I recently got a comment under one of my Instagram posts asking if it was hard to get back to painting my comic “Yuragi” after few months of break and painting a completely different thing (anime backgrounds). The answer was “no” it was very easy to match the style and to get back into the groove.
But it should have been harder.
I started thinking and realized that I did not feel like I learned a lot during the break during which I, after all, was not idle - I painted more than 40 anime backgrounds with watercolors for the “Susume Karolina.” short animation. Sometimes big, complicated scenes. But even though I put much time and effort into it I do not feel my style changed and my skill improved so much.
I must be at the top of THE CURVE in what I usually do (watercolor scenery painting in my style).
Come to think about it, when I did my previous illustration series (like “Bicycle Boy”) or even when I did the first half of “Yuragi” comic I could see and feel the progress in my technique I made. This time it was different - I made the work I was required to do for the animation and that’s it.
To be honest, I started feeling this a little already some time ago. Even the pictures that I thought went 120% well were not “epiphanies” and leaps in skill level.
If I’m really at the curve level at which the time/energy spent payout is low what should I do? Just plow through and get a little better over many years and projects? Or should I try a different strategy?
I could add another learning curve on top of the current one to make the process a little bit more easy and rewarding. For example, I could start drawing more characters. I’m not so good at this so the learning process should bring more easy progress and satisfaction from learning.
This is probably one of the things I will do - try painting new stuff, like characters or using new techniques, like gouache or Procreate on iPad while trying to level-up my base scenery painting skill along with it. At the same time, I will have to be careful not to lose any of the skill I worked so hard to get in scenery painting so it’s more like building on top of the first learning curve that already more-or-less leveled out to be able to do more interesting things!