adjustments throughout the painting process but merging them with the main layer frequently. Especially when I’m painting in the details, I like to use one coloring layer and add layers only when I add textures or other details, which I end up merging into one layer after a while. The reason for this is that it is very difficult for me to modify the colors and paint intuitively when I have too many layers. Searching through my layers or keeping them organized takes me out of the flow of drawing, so I prefer to keep it simple. I do like to use layers as a way to track the process of the drawing, which I do by duplicating the layer and working on the new one at various points in the process. This way, the layer below shows the image at an earlier point in the process, allowing you to double check whether it’s heading in the right direction. [*]
1.5.3 Resources I use
02 Other activities
2.1 Traditional art
The pencils I use are just good old mechanical pencils – the kind where you click on the back and more pencil comes out the front. I don’t have a specific type of mechanical pencil that I use – just whatever’s lying around. [*]
2.1.2 Other tools
The other tools I have lying around are Pantone Tria markers and Van Gogh colored pencils, plus artline pens for inking. I don’t use these much. Since I scan the lineart into the computer, the paper type is usually just standard printer a4 sheets. My sketchbook is an A4 sized moleskine sketchbook. [*]
2.3 Web related
2.3.3 Social media following
2.3.4 My online presence
03 Education and work
3.1 Where I studied
I studied visual arts and design for two years ( Høgskulen i Telemark ) The third year I focus my studies on digital photograpy and media while traveling throughout the world, Over the years I`ve attended different courses and workshops that focus on my interessts rather than committing to studies which tend to cover broader.
3.2 Current work
I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator in Norway ever since I graduated in August 2008. I do mostly cover art for new “up and coming” bands. CD/LP/Stream. Besides I do textile art/design, majority of these are t-shirts. But not to forget, the drawing, which is what I do when it comes to my personal project which will result in my very own exibition.
3.3 Future plans
I have the long term ambition of become more visible to potentional clients. Be present on the web and expand my network. Hock up with promissing bands and enjoy good music while I create.
3.4 Making a living off of art
I often get asked whether it is possible to make a living off of art, usually from people who are about to choose that direction in life and are worried about their future. I personally do teach Arts and Craft at my local primaryschool and also run art-courses, to be able to do what I do. Earlier I was able to make a living due to steady commissions from publishers, but after several years I decided to direct my commissions towards my interest in coverart. At the same time my personal projects followed heel and took form as a highly personal endevour.
Due to my location (a small community on the westcoast) I dont know that many people living purely off of their art. In most cases they do adittional work. So surely , there is no guarantee that every person who wants to pursue a career as an artist will be able to do that. Your ability to live off of your art depends enormously on what you do, where you live, and what your options are. I generate income off of a variety of different sources, including royalties from book sales, print and merchandise, give courses and client work.
3.5 Getting started as a freelancer
When I started my freelance career, I joined (Grafill) which is an interest-organisation for visual artists. All members showcase their work on their site. I knew this would be a site where all kind of branches would look for artists. Even before I finnished my education I got hired by a major publisher. This is now some time ago and the advice I`ve taken into account is the internet exposure. Get your work out there. To me, which has chosen to target new bands, need a different way to find them. Knowledge about those you wish to work with is essencial, so that you get to them. However, in the beginning, the work I did varied enormously. Some of it was very low-paid or not a good fit with my skillset, and sporadic in nature – sometimes I had numerous offers, sometimes my schedule was empty for a few months. I filled those gaps by doing commissions.
The lesson learned is that after a while you`ll need client work that is a good fit with your abilities and interests. Getting there was really a question of building work experience, gaining confidence in my abilities as a freelancer, now I must continue to post/expose/send my artwork in order to expand my network. Almost all of my clients (after I chose to focus on coverart) approach me because they have seen my work on the internet, so for me, it’s been essential to keep sharing my art on social media in order to find work.
04 Tips & tricks
4.1 Learning process
4.1.1 Getting started with digital art
I’ve been asked by people who are just beginning to draw digitally for tips on where to begin the learning process. Personally, I have never made heavy use of tutorials. I started by just messing around in Photoshop and other digital programs, not expecting too grandiose of an outcome. My first drawings in Photoshop were simple, drawn with a mouse and blended with the smudge tool (something I don’t really recommend, but it worked for me at the time!). It’s good to slowly familiarize yourself with the digital drawing process, so that you’re comfortable with the tools and options, before you start drawing elaborate and detailed pieces. I created a lot of smaller drawings in a day, rather than putting a lot of my time into larger, more elaborate pieces. My work became more detailed as my skills improved. I think one of the best things you can do to get the hang of digital art is to practice sketching and speedpaints, since it prevents you from getting hung up on details and allows you to become comfortable with the tools you have. Keep it simple and practice as much as you can!
