Here’s something you might know about me: over the past few years, I’ve increasingly hated my artwork.
I KNOW, I KNOW, that is so shocking! Surprising!
Okay, maybe not.
But yes…I was hating my artwork. Or rather, I was very unsatisfied with it and it was making me grumpy!
I fixed a part of the problem when I scrapped traditional line art for my sketch lines. However, I was still finding myself irritated with the long process of doing the artwork. I wanted to do it faster. I wanted to do it better. I wanted to change SOMETHING or someTHINGS about it, but I just couldn’t pinpoint what exactly.
And to be honest, I still can’t. I don’t really know what I wanted to change either.
I started poking around YouTube for inspiration. I was asking myself what did I want to change my colouring style to and how do I want it to look? Honestly, I had nothing come to mind, although I did find channels that were interesting to watch for inspiration. One of the channels I came across, a V-Tuber channel called Nonomaro no Oekaki Channel, brought to my attention how the pros choose colours and…oooh. As you can probably imagine, I put to “experiment with” on my mental checklist.
It didn’t resolve the issue of wanting to completely change my style and do something else, even if I didn’t know what that something else was.
That lead me to draw Kelly the Dreamer, like I often do when I want to experiment with something.
I knew if I wanted to experiment and have a really good sense of what exactly I wanted to change, I would need to draw a piece that I was serious about. “Serious” just means that it’s beyond the purpose of experimenting – it’s something that I probably would have eventually drawn anyway or else I would have drawn a similar concept.
This lead to this piece of Kelly the Dreamer. She’s wearing the same dress as she did in my other piece, Kelly the Dreamer’s Night Out. It’s simpler to me than her regular outfit. But that’s not the only reason why I drew it.
I also drew it – and this is probably not the most obvious – because I had been listening to the L.A. Style album like…a billion times – while coming up with this picture and while doing the whole thing. It’s an early ’90s techno album from the group that released the classic techno song, “James Brown is Dead”. I first heard the song (I think) from a bunch of Japanese music CDs, so mentally, I associate the style of music with old school Japanese discotheques like Juliana’s Tokyo, dancing with feathered fans, and sexy bodycon outfits. Kelly may not be wearing bodycon, wielding a feather fan, or dancing in an old school Japanese discotheque, but that was the idea going through my idea. So, even if it’s not actually there, I’d like to think it’s there in spirit.
The First Experiment
For my first experiment, I wanted to try a few things:
- Do something in-between a soft cel-shaded piece and my painted dreams style;
- Experiment with a new eye style;
While I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do for the colouring, I was lightly inspired by a video by Rabbit Ru on YouTube and Lack on YouTube. As for the eyes…well, I wanted to experiment with something different because I’ve had echoing in my head for a long time someone suggesting I change how I colour my eyes when I used to complain about them. They thought the eyes in my sketches look like “shiny desuu” eyes (whatever the heck that means). I decided to try it for once.
This was the result:
I think it’s cute. There’s something that almost reminds me of a crystal, in a weird way. Maybe it’s just the pink & green overlays I did, but there’s something soft about it. It’s cute, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. I honestly had no concept of what I was doing, the hair looks good, but also…like I scribbled. Because I did. And those parts that are dark just…don’t look good.
For the eyes, I think they’re kind of cute too. The pupil-less style looks good. I actually considered changing over to that style, but I then realized that it would be problematic for my characters like Clyde and Adalynn who have unique pupils, so I decided against it.
I liked the lightness of the style, but I just…I wasn’t feeling it as my art style.
It was too slow for me still.
What did I want instead? What kind of art style did I want?
I thought about it and thought back to the one style I know takes me so little time to do:
The Second Experiment
I honestly was going to do something else as an experiment, but I was in a bad mood and just wanted to do something easy, so I decided to do some cel-shading instead. Yes, I still wanted to do something, despite how I was feeling.
My approach was how I normally cel-shade (kind of…okay, not really. I don’t use a billion layers to cel-shade – normally, I use one for the base, one for the shading. That’s not how this worked out, but that’s okay – I also usually use regular line art to cel-shading, which makes it easier as I can just use a paint bucket set to take all layers into account, haha), except I tweaked the shading colouring so that it leaned a bit more towards blue on the colour wheel.
While I like how it came out – and really, it wasn’t all that different from how I normally cel-shade – I just felt like I was going backwards, in a weird way. I specifically created my Painted Dreams style to work with my drawing style, since I wasn’t feeling cel-shading for it.
I decided that I was going to experiment and try doing Painted Dreams again, but this time tweaking the shading colours a bit more towards either yellow or blue depending on what I was looking to do.
The Third Experiment
To be honest with you, I didn’t even have this done when I decided to write this blog entry. Then I realized I still needed to finish it and…yeah, I’m in love.
