As an illustrator, the faster you can produce images, the better off you’ll be. It means you can fit more jobs into your schedule, which is more money in your pocket. It will also help you hit your deadlines more easily, which is absolutely necessary in this business. If you find you have trouble with this, here’s a few time-saving tips for you.
Use a bigger brush.
Beginners have a tendency to use paintbrushes that are way too small. Use the biggest brush that you can stand using for whatever phase of the painting you are in. Not only will you cover more area in less time, but it will help the overall look of your image. Small brushstrokes tend to look fussy. A small brush also makes it easier to lose sight of the big, bold areas of color and shape that need to be established first, which leads me to my second tip…
Don’t fuss with the details.
Are you one of those painters that render, render, and render until you can see every minute detail? This is not only unnecessary, but it hurts the overall design of your image. If everything in the painting is rendered to the same degree, you lose variety of shape and texture. Concentrate on putting sharp detail only where you need it, most likely at your focal point.
Use good equipment.
If you’re a digital painter, that means staying up-to-date with hardware and software, which for obvious reasons, will make your work go faster. If you’re a traditional painter, this means spending money on good quality materials. If you use good paint, the colors will come out brighter and will be easier to mix; if you use good brushes, you won’t be spending precious minutes picking out the small bristles that fell out of your brush and onto your painting. It might be hard on the wallet at first, but getting the right stuff in the beginning saves a lot of time (and headaches) in the end, which is worth the price.
Taking the time to create color and value studies may seem counterproductive at first, but in the long run it will help immensely to help you paint faster. If you just go into a painting straight on, you’ll most likely spend most of your time “fixing” things as you go (unless you’re one of those people who can put the right stroke of paint in the right place on the first try). Do yourself a favor and solve your problems ahead of time.
I will admit that I am very bad at following this advice. When I paint on the computer, it’s hard not to get side-tracked by email, internet, music, etc. You have to find your own way of working around this; I find it best to turn off all blog readers, have your email program update by the hour instead of by the minute, and leave other distractions like TV or food for specific break times.
Just sit down and draw already.
43folders.com made a great post recently, highlighting artist Chuck Close. He said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.” So true.
When you get in this business, you have to realize that you’re not always going to be inspired and you’re not always going to feel like painting. However, when you depend on your painting for a living, you have no choice in the matter. If you can acquire the self-discipline to sit at your desk, easel, or drawing table and just get it done, it will be worth more than any other time-saving tip I can give you.
Just paint, paint, and paint. As you do, you’ll get better at it. And when you get better at it, it’s easier to do. And when it’s easier to do, you can do it faster. It’s that simple.