4.1.2 When is it too late to learn
4.1.3 Staying motivated / dealing with artblock
A few people have approached me with the question of how I stay creative and motivated when I’m in an artblock (which is a phase where you feel unable to draw). Personally, since creating artwork and animation is my profession, in many ways I have no choice but to keep going. I went through something which seems to be common amongst many artists: a phase of rapid improvement and high motivation (for me, this occurred in the last two years of high school), which gradually slowed down and sometimes felt like an artblock, because my enthusiasm wasn’t as great as before. Although I craved the feeling I had when I was in my more productive phase, it’s better to accept the change and to search for new ways to find motivation and develop artistically. In my most productive phase, I really loved drawing 4-5 pictures a day and spending every free minute I had behind the computer screen. However, if I were still doing that, I would either be suffering from a burnout or I would be totally sick of art and drawing. Accepting a slower, more steady pace of improvement and inspiration has helped me to move past artblocks, as well as just keeping at it – eventually you’ll make a drawing you’re happy with and feel motivated again! It also helps to find a starting point for your artwork to kickstart your creativity, such as drawing from life, doing a commission, or participating in forums that choose random subjects for people to sketch.
Most importantly, it helps to cut yourself some slack and stop being really hard on yourself and your drawing skills. Artblock is often the result of a fear of failure and low confidence in your abilities, but the irony is that these feelings result in a reduced ability to enjoy the drawing process and blocking your opportunities to grow and practice as an artist, keeping you trapped in a negative cycle. If you have these feelings, idenfity them and realize they are the root of the problem, not your drawing skills. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and give yourself the room you need to develop at your own pace!
4.1.4 Drawing every day
There exists a belief that an artist must draw every day in order to improve. As someone who struggles with a repetitive stress injury from drawing too much, I personally do not recommend drawing every day. I do believe that there are some artists out there who benefit from a good dose of self-discipline and would learn a lot from drawing daily, but for most artists, this is a lot of pressure to put on oneself. On top of that, I don’t think that it’s a requirement for improving your skills. You can improve your skills in other ways as well: finding inspiration in your surroundings or in other artists, or giving your brain some time to come up with new ideas and motivation. But to those who are considering drawing daily, also take into consideration the need for your mind and body to get rest and recover from the drawing process! Having said that, I do think that drawing regularly is a good idea, but drawing 3-4 times a week is a better idea than drawing every single day, in my opinion.
4.2 Hardware & technique
4.2.1 Tablet advice
4.2.2 Drawing-related injuries
4.3.1 Necessity of formal art education
As a self-taught digital artist, I can confirm that a formal education is not an absolute necessity in obtaining the skills needed to work as an artist. The areas in which I currently find the most work are areas in which I am self-taught. However, art school had many important benefits to me. I learned how to take on a variety of different projects and work with deadlines, as well as work in larger teams. I learned how to explain my creative process and put it in a greater context, as well as how to justify and elaborate on my creative choices. Most importantly, I think that by doing so, you build network that later would be a part of your network, and maybe become colleagues. I do not believe that art school is required to have a career in art but I also don’t believe art school is without important benefits that are very difficult to obtain outside of that setting. However, if you are doubting whether to attend art school, you must do what works best for you and your style of learning!
4.3.2 Where to study
4.3.3 Studying in Norway
4.3 Work related
4.3.1 Commission tips
Commissions are paid requests, usually non-commercial in nature (meaning, they are intended for personal use by the client). Commissions are commonly offered on art community sites like Deviantart. I’ve frequently been asked for tips on how to price them by people who want to start offering commissions. Personally, I started out offering very cheap commissions and then gradually raised the price as the demand for my artwork grew. But looking back as a professional freelance artist, I have to say that most of the commission prices I see on Deviantart are absurdly cheap, and far below industry standard – including the ones I used to offer before I became aware of how art is priced in the professional world. However, due to the wide availability of cheap commissions on the web, many people have come to expect and even demand these very low prices. If you decide to offer commissions, do not let anyone convince you that your price is too high – this happens a lot and is completely unacceptable. Be aware of the fact that there is a difference between the price of a product – such as an art print – and the price of design, such as an original drawing made in your own style. Design is always much more valuable and therefore more expensive. The best way to approach your pricing is to estimate how many hours would go into each piece, and to figure out how much money you feel an hour of your time is worth, and then do the math. For the rest, I would advise you to:
- Agree on the deadline in advance, and stick to it.
- Ask for your payment in advance, and if you can, use Paypal as the payment method.
- Agree on what your payment will be if the commission is cancelled halfway through the process.
- Show your client the rough sketch and a rough color version before proceeding to the next step, to ensure that the client is happy with where the image is going.
