07-02-2011, 08:06 AM
The reason for doing exact copies of images is only for training your hand-to-eye coordination and ability to observe, analyze, and match proportions, values, colors, and edges. It has nothing whatsoever to do understanding light and shadow behaviors or perspective or anything else. It's simply visual comparison and matching, and having your hand reproduce what it sees.
It doesn't matter too much what you choose to copy, but it would be a good idea to copy something that you deem to be of a highly quality image of respectable artistic merit.
If you are creating an image using your imagination, then you need to realize this:
You can work completely out of your head, without ever needing to consult any photo references or even real life, if you have mastered the essential foundations of visual art, as well as have had built up respectable experience as an artist with a large memory bank of how the world looks and functions. This doesn't mean it's "better" or "worse" to work exclusively out of head--it simply means it can be done, especially if you are working in a more stylized manner. It also doesn't mean that consulting photo reference is good or bad, as it is simply a matter or practicality. To what degree you adhere to the references should depend solely on the need of the image you have imagined, not whether you would become crippled as an artist as soon as you stopped slavishly copying a reference. The better you are as an artist, the less you need to slavishly copy, and will have the freedom to deviate from references whenever needed, and not have to suffer the consequence of inconsistent quality/style.
When you should choose a career path has very little to do with where you are as an artist. Some people knew by the time they are still children that they want to be cartoonists or sci-fi/fantasy illustrators. If you have no goal and develop your artistic skills and knowledge, there's no guarantee that you'll eventually figure out what you want to focus on as an artist--you may never figure it out and just sort of do a little of this and a little of that. It's also possible to know exactly what you want before you even start learning in earnest, and then develop your skill and knowledge towards that goal. It's really a matter of what you love the most and what interests you the most (provided you have a good understanding of all the different artistic careers are available out there and can compare them).
07-02-2011, 08:06 AM
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