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An entrepreneur's tale of getting herself out there despite her social anxiety.

One of my biggest fears has been that I'll end up spending all of my time building a great product and have no one to use it or willing to pay for it.

I've known for good while now that I can't simply invest the majority of my time in building the PaperDemon site/app and expect to be successful. My research into entrepreneurship and startups has uncovered that one of the main ways that businesses fail is not enough traction. Startups may have a great product idea but not enough customers. And that's why it's important that I invest the necessary time to grow our community and user base.

It's also why I've identified my introversion as probably the biggest risk of failure for my business.

The value of collaboration

I've been creating content somewhat regularly over the last several months through our blog and YouTube channel. But I could do more to reach new audiences.

One thing I've observed other content creators do is interviews. The person being interviewed benefits because they like sharing their insights and getting exposure/more followers. The interviewer's audience benefits from these insights and from the extra exposure from the interviewee's audience.

Another thing I've seen other creators do is cross interviews. A youtuber/podcaster may interview someone on their channel and vice versa, creating cross pollination of audiences.

So it seemed to make business sense to form these relationships and give interviews/collaborations a try.

Why I hadn't yet done it

Over the past couple years I've been wrestling with anxiety. More recently have come to learn that my most of my anxiety is the “social anxiety” variety; the fear of judgment from other people.

It's easy to see how a socially anxious person could get stuck here. I haven't been so sure about how to approach others about a collaboration or how to even get started interviewing others. I have a list of people I want to ask, but I haven't asked yet.

I had this limiting belief that in order to start, I had to be good at interviewing others and good at talking to strangers. That's not something that comes naturally to me. Adding ADHD into the mix means I'm not great at paying attention or listening to others. I'm often not sure how to keep the conversation flowing. Not to mention, I can be really awkward at times.

I also had a belief that an interview had to be this long complicated well thought out thing.

Getting over my limiting beliefs

My coach helped me see an opportunity that was right in front of me. I was planning to go to ShrunkenHeadMan Con at San Jose State anyway so why not turn that into an opportunity to film interviews with others. It seemed so much simpler than what I originally had in my mind. Just a bunch of little 5 minute interviews with people.

He suggested I come up with two or three topics to ask people. Then just listen. People will volunteer things to talk about. And go wherever it leads. This seemed way more managable to me than asking someone to do a longer form 30-60 minute interview.

I decided I was going to do it. Even if I do it badly. The practice alone will bring me closer to what I want to be and where I want to go. I had nothing to lose.

Doing my Social Anxiety Homework

I attend a weekly social anxiety support group and class and at the end of each session we're asked to commit to doing any one thing we want in the next week that's outside our comfort zone.

This week I said I was going to interview strangers. My peers were impressed.

I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable rejection. Some people that I asked to do an interview are going to say “no” and that's okay. Because eventually someone will say “yes”. And this helped. In the end, I wasn't hurt at all by anyone saying “no.”

While things didn't go quite as smoothly as I wanted them to, I still did better than expected. Yeah I was a little awkward at first, but every time I did an interview things seem to quickly smooth over. It was mostly about letting the other people talk and maybe asking a couple follow-up questions.

One thing that I was surprised by is how frequently people said “yes.” People who didn't know me at all were excited to be interviewed and share their insights.

The hardest part? Choosing someone to approach was harder than the actual approach itself. I did waste some time just wandering around deciding who to ask.

What I learned

The fast repetition allowed me to quickly learn. Rather than trying to do one long drawnout interview with one person, doing a bunch of little ones allowed me to practice my approach. Also since I had a script of things that I was asking over and over, it made it a little easier.

Sometimes being in the social context is not the part that causes my anxiety. Instead the anxiety comes after. When I start to ruminate about the awkward ways in which I may have started conversations or could've been smoother in my conversations or whatever. But I've learned recently that this rumination is common and is just a part of the social anxiety. Somehow knowing that that's what it was and labeling it when it happens made it have less power over me.

Overall I'm satisfied with the experience. I didn't push myself too hard like I used to. A few months ago if I had done this I would've tried to spend the whole day getting interviews and ended the day burnt out and exhausted. Instead, I paced myself and only did it for a couple hours.

I'm also proud of myself for asking for help. I was wise enough to recruit my husband to help be my camera person. Having someone familiar there helped ground me and keep me more relaxed and allowed me to focus on the social interaction. (Thank you Mike for helping!)

