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EDIT: This is REALLY LONG, so feel free to search for the question you want answered by hitting Ctrl+F to bring up your browser's search function.  Any and all insults contained herein are for comedic purposes only (except when I'm addressing excessively stupid people, in which case, they started it.  I find ignorance offensive.  Even my own).  If it helps, I get tired of being cruel about a quarter of the way in, and although I'm still quite sarcastic after that, I'm at least informative.  You may have better luck just looking at my tutorials.  More pictures, less sarcasm.

My Drawing FAQ AKA The Long-Winded Philosophy Of Pencil Drawings

Q. Can I ask you a quick question?
A. I guess, but make it snappy. I'm pretty busy.

Q. You're just sitting there... and spinning around in your swivel chair.
A. That is not true! I'm also trying to balance a pencil on my lip. Anyway, what may be perceived as staring slack-jawed into space, or gawking at screencaps, is actually brainstorming. Drawings aren't gonna plan themselves.

Q. This isn't a drawing. Did you really draw this?
A. Nope. It was licked onto the paper by kittens.

Q. You're a really good drawer! I thought it was a picture!
A. Thank you, but I strongly dislike being called a drawer, for two reasons:

1. A boxlike storage compartment without a lid, made to slide horizontally in and out of a desk, chest, or other piece of furniture.
2. Underpants.

Also, while I'm being a raging pedant, a drawing is a picture. Both photographs and drawings are kinds of picture.

Q. How are ALL your drawings so good? Don't you ever make mistakes?
A. I don't often, no.  People mostly gush at me, saying  "You can draw anything!!!!1"  but that's not true.  I'll tell you why my drawings are good.  Many people, they look at a photo, and think  "That looks great.  I'll draw it."  But I actually stop to visualise what it would look like drawn by me.  Just 'cause a photo looks good, doesn't mean a drawing of it in your style will.  So I just don't draw anything I know I won't be able to pull off.  Each reference I choose, I carefully consider if it will highlight my strengths, and minimise my weaknesses.

(But you can never really avoid flaws in your work.  It's human.  At best, you can minimise and disguise flaws, to keep them from being mistakes.  And if you're really lucky, you'll be the only person who notices them.)

Q. So you avoid your weaknesses?  That's no way to improve.  You should challenge yourself.
A. I do challenge myself.  Every drawing is a struggle, and therefore a challenge.  But there's a difference between a challenge I can actually do, and one where I ruin a drawing, throw away some expensive paper, and lose the confidence to draw for several weeks.
I don't avoid my weaknesses.  I avoid references that focus on my weaknesses.  If I feel I suck at shading, I don't draw something with no shading.  I just draw something where the shading doesn't matter so much.  Then if I don't do a perfect job, the drawing can still turn out well, and I still get practice with the stuff I'm not so great at.

Also, do you see me not improving?  Have you looked through my gallery?  I never delete old artwork, so you can see the improvement - which, may I say, is humongous.  I'm at a point where I'm satisfied with my skill level, so people telling me I need to focus on improvement is a little insulting.  I don't want to base my choice of reference around what'll help me improve the fastest.  I have this little thing I like to call patience, so I'd prefer to let it happen naturally.

(I don't really keep old works up just so people can see the improvement.  I'm too lazy to organise my gallery;  I don't know where to draw the line between stuff that's good enough to be there, and stuff that isn't.  Plus, I felt proud enough when I drew it to put it on display.  I want to have the integrity to be fair to my past self and say she still deserves her work to be seen.)

Q. Can you draw, like, not from a photo?
A. Of course I can.  Just get Jensen Ackles to sit in front of me, still as a statue, for forty hours.  No problem.
Or alternatively, go look in my manga gallery folder.  That's what it looks like when I don't draw from photos.
I draw from photos because I love my favourite musicians, my favourite actors, and my favourite fictional characters, as portrayed by my favourite actors. I love the image, and want to learn it by heart by recreating it, generally with my own twist involving high saturation, high contrast, and graphic composition.

Original artwork involves a completely different skill set, that I would have to learn from scratch.  The number of years it'd take to develop those skills isn't remotely worth it, because I don't give a crap about it.  Life's far too short.  I have so many interests, so many "One day I'll learn to _" and so little time to indulge them.  It'd be a waste of a life to learn a skill I don't value.

I physically cannot create artwork I don't care about.  Without passion, it wouldn't be art.  It'd just be an exercise.
In summary, if you love original artwork so much, why don't you marry it.

Q. Are all your answers going to be sarcastic?
A. Dunno lol. Are all your questions gonna be so intellectually stimulating?

Q. Why waste your time on fanart, if you could do real art?
A. You can't always expect to understand different tastes or interests to yours.  If someone likes something you don't like, do you think they're wrong?

Just because certain styles of art don't reach you emotionally, that doesn't mean it's not art.  I'm not crazy about Fauvism, but I'm certainly not arrogant enough to declare to the world that it's factually NOT ART, just because I'm not receptive to it.  I have the self-awareness to realise the problem is with me, not with the artwork.  It wouldn't kill you to do the same.

