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I would like advice on how to improve my images.

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The first is from two years ago and the last a few weeks ago. As you can see, I've not really improved much in that time, I've gotten better with leg/body proportions but thats about it.. I've decided that in all likelihood I've reached the end of how much mere practice can improve me and I'll either have to start radically experimenting until I find something that works or get some advice. I figure the latter option is smarter. I draw a general idea of the image I want, sometimes its complex drawing but more often then not its just an outline of basic shapes in order to help me get the sizes right as if I try to draw anything with pure paint.net I have no way of keeping the relative sizes of the varying objects in proper proportion as I have to zoom in too close, And then I scan the drawing in and I put in all the colors and details with paint.net. I know I have just about everything wrong but I can't seem to think of what would be right. I would be satisfied just to get to the point where its not somewhat embarrassing The last image was also the image I put the most concentrated effort into and its still embarrassing..








































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I am also going to emphasis the style of your own. Keep with that and improve on it. Do random tutorials to learn various techniques and work on the way you combine shapes and colours.

Keep at it :)


Something else I'd recommend is not putting all your images into hide tags. Instead, put them into thumb tabs and you can display them all visibly.

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Question for you: What are you going for? When you say you want to "improve," what is the goal of your improvement?

The first very important step for improvement is to know exactly what the problem is that you wish to fix. Without knowing that, you're shooting in the dark.


If you're going for a more realistic look, I recommend looking into classes or online tutorials/lessons. Here's one to get you started if that is the case: http://drawabox.com/

No, Paint.NET is not spyware...but, installing it is an IQ test. ~BoltBait

Blend modes are like the filling in your sandwich. It's the filling that can change your experience of the sandwich. ~Ego Eram Reputo

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Agreeing with the others - wonderfully imaginative images and an appealing 'quirky' drawing style... don't lose that. ;)

To 'improve' your drawing skills, do keep a sketch book and draw from real life. If you can't persuade someone to pose, draw your left hand or set up a mirror.
Drawing real things/people makes you look and think about what you are doing - taking photos doesn't! (they can be useful for reference, but never slavishly copy photos).
Do study the work of artists you like and consider what you like about their images. Do keep drawing things from your imagination... If you enjoy what you are doing your skills will improve and you can look back at your old (full) sketch books to see how much.


Red ochre Plugin pack.............. Diabolical Drawings ................Real Paintings



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Well I recently had someone tell me that I was pretty bad. And that got me worried. Which is what prompted me to come here and ask for advice. And wouldn't be much point in asking for advice if I didn't take it, even if its not what I expected.


@Eli. Thank you, though I'll admit when I look at that one, my eyes just gravitate to the way the hands aren't shaped quite right, her bracelets don't quite sit right on her arms, the piercings don't fall into the right size proportions as they move closer and further away though all that can be improved with practice. My biggest problem is I feel like I should be critical of that background but waver on whether or not its too busy or too simple. Or maybe both or something else. I'm not sure what constitutes a 'good use' of Paint.net's texture tools and whats lazy. I kind of just randomly fiddled with the basic tools until I got something approximating okay. So I'm rather surprised you liked it. I'm not sure what that means.




Okay I'll change them to thumbnails. You mean just do a bunch of tutorials from the tutorial forum? I guess that would expand my knowledge base, I'm used to getting better by simply correcting mistakes. Fixing whats wrong so that didn't occur to me. I sometimes look at the tutorials when I want something specific. Like I used the fractal ice tutorial to try and make the ice on the Cyrohydra body, though I actually substituted the basic tools for the tools it required, mostly because I'm a bit more familiar with them and also because I didn't want a field of ice but a coat of ice on a single object.


@pdnnoob. I just well, I have no professional interest, I just like using the drawing to assist me in the stories in tell in my D&D campaign. I used to just write large posts of words trying to illustrate the pictures in my head and that just seemed so inadequate so I started to try and literally draw them out. And I just want to get to a point where there is no embarrassment due to low quality. And right now I think my biggest hurdle is the colors themselves, the textures. I have no idea what I'm doing when I go to apply textures and just randomly fiddle with it until its right, but I feel that it could be a lot better especially if I knew what I was doing. Sometimes I think it would be nice if somehow I could combine the pretty and wonderful textures an umm.. not sure what the word is for it but a lot of people on paint.net make big canvas of pretty textures and abstract designs. I think I would like to somehow make stuff like that and use it for my backgrounds and textures combined with the line art.


@Red Ochre. If I go back really for to when I first started drawing, the very first time I picked up a pencil three years ago I see a significant improvement. The improvement in the past two years has been mostly  just small things. I use a dry erase board when I want to practice a drawing before committing it to pencil and paper. It saves me a lot of time and money. You think comparing sketches is different than just comparing the final end products?


