Drawing: How to Find Your Own Artistic Style

by on September 11th, 2014
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Finding your unique art style is like discovering your identity. It sets you apart in the world of art and shows people an important side of you. The more unique your art is, the more stunning it has the possibility of becoming.

Picasso actually drew realistic illustrations before switching to an abstract style- the very style that brought him both fame and fortune. Artists like the Hildebrant brothers, Van Gogh, and Boris Vallejo have all come to fame through their unique styles. There are several steps to discovering and developing your own unique style.

Choose your Genre

A large part of choosing your artistic style is to figure out what you like to draw. Maybe you prefer to create naturalistic pictures or portraits. It could be that you like to draw super heroes or futuristic landscapes.

It could be a combination of any of these or more, but whatever genre you most love, try to stick with it for a while, draw a few dozen illustrations in that niche, and you will start to see hints of your own flourishes and style seeping through.

Most everyone starts out by copying artists they love, but it helps to find things about their illustrations that you don’t care for as much- things that don’t suit the way you want to draw- and focus on exchanging those quibbles with your own ideas.

For example, maybe you like Van Gogh’s use of vibrant color, but you don’t like the sketchiness of his paintings. So you can try drawing more solid-looking characters and places, yet still keep his bold colors. Already you’re on the path to something unique.

If, however, you seek to make illustrations that are as realistic as possible, you’ll find there is little room for your own stylistic touches. There is certainly an audience and a market for absolute realism in art, but you may find you lose some freedom in that genre.

Experiment with Little Touches

Truly unique art styles depend on taking an original idea and exaggerating it. Often these novel flourishes start as small touches or even mistakes. But they always come from artists not being afraid to try new things and experiment a bit.

To see what works for you, try changing things from how they would be in reality. Take colors and make them surreal or unreal by substituting the natural color of something for a different color. Alternately, try mixing colors together where they are normally solid, or try washing out or darkening colors in unusual ways.

When drawing, try creating objects or characters in unusual ways, perhaps making them more gnarled or more idealistic than they would be in reality. Sometimes it helps to sketch out your drawing very quickly, then go back and polish everything up. The rough sketch lays down a framework that can give you ideas to try things you might not normally think of.

Try different methods of shading to see what looks best with your style. Some artists shade by rubbing the drawing implement on the page, while others shade by making very fine lines. Experimenting with different styles will help you develop your own.

Style is the Way You Draw

If you draw very slowly, odds are you’re trying too hard to imitate someone else or be very realistic. In either case, your own style is not coming through. Try drawing at a moderate pace, not so fast that your mind can’t keep up, but fast enough that you make some small mistakes and leave behind excess lines.

The little unnecessary lines that artists leave on their page are a touch of their own style. If you can draw at a moderate pace, your style won’t stay hidden for long.

Part of an artist’s style is in the tools they use. The more you practice with a single drawing tool (pen, pencil, charcoal, etc.), the more you’ll find things about it that work for you. You’ll start to develop ways of using your tool of choice to create specific effects and flourishes. The more you use a single tool, the more it brings out your unique style.

Whenever you use a new drawing tool, you’ll probably find yourself looking at other artist’s illustrations with that particular tool. It is very tempting to follow, to some degree, what they have already done with it. That is why sticking with one tool until you develop a strong style is important.

An artist’s drawing style should not be static. It should change and develop over time to incorporate important lessons and new techniques. The more you draw, the more the style in which you draw will become your own.


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