Like, it kind of compares to getting a prompt filled somehow, which you can attempt by signing up to a fest or by throwing it out in a kinkmeme, hoping to find someone interested from a random but larger pool. Of course most don't get filled in kinkmemes (mine never have been so far), but the chance is still better than just putting out your idea in your own journal.
I guess the obstacles are the potential social awkwardness (you might have to reject offers of collaboration, because you dislike someone's writing/art/podfic/whatever style or even their proficiency), and also that the likelihood of matching (or even the general interest in collaborations outside of close friends) might not be high enough to make such a forum worthwhile.
OTOH fandoms these days don't have central places anymore, so there isn't even anywhere where you could put up your notice individually for many others to see, like a central (or at least large) general discussion list or a noticeboard.
1 – How did you first get into creating fanart, and what was the first fandom you made art for? What do you think it was about that fandom that pulled you in?
This depends a bit on how narrow you see what's "fanart". I've been in (non-superhero) comic fandom and drew comics as a kid, but those were more or less original, i.e. I did not use existing characters or copied comics except for style.
Even then I was much better at worldbuilding than plot, so for my first real comic project (that was back in fourth or fifth grade), I wanted to do a comic about these fluffy creatures I imagined (called Wuschels, kind of like tribbles, but with eyes, noses, feet and antenna and not as fertile), but what I ended up with was a sort of background treatise with illustrations detailing how they lived and their society and biology and such. I only managed two pages of an actual comic, then ran out of plot, and strangely enough did another illustrated thing about their version of football. IDEK. I mean, I've never been a sports fan, this just shows how pervasive football is. I did share these with my family and subjected my long suffering best friend to my efforts as well. I was never one much for drawer projects. I still have the drawings and texts from that project in a binder, but I lost the ones I made from yarn. From then on I drew comics all through high school. Some of them are posted on my website.
It took me much longer to try creating fanart in a narrow sense. The first media fandoms I got into online weren't good places for fanart. My first major online fandom was The Sentinel in the late 90s, and there was very little fanart online, and mostly just collage type photomanips that often weren't all that good. Zines were expensive, so I only ever ordered a couple, and even those often did not have any illustrations, and the few that did were all aiming for a very photo-realist style. I know now that even at the time there had been other fanart styles around for tv fandoms, but I didn't know that then. I thought to be accepted as fanart in live action fandoms art had to try for photorealism. So at that time I didn't even realize that anyone might be interested in the kind of fanart I could do.
Eventually there was a Sentinel fanfic for which I couldn't resist drawing an illustration, but the result was really quite bad. I was too embarrassed to attach my internet identity to that, and incidentally was also for a story I did not want to admit to have liked under my regular pseud either. These days I'm much less embarrassed about my kinks, and the author managed to push all my buttons really well, despite that the story was an unfinished WIP, not even spellchecked and OOC. But I still wanted to give the author the drawing her story had inspired (like I said above, I never saw much sense to produce for a drawer rather than public, not even if it's somewhat cringeworthy, I mean it still took time and effort after all), so that led to the only time I ever created a sockpuppet account in fandom. So I actually posted my first piece of fanart as a sockpuppet. I guess it is similar to venturing forth into anon kink memes first these days. Luckily afaik the yahoogroup where I posted the picture in the file section has vanished by now, so I don't think it is even on the internet anymore... Which is really better for everyone. I don't recall even the author responding with anything after getting the art.
The first fanart I posted properly was after I got drawn into DC fandom. I was inspired by cereta's story Secrets, and unlike the live action fandoms I was in, it seemed less daunting to draw comic characters than to have to try for a realist style, and Cereta and some others on my flist were encouraging me to try, so I took the plunge. Also at that point LJ was replacing mailing lists as platform, so not only seemed comic fandom easier to draw for and more receptive and open to art than the live action fandoms I knew previously, posting it was also easier.
( The rest of the meme questions, slightly adapted to fit fanart )
Still curious I browsed the comments, and it turns out someone hotlinked my Nightwing/Arsenal picture there, also not crediting me with a proper link. (There's a reason I tend to make my sigs large, at least viewers can see my name on the pic.) Though the opinion in the couple of replies to the pic had also some that liked the art. So I guess the thing about any publicity sort of applies.
I still find posts like this obnoxious, not so much because people mock fanart they don't like(*), I understand that impulse (it's not like I don't post my own wtf? reactions to odd fanfic every now and then), but because so often there's no credit. I mean, while I was looking through the comment pages to find which of my art was linked, I saw a bunch of art I actually liked, and some art that wasn't my fandoms but still clever or funny. Only in plenty of cases where someone wasn't siphoning bandwidth from the original artist's pages but just grabbed the picture, you often can't find the artists.
