Every so often, I get an email or comment, and it goes like this:
“Hi NR. I love your artwork. I want to color like you. What art programs do you use?”
As if good art skills are just something that can be bought (or in Photoshop’s case, hacked) off the internet. I was young and naive once, too. I thought getting Photoshop would solve all my problems. So I downloaded a demo of Photoshop 5. And I couldn’t make it do anything better than my archaic version of Paint Shop Pro.
What I was making in Paint Shop Pro:
What I made immediately afterward in Photoshop. Notice the lens flare.
See, the problem was not the program. The problem was me.
Over the years, as I studied and took classes and read books and practiced, my art skills improved. So my digital painting skills improved, too. I just applied things I learned in real media.
Or, to put it another way, the magic feather wasn’t magic. The magic was in me.
But everybody wants a magic feather. I guess nobody wants to do the work to get their skill up? I don’t know.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to just artists. Tools for writers like Scrivners are touted as the Best Thing EVER. If you buy this product, you will be published before the year is out!
But the magic isn’t in the tool. The magic is in you. The tool just helps you focus your magic, kind of like the wands in Harry Potter. And most of that magic is hard work.
I’ve seen lots of statistics about it. Innate talent is about 20% of the reason for success. The other 80% is hard work. Hours and hours of hard work. If you’re an artist, it’s the hard work spent adjusting your values and your masses and agonizing over details. If you’re a writer, it’s the hard work spent revising and rewriting.
But it pays off, if you’re willing to put in the hours.