Also as for my sources of inspiration you could say, though more like what I originally started drawing as a basis when I started out. Its really embarrassing, but There is this one episode of the Powerpuff girls, a pretty bad episode altogether, but they went to a city where everyone was drawn in a more typically and realistic style, but there was still a lot of the more typically cartoony designs in it and I just really liked the contrast between the two but in the same place.The hard contrast that was easy to notice but somehow didn't wreck the suspension like what happens when live action is mixed with cartoons. Plus they had lots of pretty back ground colors in that series completely.


Another source of inspiration is probably Disney's the Black Cauldron, in that case everything was just so dark and moody and dramatic with practically none of the whimsy of any other Disney film but it still had the Disney artwork.Making an unexpected contradiction I liked.


In addition I really like dramatic artwork like the more recent D&D artwork. No Contrast there but it just looks really cool.


So I'm not sure exactly what I want, but the idea of achieving contrasting and contradicting elements in my drawings does appeal to me. Simple line art but with those pretty and complex looking textures. Somewhat cartoony features but set in serious dramatic or violent scenes.

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Just look, draw and think - repeat. Honest! ;)


try searching shading?... better to look and understand for yourself though!

(I'd be a terrible teacher! - i'd have the kids in tears in no time :D ) - it is well meant, if not what you want to hear.


Red ochre Plugin pack.............. Diabolical Drawings ................Real Paintings



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For me, how you handle the lines and the backgrounds/texture is intentional and it is something like your signature which you of course you can change as you need. When I look at drawings or paintings not everything has to look real and pretty I prefer filling things with my own imagination.


What I would advice you is to use a larger canvas with at least 300 dots per inch. This will help you have better control of your brush and obtain smoother lines when drawing things like the bracelets. Using a mouse to draw lines is not always easy, recently I tried drawing on a school's "Smartboard" and I was surprised how easier it is to draw smooth lines. It felt more natural.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...



This isn't actually how I intended it but for some reason while I was compressing the 39+ layers I had it changed.And I couldn't figure out how to compress it without it changing so I said 'whatever' I tried using all of the advice I was given here.

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Rather than merging layers individually from the top down, you can use "flatten" instead so the image doesn't change.

If you just want a group of layers merged rather than all of them, the method that does the least damage is merging from the bottom up (merge the bottom two layers in the group and repeating instead of starting at the top)

No, Paint.NET is not spyware...but, installing it is an IQ test. ~BoltBait

Blend modes are like the filling in your sandwich. It's the filling that can change your experience of the sandwich. ~Ego Eram Reputo

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Your latest image is fascinating Disgruntled - good work, well done! ;)

Ok, so your drawing skills are not perfect. That doesn't matter to the viewer.
(In all honesty, drawing skills are learnt when you are very young. I suspect there is a genetic component too.
They can become a distraction from the impact of the image though.)

You have produced an image I want to look at and think about... that's the important bit!
When I look at a Vermeer or a Caravaggio, I'm seduced by the beauty and sheer skill.
But when I look at De Chirico or the Surrealists etc., my curiosity is aroused.

Now, what's going on here?
Pentangle, eye, 7 way Menorah shape? (sorry for my ignorance), broken globe, broken light?, road branching only to the right.
Dark silhouette tree & church shape in the middle distance with a river and lollipop trees in the far distance.
... I like unanswered questions!

Good use of textures, perspective and metaphor.

Humble advice: just keep making images and keep looking at the World and art.... there's a whole language of colour and symbolism out there... which no-one understands! :P:D


Red ochre Plugin pack.............. Diabolical Drawings ................Real Paintings



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I was only able to preview few of your images. The ones on top and the one at the bottom of that list and I know what you need improvement on if that's what you're looking for, especially with that randomness you want.


1. Try using the Line/Curve and also Shapes tools to draw because they make finer and straighter lines. You just have to link them to each other to draw things. Its what I do.


2. I see that you often use only one standard line thickness in your drawing so try using lines of varying thickness. Certain objects and parts of a drawing should have different line thickness, however certain elements of a drawing should be uniform. Cartoon characters are also drawn this way.


3. Try using gradients to color individual objects of the image. This should add more depth and texture to individual parts of your image. My technique actually.


4. Minimize the use of effects so they look more subtle.


5. Try looking at Youtube videos as reference. There are terribly difficult steps out there but you only need to borrow a few concepts at first. 


6. For the type of art you do, I'd recommend this Create Opalescent Glass Tutorial. I highly recommend it. The tutorial's author named Lynxster4 has made a terrific job there and has even made a downloadable PDF file of the tutorial as well as install-able shapes that you can install to PDN. These shapes an also help you draw. You'd also see there the awesome effects that happen when you use gradients to color individual sections of your image. The other user submissions on that thread are awesome like those of Pixey.


So take these advice bit by bit and you'd see results. Hope you like them.