In terms of the benefits to my business, I made some great contacts which may lead to future collaborations. I also got some great footage for an upcoming YouTube video which I think will provide useful insights for our community. (I can't wait to share it. The video should be coming out in late March/early April.)

But most of all I learned that I can do this. I am capable of doing hard things. And that while I do have social anxiety, it doesn't mean it has to stop me from doing what's needed to help my business.

Posted on

This challenge is for adults only.

For the first time in a long while we're going to do an erotic themed art challenge for the month of February. February is the month of Valentine's Day so it kinda makes sense, #amirite?

With all the tumblr drama, it seems like now's a great time to proudly reaffirm the importance and our love for erotic art.

How to participate

  1. Create an erotic work of art or short story depicting two or more people sharing an intimate moment in a hidden place.
  2. Post your art/writing to PaperDemon Red Curtain with the tag doingitinthebushes before the end of February 2019. Feel free to share it across social media with this hashtag #DoingItInTheBushes
  3. Profit! Once we have our our challenge XP feature done you'll gain 75 experience points for participating.

Thought starters

  • In a department store dressing room
  • At work in the copy room after work hours
  • In a garden
  • A hidden room behind a bookcase (are we playing Clue?)
  • A cove on the beach
  • In a forest
  • In a car
  • In a movie theater (though I hear they have cameras pointed at the audience to catch this sort of thing... but artistic license and all that jazz)
  • In a library
  • On the roof of a tall building
  • Highschool staircase

On a side note, here's an interesting article for your amusement I came across while researching for this art challenge. Special thanks to Finginma for helping me plan this challenge.

Happy drawing and writing!

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What artistic goals do you have for yourself this year?

Many people set New Year's resolutions for themselves in the new year but have trouble actually sticking with them and seeing them through. Check out my latest video for strategies on how to actually achieve your artistic goals FOR REALSIES.

Reply and let me know what your goals are (whether there for the next week, month, quarter, or year). I'd love to share everyone's goals in my next video!

Posted on

It's been a while since I've given an update on the development progress for PaperDemon. This post is probably going to be a long one but in the future I'll do my best to give shorter, more frequent updates.

Experiments with Marketing

Over the past six months I've been learning about marketing, goal setting, planning, and prioritizing. There's always so much work to do. From web development tasks to marketing to livestreams to YouTube videos. Over the last year I've been experimenting with many different marketing techniques in hopes of finding something that is a good fit to help grow our community and providing useful content.

An unfortunate side effect of this experimentation is I end up getting stretched too thin on many things and making little progress in each of them. So over the past few weeks I've been narrowing my focus and getting better at prioritizing and delegating. For example, I'm no longer livestreaming and I'm producing videos for our Youtube channel at a slower pace to focus more on app development.

While this may seem like it's not related to product development for PaperDemon, I feel it closely is related. Because if I'm spending a lot of time on various experiments, that's time that I'm not spending on app development. But I think I've learned what I needed from the experiments and I'm refocused now on prioritizing the product development.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Finginma and Honeysparkle for volunteering to help with the newsletter and social media!

Feature updates

As of earlier this month, ranks have now been replaced sitewide with level and experience instead. So now even on the old UI you will see a person's current character level. Special thanks to Woozle for this feature update!

Refactoring

The last several years of working as a creative engineer for Google have allowed me to learn a lot of concepts and best practices that I wasn't following when I finished the last rewrite in 2012. This has allowed me to look upon PaperDemon and identify ways to make it more sustainable in the long run.

I have talked a bit about this before, but it's my belief most of PaperDemon's codebase (which we call “legacy”) is suffering from many problems that make it hard to maintain going forward. In particular, it is difficult to

  • set up a development environment, including staging to do QA. This is particularly bad because it's very difficult to get new developers setup to contribute to the source

  • make changes with confidence due to lack of automated tests

  • too much code. It would be significantly less if it was better architected

There's not a single automated test for the legacy code. This means that when we make changes we have to manually QA it. And with an app as large and complex as PaperDemon, this is prone to error. In addition, it's very expensive asking a developer to do their own QA so it's also not cost effective either.

The good news is, for several years we've been in the process of rewriting it a piece at a time to make it easier to maintain, more stable, and easier for other developers to contribute to, with automated unit tests even!

