• Jessie Chang

How to Create Your Art Style

Large white text that says "Let's talk about art styles" over top of a blurred image of a worksheet

Creating an art style can be tricky. They’re hard to hone, and even harder to make sense of. How can you make your style distinct and recognizable? How do you create a style without copying someone else? There are lots of things to worry about when you start, but creating a style is never a step by step process. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a unique art style for yourself!

Before we start, what is an art style?

a screenshot from the movie Spirited Away next to a promotional photo of the movie Frozen

Take a look at a Disney movie and compare it to a Studio Ghibli movie. If you compared the two, you can probably tell which company did which. The signature thin lines and flat colours of Ghibli versus the large eyes and rounded 3D models of Disney are completely different, making them distinguishable. That’s an art style! It’s the elements of someone’s artwork that makes them recognizable, even if their name isn’t presented. Every aspect of someone’s art is what makes them distinguished, whether it’s the bright pastels of a Kirby game, or the large, glittery eyes of Sailor Moon. Most artists’ goal is to create a style that makes them stand out from the rest!

1. Find an artistic aesthetic

The same character drawn three times in three different art styles

Most art styles develop as a result of what we absorb as artists. What shows do you like to watch? What games do you play? Which artists do you follow? When you ask these questions while developing a style, you could discover a pattern! Is it the linework you like? The colours? The subject matter? For instance, my digital painting style developed because I learned that I liked the way a painting looks when you can see all the brushstrokes. So, while I create, I take care not to make everything too perfectly rendered. My regular style also developed because I learned that I was a big fan of bold, sharp, and varied linework! So most of my work follows that style. Experiment with different things you like, and you may just come up with a style that works for you!

2. Study styles from other artists

A panel from Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

A study is when you copy another artist’s work to learn from their techniques. Studies from historical artists and professional artists are called master studies, and they usually help you learn how the masters painted their works. You should never copy artwork and claim it as your own, but copying artwork to learn is completely okay! Always give proper credit to the original artist if you post it, or just keep it to yourself. Artists learn from other artists, so allow yourself to be inspired by historical artists, modern artists, and your peers.

Make sure that when you’re studying, you’re understanding what you’re doing. Don’t just copy an artwork without thought -- pay attention to how they achieved their techniques. What kinds of brushstrokes do they use? Where do they thicken/thin out their linework? What colours do they use the most? Understanding a style is key to studying it, and when you understand someone else’s art style, you’ll find it easier to understand and strengthen your own!

3. Start at the basics

drawn studies of various muscle groups

One of my favourite things to do when exploring styles is starting at the beginning. Go back to the basics, focus on some anatomical studies, re-learn colour theory, etc. -- it can help you understand your techniques and give you a new base to start from. It might feel like a step backwards, but think of it as you learning to tackle something from a new angle. You may find it easier to get the look that you’re aiming for this way!

4. Understand your own art style

The same character drawn 3 times over the course of three years

That’s right, you already have an art style! Whether you think you have one or not, most -- if not all -- artists have certain things that they’ll default to when illustrating. Maybe it’s the way you draw eyes, or the way you draw hair. Maybe it’s how you line or colour things. Most of the time, artists aren’t actually looking for a style, and are instead looking for a way to refine the one that already exists.

An art style will never start out perfect. Art styles take refinement and practice. They develop, change, and become more apparent the longer you draw for. So keep on practicing and experimenting -- you’ll definitely get to where you want to be if you keep working towards your goal!

Creating and working with a new style can be tough! If you’d like to learn to experiment with different styles, check out our cartooning and anime classes, where you can learn to refine and explore different styles through fanart and original artwork. If you’d like to head back to the basics or learn some artistic techniques for free, check out our YouTube Channel, filled with all kinds of art tutorials, from character design to anatomy!

Art Resources for Educators

If you’re an educator and liked what you read, check out our teachers pay teachers page, where you can get this blog as a worksheet! You can also check out more of our free resources for your classroom on our art resources for teachers page!

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