Art Progress

A post with my art progress from 2004 onwards.

Warning: Image Heavy Post Ahead

A while ago, I put together an Imgur album showcasing my work from the age of 13/14 (2004/2005) to present. I accidentally uploaded this in anonymous mode and came to realise that I couldn’t update it, so I moved it here to my blog.

Naturally, this post showcases the best of whatever I drew at the time. I’ve digitised most of my old sketchbooks which can be found here: Digitised Sketchbooks

The High School Years - 2004-2009 (Age 13-18)

This first one was from when I was around 13 or 14. My grandmother offered to teach me how to draw but I was easily frustrated and many, including this drawing, ended up being finished by her.

This is another one from around that age. I took a photo of a sunset on my sister’s first digital camera and I was inspired by it for a while. I remember doing the “line art” for this piece and then copying it 3 or 4 times on our fax machine so that I could try different lighting scenarios. I also distinctly remember being told off for doing it because it was a waste of the fax machine’s thermal transfer sheet.

I was super into Harry Potter when I was 15 and this one came from copying the front cover of Order of the Phoenix which I then scanned and painted in Photoshop. I was quite proud of it at the time and I still kind of love the texture I managed to achieve on the body and far wing.

This was part of a 2 year obsession with fractal art. I used Apophysis fractal editor a lot and just kind of twiddled settings till something looked cool. There was also a brief foray into pixel art but they’re all a bit too small to share.

There’s about a year between this and any of my other art. I dropped out of school and was very interested in photography around this time. I was about 17 and I got right into doodling patterns as a way to relax. 

In 2009 I went through a rough period of job searching, and being out of work. To keep myself occupied during the day, I would do jigsaw puzzles and copy cartoon characters to escape.

The University Years - 2010-2015 (Age 19-24)

In 2010 I studied IT at TAFE before dropping out and deciding to pursue a degree in history with the intention of becoming a teacher. I took a course in digital design in my second semester which prompted me to change degrees to a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) because I would be up all night doing vector drawings. I was a little bit obsessed with My Little Pony at the time.

Another piece of traced vector art I did for my grandmother, who loves blue wrens. I gave her a print of this for Christmas and she loved it. I’ve since done a few more versions of this wren.

Once I’d changed my degree in 2012, I took a drawing class that forced us to use pen the entire time. It was the first time I’d really been faced with the idea that I couldn’t erase my mistakes and had to work with them instead. I was pretty proud of this at the time because even though I made a mistake in the initial shape at the top, I was able to work with it and it didn’t completely ruin the piece.

One of my projects from that year was to draw 65 self portraits. I was and continue to be truly awful at drawing people so both this and my first figure drawing class went about as well as you’d expect.

Another self portrait, this time from 2013. Art degrees sure do like getting you to draw yourself. Interestingly, despite its issues, this one looks a lot more like me and is a generally much better drawing despite being less than 6 months apart from the previous one. I still think it was a bit of fluke and possibly related to the paper being A7 sized.

Drawing inanimate objects is another popular one in art degrees and this project required me to pick an inanimate object and do studies every week in a new medium. This one was pastel week and I still kind of like the lost and found shading on the white part of the penguin’s body. Ultimately, I failed this course my first time around because I didn’t submit a bunch of work on time (thanks, depression).

Some fan art of my Diablo 3 character at the time. As you can see, still terrible at drawing people.

My second attempt at the course from above where I drew the Pingu toy. I chose a wooden hand model as my inanimate object and this was one of my better compositions for it. I enjoyed contrasting the organic against the inorganic model.

I took another life drawing class in 2014. I struggled a lot with proportions so I often ended up just trying to draw portraits during my classes.

This was from the same life drawing course. We were told to do a drawing of a spoon in a glass of water, I assume for observation skills because the refraction does really interesting things to the shape of the spoon and so on. I spent 6-8 hours on this drawing at about A3 size. This was the first time I really felt like I belonged in my illustration major, because generally everyone else was so much better than me and I managed to hold my own in this assignment.

Last one from that same course, which did a lot for my drawing skills. We had to do a pointilism study of some cloth. I remembered I needed to do this study about an hour before bed on the night before it was due. So I stayed up way past my bed time doing this and I remember my hand hurting for several days after but I was pretty happy with the result all the same.

