My path from engineer πŸ‘·β€β™€οΈ to illustrator πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ¨

In middle school I used to spend my evenings drawing images of Sailor Moon, it made me feel so relaxed and happy that I just wanted to do it forever. When I went to high school I met this girl that was very good at drawing. One day she lent me one of her sketches which I immediately tried to replicate and I couldn’t. Her drawing was right there in front of me yet as much as I tried to follow the lines and angles I just couldn’t, I never did. This was when I ruled out drawing as a profession. Since if we were still in high school and she was already so talented obviously I wasn’t going to be able to draw to her level, she was talented and I wasn’t.

I believed talent was a natural aptitude or skill, like a gift. An skill that not everyone can develop or acquire.

From then on I decided to focus on something more “realistic” professionally, something that could give me financial stability, a secure job, status and approval from others. I debated between medicine and engineering and because math was more fun for me I went for engineering. I put drawing to the side although it always followed me, I could see it when I filled all my engineering notebooks with color and drawings, when I considered changing my degree from engineering to industrial design to transform my drawings into products, when I studied fashion and enjoyed drawing fashion illustrations the most, when I tried graphic design and realized it wasn’t drawing. In the back of my head there was this subject that I enjoyed but couldn’t integrate completely into my life, I was scared.

If only I had known then that dedicating myself to art would require the same amount of professional commitment needed to be a good doctor or engineer.

Starting to draw

Around 15 years after finishing college I started posting my art on Instagram which was a combination of draw this in your style (#dtiys) and monthly challenges shared by other illustrators, and interpretations of classical paintings. This was when I found out the hard work that goes behind maintaining a digital platform. I was trying to post as constantly as I could, figuring out my drawing style and learning different watercolor and marker techniques.

@couragepassion instagram account

Almost at the end of 2020 I started feeling stuck with my art, I noticed that when I wanted to create my own illustrations I didn’t know how unless I was copying from someone else’s art. This made me feel stressed and disappointed. I knew that I wasn’t talented like those other illustrators but somewhere I heard that if you practice enough you could get better yet this wasn’t happening.

I stopped posting, deleted my Instagram account and gave myself some time to think about it.

Starting over with the fundamentals

After a couple of weeks or maybe months researching, I realized that drawing was more complex than I thought (See my post Why drawing is so difficult?).

Blue Period – The Dichotomy between Talent and Hard Work

Drawing is a skill that you can develop like other complex fields, it has a type of scientific foundation known as Art Fundamentals which follow an objective methodology to achieve a certain result.

For example to be able to draw a city or a room I had to understand how to depict perspective which is related to geometry and, as a result, to math. When I wanted to understand color, which I considered a more “subjective” topic, I started with Munsell theory and ended up reading John the Math Guy‘s blog that talks about applied math and color science. And, finally, to draw a human body or an animal it’s necessary to understand anatomy from the skeleton to muscles and how the skin interacts with them. Mastering these fundamentals takes years.

Good writers follow the rules. Great writers know the rules β€” and follow their instincts!

Sam Leith “Write to the Point”

I used to think that through just using beautiful watercolors or markers I was going to be able to get the perfect illustration. I didn’t have any idea that the reason I felt stuck was because of my lack of knowledge in regards to these art fundamentals. It’s like Proko points out in the following video with mistake number 5 – Icing before the cake:

Top 5 Shading Mistakes

This second part of my path is about hard work and commitment to my art. I learned that I want and need to give as much time and effort as I did with my engineering degree, since, if anything, art is even more complex.

Paola

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