I know, you can stop reading now.
I mean, after all, what made me ~fall in love~ with my colouring all over again? What tweaks did I make? And how did I come to the conclusion that I am in love with it?
Well, okay, so before I did this version, I actually fell in love with my artwork again and it boils down to the fact I was able to make some QR codes and import a few pieces into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Even though they aren’t 100% perfect, I started to really appreciate all my pretty colours and just how everything looks. It shifted my perspective and I fell in love with my style all over again.
When I tackled it this time, I was going in with that love in mind.
There are a few changes from my original process, including some that carried over from previous pieces:
- Using my sketches as line art (as I have been doing for a while now);
- Using a white base colour instead of super light versions of the main flat colour I wanted;
- Using only 2 or 3 colours to shade instead of 5 or 6;
- Put the lighter shade colour more towards yellow, while the dark one went towards blue (I’m fairly certain yellow is more for highlights but uuuuhh…I DON’T CARE…mainly because I don’t use a highlight colour);
As I was working on the piece and blasting the L.A. Style album, I could just feel love rising in my heart. I loved how most of it looked. I loved the non-ruffle parts of her outfit, I love her eye, I REALLY love her hair (goodness, I love Kelly’s hair).
I found some minor gripes as I was working on the piece – mainly with the ruffle and her skin. Her skin wasn’t shaded enough for me and her ruffle…well. I still can’t figure out how I want to colour ruffles.
As for everything else though, I am in loooooooooooooooooovvvveeeee.
I was so in love with it, I decided to go ahead and do a full-blown finished version with all my usual textures, overlays, and layer adjustments. I was originally going to do the LCD-style background, but I didn’t feel like remembering how I did that all over again…so I scrapped it and just went with something simpler. I went with some brush stroke brushes that I hadn’t used yet.
Something about this finished piece feels fruity to me.
Like, I want to drink fruit punch or something.
I’m sure that sounds weird, but that’s just…like…how I feel when I look at it.
After finishing this version of the piece, I started to realize something.
I realized that I don’t hate my artwork.
I actually love my artwork.
I am completely open to tweaking and making changes as I feel inspired to do so, just like I did with moving the shaded colours towards either blue or yellow on the colour wheel to make a slightly more visually appealing piece.
I am completely open to making improvements to my style, such as improving anatomy and getting better with perspective.
The desire to change it, the grumpiness, all comes from two things:
- Recognizing something I want to change, but being unsure how to change it at the moment (which links back to the first one – impatience)
A big reason why I wanted to change my colouring style was to make it go by a lot faster. If writing my story outlines has taught me anything though, it’s that I’ll draw a lot faster if I just shut up and get out of my own dang way! I can’t believe how often I whine in my head, drag my feet, and ultimately prevent me from doing a thing quickly and easily when I could get it done much faster if I just shushed!
There is a part of me that feels really pressured to get out artwork faster than I actually can. A lot of this has to do with how I actually really, really, really want to be releasing more and more at some point. I guess too a lot of it is knowing it takes me about 3 hours on average to get a piece done from start to finish and getting frustrated with thinking about how long it will take me to churn out the amount of artwork I am expecting from myself.
I don’t even know if I am actually going to churn out all that artwork though.
Just wanting to do so many pieces puts pressure on me to go faster. There’s not too many things I feel pressure to do faster (or even if I do, I’m stubborn and won’t), but artwork is one of them. Actually, anything related to TrainerKelly’s Network, really. This in turn makes me grumpy, bitter, and wanting to change something, but not really sure how or where to look.
The other part is that I know that there are a few things I genuinely want to tweak or improve on. For instance, I’m not happy with how I did the ruffle’s shading, so I would change that in the future (which to me, just takes some thoughtful consideration on how I want it to look and doing it). I want to be able to draw in perspective easily and I would like to improve on anatomy.
All those things take time. They take time, patience, and practice to do. A part of me knows that, understands that, and is completely content with that. Another part of me wants to hurry the frick up and just improve all those things already. This is even more intense knowing I actually want to do more artwork.
When I was writing my story outlines, I had the same kind of grumpy sort of complaints going on in my head too. I had to learn to let go and just simply write. I’m coming to the conclusion that is exactly what I need to do for my artwork as well – I just need to let go and do it.
But…What Do I Actually Think About the Piece Though?
Oh, I like this piece. It’s cute. But is it one of my favourites? No, not really. I think it’s pretty average for my artwork.
I’m just happy I’m loving my artwork again.
Check Out These Other Posts
Become a patron on Patreon.
Drop a few bucks my way on Ko-Fi.
Shop my merch!
What Do You Think?
What About You?
What are YOU creating today, trainee?