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If you're an artist of any kind it's extremely important to hone your craft and technical abilities.  After all, the better you draw and the better you are at mastering the drawing tools you use - the easier it is to convey your unique message for public consumption. 

But how important is technical ability, really?  Obviously, it's very important.  Understanding anatomy, light and shadow and perspective are key to solid drawing.  It's important to always be improving in those departments.  It's also very important to master the tools you use to draw with. Learning to render or color professionally can only increase your appeal to both fans and other professionals. 

But what about developing artistic appeal on a much deeper level? 

It's not just about finding a pleasing style.  Anyone can do that with enough practice.  You can always choose a popular artist and emulate his or her style.  The blueprint is right there.  But why do artists that copy a style never reach the same heights as the artists they're copying?  I'm sure you could say that they are always one step behind in a sense.  And that's probably true.  But a technically proficient artist should be able to not only copy someone's style but even improve upon it, right?  But that's very rarely the case.

I know of so many artists that are at extremely high levels in their technical abilities but are missing one key ingredient.  The people they draw, the compositions they choose are arguably perfect.  The rendering: perfect.  The lighting: perfect.  And yet... - yawn-.... The drawings or comic book pages are boring.  But if the drawing is technically perfect, what could they have done better?

What I'm talking about is basically something called charm. 

There's a charm to a Norman Rockwell or a Leyendecker painting.  Arthur Adams draws charming people and creatures.  Neal Adams drew people that actually looked like they were saying and thinking the word balloons above their heads.  Frank Miller and Klaus Janson created a very real and gritty world full of relate-able characters.  Think about Berni Wrightson.  Walt Simonson and John Buscema's figures are just naturally powerful and strong.  Frank Frazetta is a great example of a charming artist.  Jack Davis, of Mad Magazine fame, was able to convey a great deal of humor in his work.  Animators like Chuck Jones were a breed apart when it came to charm.  It seems like certain artists exude charm and others simply do not.

So how does an artist develop charm?

I'm not going to lie to you here and tell you that for some it doesn't come naturally.  Because, I believe, that for some - it does come naturally.  Some artists naturally infuse personality into their works and you see it immediately. Others need to develop it.  The easiest way is to "let go".  Let go of the technical side of drawing for a bit and practice conveying emotion in your subjects.  You probably have developed a set way of drawing a face or a figure.  But that set way of drawing can sometimes limit your ability to convey emotion. 

Forgetting what you know and drawing from a raw place allows you to access parts of yourself on an artistic level that technically sound drawing cannot.  It's too restrictive.  There are too many rules.  If you're trying to draw someone laughing - your lines and brush strokes and even the color you choose should mirror that emotion.  You'll be surprised how much you can convey with a few "honest" lines.  The same goes for a figure in action or drawing an angry or sad face.  Take a break from drawing in your practiced style and try drawing how you feel.  At first you may not be pleased with how such a drawing may turn out.  That's natural.  If you could hit a homerun the first time you were at bat or bowl a game of 300 - THAT would be unnatural.  Everything takes practice.  Including learning how to loosen up and how to draw from a very human and emotional space.  And when I say human and emotional, I don't mean you have to get all weepy.  I'm talking about just accessing the part of you that is truly relating to whatever is beneath what you're drawing.  If it's cowboy smoking a cigarette while leaning on a wooden fence or a couple in love at a cafe - you have to put yourself there.  In their heads.  But you also have to feel what that fence feels like.  What the air feels like.  Get inside your subject's head like an actor would.  Sometimes the drawing won't be pretty but the you'll truly capture a moment.  Capturing a moment is so much more important than drawing the perfect, photo realistic, cowboy hat.  It's about feeling.  As an artist, if you want to truly deliver your message, you need to transfer that human experience.  Your experience.  Your perspective.  That's the most interesting and entertaining thing about art.  That's why art is so powerful. 

Once you practice this skill it's rather easy to apply your drawing style and rendering techniques later on.  It's like applying the body panels on an automobile frame and engine.  Without the engine, the frame and the proper suspension - it's just a pretty car.  With all the ingredients in place, the proper foundation, the car is more than just stylistically attractive.  It's the full package.  Beauty and performance.  A masterpiece.  Perhaps I'm getting carried away.  But that's actually a good thing, right? 

