Some thoughts on Etude

So I've been doing a lot of thinking over whether or not I should resume Etude, not just in the past week but ever since I stopped. Looking back to when it began on BFLAT, I have to say it was probably the one period where I can honestly say that I *felt* myself improving. Not saying that without Etude I didn't improve, but during that time it was like I could actually ascertain my improvement as it was happening, because of the fact I was very intentionally learning things as it went along.


It is not to say Etude was without improvement, one of the biggest drawbacks to me was the lack of preperation, many sessions began without me having proper references or guidence, which in turn led to less direction in the session itself. Being only 2 hours long didn't spare too much time for research, and my schedule was cluttered enough that it was not always possible to find good references in advance. So we saw the birth of Ref-etude, which was a great help in that regard, as it allowed multiple people to contribute references to a collective pool that everyone could access and utilize.


Looking at things now, I feel that in order for Etude to continue, it would have to change. I probably wouldn't continue Etude in its current form, not because it was terrible, but because I feel there are other things I want to focus on learning, and I feel like the approach could be improved to suit that. So, how would it change?


Previously, Etude followed a daily theme format (Mondays - Hands, Tuesdays Feet etc) which worked to improve knowledge in those specific areas. This was good to practice things in an isolated space, but the weakness became more obvious when it came time to put parts together and really use them. Just to keep this (relatively) short, I'm going to bullet-point what I feel were the weaknesses of Etude, my current goals, and how I feel the new approach will suit that.


Etude cons:

  • A lot of topic-skipping (jumping from one thing to another, even if one thing wasnt properly learnt)
  • Lack of a unifying day (where all previous parts could be put together), yes there were pose-themed days but they were more for the general pose itself
  • Very little preperation time

What I want to improve:

  • Posing and interaction (I know these two were themes from the previous Etude, but a huge part of the struggle was figuring out WHAT pose to take, etc)
  • Expressions/emotion (It really came to my attention when I was watching the 硝子の花園 MAD, which had a really nice range of expressions)
  • Consistency (I think this is one of my largest problems actually, and what seperates an amatuer from a professional. The ability to produce something of the same quality and look is something I need to work on. And yes, I'm aware that it's hard to be consistent when you're still improving, but I'm also talking at being able to draw the same character multiple times and still have it look like the same character)


  • Instead of daily themes, just have one goal; to create a short story
  • The story does not have to be incredibly coherent or well-planned
  • Draw at least 4 frames of the story per session

Okay, so what does this proposal change? To start, the fact you're making a story means you won't have to deal with "what pose should I draw/how should these 2 people interact" since a scenario would be put fourth already. Also, the fact that it's a story implies there are people, and if they are the same people then you deal with the idea of consistency. Having a story also helps with giving characters expressions, since there'd be dialogue for them to react to.


Obviously there are still drawbacks and difficulties involved with this approach, I quickly just tried out the idea and realized how hard it is to plan things out from one frame to the next. That test is why I added the rule that the story doesn't need to be incredibly coherent, because in order for that to happen I'd have to plan out every panel from the start, which would take more time than I'd like. I'm still not entirely sure I'm ready or capable of doing this, but then again, the whole point of Etude from the beginning was to show how many mistakes you'd need to make to improve.


It's not ideal, and I'm sure there are better approaches, but right now this (in theory) seems to work out, although it has deviated so far from Etude that I'm not sure it should even go by the same name. Essentially I'm just drawing a storyboard really, really slowly. With that being said, I do intend to pick it up starting next Monday. Things aren't entirely planned out yet, but I'd rather start now and improve it as I go along than wait until I have everything sorted (aka never).


Oh, and Happy Halloween. I didn't draw anything Halloween-related, but here's the test-storyboard I referenced earlier in this post.