Feature removals

Over the years I've added numerous features in hopes of providing more value to the community. The downside of this is it's created more code for me and the team to maintain. There's been a number of features that the site has had that have gone unused or barely used. I could spend the time to migrate these but that would take away from more important and impactful things.

So quite a bit of work over the past few months has been removal of the features that aren't being used much. Here's a list of the things that have been removed.

  • Photos – almost no one used it.

  • Resources – What is the resources section you say? I'm not surprised you've not heard of it because I never launched it. It was an unfinished feature where users could post useful resource links and vote on how helpful they were and add comments. Kinda like Reddit I guess.

  • Artist commissions board

And here's a few more we plan to remove soon which we had announced previously that we'd be removing.

  • Chat – It used to appear on the forums page and was rarely used and has been removed from the Forums page already. We still have some work to do to completely remove the source. We think Discord works better for our community than the old chat did anyway.

  • Polls

  • Groups

2019 Q1 Plans

In addition to various maintinency stuff that is too boring to go into detail on, here's what's coming in the new year.

Blogs

I'm currently working on refactoring the PaperDemon blog feature. Originally I was thinking of cutting the blogs because they weren't being used much by the community. However our own site blog is very important for communicating with you all and I'm in need of some better blogging tools so I might as well upgrade it so everyone benefits.

Refactoring and new front end

As described above, I'll be continuing the work to re-factor and build the new front-end for the rest of PaperDemon.

Art submission improvements

On most art/image websites, submitting new artwork is a very quick and straightforward process. Unfortunately ours is not, and I think we can do better. I'd like to streamline the art submission process to make it quicker and easier for you all to share your wonderful works of art.

In particular, I want to get rid of the current gallery submission system. Galleries forces you to pick certain categories that may or may not actually apply to your artwork. And if your artwork fits in the particular fandom and there's no gallery for it, you gotta wait for me to create it for you.

I'd like to completely migrate from galleries to tags. Tags are very easy to understand and is what most sites do now. You can put as many or as little as you want. With tags, anyone to create a tag at any time.

Optimization

The new backend needs some improvement in terms of optimization. As our community grows, it's going to have some difficulties keeping up with higher traffic so I just need to make some tweaks here.

Game features

Our mission is to help motivate artists to become more awesome and that's where the game features come in.

Coming early next year is a new feature to help motivate us with art challenges. You'll be able to earn XP for participating in art events like Inktober and track your progress.

Even more game features will come after I've finished the other foundational work described above. I'm not entirely certain which game features are going to come next. I need to do some more conceptual work on this first and get back to you! I have so many ideas and my grand vision for this is likely to take 2-3 years to become fully realized. But my plan is to add a feature at a time, slowly moving toward the goal. Thank you for your patience.

As always, thank you everyone for your continued support of the community. You have no idea how happy it makes me when I hear the positive difference PaperDemon has had on people's lives.

Anyway, back to work! Let me know if you have any thoughts on this update. I look forward to making PaperDemon even more awesome in 2019!

Posted on

Yesterday, tumblr announced a change to their policy, titled A better, more positive tumblr. Adult content, including sexual and explicit artwork, will no longer be allowed on their platform starting on December 17. The announcement has left many artists who create adult content feeling angry, sad, confused and frustrated. Including me.

The loss of power in bringing niches together

While I wasn't super active there, I really did like the platform. The fact that people from all across the world can share their art and re-share it with others has helped bring together people who had very niche interests. I still remember my excitement and delight in stumbling across the galaxy cop tag on tumblr after watching the Lego Movie. And I recently was really happy to learn some of my erotic artwork had gotten reblogged a lot, more than any of my other work on any other platform.

There aren't many platforms like this left that are large enough to allow people with niche interests to come together. Sure, you can put up your own blog somewhere but you can't take advantage of searching for content by tag and the power of tumblr's reblogging allows people to spread your content further.

The burden of moving

I feel sympathetic to those who've posted a lot of content on tumblr. If you're one of them, you now have to deal with the burden of exporting all of your content and moving it elsewhere. Not to mention you have to do it with only three weeks notice during one of the busiest and most stressful seasons of the year.

Rejection

Perhaps what makes me the most sad is what this policy change represents. The title of their news announcing the policy change is “A better, more positive tumblr” as if to say the sexual content is negative. It feels like a rejection. It feels like someone is saying “your art is not worthy” or “sexuality is wrong.”