Cheers. 
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:iconamature-artist-250:
amature-artist-250 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Student General Artist
Great advice, thanks!
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:iconblakjak21:
blakjak21 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Totally agree, emotion does superseed technique. Perfect can put a distance between the art and the viewer sometimes.
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:icon9thportal:
9thportal Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
Emotion is Key. Thanks DAN!
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:iconsteele67:
Steele67 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Art-Charmer !!!!!!!!
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:iconwynturtle:
Wynturtle Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014   Digital Artist
I needed this, Thanks man
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:iconmtman318:
mtman318 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Student General Artist
This sounds a lot like when writers are told to "find their voice." I wonder if both "voice" for writing and "charm/life" for visual art are actually one and the same...
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:iconlevel-3:
level-3 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014
Best thing I've read this morning! I hope more people (especially artists) understand how important this is.
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:iconartsytarts:
artsytarts Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you for this journal. It's some very good advice and really helpful!
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:iconnmrosario:
NMRosario Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was a great read, thanks for taking the time to help share this information.

When I took art in college, my professor once found me measuring out my figure drawings with a ruler to ensure that they all had the proper proportions and she essentially told me to stop doing that and to be more loose when drawing my human figures and less concerned with anatomy and proportions.  I was highly resistant to it back then, but now I think I understand what she meant.  I still try to get the anatomy and proportions correct, but am more focused on the expressiveness and "personality" of the drawing first and foremost.  If I can't get that right, then all the anatomy and proportion skills in the world aren't going to save it.  Basically, if I don't feel that the drawing has "come alive" then I don't waste too much of my time developing it.  I simply try the drawing again on a fresh piece of paper or move on to something else.

Even when I look at the work created by my favorite artists, I'm most interested in seeing the artist's personality show through in their style and not so much on how close to a photograph their art looks.  
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:iconskipper-doodle1:
Skipper-doodle1 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love this entry!!! Awesome point. Well versed and I am going to apply more of this into my art and practices. Thank you. :D
kaomoji set 1 3/19 Clap 
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:iconinkpulp:
Inkpulp Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014
Very well said. Who knew there was a brain in that meat locker of a head you've got.
Reply
:iconbalancomics:
BalanComics Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I was just discovering this recently actually - as a comic artist trying to break in, I've been told by editors and friends that I need to work on my faces.  So I rounded up my anatomy books and started working through them, only to find that while my results were more accurate, they didn't exude any more feeling or expression than they did before.

Then I started doing what you were saying - trying to feel what my subject was feeling.  It clicked really well, and I'm excited to keep practicing and put that "acting" into my work.

Thanks for the great entry!
Reply
:iconfuture-parker:
future-parker Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Professional General Artist
I agree, it's definitely important to learn the technical side but don't get chained to it. 
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:iconorangus:
orangus Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Awesome info. Thanks!
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:iconmichael-ellis:
Michael-Ellis Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I really appreciate this. It's very easy for me to get uptight while working, and the more I do, the more anxiety-ridden the piece looks.

What do you do to "relax" and get into a drawing? Sketch a ton? Draw in public around people? Shoot a ton of heroin?
Reply
:iconpauscorpi:
pauscorpi Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
i think being able to see the need for this elusive 'charm' and being aware in trying to achieve it is what accounts for the just as elusive instance of 'talent'. Not only do i dismiss statements that talent doesn't exist but it seems to me it is what make the difference between an artist and a draughtsman and what is essentially the same reason why some cannot make the next step despite technical proficiency.

