3 Art Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Would you like to know the 3 art mistakes I see most often from my students? I wanted to share some quick tips with you about the art mistakes I see in beginner artworks. I will show you how to avoid these art mistakes like the plague.

These are the kinds of things I go over in much more detail in my Smart Art Academy course, so if you haven't had a chance to grab it, make sure you sign up here!

Ok, so let's go into number one:

Mistake 1: Starting with no idea

When I was a beginner, and I wanted to start a new painting, the blank white canvas would sometimes appear quite daunting. If I would go at it with no idea in my head or no direction at all of where I wanted the painting to go, it was hard to actually start filling the canvas with something meaningful and I would just get frustrated and shut off Photoshop.

Solution: An important thing to do before starting to paint is to have an idea in your head before starting your painting.

You might say that you want to paint a female humanoid sea creature, and that’s great – you don’t have to know exactly how that sea creature would look, but you at least have an idea and direction. This will help tremendously when starting a new painting and brainstorming your ideas when sketching out your concepts.

Another thing you can do is to check some inspiration sources on similar things to the concept you want to create. If it’s a humanoid female sea creature, look at female anatomy, maybe fish scales, dolphin skin and fins, and so on. Perhaps the creature has lobster-like claws.

All of this will help you sketch out ideas and go on with your painting, and even give some great design ideas.

An important thing to do before starting to paint is to have an idea in your head before starting your painting. Brainstorming ideas is an important first step.

Mistake 2: Too many details

Another thing I would do a lot is to try and add details everywhere and try to refine every single square centimeter of my paintings. I would get obsessed sometimes trying my best to make it as detailed as possible, even in the corners. I soon realized that this was a big mistake.

If your audience sees a painting with an extreme amount of detail everywhere on the painting, you will overwhelm them and it will hurt your painting – even if the details are incredibly beautiful and intricate.

Solution: A painting should sell an idea, a story, a concept, and you do that by using composition, lighting, contrast, story elements, and so on – not by overusing details to try and make your painting look finished and nice.

To do that, you need to create focus and not over-focus everything and over-define your entire scene. Your painting loses focus, direction and flow if the eye-catching details are all over the place.

If your audience sees a painting with an extreme amount of detail everywhere on the painting, you will overwhelm them and it will hurt your painting – even if the details are incredibly beautiful and intricate.

Mistake 3: Too little value dynamics and atmospheric perspective

I rarely have an issue with this, because I come from a background of drawing a lot with graphite pencils. I love to create strong contrasts between light and dark using traditional mediums, and that has translated into my digital art as well.

However, I see many beginners not utilizing the value ranges properly to create dynamic looking realistic artwork. The value dynamics might be there, just not used correctly.

Another thing is atmospheric perspective. It’s highly important to utilize properly to tell the viewer what is big, far away, and close, to give impression of scale, of atmosphere, and so on. Even in close environments and with character concepts, atmospheric perspective is used to "trick" the eye and help the viewer understand what they’re looking at, and create depth.

Solution: Take a look at the examples below:

The second image here utilizes a great deal of contrast and has a high dynamic value range, nicely focusing the important focal points of this artwork.

The first one is a painting with low value range, low value dynamics. It appears quite flat and dull, with no real contrast or light play, and almost no atmospheric perspective.

The second one utilizes a great deal of contrast and has a high dynamic value range, nicely focusing the important focal points of this image. Notice how it becomes brighter and more highlighted the closer we get to the ruins if we follow the path from where the "camera" is.

You have access to values ranging from complete black, to complete white, and the whole spectrum of colors and values in-between. If your painting has contrasts utilizing most of this spectrum in it, you can convey an idea with much more satisfaction if you properly learn how to use value dynamics and atmospheric perspective to your favor.

I hope you find these tips helpful in avoiding the most common 3 art mistakes. And I encourage you to take some time today to get painting and try to apply these tips to your artwork.

And of course, I go over all these points in much more detail in my full course, Smart Art Academyso if you haven't yet, make sure you sign up!

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