Sunday, 18 November 2018

Six Most Useful Art Tutorials on Youtube

Hey everyone! So...almost a year's gone by and not a peep from yours truly. Some of that has been due to adjusting to my new job as a fully qualified GP, and some of it has been just due to having a rethink about what I want this blog to be about. While I am still very much writing, I won't have any major projects finishing anytime soon, so rather than let this place gather dust I'm going to focus more on my other creative outlet, art. It's in my name after all!

Thus, to kick things off, I'm going to share with you the six most useful Youtube art channels I follow.

So I'm a self taught hobby artist, and have been drawing since my early teens, if not earlier. However, once I gave up Art as a subject at age 14 (had to study those sciences you know for my future career!), I had no real source of guidance to progress.

Fortunately, this was just when the internet was becoming a Big Thing (TM), and I had a plethora of deviantart tutorials to peruse and improve. Now with YouTube tutorials about anything from changing a tire to baking a cake, there's never been a better resource for drawing from a variety of established artists. Whether you draw traditionally with paper and pencil or sketch digitally with the latest graphics tablet, there's a wealth of knowledge out there to help you along. While webpage tutorials are still very much a thing, the extra dimension of seeing drawings done in real-time makes YouTube a brilliant means of learning.

So in no particular order, here are six of the most useful art tutorials I've used/ continue to use on YouTube!

1. Alponso Dunn


Alphonso is an ink artist and instructor, and he has many tutorials showing the variety and versatility of the humble ink pen in drawing. He also has useful anatomy and gesture tutorials, and some mixed media pieces using watercolours as well. Perfect for traditional artists wanting to learn techniques, and for anyone wanting to practice the basics.

I particularly like his 'Master the Mannequin' tutorial as it really helps get certain gestures down without having to use an exact reference every time. I find he explains things quite clearly too and is generally easy to follow. Strongly recommended you check him out, even if pen and ink isn't your thing.

He also has some books available on amazon for pen and ink drawing.

2. Mark Crilley


I've been following Mark for at least five years and he is an extremely talented artist and illustrator. He works in several styles, from realism to anime/ manga, and his tutorials cover pretty much everything from drawing hair and body parts to perspective and animals. He also does art challenges which just shows how honed he is at his craft!

I also enjoy his topic videos, where he'll put out a question to the community about an art-related topic, such as 'How important is originality?' or 'Do you need a defined style?'. He also comes across with a very warm personality, like a favourite uncle, and he can go completely off tangent sometimes in his ramblings, which is rather endearing.

I first came across him when looking for help transitioning from an anime style to more realistic, and found his 'Realistic Manga Face' tutorial. I've since referred to several of his other tutorials.

He also has several books out, including some how to draw books and graphic novels.

3. Sycra



I actually came across Sycra from tumblr, as his videos were referenced in an art tutorial masterpost. The one I first saw was his coil method for perspective drawing, but what I found more fascinating is his 'Drawing Methods' series of videos. Here he outlines varies ways artists begin to draw, and the pros and cons of each, and which method you really need to be using depending on how far you want to take your drawing skills.

Personally I think I rely on the copy method too much, so realising this is very useful to know what I need to do to become less reliant on reference images.

He is predominantly a digital artist but his methods apply to traditional media as well. I have yet to dig into his other tutorials but I will be sure to, as he's got a wealth of helpful videos on his channel.

4. Rapidfireart


I found Darlene's channel via Pinterest, through her 'How to Draw Faces' tutorial. I really like how she makes proportioning the face seem so easy with simple measurements, and it's a method I still use. She also has simple tutorials for drawing facial features such as the eyes, lips and nose.

She hasn't got quite as much content as some of the former channels, but she has a lot more on her website. Still, what she has is very valuable, so please check her out!

5. Proko


This is Stan Prokopenko's channel, an established artist and art teacher. He uses both digital and traditional media and the skills he confers transfer nicely between the two. He also offers drawing courses and has lots of helpful resources on his own website. I like his anatomy videos the most, but like Mark Crilley he also dips into topic videos as well. He also has caricature tutorials and help for gesture drawing.

I've found 'How to Draw the Head from any angle', 'How to Draw the Nose', 'Shading Light and Form Basics' and 'How to Draw the Lips' the most useful. His videos are also quite entertaining, and he does critiques, as well as videos with more general tips for artists. He's covered pretty much most things you'll need, and whether you're just getting into drawing or have been doing it for a while and want to improve, he's got the perfect content.

6. Istebrak


A little different to the above channels, Istebrak is an art teacher and her videos are predominantly critique videos. She is a digital artist. While she does have tutorials on facial features, form studies, some colouring techniques and drawing landscapes, her critique hour (posted usually twice weekly) is where you'll get the most benefit.