An unfinished concept from a book cover project I did for uni. This was one of my first attempts with Copic markers and I was super happy with how it turned out at the time.

I was really getting into using brush pen in 2014 (second year at uni). I drew this one in my studio class shortly after I got my Pentel Pocket Brush, undoubtedly when I was supposed to be doing something else. I had it hung up on my fridge for quite a while, even in 2020.

The second half of my second year at uni was the first time I was allowed to use digital media and I was 100% onboard. I bought and used ArtRage for a time. This was the first finished piece I presented in digital for that studio class.

This was also from around this time. When I was in uni, I got The Last of Us artbook and it really inspired me - I wanted to be an environment concept artist. So I focused a lot of my self-directed projects at uni around art for video games; environments, prompts, levels, etc. I still don’t think this is a bad drawing for the time when I was still learning digital, mostly it’s the technique and composition that fall flat.

This one was a gift for my sister’s birthday. I was quite happy with it and I can see now that I was starting to get a handle on following the contour for shading forms.

In my final year of uni (2015), I had to illustrate a short story in roughly 10 pages. I chose The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and the below is my character turnaround for Gregor Samsa. I wanted to make him look somewhat friendly and endearing as he is the main character. The eventual illustrations for the story were awful however, because I had absolutely no grasp on perspective.

One of the things that my final year of uni focused on was around generating ideas and thinking outside of the box. This piece was the result of a word association project in which the lecturer gave us multiple sets of 3 words and gave us varying periods of time to generate concepts (anywhere from 10 second to 3 minutes) before we had to select 3 of the concepts to turn into polished illustrations. This one was the result of the words “queen, key, fight”.

Midway through my final year, I took a course at CDW Studios, which is one of the Australian equivalents of CDA (in fact the main instructor studied there). This was a piece from my first week which was used as a sort of assessment of where the students were at in terms of skill. I didn’t do much of the homework in the course because I’m a lazy shit and my laptop was too crappy for Photoshop.

Post University - 2015-2017 (Age 24-26)

After uni I kind of floated around for a bit, trying to find work of any kind. I took on a few design jobs which weren’t necessarily paid, but compensated in other ways. This is one of them, in which I designed stickers for a friend’s hobby hot sauce in which I was paid in said hot sauce.

I had about 20 pages left in my sketchbook at the end of uni and about as many days till the end of the year, so I filled them with a drawing a day. Party Sloth is one such drawing.

After I graduated uni I was unemployeed for about 9 months. In Australia, they make you go to job network providers so you can receive welfare. They’re supposed to teach you job skills and help you find work. All I learnt was how crappy the welfare system is and drew cartoons off the Nintendo branded cardboard folders I took to keep my “job skills” paperwork in.

Tiger Lily was the SketchDaily theme the day that I got a job. I was driving to the doctor to get help with the depression that had set in while I was unemployed and I got a call. I don’t usually answer the phone while driving but I did this time. I was asked to do a typing test and once I’d done that, I was quickly offered a job as a typist… since then I haven’t been out of full time work for more than a month.

I created the line art for this as part of one of my final year projects. As midnight ticked over for New Years 2017, I was working on this. As you can tell, I’m quite the party animal.

In February 2017 I bought an iPad Pro to encourage me to sketch digitally more. I redid the painting I did for my grandmother back in 2011 on it. She wasn’t as impressed by this one because she somehow thought I’d just painted over a photo or something. I learnt an important lesson from this painting about leaving some detail to the imagination.

Drawabox - 2018-2020 (Age 27-29)

Early in 2018, I started doing Drawabox (lesson reviews here). I’d been aware of it since around 2015 but I’d never really bothered with it nor had the time and discipline to follow along with it. I lurked on the Drawabox Discord server from October 2017 before I started the lessons in January 2018. This was one of the first drawings I did after I finished the first lesson.

Some more attempts at humans. The chin ended up a bit weak and I lost a lot of the likeness but it was one of my first attempts at using Loomis heads to draw people.