(*) ETA: Though IMO it's mean and a cheap shot if the target is art clearly posted by children and teenagers trying to portrait their first crushes. Of course the portraits will have the typical beginner problems.
artwork in traditional media that is very realistic in style and used identifiable promo/screencap images as reference, e.g. many realist character portrait paintings/drawings or collage paintings that merge several portrait images for effect (like a collage of canon h/c scenes)
Mean: 2.57 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.32
the same but done with digital media, e.g. "paintovers" and such
Mean: 2.10 Median: 2 Std. Dev 1.42
artwork in traditional media that is very realistic in style but shows fully imaginary scenes rather than character portraits and drawings based canon scenes
Mean: 4.14 Median: 4 Std. Dev 0.99
the same but done with digital media
Mean: 4.06 Median: 4 Std. Dev 1.13
artwork in traditional media that is basically still realist (e.g. in proportions etc.) but more stylized, e.g. characters rendered in art noveau style, a realistic comic style etc.
Mean: 4.45 Median: 5 Std. Dev 0.83
the same but done with digital media
Mean: 4.35 Median: 5 Std. Dev 1.04
Mean: 2.90 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.40
Mean: 3.69 Median: 4 Std. Dev 1.26
photomanips of the collage-type, e.g. multiple pictures from canon and non-canon sources are arranged, layered, changed with textures etc.
Mean: 2.16 Median: 2 Std. Dev 1.40
photomanips of the type that merges/blends pictures into a single non-collage image, e.g. putting characters in period costumes, giving characters wings, head/body mergers to get explicit art etc.
Mean: 2.18 Median: 2 Std. Dev 1.38
digital artwork that is not painted or manipped but primarily 3D rendered
Mean: 1.49 Median: 1 Std. Dev 1.24
ETA: I probably should have been more precise in that what I'm curious about is preferences for styles of 2D, non-moving picture-type fanart; the phrasing was not meant to imply that things like fannish fiber crafts, sculpture or vidding or other arts weren't "fanart".
Mostly I want the header/outside of the cut to attract viewers to click on the full thing, and make it so that the labels are most useful for the potential audience. Having a small but still interesting preview is essential for that, IMO. I don't mind giving much information in text, but I like to show the part I consider best and/or most suited to size-reduction in my preview as a teaser.
OTOH I wouldn't want someone have an unintentional goatse.cx like experience on their reading list either, and there is the consideration that to reach a wide audience it can be beneficial to keep uncut things "worksafe" so that people don't feel apprehensive to include a journal, community or blog on a regular reading list that they might check from public computers or during their lunch break as well. For example in the one art community I set up (slothsdraw, which admittedly never gained traction) the rules ask all previews to be small and suitable for general audiences ("worksafe"), while behind cuts all kind of adult content is welcome as long as it is labelled as such, though more specific information is optional.
I myself don't draw very disturbing pictures (at least not if you don't count the occasional proportion or perspective fail as disturbing *g*), but if I did anything really extreme, while I would probably try to be careful with the preview, so that it is not too bad when seen at a small size, I would still do a preview to entice people who like the same kind of art I do. So at least in my own journal that is not subject to additional community considerations, I might not pick a "worksafe" thumbnail cut (my preview is usually a square cut of the central area of interest reduced to 120x120px) if I didn't think it represented the art the best. So my posts could be problematic, even with me using all kinds of text labels.
For example one of the few times one of my pictures actually had any kind of warnings was when I drew Roy as junkie, which was thus rated "PG" and clarified in the header that this was for "drug use", but my preview thumbnail outside already showed him depicted as drug addict with his arm with track marks and drug paraphernalia. So the text warning would have only functioned as an advance warning for people cautious enough to have turned off images when coming across the cut post, because you'd notice the image before ever reading the detailed header.
I admit that even though I set up a similar rule myself for a community (in part because it was centered around drawing practice itself, not any fannish content or topic), I dislike it when I come across previews for explicit pictures on fannish comms and notice boards where you can't really see much of anything in the preview anymore, because it is a section chosen to be safe outside the cut that isn't all that representative of the style or picture. Some of this I think is just people picking a section badly (at least for my taste), but some is an inherent problem. I mean, if you have picture that is about gory, explicit violence and the center of attention is really gross, and there is no truly non-disturbing part that is still interesting (even the daisy flower off to the side is trampled and splattered with blood from an intestine!) you end up with previews that show stuff like a bit of the stormy sky above, when the image is of a demonic zombie battlefield or whatever. That is not a very useful preview.