Sex is a part of life. It's part of who we are. Literally, none of us would be here without it (unless you were conceived through something like invetro). Sex is a physical expression of desire and/or love for another person. Why is that so wrong? Why is it taboo? I just don't get it. This is such a step in the wrong direction for us all.

What now?

I've noticed quite a few artists saying that they're going to move to twitter because twitter doesn't have restrictions for adult content. But like with any platform, they can change the rules at any time and you're left trying to pick up the pieces.

There's a part of me that says “hey you should be excited about this. Here's an opportunity for my community to meet the needs of others.” But I'm still overpowered by the sting of rejection.

We're here for you

Whenever you recover from this setback, please know that PaperDemon and the Red Curtain, our section dedicated to erotic art and fiction, is here for you. All of you from the tumblrpocalypse who are looking for a new home are welcome to join us. We're a small community and perhaps some day we can have the same kind of impact tumblr has in bringing people together.

But at the very least I can offer these words to you...

Your art is worthy.

Sex is beautiful.

Your art has value.

Your art is beautiful.

We will not reject you here. You and your art have a home here. Welcome to our corner of the internet.

Posted on

'Tis the season of giving. What better way for us to give than giving the gift of our own personal creations. This is a wonderful opportunity us to get to know one another and our original or favorite characters as well as challenge ourselves by creating something new.

What is it?

When you sign up, you put in a request of what you would like for your art. Then you, along with everyone else participating, will draw the request for the person their assigned. Between Christmas eve and New Year's, we each post our gifts 🎁 on PaperDemon!

Participation requirements

  • Please only sign up if you have the time to create a work of art for someone else.

  • Keep your request simple. Try to stick to one character, maybe two characters max.

How to participate

  1. Fill out the registration form by December 1st midnight PST and describe your art request.

    • Describe what character/thing you want drawn

    • Include links to reference images

  2. On December 2nd, I'll scramble the names and randomly chose someone on the list to draw your request and I'll send you a message letting you know who you've been assigned. Please don't tell who you are Secret Santa for. That would ruin the surprise!

  3. Create a work of art of what the other person requested

    • It's a huge bummer for the person on the receiving end to not get their gift so please don't bail. It doesn't have to be perfect or complex either. Do something realistic with the time you have.

    • If you think you might be late, please email me ( bogusred@paperdemon.com ) so I can let the person know.

  4. Post the art on PaperDemon between Dec 24th and January 1st with the tag secretsanta2018. Send a message to the person the gift is for with a link to their gift!

 

Register here

 

If you have questions, just post a reply here or in the discord.

It's been more than 10 years since we've done this but I plan for this to be a recurring yearly thing. I look forward to seeing the lovely creations you all make!

Posted on

And What to Do About It

Stress is something everyone in the history of existence has to deal with from time to time. And considering stress can impact the quantity and quality of our work, and stress-related injuries can render us unable to make art for a time, we artists are no exception.

Moreover, though, stress is one of those ubiquitous things about the human experience that ties us all together. Some people are more affected by it than others, to be sure, and what causes stress varies widely from person to person, but everyone experiences it at varying points in their lives to some degree or another.

Recently, I've touched on anxiety, and how it can interfere with being a productive member of a community. These anxieties are a source of much stress for those who experience them, but we have yet to really examine what stress actually is, which is an important thing to understand, especially if one would like to cut back on the amount of stress in one's life, which I think most of us definitely would.

Further, removing the source of one's stress (such as the social anxieties discussed in my last article), while helpful, does not always remove the stress itself, especially not immediately. To understand why this is, and how to cut back on stress in our lives, we need to understand what it actually is. So let's talk about that.

Stress: it's Not Always a Bad Thing...

So...what is stress, exactly? Well, speaking from a medical perspective, stress is one's mind and body reacting to a perceived harmful situation, whether that perception is accurate or not. Stress actually evolved as a beneficial response to such situations that helps one survive.

When stressed, one's body releases cortisol, the primary “stress hormone,” causing one’s heart rate and blood pressure to increase, breathing to grow faster, and one’s mind to become more alert and aware of one's surroundings, as well as muscles tightening some, getting the body ready to react quickly.