I started drawing an alphabet of animals during my lunch breaks at work in around September 2018. The below is one such drawing. These were fun in the sense that I couldn’t be too precious about them because I only had a limited time (10-20 minutes) to draw them. That timeframe got tighter after I changed jobs in November 2018 where I was only allowed a 30 minute lunch break.

I haven’t included much Drawabox lesson work here as they’re available over in my lesson reviews, however I will include the below comparison that I made at the end of 2018 to demonstrate how much it helped me.

I created Bloaty after one of the guys on the Drawabox Discord server was looking for advice on his Inktober piece which featured a rather sad pufferfish and his popped balloons. I decided to do a more positive take on it. This was the first time I’d really touched cartoons in a long time and I found it very relaxing to work on because it was all loose line work and bright colours.

I hadn’t touched dip pen since uni so I decided to give it a go now that I knew how to draw from my shoulder and control pen pressure. I promptly ruined this piece by adding watercolour pencils. This is also a good demonstration of how even the most solid underlying construction can be ruined by inking if you’re not still considering those forms to be 3D when doing so.

This animal alphabet was definitely a long running project as this one was from January 2019. I eventually finished it in March 2020 with Z for Zebra, which was a really awful drawing that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be good since I wanted to show progress with them.

Occasionally I’ll sketch a thing, see a line that makes it look like something else and run with it. That is how wise wizard kitty came to be.

Shortly after wizard kitty above, my partner and I packed up and moved 1200km across the country. This 1 hour painting was one of the first ones I did after I got everything set up in the new house and it helped me deal with some of the stress of moving.

My goals for 2019 included working on my rendering and pushing past the sketch stage. As part of taking steps toward that, I started working through the content for the digital painting course I took in 2015 and this is one study from that. I didn’t quite achieve that goal but I did make some strides in my digital work in 2019.

My sister loves Alice in Wonderland so for her daughter’s first birthday, I created the below illustration for a card and had it printed. She loved it and I remembered how satisfying it was to see a physical product made from one of my drawings. 

I created the below illustration for the SketchDaily goldfish prompt. I’ve always thought the fish with the big boggle eyes looked slightly unhinged.

2020 was a bit of an odd year in more ways than one. I did a lot of figure and portrait drawing and I mean, a lot. There were definitely some highlights, including finishing Drawabox finally in August and the below reattempt at my 2015 portrait from CDW.

I also did a lot of bargue plate copies that turned out okay as well, though I don’t think I really learned all that much from them besides observation and copying.

Post-Drawabox - 2020-2021 (29-30)

I finished Drawabox in August 2020 and almost immediately hurled myself into a 12 week course on concept art which was really interesting. I got a bit burnt out towards the end because I spent most of my free time after work drawing and doing my homework but I did learn a lot from it especially when it came to 3D, which I’d tried before but never really got the hang of. Below is my final project from the course but I also created a sci-fi crate and a medieval/mayan hybrid blacksmithy.

The rest of my year passed pretty uneventfully in terms of art - there were more figures, mostly, and I was deep into planning to build a house with my partner, which was causing a lot of stress that didn’t let up till the new year. Speaking of the new year, I finally finished my Blender Guru donut in 3D. I’m still super proud of how this turned out even though I was following a tutorial and the sprinkles on the plate turned out comically large.

I tried out my own render after completing the donut - a glass kettle. Literally the worst thing for a beginner to try and model is stuff made out of glass because you literally cannot hide any of the imperfections. Still, I think it came out alright, all things considered but I got stuck where I have frequently with my 3D work since - texturing.

Weirdly, all the 3D work I did seemed to have a positive impact on my drawing and I experienced a slight uptick in the quality of my work around this time, though maybe that had more to do with the entire month of Figuary I did. Again, I did a lot of figure drawing and there’s a full album here (includes double up of Figuary, sorry!)

Anyway, I created this Swiss Army Shark for a prompt on the Drawabox Discord server which suggested you take a shark and combine it with a tool - like a hammerhead shark but with different kinds of tools.

I moved house in May and for a while my drawing and painting was a little bit all over the place. I gave gouache painting another crack in August/September and did a blue wren painting for my grandmother. I posted a few iterations of this further up in digital, but this time I painted with traditional paints.

There are literally thousands more pictures than I’ve been able to include here, so make sure to check out my Instagram for more.

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