I wonder if one can be going back and forth between proficiency and charm in the process. Looking back at  pieces from a few years ago when i started drawing, I'd consider the figures ugly my current aesthetic standards but sadly concluded there was infinitely more emotion in them thank anything I have done recently. This journal was a very helpful reminder of where to look! Thanks! :)
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:icontombancroft:
tombancroft Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Good article Dan.  At Disney, the old guys called it creating "appeal" in your drawings.  It was equally elusive and hard to explain what that secret ingredient was.  It usually came down to giving your characters a purpose, a personality.  Combine that with the technical ability you speak of, you can get "appeal"- or charm- in your drawings.   It's basically "life".  
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Thanks Tom!  Life isn't easy to capture in any capacity these days!
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:icondmrademir:
dmrademir Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
<font><font>Realmente pertinente.Ótima colocação.</font></font>
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:icongreasystreet:
greasystreet Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
One of the things that I do every now and then is go to John K's blog or read my Glen Keane notes.  Aside from the technical I find my appeal is lacking.  Appeal is so important and most places don't teach it, very  nice of you to bring it up here.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Ha! So untrue Adam!  I love your drawings and particularly  the caricatures! 
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:icongreasystreet:
greasystreet Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks man.  :D
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:iconthevicmalhotra:
thevicmalhotra Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Nice read! Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down.
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:icontimtownsend:
TimTownsend Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
I'm sporting an epic Broner' right now.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Oh my...!
Reply
:icondavidgmiley:
DAVIDGMILEY Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
I dig your post. 

It makes a lot of sense. Over the last 4 years I've been trying to 
find my charm in my own art. I've done a  few pieces where I know I took only two hours. 

I had fun with the two in that one drawing than most others I've for a lot longer. 

Also, "Capturing" the moment was good too. Good Read. 

Thanks Urban
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:icondruje:
druje Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
 What a great journal entry, Dan. And what a great Sunday afternoon read, just as one was contemplating these very issues. Thank you for a very insightful input, Dan! Breaking free of the barriers we set ourselves once we reach a certain point, is the KEY.
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:icondanny-ded:
DANNY-DED Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh totally agree, I'm a painter (very inspired by comic books and sci-fi) and it's true, once the technique completely acquired in our respective art, we have to forget it (not unlearn but just forget it). I often take the example of jazz music. We are often our own prison in art, simply break free and trust our abilities.
Reply
:iconnevermindgirl1970:
nevermindgirl1970 Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
so deep!!:| (Blank Stare) 
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:iconluke-crowe:
luke-crowe Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I'll do it, I will mention the mighty Rob! :iconrob-liefeld: Some parts of this journal may apply to him more than others, but the 'energy' that many people talk about in Liefeld's art is what I would consider his 'charm'.
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:iconrolandparis:
RolandParis Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
well said Dan. Very few artists that start out working in the style of another artist can grow out of that. You have to develop that charm, as you say, own your own. Artists that have done this are Bill Sienkiewicz started out drawing very much like Neal Adams, but grew into his own. The same can be said for Travis Charest  who drew very similar to Jim Lee and the Wildstorm camp, but grew to become his own distinct self. Like they always say, you cannot break the rules unless you know them... but once you do, breaking them is the way to develop your own style and charm. 
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:iconstephen-green:
Stephen-Green Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
Thanks for posting these lessons, Dan. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this stuff.
Reply
:iconnickmockoviak:
NickMockoviak Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I agree. You need "it"- whatever that is- to push yourself to the next level.
Reply
:iconlightning-powered:
Lightning-Powered Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
yup
Reply
:iconade-doodles:
ADE-doodles Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
well said
Reply
:iconransomgetty:
RansomGetty Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
This was very much needed for me to read right now. I've been extremely displeased with my, (in my humble but honest opinion) boring artwork. Charm IS what it's lacking. Talk about a tough thing to remedy, but I will try my hardest and get back to my animation student roots! Thanks Dan!
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:iconjohnchalos:
johnchalos Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
Reply
:iconstevicious:
stevicious Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Damn
Reply
:iconmentat0209:
mentat0209 Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
Love your blogs dude! Am not much a blog's guy but your writing is really compeling
Reply
:iconseangordonmurphy:
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
You, sir, are charming.
Reply
:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
I trust your judgment Sean! ;)
Reply
:icontimtownsend:
TimTownsend Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
Horribly so.
Reply
:iconanjyil:
anjyil Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Great advice!
Reply
:iconnemmey:
nemmey Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
>u<! I want to improve more and more lol. This actually really helps :>
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:iconjoshua-d-mitchell:
Joshua-D-Mitchell Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
Dan bringing the heat!
Reply
:iconvikrapuff:
Vikrapuff Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Great analysis! Thank you for writing Barbarian!
Reply
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