All of these things happen because one's body is preparing to deal with a perceived dangerous situation, historically by running away quickly or to allow one to defend oneself better, though it can be helpful in other ways as well; for instance, the increased alertness could aid one in seeing to all the duties of a new position after a promotion. When stress happens in small to moderate amounts and is helpful like this, it's referred to as “eustress.”

When our ancestors felt stress because they encountered signs of a dangerous predator nearby, it helped them run faster and/or fight harder to survive. And even in modern day, feeling some stress over things like crossing the street is good, because it makes you be sure to be careful, look both ways, etc, instead of just walking across fearlessly staring at your phone...which can get you killed.

And even in situations that are hardly life-threatening, eustress can be helpful too. An important deadline may cause stress, but that stress can motivate one to work that much harder to finish in time. So in short, stress does actually have a purpose, and can be helpful, even necessary at times, in small doses.

...But it Certainly can Be

Of course, the problem arises when one has far too much stress to function, and/or when stress is caused by the wrong things; things that don't actually benefit from it. If one feels crippling stress just thinking about a deadline, to the point of feeling paralyzed, it can make one less likely to finish on time, or at all. While a small amount of stress might motivate one to finish in that case, too much actually does the opposite.

"When you constantly release this stress hormone, you deplete your adrenals and create havoc in your body" - Kimberly Palm, Conquering Stress: The real fountain of youth.

Further, everyone reacts to stress differently and for some, even a small amount of stress can be negative and difficult to manage.

And if one were to feel stress from something typically innocuous like say, touching a doorknob, that would be counterproductive and make it difficult to function. Not only that, but feeling more stress than one needs is just plain uncomfortable, potentially causing emotional unease—Including worsening or even causing depression, anxiety, and mental illness—headaches, tensed muscles, high blood pressure, stomach upset, and chest pain, among other possible symptoms. When too much stress happens at once and is harmful like this, we call it “distress,” the opposite of helpful eustress.

Stress and your Health

"Stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century" - Kimberly Palm, Conquering Stress: The real fountain of youth.

As one might imagine given all the short term discomfort distress can cause as mentioned above, when distress continues to happen frequently over long periods of time, it can actually become a health risk. Headaches can become severe and chronic, elevated blood pressure can go from a temporary occurrence at the time of stress, to being dangerously high all the time, stomach problems can likewise become constant and worsen, anxiety can become near-unmanageable, and one can even develop heart problems from chronic, long-term distress.

Our own BogusRed, creator of PaperDemon, knows this struggle quite well. For her, chronic stress caused widespread, long-term muscle tension which led to injuries in her wrists, neck, and arms, halting her ability to make art or work for some time while she recovered. There is a reason stress causes muscle tension; as said before, it gets the body ready to react quickly when it needs to, but being tensed all the time is a problem, because our bodies just aren’t built to carry that much tension constantly.

Often, people who face long-term distress in their lives will turn to things such as alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy amounts of sugar or caffeine, or other substances to cope. Generally speaking, this will make things worse rather than better. While they can provide some temporary relief, relying on such substances to manage distress typically creates a reliance on them without actually alleviating the source of the harmful stress.

And further, overdoing it on any substance will create its own health problems that simply exacerbate and add to those already caused by the stress itself. If you're already using such substances in excess, see if you can cut back a little at a time as you find better ways of coping.

Hope Is Far from Lost

So if heavy substance use just makes things worse overall, how does one make them better? Well, the bad news is that there is no simple easy fix, and what exactly will help alleviate it will vary from one person to another depending on one's personality and unique situation. But the good news is that if you're dealing with chronic and painful long-term distress, hope is far from lost.

The first part of overcoming a problem like this is understanding it, and you, reading this right now, are already doing pretty well on that front if you've read this far in the article. So now that we have a bit of a better understanding of what stress is, how it can be helpful, how it can be harmful, and what not to do to cope with it, let's talk about what will actually help.

First off, you have to know your own stress symptoms and recognize them when they occur. This is important, especially because it's different for everyone. I've already covered a lot of possible and common symptoms of stress, but which one's you might experience varies widely from one person to another. So pay attention to your body, when you feel stressed, locate the feeling. Pause and describe your symptoms to yourself. This kind of mindfulness can ease stress some on its own, and it allows you to be informed as to your own symptoms so that you can better manage and control them.