- Establish with your client how many modifications can be made to the artwork based on the client’s feedback, in order to avoid a situation in which you might have to completely re-do your image.
- Be dependable and communicate well with your client. Your reputation as an artist is incredibly important!
- Stick to the agreements made before starting, and do not let yourself be manipulated into taking on a much larger workload, or smaller compensation, than initially agreed upon.
4.3.2 Finding work
A common question I get is: how do I find work as a freelancer? I find work primarily through social media exposure. I try to make sure that my work is seen by as many people as possible, and so has a greater chance of also being seen by potential clients. I’ve also noticed that many of the clients who approach me have been following my work for a long time, and when they initially discovered my work, they were still students or just starting out in the industry. So I believe that maintaining my online presence over a long period of time has been crucial in finding work as a freelancer. If you are considering using social media as a way to generate exposure for your art, try sharing a combination of finished pieces and rough work. Also, be sure to show your process for creating your art. This way, you not only share your art, but also your way of working. If a potential client sees your work, they can get a sense of your process and can choose from different levels of finish; Sometimes clients, especially those in the concept art field, prefer to see rough work over finished work.
Many freelancers starting out are unsure of how to price their work. It’s totally up to you what you want to charge, so it’s important to look at your own specific situation first. The most important thing is that you need to be able to make a living off of your work, which is more complicated than it sounds. Besides being able to pay the bills, this also means you should factor in the cost of any student debts you might be paying back, and materials you need to run your business. You should also charge for your expertise as an artist. Remember: just because you’re an artist, doesn’t mean that you should be scraping by for your entire life – you should be able to grow and invest in your business, so you should be making more than just what you need to survive. I recommend first figuring out what you need to cover all your monthly costs, and then take into consideration the fact that most freelancers don’t do paid work full-time. They also do a lot of unpaid work in the form of updating social media, answering e-mails, managing finances, etc. If you spend about 50% of your hours doing paid client work, make sure your fee also covers the unpaid hours in which you manage your business.
It also helps to make friends in the industry and ask them what their going rates are, so that you can adapt your rate to what is customary in your field. However, NEVER charge less than you need to survive! When negotiating your fee, keep in mind that you can always bargain downwards, but clients are very unlikely to ever accept a higher fee after you’ve suggested a lower one, so it’s better to err on the side of a higher fee. Also, don’t let yourself be emotionally manipulated by clients who suggest your work is worth less than what you ask. Many of them are just using manipulation tactics to get you to lower your price, so don’t take it personally and just move on to a client that is willing to pay your fee. Also, never work for ‘exposure’ – the kind of work that has given me the most exposure has been my own personal illustrations and sketches, so if you’re considering doing free or low-paid work because you want to expand your portfolio, consider a personal project rather than work for a client.
4.3.4 “Art theft” or copyright breach
One important thing you can do is avoid sharing high resolution versions of your work in any way, shape or form unless it is with a trusted client or business partner. If you find your copyright breached, contact the people who are doing it and inform them of the breach in a professional and straightforward manner. If they are not willing to remove the item or discuss the problem, contact someone with legal experience and, if you can, join forces with a lawyer, who can assist you in sending a case-and-desist letter. I also recommend letting people know on your social media channels that your work has been stolen – this prevents people from mistakenly believing that the products are yours, and you will most likely find that others are willing to help you out in spreading the word about the theft!
5.1 Licensing artwork
If you’re interested in licensing my artwork for commercial use, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . However, I am not interested in having my artwork licensed for use in signature tags or any other stock usage, so please do not contact me about those
5.6 Personal use
I only allow my artwork to be used in layouts if my website link (evenbothun.no) is visible on the image being used. Please e-mail me (email@example.com) before using my artwork in a website layout so that I can indicate whether I approve of its use or not.
06 Contacting me
While I used to take commissions a few times a year, nowadays my schedule is often too full to accept commissions. If I do have time, I announce the opening of commission on the frontpage of (www.evenbothun.no) at pinterest, deviantart
6.1.2 Free artwork
Sometimes I am approached to do artwork for free, in the context of projects such as games, comics, and animations. At this point in time I don’t do any artwork free of cost.
6.1.3 Buying prints and merchandise
Right now, prints of my work are available through the DeviantArt prints shop as well as Society6, and INPRNT. For each of these sites, I am not personally involved with the creation of the prints, which are all shipped from the U.S. If you are interested in a signed print, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, although please be aware that the further you live from Norway, the higher the cost of the print will be due to additional shipping costs.
07 Unanswered questions
If you have any questions about me or my artwork which are not answered in this FAQ, please do not hesitate to ask. You can do so by sending an e-mail to email@example.com . However, I will not answer questions that have already been answered in this FAQ, so please be sure to read through this page before typing your question!