So how to best balance between useful previews and not wanting to ambush people with disturbing pictures? Is the small size of a preview enough, because you can't see it in detail? Do most fans who are concerned about avoiding certain pictures browse with all turned off and only see them after clicking one specifically, so that text labels work as a heads up for images too? Do you still click on fanart cuts without any image preview if it has just a text header describing it?
( image heavy )
I struggled with this once again recently when I finished my yuletart assignment (btw Yuletart has started posting this weekend so remember to check it to not miss the cool art that is being posted). I can't seem to handle color mixing in an efficient way.
My method when mixing acrylics to color my lineart looks something like this: I usually use two palettes, one for thicker colors (which is not so much a real palette as a largish cookie tin lid onto which I put a layer of very wet paper towel covered by a piece of sandwich paper so that the paint remains wet) and a palette with several depressions for mixing in a more watery way. I also have two containers with water, one that remains clear for making the paint thinner for glazes without dipping the brush in (usually I use eyedroppers for that) and one to use with the brushes.
I put small dollops of the colors I plan to use for mixing on the first palette and start to mix colors and put them on paper. Because for the most part I use acrylic paint in thinner layers I tend to either mix on the first palette until I get the shade I want, put a bit on the second palette, and add clean water until it has the translucency I need, or I add layers of more basic colors over each other on the paper. Sometimes for gradients I also start with less water and then do a wash on the paper. But inevitably after a relatively short while this arrangement becomes a mess, i.e. I run out of spaces to mix or to dilute the paint or both. Am I missing some technique that will make this whole thing more go more smoothly and efficiently?
So I'm curious what other people do:
(ETA: I didn't realize the crossposter would just link the poll, even though I can insert polls here too. I now included it manually here, or you can go to the DW version: View poll: packrat poll.
ETA2: Apparently one can't insert a poll when editing an entry? What? so I reposted here, sorry. *makes note to x-post polls manually the next time*)
So I'm curious what other people do:
How much of a packrat are you?
I keep everything, I might become/already am famous and my complete work process is worth preserving for posterity. Future scholars will love my estate. (If they ever manage to find anything in the boxes full of junk.)
I keep some preliminary work, but only if the study/sketch/doodle/whatever looks nice in its own right, might be still of use for something later, is in a sketchbook which I keep intact, or I have some other reason for keeping it. The rest I throw out.
I throw everything out that I don't need anymore once I'm finished with a piece of art. Decluttering is my lifestyle choice.
It's not so much that I want to throw things out, but periodically circumstances (such as moving, running out of space etc) force me to, so I have purges.
I work fully digital, so I don't produce these kinds of paper piles in the first place (and digital storage is cheap and plenty these days).
Your radio buttons oppress me with their limited choices. I will explain further in a comment.
Because my style of drawing is more comic/illustration-like than truly realist, e.g. that I like to have lineart, it needs a certain amount of simplification in facial features. Which then presents the problem of how to get there from the starting point of a realistic and fully rendered face. (Not that I can do realistic portraits, but in theory I mean.)
The first thing that usually comes to mind for trying to get a handle on how a character looks is to start with a photo of the character's actor or a screenshot of the character, and then somehow simplify from there. The reasoning is that after all basing your art on a decent photo works well enough for realistic character portraits in fanart, which are often recognizably based on promo pics and such. Yet this approach is somewhat hazardous as anyone who has seen a bad tv comic, one where the artist visibly just traced screenshots, can attest to. It's the phenomenon that in its extreme is lineart that you could even actually map over a screenshot and the lines "fit," yet if you look at the lineart alone it doesn't really look like the character at all.
The problem is of course in the nature of lineart. If you have ever tried to trace a photo, you've run into the problem that there aren't really any "lines", so usually you tend pick mostly the "high contrast borders" with a bit of abstract knowledge of how the form of the thing is thrown in. And this works okay if you have say the contrast of a leg against a bright background, but much less for things like facial features. And it is not merely distortions due to a specific photo, i.e. that depending on the light and angle your best guess for lines may not emphasize the really prominent features, but put stress on the wrong parts. It's that any reduction of photos to lines with a face makes it a caricature, even if you don't add intentional "distortions," simply because having just one line where there used to be color gradients introduces emphasis, and likeness decreases if you put that emphasis "wrong", i.e. not on the recognizable, outstanding features.
