Vega’s Not-As-Basics of Art and Design #

So, we have the basics that any art program will focus on - Lines, Shape, Form, Color, Space, Texture, Value - and these are the standard starting topics for good reason. They’re tried and tested to make people better at art, and they apply to any piece. This is great, but I think there are a few things left out of this for the purpose of making it broadly applicable. So, here’s my personal list of what I keep in mind for art, in addition to the above. Not all of these apply to every art work, and you may have some you don’t care about or would add. Though if you do have some you want to add, you should really let me know!

  • Interaction - How does the subject work with other things or influence its surroundings?
    • Desires - What does it want?
      • Aggression - How does it impede other objects desires?
    • Mechanics - What does it support or cause to move?
  • History - How has it been used, worn down, grown, eroded, formed over time, or constructed? Has it been treated lovingly, or allowed to decay?
  • Math - How much does the object repeat, branch out, spiral, and form math-y shapes.
    • Similarity/Symmetry - How similar are different regions of the subject? Is it like leave on a tree, or dirty stains on a pair of jeans?
    • Patterns - Frequency? Is there an obvious cut point, like a pattern meeting a seam?
    • Fractals - you know what these are.
      • Self similar - What you probably think of when you think fractals - the kind that keep repeating forever.
      • Natural - Branches of a tree
  • Detail - How much detail do you want to capture? Where do you sit on the spectrum of photo-realistic to iconography?
  • Artsy-ness - Is the subject supposed to be highly detailed and pretty, or purely functional and minimalistic? Passive or attention grabbing?
  • Culture - Where is the subject supposed to be from, and what is the culture like there?
  • Emotion - Is the subject supposed to elicit an emotional response?
    • Subversion - Is the subject supposed to be misleading? Like a mimic (chest monster) or little girl demon.
    • Message - Is subject supposed to convey a message by its very existence? Like a gas mask worn in the city to comment on pollution.
  • Story - Is there a sequence of events the viewer should see?
    • Implied - Clues can be left about the meaning, use, and emotion attached to a place or object to hint at a past state.
    • Overt - Comics, written out sounds, fade from before and after, etc.

Interaction #

Desires & Aggression #


Mechanics #

History #

[TODO] picture of rock layers, dent in cup, age marks on wall

Math #

Similarity/Symmetry #

Patterns #

Fractals #

Self-Similar #

Natural #


Detail #

Do not mistake detail for quality. More detail ≠ better.

Artsy-ness #

This is the worst named and most subjective item on this list. While with detail I mean how much of the subject’s characteristics do you intend to capture, with Artsy-ness I mean how do you want to capture it. Should extra frills, long sweeping curves, lots of useless but visually appealing stray lines, vibrant colors, and art-for-the-sak of art for your eye to follow be added? Or do you want each line to be vital to conveying the true form or purpose of the subject? I don’t mean minimalism, either. For example, you could have a highly detailed, photo-realistic drawing of an object - that clearly isn’t minimal. But it’s not “frilly” or “artsy”.

Also, don’t mistake artsy for fun. You could have something be “artsy” but horror themed, or very traditional and direct but fun - like a drawing of a rock concert.

Culture #

Emotion #

Subversion #

[TODO] image of mimic here

Message #

Story #

Implied #

Overt #

Image originally from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, a very raunchy anime that uses this style of written-out sounds to great effect. Screen capture stolen from soundeffect.fandom.com.

One last thing: Have FUN! #

Making art should be something you enjoy. Yes, you may be doing it as a job, which will take some fun out of it, but your best work will always be the work you enjoyed making and felt passionate about. Good art doesn’t have to take days or weeks, it just has to make someone feel the way you want them to! Making people smile doesn’t take incredible talent, just a good idea:


Nilan_1999 on Twitter

If you would like to support my development of OpGuides, please consider supporting me on GitHub Sponsors or dropping me some spare change on Venmo @vegadeftwing - every little bit helps ❤️