Fanart is not a new genre.  It's not a fad.  Picasso painted the celebrities of his time.  The renaissance masters painted Biblical figures, and not long before that they painted deities from various pantheons (the myths were the favourite stories of the time, much the same as TV or movies today).  Before the invention of the camera, the masters used camera obscura and camera lucida to project images onto the canvas, and traced them.  Da Vinci dug up dead bodies to make anatomical sketches, and many of his works are based on those sketches.  The most famous artists in history knew that in realism, you should do whatever's necessary to make your work accurate.  If they had photos, they probably would have copied them.

If you think the reason fanart isn't art is because it's shallow, think again.  Everyone I know is very passionate about their fandom(s).  It's sort of our raison d'etre.  I think about mine all day.  In fact, out of every possible subject, it's what I'm most passionate about.  Hence drawing the same people over and over.  I could happily draw Dean Winchester until the cows come home.  Then I could draw the cows.

And if you think fanart (or any realism, for that matter) isn't art if it's copied from an existing image, why?  What about photomanipulation, or collage? Do they still get to be art?  If I own the reference photo, it's all still my work, so is it art NOW?  If I burn the negative after I use it, so the drawing is the only copy of that image in existence, is it art NOW?

And if it's not art because it's copied from a COPYRIGHTED IMAGE?  That's a legal issue, not an art issue.  Copyright was made so that people wouldn't take advantage, but I don't think drawing a copy of something detracts from the original in any way.  Drawings are not mass produced, and when you sell one, you're paid for the time and work that went into it, not the copyrighted image it's based on.  Unfortunately, unless the owner is accessible, you simply can't get permission to use most references.  And yet, we do endeavour to get permission for use.  I actually mailed Misha Collins to ask if I could draw his photos, and he said as long as I send him the drawings (hah.  I sent him one... So far).

Art is art.  Some is good art, some is bad art.  There are no good or bad art genres, movements, mediums, or styles.  There can be good and bad examples WITHIN those styles, but all styles are equally valid.  Feel free to have favourites, that's only natural.  It's also natural for there to be certain styles you hate.  But don't be so arrogant, ignorant and self-important that you actually believe your tastes are the only correct ones.

Q. In some of your drawings, you only use a tiny corner of the paper.  If you wanted to draw something small, why didn't you use a smaller piece of paper?
A.  Because the empty space around the subject is part of the image.  This is part of what's called "composition".  Not every subject looks best taking up the entire page.  Even after you know what you want to draw, there are still lots of options for how to draw it.  Choosing the most effective composition to bring out the subject is part of what makes a good drawing great.

Q. Will you draw something for me?
A. This may surprise you, but spending 40 hours doing a favour for some stranger on the internet is not my main job.  However, although I don't normally do requests, it never hurts to ask, so go ahead and let me know who or what you'd like to see drawn, and I'll see what I can do.

Q. Will you teach me to draw?
A. Also not my main job to tutor people on the internet for free.  I'll spend a few minutes answering questions, but I'm not gonna coach you or anything.  I rarely give critique because I'm not good at expressing myself, and I don't really know anything about art aside from being familiar with my own process.  Aside from making the odd tutorial, I don't think I have much to teach anyone.

Q. How did you get so good?
A. My wicked friends will tell you I sold my soul to a crossroads demon in return for ten long years of artistic talent. This, however, is an evil slanderous joke (or is it?).

I'm self-taught.  In middle school I took a remedial art class - but my teacher didn't teach us anything.  For instance, he neglected to mention that sketching pencils have more than one grade.  Learning from just one teacher can be more of a hindrance than a help.  You may end up making all the same mistakes they make, or just learning of fictitious limits and thus imposing them on yourself and your work.  Plenty of people tell me it's not possible to draw like I draw.

Most people, if they have a teacher who tells them a particular effect isn't possible, they will never try it, and won't make the improvements they would have otherwise.  Personally, if someone tells me "You can't do that", my instinctive response is "OH YEAH? WATCH ME."  I always want to try it anyway just to prove them wrong.  I practice, experiment, and look at a lot of tutorials by a lot of different artists, so that I can take the best advice from each.

Q. Do you have any tips for me?
A. Be more specific.  Otherwise I don't know what kind of tips you're looking for, do I?  When people ask this vague question, I go to their gallery to see if they have any obvious weaknesses, and more often than not, their gallery is EMPTY, or only has a few pieces in it.  It's very hard to advise you without seeing examples of your abilities.
Wait, actually I do have a tip for you:  Don't eat yellow snow.

Q. You're not being very encouraging.
A. Oh, I'm sorry.  *Ahem* BE THE BALL.  Wax on, wax off. What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve!  Go deviant, it's your birthday!  Stake it! Stake it UK!  ...Is that better? What am I, your pep squad? Am I here to hold your little hand and wipe your little tooshie?