In theory this is not much of a problem, after all the goal all along is to draw the character, not to trace photos, and you just have to adjust your degree of caricature to compensate for the reduction of rendering, that is to figure out which facial features of said person deviate from the average proportion, the mean of facial features in a way, and exaggerate. I've read that even computers can do this with algorithms based on photos and make caricatures of people.
The problem I'm having is that so many actors are pretty people. See, I'm not that good with faces. It's one thing to spot how someone differs from "average" if they have huge ears (think all the Prince Charles caricatures), or a big nose, or a very distinct skull shape, but humans tend to find regular, even features more attractive, so tv characters are hard to figure out. It's not that there are no differences, obviously I recognize these people when I see them (well for the most part anyway, like I said, I'm not that good at memorizing faces), but I have no idea which features are the ones standing out most to me on a conscious level with faces like that.
I think it would be really cool if one of those caricature algorithms was made into a webtoy somewhere, and I could just give it a photo and it would warp the features to point out how it differs from the average face. Then, even though my style doesn't need outright caricature, I could use those hints for more subtle exaggeration suited for my purposes.
I guess I just wish some technology could help make up for my lack of talent/practice in character portrayal/caricature. *sigh*
The form is a bit oddly phrased, it asks for "At least 5 fandoms you would like to get art of:", "At least 5 fandoms you want to get art of the most:" and then "Any other fandoms you would be willing to give art of:", which is unfortunate, since first, it assumes that I'm able to offer in all fandoms which I'd like to receive, which has to be bad for matching too, because I'd be more than happy to get art in a dozen fairly popular live-action fandoms which I don't draw in, and second I have to come up with ten fandoms I can draw in, which is a high number. I mean, I think yuletide only asks for a minimum offer of three fandoms for people to write in, even if most people seem to offer more. At least that high number makes sense for better chances to match people, with the fandom choice being wide open like this, so I can understand it.
But I don't think I can reasonably offer that many. While I do have many fandoms, I don't draw in live-action fandoms, so those are all out. That leaves only my comic and book fandoms, and okay, the main universes of Marvel and DC comics I can do, and to fill this out a bit more I could maybe count Sandman as separate fandom, then there's Dresden Files, and maybe LOTR, though I never tried drawing that before. And I've drawn Muppets already at least once so I guess I could do that, though I'm not that familiar with all of the canon or the movies and such, but still that's only six. I don't do a manga-influenced style so that leaves out Avatar, too. Maybe Watership Down? I mean, I've never actually read the book, just watched the movie, though I've always wanted to, but I think I could read it and manage rabbits. Perhaps Temeraire, otoh I suspect I'd suck at drawing the dragons, and worse, period costumes and stuff would probably need a lot of research. I have no clue about that stuff and never even watched any of these Age of Sail movies, so offering that would probably lead to disappointing disasters as result.
So in light of that I decided to do a kind of commentary on my recent picture of Dresden Files' Bob, which is also interesting to do for me, because I worked a bit differently here than usual. I did more of the work and also effects digitally than I usually do, resulting in some things that worked and others that didn't.
( long navel-gazing, also very image heavy )
But I suspect that kind of thing doesn't go over any better for art than it does for fanfic. I myself quite dislike it when an author tells me at length all the ways their story sucks, and often I won't read it then, and with art I'll probably still look, but inevitably my attention will be drawn to all that is wrong (in the artist's mind) with the drawing, so that doesn't improve its impact any, though depending on how the artists talks about it it can be interesting from a technical viewpoint. Obviously I could have just not posted, but I spent hours on it and it's not that bad.
Beyond just being sick of the drawing after spending many, many hours on it, part of the problem is of course that I lack the skills to correct what I see is wrong with the drawing. I mean, okay, the size issues of that candlestick I could have easily corrected had I noticed earlier, not just towards the end, but it is far easier to see that the lightening and shadows don't look like what you want than to create the effects you want. So I get the urge to say that I know of the problems to not appear stupid/inept/oblivious/whatever to technical issues and give a "better" impression (well in theory, even if the realization lacks), but it's not like that makes the drawing any better, and in fact may even influence perception of the drawing negatively. Though I'm not sure whether people mind notes like that for art as much as for fic.
