Hello. sorry to bother you again but I had an art related question. Is it bad trying to teach yourself to draw by copying an artist you really love? I’m not tracing, instead I study how they draw eyes and bodies etc and then try to draw the same thing on paper. So as far as trying to get better, is this a good way to learn or am I doing it wrong?
Anonymous by request (and I wasn’t going to include the user anyway. In your message you wrote about being ashamed about copying, so here’s my thoughts on that:)
MAKING ART IS A GAME! IT’S A SANITY MECHANISM!
A lot of the time I think about drawing/sketching like playing, say, guitar when no one is around to hear it. It’s totally for my own pleasure, from dumb, straight-up playing other people’s riffs, to aping 80’s hair-metal horrible techniques, to making abstract shitty ambient noise. It’s for me and it makes me feel better. Eventually I might get the conceit that someone might like to hear a thing I did — and it’s the same with the drawing.
Copy whoever it is you dig. Copy Liefeld, copy Otomo, copy Kirby, copy Moebius, copy Morris, copy Carl Barks, copy Jim Lee, copy from fashion magazines, copy from outside, copy Caniff, copy from yourself. Copy Copy Copy copy copy — if you say it enough times, it loses meaning. It’s a bullshit sound that doesn’t mean anything.
That’s how copying artists you like works, too — copy everybody, consciously, having fun, in response to things they did, eventually it loses all meaning — you learn from them and distill the things they know into your own. (IT’S A LONG PROCESS)
You might look at the scores of artists copying Kirby (or Mignola or Pope, who in turn took so many cool things from Kirby) and snicker — too bad, they made a drawing and you didn’t. And look at early Mignola — a lot of it sucks. Look at early Otomo, that sucks too, compared to the level they got to later.
You learn by drawing, you draw by copying, you copy by looking. Look at everything , even the stuff you don’t like. Maybe it’s not true, but I like the idea that everybody is working their asses off, even the guys we hate, and they have something in their art that we can absorb and learn from.
Copying an artist is like slowly and methodically decapitating a Highlander dude. It’s a painful, dangerous process where you can potentially come out on the other side triumphant, absorbing their powers. (or you can end up with your head chopped off).
So yes, you’re doing it right. Just copy a lot of different stuff, keep your mind open, screw anybody who’ll shame you.