To be serious for a sec, though, I think ANYONE can get ANYWHERE in art through hard work and practice.  Some people have more natural talent, but that's just a slightly better jumping off point.  Having talent (or even hard-earned skill) doesn't make it easy by any stretch - I still have to work my tits off like everyone else.  And I still have drawings that turn out like crap (in between the masterpieces, of course.)

I've taken the liberty of devising a handy schedule for artists wanting to improve their skills:
Monday: draw eat
Tuesday: draw sleep
Wednesday: draw draw
Thursday: eat draw
Friday: draw draw
Saturday: eat draw
Sunday: eat draw sleep

Practice makes perfect. It's not just an expression, like "I love you" or "Your cheque is in the mail". This one is factually true. And hard work builds character. I've been practising for years and years, and I have character coming out of my butt.

Seven years ago, I SUCKED.  Now I'm AWESOME.  People WORSHIP me.  And yes, it feels good, and it's been worth it because I love to draw.  Aim high.  You can draw like this.  Eventually.  The only question is: Do you want it bad enough to put in the time and work?

Think:  Do you love to draw, or do you love being praised for a drawing?  If only the latter, then maybe you should keep looking until you find something you love to do.  Get good at it, get praised WHILE doing something that makes you happy.  Just doing something for respect isn't worth it.  Or maybe I just don't give a crap what people think.  If you're attracted to the aesthetic of being an artist, but don't truly enjoy drawing, there are plenty of other ways to be creative.  Keep looking, and keep trying new things.

Q. But I practice all the time, and my drawings aren't getting better.
A.  Are you sure about that?  Some of the time improvement shows in the end result, but for long stretches of time it's only the process that improves.  You may have refined techniques, or you're working slightly faster, or something's slightly easier.  Maybe you know more intuitively what pencils to use, what colours will look good together.  You're training your mind to be artistic and your eyes to be analytical, breaking down everything you see just like you would if you were drawing it.  You're training your hand to cooperate. The pencil is now an extension of your arm.  It is not the spoon that bends.  It is only yourself.

Q. I wreck every drawing I work on.
A. As long as they're not commissions, it doesn't really matter.  Just because a project doesn't turn out the way you intended, doesn't mean it's ruined.  Sometimes art just has a mind of its own, and disagrees with the artist about how it should look.  And if you're REALLY struggling, that just means you're trying to draw things that are beyond your skill level, in which case, the amount you'll learn from the project makes up for the fact that it may end up looking like crap.  Personally, I have to draw a person several times before I feel like it actually LOOKS like them.  It happens.

Q. Tools?
A. A 12-set of cheap graphite sketching pencils - I generally use about half in each drawing.
A 150-set of Prismacolor pencils, imported.
A 120-set of Faber-Castell Polychromos.
A 36-set of Derwent watercolour pencils. For occasional use only - if I only get the pigment damp, not wet, I can use it in tiny areas, for opaque overlay (highlights) instead of using negative space with my Prismas.
A blending stump - Only occasionally, and rarely for skin.  Mostly for soft-focus backgrounds that should be smooth.
A metal sharpener.
Two different eraser pens - which I received as gifts from Cataclysm-X and letseewhatwegothere.  But hardly ever for highlights, unless my highlight turned grey while I worked.  I tend to just use erasers for mistakes.
A clean balm-free tissue</b> to keep between my hand and the drawing - keeps me from smudging it or getting the paper damp from my skin.
Thick paper - I haven't used printer paper in years.  It warps and tears.  I use smooth white bristol board or off-white cartridge paper, depending on what better suits the image.

Bristol board is mostly too smooth for colour pencils. Not much pigment will stick, so the colours can look pale and washed out. It's best for graphite. However, if you're having trouble blending smoothly with coloured pencils, Bristol board may be worth a shot.
Cartridge paper is really rough (in fact, it was originally designed for ammunition casings, not drawing) so it has enough tooth to build up a thick layer of pigment, and the colours will pop... if you can blend smooth enough.

For me, the perfect paper for coloured pencils has enough tooth to build up a generous layer of pigment, and is fluffy enough to mash down with the pencils and blend smoothly.  When shopping for paper, find thick flexible paper, and dent a sheet with your fingernail. The deeper the indentation, the fluffier the paper is.  If you can't make a mark, it's probably too dense for my taste.

When buying expensive paper:  see if it works out cheaper to buy a pad twice as big as you need  (eg. A3 instead of A4)  and then cut each sheet in half.  You'll get twice as many sheets as if you'd bought the smaller pad, but it may only cost a couple more £.

Q. How do you get anatomy and proportion accurate?
A. If it's a portrait of a celebrity, or someone specific, and you need to attain likeness, you pretty much need a reference photo.  No amount of art-class, or anatomy practice, will help you get this right, without a photo (or several) of the person to look at while you draw (unless you're an absolute master).  You must get proportion right.  Think about it:  when most people draw their first ever portrait, they only draw outlines. Just lines. The face, the facial features, the hair, and then they call it done. Because proportion is the most important part.  It's the only thing absolutely necessary for a portrait.  Everything else is optional.