Anyway, I compromised by dumping my disclaiming in an extra LJ entry afterwards. And out of curiosity, a poll:
On another labelling issue: What is it with SGA RPS being simply categorized as SGA on rec and fiction pages and such? A couple of times now I've looked at SGA recs and the RPS was mixed among the SGA FPS as if it was the same fandom. I commented before that for me as a strict FPS fan it's inconvenient and counterintuitive when communities just mix the two categories like that there's plenty of SW fiction on ewan_hayden, even though I realize that it is convenient for people interested in both the actors and their shows/movies to combine the too when creating a forum, but on a recs or fiction site that has separate fandom sections I find it just wrong somehow that SGA and SGA RPS are put in the same section and that then is just labelled SGA not even "SGA & SGA RPS" or something.
Am I the only one who's so anal about such labels to be bugged by this? Also, I'm wondering whether this is like a growing trend in fandom, that the RPS and FPS for a group of actors are coming to be considered as the same fandom?
Anyway, besides the fandom (mainly DC art so far) I tried to tag like the dcfic_index for characters, pairings, gen, slash, het, and femslash, sometimes team names in ensemble pictures, and in addition to that included tags like elseworld, and crossover, as well as "animated" if one or more characters were the toon versions. Also if the picture was labeled NWS or clearly showed a sex scene or character pin-up with nudity I tagged it NWS as well. So far there's 280 links, which should be enough for you to check out whether you find this system useful for searching for fanart:
Thoughts, opinions anyone?
I always check out all the art (well drawings and such, I'm not much interested in photomanipulations or icons), regardless of the pairing or content, or whether I know the artist or not, simply because it only takes a few seconds to take a look at the art and decide whether I like it, and then maybe looking closer or slightly longer at some details (I'm not on dial-up, but I'm also just talking about the time it takes to take something in once a page has loaded not connection/bandwidth issues). Whereas I don't click on most of the fic links unless they make me curious in some way, maybe the title sounds interesting, or I heard of the author, or it's a pairing I like, anyway something more than just the link being there, simply because it is always more effort to decide whether I'll give fanfic a try, even if it is just reading the summary and author's notes. So it's quite a bit harder for fanfic to get noticed by me.
OTOH fanart somehow has much less impact for me than fanfic. I mean, fanfic characterizations, arguments, theories and the like, affect how I see the characters and plots in the source, and how I interpret them. Sometimes it's a slight, but cumulative effect (sort of like a fanon build-up), but occasionally it also happens that a single story is just so ingenious in its interpretation of canon that after reading it I see the source differently, for example like a theory or fanwanking that's the background or basis for a fic to explain something, or just a great view inside the head of a character that makes me understand them, things like that. Fanfic I like also kind of stays with me much longer than even the fanart I like most. Somehow, at least so far, fanart has never had such a lasting effect on me. The way a character is drawn may really work for me, but that's more the surface. It doesn't change my view of the character.
So I'm more likely to look at any fanart, and I really enjoy the visuals of good fanart, it produces immediate reactions, and I may feedback, but it's somehow "weaker" for me than fanfic. And I'm curious whether it is the same for others. So have you ever looked at a piece of fanart and it had lasting impact beyond the image and the immediate reactions/emotions it evoked, the way fanfic sometimes has?
In case anyone's wondering why I spent so much time on frelling gargoyles, it's because I didn't want the obligatory gargoyle in a Gotham scene look like the boring, nondescript standard gargoyle #1 you see so often in recent Batman comics. You know, the thing which is more or less just a protruding beam with a sort of beak-thing at the end? That standardized Gotham gargoyle is really starting to annoy me, it is like a fanon cliché...or like a gargoyle chain store thing.
Anyway, no more gargoyles or disproportionate looking superheroes for tonight.
(*) In my head (opposed to the reality on paper which currently is not even close to this) it is a scene with a brooding Batman squatting on top of said gargoyle and a Nightwing jump sequence, i.e. one of those typical Nightwing pictures where you see the progress of one of his jumps/somersaults all in one panel, which ends with Nightwing landing behind Batman. Set into this large picture are two smaller panels showing close-ups of Nightwing touching Batman's shoulder, and Batman turning and subtly smiling at Nightwing in contrast to the former grim expression. Perhaps a "comic drabble" or something like that, not really a story, but not a single illustration either. In my head it's sort of a subtext piece, with just a slightly different feel than canon (because there most likely you wouldn't see the turning and smiling) but still gen textually. Well that's the concept anyway. And of course now that I've written that down, if I ever finish that piece of artwork everybody will know that it doesn't look like it was supposed to be (I'm fairly certain it won't because it never looks like in my head).