Secondly, if you're suffering from chronic distress, make an appointment with your doctor. For one thing, a lot of common symptoms of stress can also be indicative of other problems, so if nothing else it's good to see a doctor soon and rule out any more serious conditions that could be causing your symptoms. If your doctor determines your health is being negatively impacted by stress, they can recommend or prescribe medications, as well as therapy and counseling that can help you manage your stress and keep it within healthy levels of eustress.

And finally, turn to your peers for support. There's plenty of people here on Paperdemon who struggle with an overabundance of stress in their lives (if there wasn't, I probably wouldn't be writing this article for the site). Talking to others with similar experiences can give you a change to vent, empathize with others, and get useful insights and ideas for how to handle your own stress. After all, Paperdemon is all about helping each other be more awesome, so don't hesitate to tap that resource; the community will be more than happy to offer support.

Just a Few More tips…

Here’s a convenient bulleted list, with the advice above summarized nicely and a few more tips and tricks sprinkled in:

  • Be aware of common stress symptoms, and learn how your own body reacts to stress.

  • Avoid heavy substance use, it will make things worse, not better.

  • See a doctor, and look into psychological counseling.

  • Try meditating. If you have no experience, just google “mindfulness meditation.”

  • Remember Self-care. Make it a point to do things that make you happy and relax you.

  • Exercise, it’s an amazing stress-reducer as well as just good for your health.

  • Avoid the news if you can afford to. It’s been pretty stressful lately.

  • Avoid too much violent media if that causes you stress.

  • In general, learn what causes you stress and avoid those activities if you can afford to.

  • Seek out peer support; you can start right here at Paperdemon!

And with that, it’s time for me to turn in this draft and follow my own advice...which means de-stressing and taking some time to myself now! Stay awesome, everyone!

Posted on

In my newest video, I share three motivational tips to help you get started with your artwork. Also, it's ADHD awareness month and I'll be sharing more ADHD tips throughout October.

  • 20 second rule
  • Body double technique
  • 5 minute rule

Watch the videovideo thumbnail of BogusRed holding Motivation card

Posted on

With October right around the corner, I figured now is a great time to get you all excited about Inktober!

What is Inktober?

Inktober is a movement started by Jake Parker to practice ink drawings for the month of October. Each day of October you draw a new drawing with ink based on the drawing prompts provided.

Since it's tied to a specific time of year, the #inktober hashtag associated with it will trend on social media.

Why should you participate?

Participating in trending art hashtags has many benefits.

  • You'll gain more exposure and followers, especially on sites like Twitter and Instagram because people will frequently check the hashtag to see what new art is created. I've heard from multiple artists with many followers that this is one of the techniques they use to build an audience.

  • Challenging yourself to create within preset guidelines helps you stretch your creative muscles

  • You'll surprise yourself with how much fun you have and how well you did

  • You'll be a part of the movement and a community

  • If you share your Inktober art on PaperDemon, you'll get 30 XP for each drawing (limit 1 per day)*

* I'm still working on getting the system setup to grant you XP. but I'll be granting you the XP retroactively within the next couple of months.

Do you have limiting beliefs that are holding you back?

I've never participated in Inktober before. And a lot of that is due to the poor mindset I've had. One limiting belief I've had that's prevented me from participating in events like this:

“No way I could possibly do a new drawing every day of October!”

But this time I won't let that stop me. Even creating a few drawings is better than creating none at all.

Here's a few more excuses I came up with:

“I'm not that into working with ink.”

“I don't have fancy pens that I enjoy inking with. And I wouldn't know which pens to buy.”

“Most of my micron pens are dried out.”

Finginma asked this great question in our last community meetup:

“Can we work digitally for Inktober?”

The official stance from @Inktober is in order to get the full experience out of Inktober, it's best done with traditional ink media. But if working in real media will turn you off from participating, why the hell not just do it digitally so at least you're participating. It's not like the Inktober police are going to come and charge you with art crimes against humanity.

PaperDemon Inktober prompts

Per the suggestion of CherryWitchery, I created a list of prompts just for our community. Feel free to use these or use the official Inktober prompts. If you use ours, please tag your posts on social media with #paperdemon-inktober so we can see them all!