I never use grids, or tracing.  I've seen plenty of artists whose work I respect say they use one or the other, so as far as I'm concerned, do what you like.  Tracing is OBVIOUSLY easier, but a lot of people will tell you it's cheating.  I think it's a grey area, what is or isn't cheating in art.  As long as you let people know your methods, I don't see what the problem is.  Every artist probably has methods they'd feel guilty or uncomfortable about using.  So do what you're comfortable with, but try not to judge others by your own "moral" standards.

I'm good enough at placing everything by now that I use colour pencil for colour drawings (something that won't stand out when the drawing's done, and press LIGHT), but if I think I'll need to keep changing it, I use a sketching pencil with a medium soft lead (e.g. 2B) and make light, barely visible marks where all the important parts are, like outline of the chin, hairline, and facial features.  If it's too complicated to eyeball, I use a pencil or ruler (I may even use a protractor for distance and angles) to measure everything on the reference photo, and copy it.

When I think I'm done, I place the drawing over the reference (assuming they're the same size - the ref needs to be big enough for the details to be visible) and hold it up to the light.  If things are in the right place, I move on to the next step.  If not, I make adjustments.  If you get tired of this step, and move on to do spectacular shading and intricate details...  the drawing will look weird as hell, 'cause you didn't get the subject's proportions right.

Q. How do you shade in graphite?
A. The key to shading in realism is contrast.  I start by desaturating my reference photo, if I'm using graphite.  It usually becomes flat, grey and muddled when it's suddenly in monotone. This is because a colour image has both tone and hue for variation. Now suddenly it only has tone. So I play with the curves in photoshop, and waken the contrast up, but try to be careful the features and shadows showing facial contours still show.  You may notice in my graphite drawings, I focus on using black and white, with just a few grey tones in between.  I love the high-contrast look.

I shade dark to light on white paper - doing this, you immediately set the tonal extremes (pitch black and bright white), making it easier to accurately place every grey tone between.  I always desaturate a ref I'm gonna draw in graphite, 'cause as well as the colour ref shows variation, it's hard to know exactly what tone to translate a hue to.

Many people use a soft leaded pencil for the whole thing and just press lighter in places then blend it all over the place. I never, ever do this, because it can give a rough texture to the shading. I use pencils the exact right hardness, and press down just as hard with each of them.

If you use long pencil strokes, they'll probably be visible in the end product, and people will be able to see it's a drawing a mile off.  So, I use tiny circular motions (google circulism.  And yeah, it takes a while to get used to it, but then it's pretty much automatic) and then in going over and over the same space, the strokes cover eachother up, and they're barely visible.

I try to make my shading as neat as possible, even if I'm planning on using blending tools after.  The neater it looks now, the neater it'll look when I'm done.  Blending tools will only do so much.  YOU HAVE TO DO THE REST YOURSELF.  (And besides, if you start learning to use colour pencils later, you'll soon realise being messy doesn't cut it when you have only the pencils themselves to blend with.)  Like I said, I start with the black, and keep adding lighter tones until everything gradates smoothly as possible.

If it's still a little messy after, I use my hardest pencil and shade over all but the lightest grey and white parts.  It usually evens out slight variations in tone, without taking away the texture like a blending stump would.

I'm very selective with which areas I choose to use a blending tool for.  I think a drawing should have all kinds of textures, like a photo, and the best chance of that is if they're rendered using just the pencils.
So I only blend what should be really smooth, and only after making the pencil strokes there as neat as possible - smooth enough that it could just be left that way, as if I were planning on not blending at all.  Otherwise, even after blending, you can see the messy pencil strokes that were there before.

I also use a blending stump on its own (without using a pencil to shade there first), for smooth, very light grey areas.  I rub a pencil end onto the stump, then draw with the stump.
If the delicate light shades get a little too dark, I dab it with the eraser end of a mechanical pencil.  Don't rub!  Blot, like a stippling motion.

This is important:  Please don't ever use your fingertips to blend.  The oils in your skin will contribute to the paper degrading over time;  and they also stain the paper, and make the shading uneven, grimy, and difficult to erase.  You should really use a tool instead, even if it's just a tissue folded over your fingertip.

Q. How do you get your blacks so black?
A. I use a soft-leaded pencil for the darkest areas, like an 8B. Then I spray the drawing with fixative so more graphite will stick, and then I photoshop after scanning.  My scanner's an Epson Stylus DX4450, and it's usually great, but it always ruins graphite blacks.  They're shiny and reflective.  So I open the file in photoshop, duplicate the Background layer twice, set one to Multiply %30-40, and one to Soft Light %30-40.  Fiddle with those settings, 'cause it'll be different for each drawing.  If there's a warped area, I use the Burn tool to fix it.

