Techniques to paint / Stylize and abstraction?


I almost did not post this, I’m not sure if it’s too much of a personal thing to achieve that anyone can voice, but if I don’t ask, I don’t get, right?

I stopped trying to paint portraits and characters so accurately that it’d take me a long time, instead, nowadays I’m more in love with people works who can do abstraction with enough suggestion of how the character looks.

For example sakes. Here is a work from me, trying to paint in expressionism style and being accurate with form and value, although with little stylization:
It’s an old work.

Instead, nowadays I’m more drawn to try to stylize, not because I can’t paint a whole photorealistic thing, but because I think it’d take a lot of time.

Abstract styles:



I’m sure there will be people smacking me for this, and accusing me of trying to hide my lack of skill to paint, but in reality, has nothing to do with that, it just means going a shorter road, while focusing more on drawing than enough painting to make it look a (little) better than just line. I could paint a little more detailed, I just want to simplify.

The way I see it, anyway, I can’t put my finger on why the colors work, maybe someone can help me out? They don’t seem to respect any quantity relationship, they all seem to have the same amount of hue and almost no strong blacks or strong whites, on top of that, the light and shadow relation, that bases itself on sphere light systems: seems to be reduced to only one light side and one shadow side, excluding core shadows, reflect light, sometimes it has half tone but very little of it too.

Or maybe I should really just stick to something else? Hopefully a view of my work on the link in the post will be the judge of that.

I guess, ultimately, my goal is to redirect my portfolio to something that would be my artwork but friendly to apply to studios like Telltale and Gearbox


I’ve critiqued something of yours before, so I’m familiar with the issues you are facing at this stage of your development.

One thing you have to recognize and accept, is that you currently do not have the ability to convey forms adequately yet, and you are hiding that weakness behind the guise of “expressive brushwork” and “stylization.” When an artist consciously focuses on a specific style, it should be because that’s what he prefers aesthetically (and/or logistically), not because he hasn’t attained enough proficiency in drawing/painting yet.

Regardless of what style you want to focus on as an artist, you NEED to attain proficiency in the classical areas of visual art, because that’s the foundation all visual artists need to master. Artists who work for Pixar and Disney do stylized work all day long, but they ALL have mastered classical realism too, because that’s what a proficient artist needs to have under his belt. Those guys can do awesome classical looking portraits, landscapes, still life, etc., and many of them when not doing stylized work for they day job, they are training themselves in the classical area by attending life weekly drawing sessions, doing plein air painting, doing master copies, etc.

When you attain proficiency as an artist, you can then use that mastery and apply it towards stylization. It’s only when you intimately understand how the world really looks and works, will you be able to know how to most effectively simply, idealize, exaggerate, and abstract it. This is why the best artists working in stylized approaches have all mastered the foundations of visual art.

As for the examples of the stylized art you linked, their colors and values work because those styles emphasize shapes and proportions instead of values/lighting/forms or realistic colors. The colors they use are well harmonized, suggesting the unified influence under specific color-cast of light sources, and it also establishes a distinct color palette that can be associated with the style itself.

The values and completely flattened into two to three distinct flat values in the style of cel-shading. Most hand-drawn animation or comic book styles use that approach because it’s economical and easy to maintain consistency. It’s only when 3D animation came along that forms and lighting and complex/sophisticated colors were no longer a problem to produce consistently and convincingly (and economically).

Stylization is a very complex subject and as far as I know, I’m the only one teaching it currently in an online workshop (in week six of my Becoming a Better Artist workshop, linked below in my signature).


The ‘expressive’ = quick drawing was the way I was taught to draw in college by a traditional art PhD, to avoid the fear of failure. I haven’t updated my progress in a while, I’ll do it later. Thanks.


That can be helpful, but your attempt to avoid fear of failure should not be visible in your finished work. Also, a lot of people have misconceptions about brush economy, speed, simplification, and expressiveness. Read this post I wrote about the subject and you’ll learn how to separate them and when to use them: