Free artworks and designs

This post is intended as a direct letter to all people, who insist on getting a free artwork(s) or design. Now even though I can sort of fathom your reasoning, please try to understand that (and I mean this in the most loving way) you are pretty ignorant towards art (unless of course you know that what you’re asking for is wrong, then you’re just a simple asshole). In either way, you should not be pushing an artist to do a free artwork for you, no matter whether or not it’s for commercial use! I know it’s “just a simple drawing” but that doesn’t excuse the fact you’re trying to exploit someone for personal gain!

Honorable mention before I continue, if you’re one of those guys/companies that promises exposure, I’ll roast you in another post. Don’t you worry your ass whooping is coming too!

Now before you take this the wrong way and feel personally attacked, get offended and call the cops, know that you’re not the only one. The skills to paint a good picture are severely overlooked and/or undermined in recent years. Sadly I’ve even seen some artists being ignorant on the matter. People tend to think that (at least in digital art) you’re not wasting any materials, so it comes to you for free.

Alright, that’s true enough, we don’t spend money on materials every time we paint, however here’s what we spend money on:

  • A laptop that can run painting software: ~300 USD
  • A cheap, Chinese brand graphic tablet: ~150 USD
  • Painting software: vary from free (open source) to 399 USD
    The most common used software is Photoshop, cheapest version: 9.99 USD a month/ 119.88 USD an year.
  • Different brushes to paint in Photoshop with: from 5 USD to 50 USD
  • If the laptop doesn’t come with Windows: 139 USD

So you have a total of approximately 738.88 USD to purchase everything you need to get you going. That’s excluding money you’ll spend on tutorials and books you’ll need to learn how to draw/paint. Ain’t exactly free, is it now?

Now lets forget about the hardware for a moment, lets focus on what you need to know to become an artist. I’m guessing that you’re probably thinking that painting or drawing is a God given gift that artists just do to fill up their time. That’s where you’re terribly misinformed. Acquiring the ability to draw requires years of practice and studying. Read that again but slowly. YEARS, that’s at least 365 days worth of drawing. If you practice 3 hours a day every day, you’ll dedicate 1095 hours an year. Maybe you’ve seen people that pick up a pencil and just start drawing amazingly. Yes, there are that kind of people, but that phenomenon is occurring because their brains are wired in a way that enables them to have a jump start. However that doesn’t happen all that regularly and there’s a ton a normal person needs to learn and practice before they start painting/drawing.

Here’s a short list of what you need to know in order to create at least mediocre art:

  • Basic and complex shapes*
    * Here imagine a 3D shape like a pyramid instead of a triangle and a box instead of a square.
  • Knowledge of how light works when it falls on different objects and surfaces*
    * Metal, wood, cloth, water, glass, etc.
    * How the light bounces off of the given surface and affects the surrounding environment
  • How a color’s hue or saturation turns different depending on the time of day
  • At least basic human anatomy*
    * The form of the muscles
    * Bone structure
  • Composition of people
    * What pose works
    * What viewing angle to use in what scenario
    * Facial expressions
  • Composition of animals
    * What pose works
    * What viewing angle to use
    * Facial expressions (yes, they have those too) Animal anatomy
    * The form of the muscles
    * Bone structure
  • Composition of objects in an artwork
  • Anatomy of trees, bushes, flowers etc.
    * To make a tree look convincing, you can’t use a straight line that branches out! You also can’t use a squiggly line that branches out, it has to have different variations and forms.
  • Perspective
    * How shapes look in 1-point perspective
    * How shapes look in 2-point perspective
    * How shapes look in 3-point perspective
    * (There’s also a 4-point perspective, but that for specific looks and in an advanced category)
  • Color theory*
    * Why some colors go well together, while others do not
    * Using colors to suggest character traits
    * Using colors to suggest atmosphere in an environment
  • Using color to paint different materials
  • How to paint metal objects
  • How to paint cloth
  • How to paint skin
    (Did you know that there’s green, yellow, red and beige in a typical Caucasian skin and purple, brown, beige, yellow and green in African skin? Yup, didn’t think so and that’s just the basic hues.)

Now that you’ve got most of the basic topics there’s a ton of literature to read and practice a thousand times. Once you’ve done that and mastered it to a satisfactory (for your style) level, here’s you have to decide in each artwork you create:

  • What art style should you do your painting/drawing?
  • What lighting should you use to best describe the mood of the design or scene?
  • How should the lighting fall so it highlights a character or hides something else?
  • How to compose and frame the artwork, so the main object/character catches the eye of the watcher first?
  • How to compose and frame the artwork, so that it tells the story or what you’re trying to convey in the watcher?
  • If you’re drawing a character – what should they look like? Are they human or a fantasy (humanoid) one?
  • What angle are they viewed from?
    * Different angles on a character can make them appear heroic or weak.
  • What’s their body size?
  • What should they be wearing?
  • What are going to be their distinctive features?
  • What SHAPE* are they?
    * Different shapes can convey different types of characters. If you’ve put the time to learn that you’d know what I’m talking about!
  • What’s their pose?
  • What hue should their skin be in certain lighting conditions?
  • Which part of the body casts what shadow where?
  • Which part of the clothing casts what shadow on what and what hue should the shadowed clothing be in?

If you’re not off somewhere trying to figure out how to sue me, because you got offended, let me ask you, would you do art for free? Would you learn all of that and then dedicate a day, two or even a week to paint or draw something for someone for free? If you’ve answered “yes”, that would mean you’re just as stubborn as a mule. However if you’re serious with your answer, can I get a free artwork from you? Send me an email and I’ll tell you what I want drawn. Also I may use it somewhere and get some money for it, that’s alright with you, right? Thanks!

Cheers!