Now, the purpose of this topic is to help artists find and create a style that is unique to them, instead of copying the style of another artist. Something I've found very prevalent in webcomics is either copying Gabe's style from Penny Arcade, or drawing in the much overused Sonic style.
Some of you may be asking,
“Why do beginning artists tend to copy the style of another?”And that, my friend, is a very good question.
When artists are just starting out, obviously they aren't thinking of the finer details and aspects of art, but rather drawing their favorite characters in an exact likeness. And I'm sure the majority of you (if not all) are guilty of this. Even I was. In fact, I wanted my art to look just like Sonic the Hedgehog. Well, that style anyway.
But yes, they want to draw their favorite characters (either for recreation, or they discovered the world of fan fiction). Usually at this point, the beginner artist does not care if he/she is copying, so any attempt to tell them that is more than likely not going to work.
Obviously, I do not think I am the best artist there is. I am still rather early in my artistic journey, but I would like to share my thoughts on how I personally made my own style.
So, the best question to ask is…
How do you stop copying a style?
- Step 1: INSPIRATION & FINDING OUT WHAT STYLE IS RIGHT FOR YOU
This could easily be the longest, and probably hardest step. Aside from actually working towards it. Then again, it could be the easiest.
Now, this doesn't mean “OH LOL, I WANT TO DRAW ANIME”. That only answers one part of the question, really. That could easily branch out to many, many different things.
- Mood of your style:
- Realistic? Cartoony? Anime?
- Primarily in color or b&w?
But let's look at the inspiration part first. You can't say “I want to create an original style” without knowing what you want. So look around, at your favorite games/shows/anime/manga/comics whatever. Ask yourself, “What would be right for me?” What kind of art attracts your eye, personally? If you were reading comics, what would you want to see?
I asked myself that, and it got me to where I was comfortable, and now I'm heading up a steep “mountain” that is my artistic journey. No artist is ever done with his/her journey, sometimes it's just not as fast as you'd like.
So now you should have a general idea of what you want to draw. Pick out the mood, which actually can differ for different projects. But for one of your projects (comics) sake, pick a mood.
This step is pretty much the most important. What style do you think is more suited for you? Are you a more realistic artist? More into cartoons? Like anime the most? The fun thing about art/comics and creating your own style is, there's no limit. You could, in fact, mix all three. I can't tell you if it'd look all that good (I'm sure there's people out there who have done so), but you could.
But be prepared, that with the style you choose, you'll really have to work for it. With realistic, obviously you'll want really detailed stuff. Like if you were going for color, you'd have to more than likely paint it (digital painting would more or less be preferred for newer artists), or with highly detailed pencil shading and all that. And for cartoons, it's pretty universal, you could honestly go for anything with that. A lot of new-age cartoonists prefer using Photoshop & or Paint Tool SAI along with a Wacom tablet to do their art. As it's a lot easier to work with, and you can get line weight rather easily (helps out your inking a lot). And with Anime, it's just about the same as cartoon. Cartoon and anime could almost be one in the same, it's just that cartoon is usually more simplistic in nature.
I almost forgot, western style. Western style is more or less the Marvel/DC superhero comic style. Western style is preferred by the artists who want to either do a super hero comic, or just something more fleshed out than cartoon that isn't quite realism.
There's a lot to that, huh? Hopefully it won't take you too long to find out what style you want. But it could. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could work to get proficient in all of the styles, so you aren't so limited. That would take a long time, obviously. But some artists prefer that, especially if they're going to work on a variety of different comics, they want to be prepared.
Now we're to the color/black and white portion. Keep in mind, obviously, this does NOT mean that your going to be doing your art in only color, or only black and white. It's more so just what your style fits better with. Some styles can work really well with both, but you have to be prepared for both.
If your going for a color-based style (you can inked lines, obviously) but if you do, make sure you don't put too much detail into the inks, or use too many shadows in your inks. Otherwise it'll become messy, and it'll be hard to tell what's what. You have to more or less keep your line art clean with color art. There are obviously exceptions to this. Like I said, your style might differ. But generally, a lot of artists like keeping their line art clean.
And if your going for a black and white style, put all the detail into the inks. Obviously, make sure you can see/tell what the reader is looking at (something I still personally have a problem with, as my inks are kind of thick), you could either use screentones, or even use greyscale shading. That's all up to you, however. Whatever you prefer, and works best for you. If your unsure how to do any of that, deviantArt has some great resources, or you can always Google.
So now you have inspiration, and know what your going for.
- Step 2: WORKING TOWARDS YOUR GOAL
This should be a pretty obvious step, but do not over look it. As a lot of artists tend to get discouraged that the work they produce towards the beginning of their artist journey isn't great, and want to quit because of it. They hate everything they produce, and because of that, they don't want to do it anymore.
That's the secret, though. If you hate everything you produce, you have to use that as motivation to keep going, to where one day, you won't hate everything you do. Now, the actual pushing yourself can be tiring, can be exhausting, and in the process you may or may not end up hating art (well, that is, until you think you get better).
So keep looking at artists who you think are better than you, and really aspire to become something better. Make goals for yourself. Don't set them too big “I'm going to make a webcomic that gets more hits than Penny Arcade in a month”, because the chances of that are very, very, very slim. Rather, create smaller goals. "I'm going to learn how to do . I'm going to practice it everyday for the next week, until I'm decent with it." Because obviously, that's a more noble goal.
The actual working towards it may actually be the longest step (I may or may not have lied for the inspiration thing). Because generally when you know what you want, it's pretty straightforward from there. It's not going to be a cake walk, I assure you. But if you put the time, and effort into it. You'll create something you can be proud of.
- Step 3: USING YOUR STYLE
This step should be rather obvious, as well. But you may, or may not at this point already have a story made up. Ask yourself, “Does my style really fit this story?”, and if not, you can either choose to tweak it, or work on something completely different. You don't want to have a really scary/creepy black and white style on a children's comic.
So keep all that in mind, especially since your style can really affect the mood of the comic your working on.
This guide is not perfect, and is not meant to be the bible of changing styles. I wanted to help other artists out by getting them out of copying another style, and making their own.
If you follow this guide, surely you can truly accomplish something great. Use it as a guide. To help you through your journey.
I hope this guide will help someone.