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Not sure why this topic has ended up in the Pictorium. I'll move it to paint.net Discussion & Questions.

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@Red Ochre


Thank you, I really mean it. Your positive response has made me feel a lot better. I didn't even realize there was a perspective that would put my drawing in a different more positive light.  And glad to hear especially you thought my use of textures was good as thats the main thing I imagine that I could get advice on from paint.net.




I don't know what you mean by randomness. But okay.


I don't think I understand your advice. Do you mind f I ask questions about it?


@1-2. Like I normally draw with pencil scan it in then finish in paint.net. Because that helps me a lot with perspective. Since when I draw with paint.net I always find myself having to zoom in to just a small piece of the image. But are you saying I should try to learn to draw completely in paint.net?


@3. I've tried using gradients a couple times, though I can't figure out at all how to use them outside of windows and other rather smooth surfaces. I assume you mean the gradiant tool? I guess its because I can't figure out how to get them to work with textures. Like take that road for instance I suppose I should have somehow gradianted it so it got darker or maybe lighter, not sure which, as it approached the horizon line. But I made that road by rendering clouds tightly, leveling it, metalizing it then setting then using color balance. And any number of those steps would have broken the gradiant tooled base color I used. So I just, have no idea how to use gradiants. You have any advice there?


@4. I don't understand this tip. You mean like blur it out more?


@5. Oh I do that, I think. Assuming you mean tutorials. Like I'll think to myself, "Hmm... whats an easy way to make marble texture"  I google "marble paint.net" and sometimes the tutorials are on youtube and sometimes on paint.net's forum.

If so then okay! I'll do that next time. Thanks!

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I thought you were drawing entirely on Paint.NET. I didn't think you were drawing on paper then scanning it then finishing it with Paint.net.


Yes, maybe you should try drawing entirely on Paint.net from start till finish. I think most of use draw out artwork here entirely on PDN>.I recommend you use the Line/Curve tool on bigger areas of the drawing such as arms and limbs because they make straighter lines than the pencil you draw by hand. Try using the pencil tool on Paint.net on smaller areas. Using shapes are fun too. You can draw eyes entirely using the ellipse shape for example. And even if you do draw them on paper, varying line thickness can help but you gotta work on how straightly and finely you draw them.


On my number 4 advise, I meant that you should perhaps stop using these odd backgrounds like what you showed on post #12 of this thread.


Yes, I was referring to the gradient tool and if you look at my number 6 advise, I have a link there that shows an awesome tutorial on how to use gradients on isolated areas of an image. They can really help.

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I'm afraid I disagree with Ishi about 'drawing' totally within Pdn.

Personally, I only do minimal 'drawing' in Pdn (or other software) despite having a Wacom graphics tablet.

My method:

1. Draw on paper*,

2. scan in,

3. modify in Pdn,

4. print out,

5. modify by hand,

6. repeat 2 to 5

Keep different drawn objects on different layers.

*I make use of: graphite pencils, eraser, waterproof fine marker pens, process white ink and coloured pencils.

When printing out, I try to print larger than the intended screen size, rarely print out in colour and often increase the brightness - to use less (expensive) ink.

The brightness can be re-adjusted after scanning back in.

Avoid using ball-point (Biro) pens on tracing paper as the ink dries slowly and can mark the scanner's glass.

These images have parts that use this technique:

http://i.imgur.com/xecRPwQ.jpg http://i.imgur.com/3gSPqC2.jpg http://i.imgur.com/dvQQXFv.png http://i.imgur.com/YXYouAj.png http://i.imgur.com/79Lm3vH.jpg

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Red ochre Plugin pack.............. Diabolical Drawings ................Real Paintings



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All of them ;)  Different techniques work for different artists.


Find an artist you admire and analyze their images. Don't just look at them in admiration, scrutinize little sections and see if you can identify the individual elements, layers & techniques that were used to compose that area.


A little tip: Most of the artists I admire use gradients extensively. There is almost never a flat region of a single color.


Take a look at OnSetRenderInfo above (http://imgur.com/3gSPqC2). This wonderful image uses a glorious array of gradients to create texture and lighting effects.

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I admit I don't have that kind of an eye.  I am not even sure I even know what 'admiring' an artist would be. When I look at a picture its kind of binary with me.


Do I like the subject: Y/N

Do I like the picture: Y/N

Is it better than me? Y/Y


And thats it. I want to improve but I don't want to 'relearn' from scratch. Right now the best advice so far seems to be learn to gradient and learn to draw lines of different thickness. I don't suppose there is a plugin that can detect lines and automatically reduce all lines to a width of 2 pixels.

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You've got an unknown gift. I have seen some of your great work and you just need to keep trying different methods. I am not gifted like these other artists but can I suggest that you try some of the tutorials written by 

these people and you might stumble across something that works for you. I've done tutorials and I am still looking for my method.

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