How Do You Measure Improvement?

There is a lot of options an artist has these days to improve his work and keep track of it.

When you share a studio it is even easier to get valuable feedback on your work from peers, but how do you get feedback if you work alone or remotely?

Draw This Again

One good exercise for your own validation and to get feedback from others is the "Draw This Again" Meme, nice to show improvement through different takes about the same subject matter with some years or months in between.

I did the following three pieces in about 3 days recently for this blog post to see if I can come up with better versions of popular comic characters nowadays.

Draw This Again #1 Process on tumblr
Gambit: 
I really like the character back when I saw that Wolverine movie in 2011 and went on to do a more action like rendition. At that time I had incorporated more dramatic lighting and in my opinion I overdid it with the lighting effects. The newer version is cleaner and looks more simple but at the same time gets more to the point with the comic feel I intended to have in the other one as well.
Draw This Again #2 Process on tumblr
Ouka from .hack. I liked that character back when I started to watch the series. It actually took me about 2 days to get the drawing done back then, the newer drawing is around 6 hours or so. Although it is hard to compare because the one is a portrait the other full body hip-upwards.

Draw This Again #3:  Process on tumblr
Tifa Lockheart from FFVII; I never was satisfied with that old rendition from 2010, I liked the perspective but it never worked out well. The new one tells definitely more of a story and was lots of fun.

The Improvement Meme


Improvement meme´s are popular in various places and I get that it is a good showcase for artists, but let´s be honest, with such a sheet you can manipulate and if the distance between works is big enough you always have an improvement to show.

Noteworthy Example of an improvement meme from Anna Dittmann and Lois van Baarle show a good amount what is happening between years of practice.

This is a nice method to show what you are up to, not more nothing less.




Inner Circle

Regardless if you have a trustworthy group on facebook, behance or in your studio, that feedback can be very helpful and instant. Constructive critique is a subject that takes practice and a good friendship with likeminded people as well. Sometimes it is good to have the eyes of a stranger but most often we seek the feedback from peers with the same or even more experience in the same field.

The problem with this kind of inner circles is that it can backfire if you ask too often or too stupid things. So be careful and be honest with yourself.

A nice tool to give your peers an option to critique is Crittor: http://www.crittor.com

Commissioned Work

Commissioned work from the right clients is even better than a circle of friends for a different aspect of your work. People who pay you to do what you can do best are willing to push you to get better and to bear the best result for that collaboration. It is logical if you think about it. If you have clients who eat everything that you will serve are probably the wrong kind, those who are overtly picky are also the wrong. You will notice who are the right guys when you work with them.

Collaborations

Collaborations with models, other artist, fashion designers musicians or photographers are a great way to get better at something or to break out of your comfort zone. The thing is most collaborators don´t expect anything huge and if you can deliver something outstanding, it is a level-up you will receive as a reward.

Art Groups

I don´t mean those loose groups on facebook or deviantArt. Art groups that have art-packs or releases on the internet or in traditional galleries are a nice way to get in shape, especially if certain topics are given out to it´s members. This can be a challenge and a great one if you can accept and deliver. 

Fan Art

Believe it or not, fan art is a great way to get feedback on your work too, that is the reason I love to do it as much as I love to get my own ideas out of the head.
By doing fan art you can get feedback from a certain group of people, most likely nerds or geeks who have a very good knowledge about the topic you work with, if they comment on your work you are on a good way, if many of them comment or give feedback you are really great. Besides that leap in performance, most artists who did great fan art where easily picked up by big companies to do work for them.
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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook

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