Q. Wait, you edit your drawings in photoshop? Isn't that cheating?
A. Yes, dear.  It's cheating to try to make your drawings look good.
Honestly, there's no such thing as cheating, unless you're dishonest about your methods.  Not even tracing is cheating, as long as you tell people that's how you did it.  The only reason I don't do stuff like that, is it cheats you out of developing skill in that area.  I fix up my scans because scanners really aren't designed for fine art.  They wreck it.  I work long and hard on my drawings, and I sure as hell want to present them in the best possible way.
With colour drawings, the only photoshopping I ever do is resize, remove scanner dust (using a tiny brush and the clone tool) and sharpen the details.
Colour drawings usually don't need very much retouching.  But graphite ones invariably do.

Q. How do you use colour?
A. Any way you want.  Beginners tend to stick to flesh colours (PEACH), but the truth is you can use any colours you like, as long as you use them consistently throughout the whole drawing.  Then it'll look like it was intentional, well thought out, and people will be telling you how creative you are.  Pay attention to different colours in the reference;  this sounds so obvious, but colour reflects off objects, and especially skin.  Shadows may be two different colours depending on which side of the face they fall.

I tend to pick colours of differing hues and tones, and use them in order from dark to light, blending the darkest into the edge of the black, the second darkest into that, and so on until I get to the white (just like with graphite).  A palette I often use is black, navy blue, royal blue, red-brown, peach, cream, and white.

Don't get me wrong;  there's nothing wrong with just using regular flesh tones -  but in my opinion, it takes quite a bit of skill to make the result look realistic rather than stylised and cartoony.

Q. How do you make details look real?
A. I print the reference big enough that I can properly examine the details.  I can't copy what I can't see.  I keep my pencils dangerously sharp, so they can handle details the size of their tip.  And I don't use blending tools on details at all.  The sharper I keep it, the more realistic it'll look.  Luckily they're usually small, so I never have to use many different pencils to get a realistic tonal variation.

Q. How do you draw hair?
A. Strand by strand.  I'm not even kidding.  Every single tiny shadow in the reference, I try to add to the drawing.  But the number one tip is: beginners draw hair from root to tip, in long, flowing lines.  It often doesn't look like this in the reference.  The lines are broken up by clumps and strands weaving in and out all over the place.  You rarely see any strand visible from root to tip.

Just like the shading in the rest of the drawing, I start with the darker shadows.  These are usually at the roots, or between larger clumps of hair.  If I'm struggling to add detail like single strands, I start at the hairline and around the face, because that's where they're most noticeable.  (Plus they're technically part of the face here.  And everyone knows drawing the face is the fun part, right? 8D) Also, I don't use erasers for hair.  I use negative space and draw around light strands.

Q. Doesn't that take ages?
A. Do I seriously look like I have a quick way of doing these things?  I submit like twelve drawings per year, if that.  Notice stuff.
So many people ask me why their drawings suck, and then admit they rush them most of the time.  And so many people ask me for advice, then say "Oh.  That'd take ages.  Forget it then."  If you know ways to improve your work, but you think they'd take too much time or effort, you don't need advice.  You don't need tips.  You need to consider how much you care about your work and whether or not you want to improve.

So, yeah. Damn straight, it takes ages. Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done well?  By the time you get to the point where I am, where a normal drawing takes 30-40 hours, you're used to it.  Patience is a skill you learn like any other.  As you gradually build up a habit of using different techniques, you gradually take longer to finish a drawing.

But, if you know you're rushing it, there's no need to jump right in and decide you're gonna spend 40 hours on the next one.  You can say you'll spend an extra 15 minutes on whatever your weak point is, for example.  Or even pull out all the stops and use every skill at your disposal, but on a much smaller drawing so it won't take so long.

Q. How do you erase coloured pencil?
A. NEVER EVER MAKE MISTAKES WITH COLOURED PENCIL.  But if you do, try using blu-tack or kneaded eraser.  StephsDA recommended frisket film to me, but I don't even know what that is, so I can't recommend it (I take advice!  Just haven't gotten around to googling it).  She said you put it over the drawing, and press through it with a pencil, and the pigment should lift right off the paper.

Q. How do you keep those rogue specks of pigment from sticking to your drawings?
A. AureliaACC told me she uses blu-tack to remove the specks! I would trust her judgement.

My own answer: Well, first of all:  remember to wipe the pencil you're using clean, before you put it back down.  Otherwise you'll accidentally draw with a white pencil that has black spots on the tip.
I have a pencil-that's-really-an-eraser, and it has a stiff brush on one end to brush away eraser dust without smudging the drawing.  I only use the brush end.  It's good for pigment dust.  But sometimes it sticks anyway.  So I try to erase it, and then do one of two things:

1) If the colour's not too dark, I draw over it and press friggin' HARD (how hard? The same as I usually colour, hard enough to completely disguise the texture of the paper, so no white spots are left), push the pencil around over it for a while.  The purpose is to blend it, diluting the pigment so it doesn't look so out of place.  Then I erase again (or even scrape it off with my fingernail), and there should be enough pigment now on that area for most of it to erase.  What's left should be a pale version of what you're going to put there later anyway.

2) If it's a dark colour or black, I ignore what's left of it and complete the drawing.  Then, I grab my 36-set of watercolour pencils, pick the one that's closest to the colour of the surrounding area (think concealer), lick the end of the pencil slightly (damp but not wet) and dab it onto the speck to disguise it.

