Most of us have that one artist who is just a God to us…maybe their shading is on point, or their lines look so crisp..perhaps their knowledge of color simply soothing..or maybe the artist is just so devilishly handsome/gorgeous…
Growing up, a lot those people for me were the manga artists in Shonen Jump.. I envied how they were able make their characters look so expressive – and their lines were all nicely placed. Even all of these years later… I still envy those same artists!
The images above are great examples of this. They’re from Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. The image on the left is from 1999, back when the series had just started serialization. The image on the right is from over 10 years later. As you can see, there have been a LOT of changes and enhancement’s to the art style used. This is honestly one of the things I appreciate most about comics in general; you can watch an artist grow gradually through their career, and it’s a great source of motivation. It shows you that there’s always room for improvement, and change.
But sometimes the opposite happens: you see your favorite artist’s work, and you constantly compare your work to their own. You observe and copy, observe and copy, and even after you’ve observed and copied for god knows how long … you still aren’t as good as your idol. You become discouraged, angry, upset, everything in between, you throw your pencils, your computer, asdfghjkl!!! .. and you’re never heard from again. At least, your art never hears from you again.
Artists are, as my old art teacher likes to say, a “big beautiful snowball of the art they’ve seen before”. And yet we develop styles that are so unique despite this. Having an idol artist is great. It’s great for inspiration, ideas for how to go about drawing things, and for goal setting. However don’t beat yourself up just because you can’t be exactly like your idol artist. Take what you like from them .. from a few artists if you wanted, and develop a style all your own. There is an artistic voice that will compliment your style – one that nobody will be able to duplicate in exactly the same way. The only person who you should really be comparing yourself to beyond a certain point, is yourself. How can YOU make this aspect of your art better? What can YOU change so that YOU feel satisfied about it? A lot of Shonen Jumps more popular series (One Piece, Naruto, Bleach) were all HEAVILY influenced by DragonBall Z, and you can see that in their earlier works, but now, they couldn’t be more different. They took what they learned from observing DBZ for so long, but incorporated their own tastes and preferences.
Continue looking onto what artists more experienced than you have done, and value the criticism and tips they give you. Just make sure that as you progress, you keep in mind the importance of staying true to your artistic voice. Shape your diamond not into the shape of others, but into a shape unique to you.