Monday 21 January 2019

The Importance of Reading

Kyla: T-Rex Hunt

The picture above is inspired by another picture I found in Words for Pictures, a book about writing comics by Brian Michael Bendis.

The picture in the book depicts The Hulk fighting a T-Rex, and smashing its head with a single blow. As you can imagine, it is a very dramatic picture.

The picture is also very well drawn. It uses foreshortening and a dramatic angle to create a sense of movement and action. There is unrestrained power and savagery.

I can't even come close to matching the skill that went into creating the picture in the book.

However, that does not stop me from trying!

I read, I study pictures, and I try to improve. The first step is to try to replicate what I see. I usually do not try to replicate characters straight off. Instead I focus on composition, movement, lighting, all the elements that create the mood and evoke emotions.

Here is another picture inspired by artwork from the same book:

Kyla: Close Combat

The inspiration is from a page spread with pictures of Hulk and Thor fighting, made by different artists. Even though all the pictures depict battles between the same characters, they are all very different.

And, the Hulk vs. Thor pictures, while they have some things in common with mine, like close combat between characters of uneven size, are also different from my picture.

The point is that without me reading that book by Bendis, neither of these two pictures would exist.

Reading, looking at pictures, and analyzing what I read and see, enables me to create things I otherwise could not.

Here is a third picture I could not have created without reading:

This picture is from a fashion photo session. I took the opportunity to also shoot a few portraits.

In order to create this portrait, I needed to know how to light a person, how to use my camera, how to do background replacement with Affinity Photo, how to do frequency separation, and a host of other things.

How did I get to know all those things? How can I go from Fantasy comics to fashion photography to portraits?

The answer is easy: Reading!

...and, of course, tons of practice. All of the practice I have done would not have mattered much though, if I had not read books on photography and post-processing, and discussed it with other photographers.

One of the most common mistakes I see in people who want to develop their artistic abilities, is that they learn a few things, then keep repeating them, with minor variations, without trying to learn and practice something new.

You can't do all new stuff all the time, because then you never master anything, but you can keep adding something new to the pictures you make, so that when you practice the things you know, you also keep learning new things.

Reading books is not the only way to learn something new, but it is one of the easiest, most effective, and definitely one of the most enjoyable.

So, decide what you want to learn next, then go pick up a book about it. You won't regret it!

I sure don't!