Podcast: 5 Hobbies to Improve your Artistic Skills

We will talk about:

  • Feeling a little stuck in the 'CG art' genre? Struggling to stay motivated and make something truly memorable? Chances are it's time to explore other mediums.

Subscribe on iTunes Feeling a little stuck in the 'CG art' genre? Struggling to stay motivated and make something truly memorable? Chances are it's time to explore other mediums.

Here are my recommendations for 5 Hobbies that will Improve your Artistic Skills:

1. Photography - It's number 1 for a reason! Probably the most helpful hobby to have if you're a CG artist. Learning how to position, frame, light and shoot an environment or subject in an interesting manner is skill that requires practice. And if you suck at photography, I guarantee you'll suck as a CG artist. You don't need a $3000 DSLR either. Grab an iPhone and experiment with making bland subjects look interesting. It's harder than it looks and you'll learn heaps.

2. Drawing - Putting pencil to paper and trying to recreate photos will help you to see forms, shapes, movement and contours. This will be immensely helpful when you're looking at your final render and wondering why it looks nothing like the reference. You'll learn to see the details, large and small. Start at Proko.com for easy, free tutorials on figure drawing.

3. Writing/Story Telling - One of the most common pitfalls with CG art today is too much attention on the technical side, and not enough attention on the story. Particularly with short films, but also with stills. You can learn Blender inside and out, but if you don't understand what makes humans tick, then you're art will fail to raise any emotion from the viewer. A crappy render with a great story will always outdo a superb render with no story. There are many great books on the subject if you're really interested in it. At the very least, you should learn the 7 Basic Story Arcs.

4. Clay Modelling - Recommended by Blender veteran Andy Goralczyk, who recently made Omega. Learning how to create materials with your hands is hard. And in doing so you'll learn a lot about what goes into making realistic textures in CG. It's far too easy to grab a texture online and slot it into a shader without understanding the many layers of organic material in the real world. I've never tried realistic clay modelling, but I definitely want to.

5. Painting - While drawing is all about sketching shapes and forms, painting is about light and color. You don't need a paint set either. Just a tablet and Gimp or MyPaint will do. It's a difficult but fun skill to master, and learning it will be immensely helpful in the early concept stages of your art. Instead of spending weeks on a scene only to realize it was doomed from the start, you could flesh your ideas out with a stylus in an hour and have much better control over the creative decisions of the subject. Few CG artists know how to work a paint brush, but if you can, your work will improve in droves.

(cover art: henrie tsai)

Can you recommend any other hobbies that will help CG artists?

Andrew Price