Q. You lick your watercolour pencils?! GROSS!
A. Oh, please.  It's just a bit of paint, and it barely tastes of anything.  If you're that picky about what you're willing to put in your mouth, you'll never have a social life. (OH SNAP.)

Q. Do you draw under natural lighting?
A.  I used to be really anal about that, yes.  I'd never draw after it got dark.  Especially when drawing from life, switching lighting in the middle of a project can make it look odd when you're finished, because you're not seeing the colours the same way.
But now I tend to pick out the pencils I'll use before I get started, so I can't fuck up and use the wrong colour just because the lighting is affecting my colour vision.  So I just draw whenever, and with my angle-poise lamp on at all times, unless it's especially sunny (which it never is, because British weather is so cloudy and rainy that vampires can safely frolic through the streets in the middle of the day).
Recently I got a daylight bulb (google it!), which is about 6000 kelvin. It's very bright white light. It doesn't change the hue of a drawing, so I can work with colour even at night.

Q. Why do you leave it so long between submissions?
A. I'm prone to art-blocks that last for months at a time. I also have various health problems (Crohn's disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, and clinical depression, to name but a few) so I'm usually too sick or too tired to draw.  When I can draw, I really take my time.  It takes ages to finish a drawing.  So if I haven't posted anything in a while, it's because I'm working on the next masterpiece.  Not because I'm off having a life somewhere.  I'LL NEVER LEAVE YOU, dA.

Q. Even if you're sick, can't you draw at least a little each day?
A. Have you ever been too tired to do something?  If you can think back to your past experiences, and then use them to understand other people, that's called empathy.  It's an attractive quality in a human.

Q. Are you mad at me?
A. Occasionally.  I love you all dearly, but it can be tiring to be misunderstood.  I really appreciate it when people can't wait to see my next drawing.  It makes me feel like I'm missed when I'm not here.  I want to make something clear:  I've wanted to be an artist since the first time I was asked that question as a little kid.  I never gave any other answer.  I'm never going to stop drawing, and my friends and the community on dA are one main motivation.  So even if you have to wait a while, I will always submit something new.  And I'll try new things...  but only if they really interest me.  Hopefully I'll never bore you with the same stuff over and over.  I promise you, even when I'm too sick to draw, I'm drawing in my head.  To the casual observer it may look like I'm asleep, but it's actually a strict meditative technique.  That noisy breathing you hear isn't snoring, it's actually a mantra.  I'm chanting  "I will finish this drawing and put it on dA,"  over and over, in Wookiee.

Q. What's Wookiee?
A. That is far and away the dumbest fucking question I have ever heard. It doesn't even deserve a response.
Whole entire thing is tl;dr, so feel free to search for keywords (by hitting Ctrl+F).

This is a work-in-progress, constantly updated, that I moved here from my journal.
A lot of this stuff requires a picture tutorial, not just a wall of text. If anything's unclear,
let me know. If my language is too harsh, let me know. I fully intend to continue editing
and improving this thing as time goes on.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I tried to be civil to everyone except the dumb people and
lazy people. And you're neither, right? Right? So there's no need to get your panties in a
bunch, shweetheart. I was also pretty harsh with people too lazy to practice, and people
too ignorant to have respect for art genres other than their own.

It does come naturally to me (possibly because I have social anxiety disorder, so when
asked questions I just want to hide in a hole and never come out. So abrasive language
may be my insurance against people ever wanting to talk to me), and I don't mean to
offend. Mostly. I use a lot of tough love, and a lot of encouragement, but I will not baby
you. If you want to be coddled, and have your skill set handed to you on a plate, you've
come to the wrong person.


When people ask me questions, I occasionally link them here, but most of the time I
just talk their ears off until they find an excuse to leave. I take it as a compliment
when people want advice, or just want to compare notes on technique.


I shouldn't bitch at people who are trying to learn, but I can't stand it when people think
there must be some faster or easier way to do things. There usually isn't. But we don't
create art because it's quick and easy. If that were the case, photoshop would render
traditional media obsolete, and photography would render realism and portraiture obsolete.


It really irritates me when people say they hate ignorance, yet when asked questions,
they just insult people instead of giving simple straight answers. Like, if you hate
ignorance so much, why punish people's attempt at learning? It's just hypocritical.

So I'm sorry if it seems like that's what I'm doing here. It's annoying to be asked
questions you know the person could have just googled, but I do my best to inform.
After a fashion.