  1. friendship

  2. confidence

  3. dragon

  4. love

  5. infinite

  6. wings

  7. happiness

  8. morning

  9. reward

  10. victory

  11. progress

  12. dessert

  13. stream

  14. game

  15. helpful

  16. erotic

  17. support

  18. resourceful

  19. vent

  20. misunderstood

  21. energy

  22. magical

  23. organization

  24. motivation

  25. impact

  26. red curtain

  27. ivy

  28. paper

  29. lemon

  30. experience

  31. demon

I look forward to seeing all the wonderful ink work from our community!

I don't see figure drawing studies shared from members of the Paper Demon community too often. I suspect figure drawing is one of those things artists only study if they are forced to as part of a larger art program. Perhaps people think it's boring? Or they tried it and didn't like it?

But I'm here to tell you that studying figure drawing is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you want to improve your drawing skills. You can study it on your own. And it's even quite fun.

What is figure drawing?

Figure drawing, or life drawing, is the study of the human figure. It usually involves creating drawings from a live nude model reference, but can also be done from photographs. The goal being to capture the emotion and rhythm of the subject as well as indicate the anatomy and structure of the human form.

Why studying figure drawing is so essential

You'll learn fundamentals

Many beginning artists start out producing drawings that look kind of stiff or rigid. Through studying figure drawing, and artists drawings will begin to have more expression and aesthetically pleasing rhythms in the line art and will begin to look alive.

Through studying figure drawing, you'll learn to make your drawings look more three-dimensional, as if they have volume and weight. And you'll learn the foundation, structure, and anatomy of the human figure which will make your drawings more accurate and believable.

“If you’re designing without a foundation, you’re designing a lie from a lie; Something from an abstract idea. And the further you get from the truth, the more it gets distorted. Like the telephone game.”
a panel member from a panel of Disney animators at WonderCon


 

You'll be able to draw almost anything

“My work for Disney is more environment-based. But it still involves construction, rhythm, shape design, and how shapes are related to one another. It’s the same, whether you’re designing an environment or piece of a body.”
Dan Cooper, Disney environment illustrator, Source

The fundamentals described above apply not just to figure drawing but to any type of drawing. Once you learn them you can reuse them in many situations. And you'll be able to learn to draw new things really quickly.

It's how the professionals learned to draw

Disney animators have relied on figure drawing and life drawing for decades as an essential component to producing great animation. It's also standard curriculum for anyone who studying animation or illustration at the university level.

You'll be able to draw from your head

After you've had some time studying figure drawing you'll begin to notice you'll have an easier time drawing human figures from your head. Over time you'll begin to remember how to draw the human figure at various angles and can draw upon that whenever you need it.

My figure drawing journey

The first time I tried figure drawing I didn't really care for it. Though looking back now I think the reason for this is I didn't have a great teacher. Most of the time we just spent watching him draw and he didn't really explain the techniques. And my drawings didn't really improve as a result.

Finally I had a good figure drawing class once I began studying animation and illustration at San Jose State University. After just a couple months, my drawings began to loosen up and have more life and expression. And I actually enjoyed it. It was clear to me the positive impact it was having on my drawing, so I repeated each of my figure drawing courses multiple times. Most of the courses I took were with her on, a student of Glenn Vilppu.

Eventually, I got to the point where I could draw people in many different poses without even looking at a model. As many of us feel there's always room for improvement, but I try my best to revisit my figure drawing studies in between drawing my usual stuff because I know how powerful it is at taking my drawing further.

What's holding you back?

What sorts of stories are you telling yourself about why you haven't tried studying figure drawing? Perhaps you're saying to yourself...

  • figure drawing is too hard

  • it's awkward looking at poses of nude figures or looking at a live nude model.

  • I tried figure drawing before and I was dissatisfied with my drawings.

  • I'm not ready to study something like that

How might you rewrite the stories in a way that serves you better as an artist?

  • I've done hard things before. I can do them again.

  • It may be awkward at first but I'll get used to it.

  • With persistence and the right instruction, I'll be making awesome drawings and see results within a few weeks

  • There is never a better time than now

How to get started

Look for a figure drawing course at your local community center, school, or art store. Or take an online course like the one from Stan Prokopenko or Glenn Vilppu. Or you can watch Proko's free figure drawing course on YouTube. Prokopenko and Vilppu are awesome instructors that break things down into easy step by step instructions.

If you can, try to integrate a bit of figure drawing into your daily drawing routine.

I hope I've convinced you to give figure drawing a try. If not, what's still holding you back?

As always I'd love to hear what you thought of this article. And don't ever forget the community is here to support you.

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