Taking a long hard look internally can be more important
when first starting a journey in art (From Fan Art Friday (Leon the Professional)
I hate the cliche saying there, but it's honestly true. There are by and far going to be some huge sacrifices that you have to make along the way. And I think, just like with any skill, the best thing that helps is starting with the basics.
Looking inward and really discovering what you want to do art for is a major question that you should probably ask yourself up front. I'm not saying that there aren't things that you will discover along the way, but it's really important to begin to think about some possible end goals in the early stages rather than the later ones. Make lists of things that you enjoy - these can be as mundane as Playing Games, or Reading Comics - and then realize that there is infinite amount of artistic potential in everything you do. Everything that is entertaining in some way has art as a backbone - with the occasional exception of the written word, in which case that can be used to create awesome art, which can be used to create comics, which can be used to create illustrations... you get the point.
The point here though, is not to point you towards your concept or focus, it's really to get your skill rolling along. I want to try and help people really get there goals achieved! So I'm going to toss everything that I have for resources to at least get you started and then it's up to you to follow through.
My summer schedule typically.
Before you start anything, make a schedule for yourself - especially one that you can follow religiously. I know this sounds like a lot, but there is a scientific method to this called the 10,000 hour rule that goes on and on about the whole adage practice makes perfect.
Well I can say, truly, that this is 100% true. I wouldn't be where I am without a schedule that I rigorously followed for years. Also, the more consistent you are with a simple schedule, the more you can trust yourself for working conditions later - especially if you're considering a freelance career.
Ashley plucking away (From Impressionist Ashley)
There is always a method to my madness... and here's literally the way I got to where I am now:
I would suggest that everyone start here so that you know what a gesture is (if you didn't already) and then make sure that you apply the gesture idea here. I would suggest to start with the longest time you can (2-minutes I think?) and try and capture the essence of the figure as fast as possible.
From there I would try out the challenge modes here: http://quickposes.com/
Next you can do real models here: http://artists.pixelovely.com/
And finally, when you get comfortable being able to slap out gesture and even longer pose studies,
I would suggest you do full-renders from these places:
Of course, these are just for character design by the way.
I would suggest that you experiment with different medias such as vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, acrylic, pencil, pen, really anything that can make a mark. After all, you're not sure what your forte is until you really try a bunch of different things out.
Other places for great tips are these few places:
Other than that do Master Studies. Look to old masters like these: http://greatilluminators.blogspot.com/ and try your damndest to copy them.
Once you get all those basics out of the way, you can finally relax like 1% of the time...
I highly suggest that everyone first get a handle on traditional media first before really diving into digital, but it can be a good playground to start to experiment while you get your footing.
There are some things that help along the way for learning digital and here are just a few pointers that I can toss at you all.
When first starting out, think about digital painting the same way that traditional painting is done: Large to small. Use extremely large brushes and try to use a very simplified color. On my blog, look around for the tutorials that I do after some of my pieces and perhaps that will help to shed some light on my methodology. It's kind of more of a practice, practice, practice. I still feel like I have a LONG way to go. Deviantart has infinite tutorials on how to get onto the digital painting path, just look it up.
OH and I almost forgot... the brushes. http://matkaminski.blogspot.com/2013/10/typical-brushes-that-i-use.html also... Brush making Tutorial
Eventually you just doodle unintentionally when even taking notes during class.
Another good tip is to find a few people that you really trust to give you some serious, no-bullshit critiques. That is honestly one of the fastest ways I can think of to improve. This is one of the things that I recommend to everyone for art school, is that it will give you a ton (hopefully) no nonsense critique time, one-on-one with your classmates as well as instructors.
There comes a point in your art career where something just CLICKS. It takes quite a while, but eventually you just realize that you can't go a day without doing something art related.
Hopefully this helps everyone, and hopefully everyone can start getting on the road to making awesomeness! Good luck! And keep me updated on the process, I love to see some growth.