:bulletpink: my drawing space:

:bulletpink: my coloured pencil tutorial:

:bulletpink: my guide to choosing colour palettes:

:bulletpink: and my other tutorials and WIPs: [link]

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faizazm Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2015   Traditional Artist
I love this. Most helpful FAQ I've ever read.
amarantechii Featured By Owner May 20, 2013
"Most people, if they have a teacher who tells them a particular effect isn't possible, they will never try it, and won't make the improvements they would have otherwise. Personally, if someone tells me "You can't do that", my instinctive response is "OH YEAH? WATCH ME." I always want to try it anyway just to prove them wrong. I practice, experiment, and look at a lot of tutorials by a lot of different artists, so that I can take the best advice from each."

i seriously love you for this.
Crimefish Featured By Owner May 20, 2013
:lmao: Thank you. And thank you for reading it that closely! I swear I don't mean to be this way, but my instinct is always to disobey.
amarantechii Featured By Owner May 21, 2013
it's a great thing, i also decided to look at your gallery from the beginning till todays drawings, and i have to say, i think your instinct is really helpful xD you've improved so damn much! u go girl! :P (btw, especially with a teacher saying "no" to almost everything, i know how that feels, that's also the reason why i really liked what you wrote down :)
InspiredByYouArt Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!!! I've just spent quite a while reading this and all your other tutorials, and I have learned so much. I've been trying to learn how to use colored pencils and get better at graphite, and I think it will be quite helpful. I just have to slow down! I get so impatient especially with clothing and hair.

And I loved the humor/sarcasm in this. Don't ever change :).
lilybookworm Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
This is seriously the best FAQs pages I have ever read. I have this Favorited because it is so wonderful.
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
oh noooo.. that much to read!

will come back later today...
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
:lmao: Yeah, sorry about that.
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
I'm sorry.. I had to stop..

it's too long and I can't stand a text that long with these negative expressions against the interviewer..
sorry again, it's how I've felt the words right now..
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Oh, don't apologise! I don't expect others to share my sense of humour. In the description I encouraged people to use the search function, since most people will find it too long to be read from start to finish.
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
sorry, I missed reading the description although I also use them very often and my 'art' sometimes isn't standalone..

I do hope more of the users/artists would read the descriptions and are not that ignorant...

'it's got to be perfect...' ;)
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Haha, no problem whatsoever. It surprises me that anyone reads it, especially since one has to scroll down so far. I think dA should have an option to put the description above the the deviation, at least with long written works... or I should add a short intro, until such time as I'm in a cheerful enough mood to edit the FAQ completely.
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
it's not easy to get an suggestion for dA done.. but you can try at the forum.

and yes, I think now it's better.. :)
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012
I just realize I often have this 'hard' and 'confrontive' humor and now I think it can be very dangerous for a good relation to people if carried too far... :shrug:
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012
You're definitely right about that. When I meet someone whose company I find tedious, I do my best not to talk to them at all ("If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"); but this doesn't extend to if they pursue me without any encouragement, for instance asking me repeated questions. I'd rather be honest, and then they'll hopefully realise we're not compatible, and go away. That way, I don't find myself friends with someone I don't like, and they don't find themselves friends with someone who doesn't appreciate them.

I have social anxiety disorder, so confrontation triggers panic attacks. I can definitely relate to people being unfriendly or otherwise unbearable, which is why I do my best to avoid becoming friends with them in the first place. When someone doesn't mind abrasive humour, I generally assume they're of a similar mind, or are laid-back enough not to be naturally confrontational. These are the kind of people I can get along with, relax and be myself with, and perhaps embark on a friendship with.

Long story short, it's a defence mechanism carefully designed to drive people away. I don't relate well to many people, for many reasons, my humour being just one of them.
DaWonderer Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
I'm sorry if my comments are too confrontational. I know how disorder can be - it wasn't meant to hurt you..

thanks for taking time, I learned something...
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
God no, not you, sweetie! ME. :( I meant to say I'm harsh because I'm oversensitive, not because I'm insensitive. Maybe I speak to people that way in an effort to desensitise myself, so that it doesn't shock me so much when other people do it. But sadly I do it so often that now it just comes naturally, and I hardly realise I'm doing it.

So thank you for reminding me. After your comment I had to ask my friends if I ever speak to them that way, and they said I do it all the time, only mostly they find it humorous and honest rather than hurtful. I think I need to start paying better attention to what I say. :XD:

(Of course, it always helps to remember that a friendly person isn't always a good person, and vice versa. Hitler was very popular, charismatic, and had a lot of friends.)
(1 Reply)
SandraSaar Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hah, this is by far the most amusing thing i've ever read. :rofl:
And educating. Thanks a ton! :)
Crimefish Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012
Thanks! :lol: Thank you for taking the time to read it. It touches me in my special place.
SandraSaar Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Of course, why wouldn't i want to... :D
Ooh. :eyes:
M0NY11 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THE SARCASM LEVEL IS TOO DAMN HIGH!! but interesting as a powerful character..
Crimefish Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2012
I'm sorry!! ^^; I actually edited it and REMOVED a lot of the sarcasm that I had originally put in there. I'm afraid if I changed any more, it just wouldn't sound like me any more.
M0NY11 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Leave that way, you have an interesting daring personality which is unique
Sierra-la Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
This is honestly the best FAQ ever. It was helpful at times and at others just plain hilarious. People have a tendency to ask some very stupid questions, and even though it could come off rude and bitchy I think that these are the best possible answers.
Crimefish Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
Thank you. :XD:
I tried to type out the first reaction that came to mind, so that the answers were as honest as possible. Even if it comes off really rude at times. I FEEL LIKE SUCH A HORRIBLE PERSON. I really want to encourage people who are trying to learn all they can, but some people are just so lazy. -_____- It's depressing.
Sierra-la Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Ha ha don't worry! It's very clear that it's sarcasm. You would have to be an idiot to take all that seriously. :XD:
Crimefish Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012
Sierra-la Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Have you encountered any idiots so far?
Crimefish Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012
Aside from myself? No. Not since writing the FAQ. :XD:
Sierra-la Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
It takes a real idiot to create that great of art. :)
LonnyClouser Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
LOVE this!!
ChaosAcathla Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this, I think most artist and aprticullarly ones that do fan art feel like making a file like this at some point. I get the 'Teach me' one a lot and often they aren't even polite about it, just demanding!