It may seem strange that I'm advising you to watch her critique other artists' work, but even just watching her feedback is invaluable as it helps you to see the flaws in your own work. She won't sugar-coat or pamper either- she'll tell you exactly what is wrong and what's needed to fix it, even if this means going right back to basics. She is mostly coming from the angle of an artist wanting to be a professional concept artist and how to render things in digital art media, however, so bear that in mind.

She also has a community on Google+ and Facebook, where she often posts challenges and you can get feedback from the rest of the community. She also offers a software called Portrait Studio which lets you render reference images with realistic lighting. I have not tried it myself but I have seen it in action in many of her videos, and it looks like a very useful tool, especially if you want to break into the professional arena.

Truthfully, Istebrak's channel has probably pushed the most improvement out of me (though I haven't directly submitted to her community, mostly because I feel I'm not up to the basic standard she expects, and given that I'm simple hobbyist, I can take my time!), so do check out her channel. She absolutely knows her stuff, and while her tough-love approach can be a bit intimidating, you'd do well to listen.

And so those were the six most useful Youtube art tutorial channels that I've been following of the last few years! I hope you also find them helpful. If you've got any more suggestions, I'd love to know!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Slow Wax and Wane of Inspiration


So, as you might have noticed, there's not been much activity on my blog lately, and not all of that is because of work/ life commitments. See, while I've been trying my active best to keep writing and drawing, something's...been missing lately. And since I've thought about the whys and wherefores, I came to a rather interesting conclusion (for me, anyway). Note that this is just my personal opinion, but it seems worth sharing.

During my medical school years, I took a year out in between studies to take a masters degree in Medical Humanities. Part of this included topics usually confined to English Literature degrees, but one of them was Gender Studies. Now, before you all raise the SJW roasting pitchforks, no, this isn't a feminist radicalisation module, it just looks at literary works and applies a feminist lens to them as a form of critique. This really opened my eyes to media trends across the ages, the very limited roles of females represented and how it's really only been relatively recently that this has started to change.

That module provided me with a useful grip on analysis, not just in media but even in trends in my own profession of medicine, and it is truly amazing how widespread old, constricting traditions are (I'm still asked when patients see me if I'm a nurse, for example). But, sticking to media, it's also really limited the things I want to watch/ play/ read about, which has had a knock-on effect on my own creativity.

I've been a fan of many things, including various anime, games and books. These have not only provided great entertainment, but also fed my own creativity, inspiring my own stories and artwork. But as I've grown older, with this new lens to view the media I enjoy, I notice that more recent things just doesn't grab me like the older ones do. I haven't watched a film in cinema for years now, because every film just comes across as the same tired and boring story filled with character archetypes (bar a few exceptions here and there).

The majority of anime has simply degraded into pure fanservice, and it becomes so distracting and off-putting it breaks my suspension of disbelief in the story and characters. They also don't seem to want to move off the 'teenage boy chosen one' trope, which has really lost its appeal since rarely is it ever done in an interesting way. Many new Japanese RPGs, which used to be a staple love for me, have sadly followed the same path, and they don't really try to break out of their tropes and have thus become rather stale.

Now there are exceptions in all those genres, as there would always be, but when they are so outnumbered by the others, they become very hard to find, and the effort to find something then doesn't seem worth the dearth that it uncovers. But this then starts a vicious cycle, in that, for me at least, creativity stagnates when it's not being fed by new or engaging ideas. Thus the time I want to use to write or draw also becomes less fruitful, as nothing truly inspires like it used to.

And it's odd in a way, because, looking back, the things I did enjoy had their fair share of these flaws too, and yet they never seemed as overt. Could well be the nostalgia goggles talking, but I never remembered having fanservice shoved in my face constantly in Final Fantasy 8, or it being so distracting as to break me out of the story of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, and I was overjoyed with Final Fantasy 12's take on a story that didn't have you playing as the Chosen One.

And I'm not saying such things have to be stripped out entirely- I just wish they didn't consume the majority of media right now, that there was more variety and less reliance on doing the same things over and over and over. It does seem to very slowly be trickling through, and one game in particular I hope is a sign of better things to come.


That game is Horizon Zero Dawn, for the PS4. I'd heard lots of positive reviews for the game when it came out and was eager to play. And, for all the criticisms that 'it did nothing new', its story was absolutely incredible, and far, far above most competitors on offer. It's not perfect, of course, but it's such a welcome breath of fresh air. I was deeply impressed with its robust and water-tight plot, its immense scope, a likeable female protagonist who wasn't overly sexualised for the sake of it, a diverse and interesting cast of side characters that all added to the world, yet the best thing was its sense of mystery. Uncovering one answers added extra questions, and the game manages to keep this up right til the very end. It really had me gripped in a way that no game has for a long time, and had me playing continuously until I reached the end.


So, perhaps my tastes have just become super-picky now, and I need to ease back. Or perhaps I just need to look harder, get better at finding media to my taste. But either way, it's been a useful reflection, as now I can try and tackle my issue of not imagining as freely as I once did, and hopefully return to feeling refreshed and inspired like I once did.