Recently, I have been fortunate enough to join an online group of fellow aspiring/established illustrators. Every few days, there is 1 hour character design challenge to improve and expand our artistic skillets. This challenge is very beneficial because it encourages quick thinking and efficient workflow for all projects involving art. It has personally helped me a lot with my ability to problem solve and pre-conceptualize before jumping into a painting.
Before starting, we usually set our intentions/goals and what we hope to learn from that day’s challenge. The host then picks two to three (usually adjectives) words from a generator and we have to use those to create an illustration. Typically the challenge is set up for character design. However, I like to implement composition and a landscape if there is time.
Above are a few examples of previous prompts. As you can see, I have been using this challenge to test out different approaches and styles to my work. Some are more ambitious than others, some are a bit too similar, some are more illustrative, etc. Knowing this, I can directly see what works for me and what types of things I can improve on.
These drawings were also for another design challenge. This one was still the regular 1 hour time limit. However, I wanted to get three ideas to work from rather than one painting. The prompt was “Knowledge and Recovery”. For the first one I tried to get a very expressive gunslinger/healer type of character. For the second, I made a more sci-fi being with little flying, healing creatures. And the last drawing was more of a film-type composition to tell a story.
After doing about 10 of these challenges over the course of a few weeks, I have seen a ton of improvement. Not just in my work but in how I go about painting and conceptualizing. While it helps to be in a group, I would still highly recommend anyone who wants to improve on their art to take part in this exercise as well.