Don’t Mask It!

This is it. This is my final post as the Illustration Blogger for Where Creativity Works. Let’s try to make it a good one! Here’s one last nugget of art advice.

Every artist knows how to apply a mask. And no, I’m not talking about layer masks or masking fluid. I’m talking about masking weaknesses within our work.

Oh come on. Admit it. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. Our teachers have done it at some point or another. Everyone does it whether they know it our not.

Remember when you were ten. And you couldn’t draw hands at all? So every character you drew had their hands in their pockets or behind their heads. Yeah. I’m sure you still do that but much more subtly. Or maybe you do still avoid drawing hands as much as possible. Oh boy… You do, don’t you?

Well I’m telling you right now – Stop it. Whether you are heading to art school for your first year or are a returning student, you’ve got to break this habit. How are you going to learn if you don’t even try?

But the perspective is too difficult to get right, I’ll just change it to a less dramatic angle. Maybe just a straight-on shot.


But ears are so hard to draw. They’re like a little maze of flesh. The longer you look, the grosser they get. I’ll just cover it up with hair.


But, like, what even are feet? Why do people even need toes. Oh God. They look like door stops now. Maybe I’ll just… Crop them out…

STOP! No buts about it. This is not a good habit for a student to have when they are supposed to be eager to learn.

What if you present a preliminary sketch to the class for critique because it was easiest to pull off? It’s not exactly what you wanted but it works; it’s what you’re good at drawing and all flaws are masked or eliminated. Well it’s an A! Good job! But how is the teacher supposed to be able to identify a problem area and help you get to where you want to be if you don’t show off what you really wanted to do?

You are an edgy art student! Don’t be afraid to mess up or take risks. You have a specific vision! Don’t throw it away and chalk it up as “well I’d never be able to get it right anyway.”

You can keep trying to get better at drawing things outside your comfort zone. Or stop trying, you’ll still be good, but only good at drawing a limited amount of things. Which would you prefer? You’ve got four years to make mistakes all for the sake of learning. Four years to simply hone your skills.

Don’t just scrape by and present work that you know is good and easy to make. Push yourself that much harder. Take the time to figure it out. Even if it means drawing a thousand and one hands or feet or ears.

Choosing a simpler solution has it’s merit when you’re actually out in the field with narrower deadlines. But you’ve got the time to learn to get it right now. And who knows, what seems hard now might just be the simpler solution when you actually get going with your art career.

Seize the opportunity to learn and keep learning even after graduation day.

Hopefully you’ll keep this post in mind when pitching your projects this semester. Good luck to those just starting out or heading back to school. And, of course, all of my best to the next Illustration Blogger 🙂

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