It seemed simple enough. At the beginning of January I decided I would get back into the habit of posting daily doodles on my Tumblr. This wasn’t new for me – I had a three year streak of daily drawing and posting going at one point in time. However, my former job finally took its toll on me mentally and physically to the point where I couldn’t keep up; and for about a year drawing occurred less frequently and sometimes painfully.
This year I decided it was time to get back on track with regular posting. I’ve actually found the “fire and forget” approach to posting doodles to be surprisingly helpful. I don’t obsess quite so much over details or lack of perfection, it’s just a sketch or doodle. I can experiment; feelings and thoughts captured in a tiny moment. I may look back on a sketch and go “ack”, or see that I was having a bad day, but there’s a small bit of exp earned from each one.
The very first doodle of the year featured Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins.
I started playing DA:O in December. I’d never played any of the DA games, but I loved Mass Effect and I did have a copy of DA:O Ultimate Edition sitting around on my pc for ages. Needless to say, I got really in to it. Most of January and February were dedicated to doodles of my favorite Dragon Age characters, and I continued to draw many of them all year long. I also started a “Medieval Guardians of the Galaxy” series, featuring Quill, Nova and Gamora. I even started designing Drax, Rocket and Groot but never found an idea that worked. I was enjoying these projects a lot because I was trying new and different ways to render my lined art.
Later in the spring I started playing Final Fantasy XIV. That led to some sketches (and moogles), and being exposed to a different visual style of video game art was refreshing. A few months later.. the Star Wars hype started kicking in, and I returned to SWToR. I spent a lot of time getting reacquainted with characters I hadn’t played for well over a year and preparing for the game’s new expansion. Star Wars was pretty much my childhood and has inspired me in many ways my whole life. I read the comics, played with the toys, I wanted to create magical, exciting things. Sketches and doodles based on that galaxy far, far away was of course a thing that was going to happen. Star Wars art from various forms of media consumed a good chunk of the late end of the year.
Drawing badges was exciting, challenging and a heck of a learning experience. This was also the first year that I started using Photoshop CS, so I began to develop Actions and similar processes to help speed up my work flow. This really helped me during the entire badge season, and I was pleased with the consistency and quality.
I’ve been pretty comfortable with my “comic book-y” style and method for a few years now. Artists will always compare themselves to other artists, we can never escape that. Being happy as an artist can be both true and false at the same time. There are days that you’ll hate every line that you put down, and wish you could draw this type of art like that artist. Near the end of the badge season I felt like I was hitting a ceiling and I needed to shake things up. I was feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with my art.
I’ve always felt that painting, even digitally, was a bit confusing to me. I had adjusted very well to working inside nicely inked lines, or even inside my rough and loose lines when sketching. Painting seemed like a mythical study that I couldn’t quite grasp. And of course, since I didn’t think I could do it, I really wanted to be able to do it. I made a lot of progress with my digital coloring throughout the year, and by the end I felt like I was close to some kind of artistic breakthrough. About a week ago I threw myself into tackling a fully painted image and managed to achieve that goal. I’ve been pretty ecstatic the last day or two because at the start of the year, I never thought I’d be able to create an image like this.
I’m excited that I could end the year with this. I’m excited that I felt like I could create something in a new way. I’m excited for what I can accomplish in the coming year. I’m not totally throwing away the style I’ve already developed, but I proved to myself that I can break out of my artistic comfort zone and surprise myself. It’s been a long year, and I can look back and say, “I’m proud of myself and what I have created.”
Some days were still hard. Like, really hard. As in “just wanna give up” hard. But I didn’t, and I won’t. In 2016 I’ll still be drawing and posting every day, and pushing myself to think about my art in different creative ways. Many thanks to my friends, family, and all who have supported and inspired me in 2015.