Anyway, this made me chuckle so thank you!
jaefosho Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
<ub>What fixative do you use? And do you put a final layer on your drawings after you've finished them? I'd really appreciate it if you could answer my question, I've heard quite a few horror stories about what fixative can do to drawings and I'd like to know some good brands. Please and thank you! (:
Crimefish Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
I use this: [link] And yes, I always add a finishing coat after I finish the drawing. I only use fixative spray on graphite and powdery media, never on coloured pencil. I tested it on colour pencil (not a drawing, just a sheet of paper I'd scribbled on) and it made a layer of shiny goop on top.

This spray doesn't appear to change the tones of the drawing, but may leave small droplets in places. It doesn't leave big grease marks like some do.

To be honest, I haven't seen a lot of difference between brands. As long as you're not using hairspray or something (which some people do) and you shake the can well, and spray into the air to clear droplets before spraying the drawing... it should work fine. Though I'm no expert.
shifugicanaru Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
lol. love the sarcastic attitude here :)
jessi-with-crunch Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2011
lolololol in wookie
Rockinfroggi Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2011
This is a work of art in itself and very much in my style of humour.:giggle:
I won't blow smoke up your back bottom as you already know how good you are and have more (hard earned) talent in your little finger than I have in my entire body.:fart:

I can empathise with the health thing though and get frustrated at not even being able to focus on reading my post let alone drawing. Your positive attitude is inspiring, your humour amusing and your art work stunning, keep up the good work. :iconsquishhugplz:
briannam7900 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
luved this :3
hyujin9 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
The-Strynx Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Student General Artist
I have another question: Do you have any tips on making such a funny FAQ?
vigiliae Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011
great faq! i think you're a super talented artist and i'm definitely planning on using these tips on my next drawing. thanks so much :)
verkoka Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
ahah that's too funny, those sarcastic answers XD
take care ^^
E-tane Featured By Owner May 12, 2011
Pencil-Stencil Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hahaha :D this is brilliant :meow: no need to explain further.

and the one sentence i love THE most, is the last one of your disclaimer.
"I should have answered with something about, "Looking through your comment, I see you troll a lot. I understand it's important to do something you enjoy, but don't you think your time would be better spent dying in a fire instead?"

I just recently read a journal about famous artists using photographs for drawings and paintings, and if there weren't cameras, they used camera obscura.

also, there is one quote i usually like to paste to anyone who thinks their crappy manga outlines are real art, especially compared to my copies of photos, and that is:
"The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
princess0dolores Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Best FAQ I've ever read. I love it.
And I love your drawings, about 3 years ago their inspired me to try drawing realistic portraits. Thank you.
ispaure Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for your tips. I'm also going to be having -like Bloodpassion- a summer vacation of drawing, drawing drawing.

I really want to improve my skills and I don't care how much time it'll take. My current goal is the same as when you started drawing: 1 DRAWING PER DAY!! ;)
Zhifay Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2011
Could you tell me how many hours a day did you practice before you became this good? I usually practice 1,5-2 hours per day, more on weekends and when I have the time. Do you think that is enough:?
Crimefish Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2011
For the first year or two, I worked on small and simple drawings (yet they were as complex as my skill level allowed) so I worked for 2 or 3 hours and finished one per day. That was my aim. One drawing each day. The last couple years, my health doesn't allow me to draw every day. So when I can draw (usually about 3 days in a row, then no more for a week or two), a session lasts about 6-8 hours.

Any practice at all will make you improve, but if you want to improve faster, you definitely have to draw every day. To learn a musical instrument, you need to work on it at least 20 minutes per day, and I'd say the same thing about drawing. So 1.5-2hrs is great. :XD: Keep it up if you can, but if you find yourself becoming too busy for whatever reason, try to make sure you still practice a little each day. That's much better than not practising all week, then practising for 4 hours at the weekend or whatever.
Zhifay Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2011
Wow, thank you for your long answer!:aww:
I do draw every day, if I know I will be busy I do some in class or in the intervals too, and at home as well. I can't finish a drawing every day, since I make portraits, and each of them is like, 8-9 hours. But I feel that I improve, I was just curious about how much practice did you do, so thanks for your great response!:hug:
disdaindespair Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i think i love you... ;)
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