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Painting Better the Self-Taught Way

For this past week, I focused on improving my paintings but to be honest, I have taken a rather ad-hoc approach.

From Monday, I knew straight away what videos I was going to watch. The condensed 10-minutes teachings by Marco Bucci provided a sweet and concised explanation, pointing out the essential ingredients that go into a better painting.

One particular good acronym Mr Bucci came up with is:

Don't Fucking Cheat Me!

which stands for 4 important aspects of every painting/design:


Direction - The suggestive line-of-action which the entire image is based on, from a sensual c-curve to a rigid and mechanical converging cross.

Focal Point - The point of the painting where I, as the artist, want the viewers to pay attention to. This can be achieved via a myriad of subtle visual cues that is directed by lines defining the subject.

Contrast - The mixture of difference object that makes the painting more appealing to look at. The commonality among all the advise many experts give in regards to contrast is this main idea of sudden difference.

This is often achieved by the following approaches:

1. Dark vs Light

2. Areas of High Activity vs Areas of Low Activity

3. Shape A vs Shape B

4. Texture vs Non-texture

5. Soft-edges vs Hard Edges

6. Direction of Shape A vs Direction of Shape B

7. High Degree of finish vs Sketchy Areas

so on and so forth...


Message - What you, as the artist, want to convey the picture. Even the most ludicrious and almost childish painting by Picasso has a message and this has started to be the very first thing I would think about when I start to form an art piece.

"What am I trying to say with this?"

Often, when commissioned by my clients, I always ask them, "what is the one keyword you would use to describe the design you want?" and that immediately helps set the direction the design ought to adopt from the start.


After watching a few videos on Youtube, I started to apply them in my digital paintings near the middle of the week, keeping in mind to always at least spend 1 hour on this topic of painting everyday. Resulting in the piece you see above when I did yet another improvement drawing.

However, it still feels stale and there is much to improve on.

Here are some other pieces I worked on as well. Similarly, they are all still carry a sense of distaste which I cannot shake off. My clients, on the other hand, were satisfied so whatever......


Starting to watch through the painting tutorials of Borodante, nearing the end of the week.

I am slowly beginning to understand how complex it is to render light on a subject. There are multiple factors that I have failed to take into account like how translucent the skin ought to be at certain parts of the body, the effects of the light source, ambient light and reflected light.

Thankfully, there is still 3 more weeks to work on this topic before my hiatus end.


In the next week, I will start to deal with drawing backgrounds; One of my greatest weakness in drawing because I really, really, really dislike the robotic-like process of rendering the detailed backgrounds which I often crave for, like those meticulous backdrops in Yotsuba!.

Here we go.

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