Creating Art Characters in Digital And Beating The Artist Block Monster To Smithereens


Without excuses. Excuses kill creativity.


I’ve not talked about my art characters too much in public. I’ll talk a little bit about them now. My hope is this post will help someone else struggling with fear of others seeing your art and thinking it is just crap.

Yes, of course most of my work back then really was garbage. That’s how it always is when you first start. It’s terrible. Boo hoo. We artists just have to live with that.

I was just reading this cute article about some of the creators of iMessage characters and how they created them. It gives some great advice.

Find Your Sticker-Making Muse: Dream of drawing your own iMessage stickers? Tap for inspiring advice.

In 2010, I had struggled for several years with a fear of creating any artwork that ANYONE would see. Anyone but me. Even to this day, I still create some of my work in secret. Fear is real. There’s a really strong book on the subject called “Art and Fear.”

After several years of this agony, I started drawing on my newly acquired iPhone 4 and an app(program) called “Sketchbook” by Autodesk. My sketches were horrible at first. Absolutely shudder-inducing. At the time, I was using just my fingers to draw, and the canvas size on an iPhone 4 was very tiny.

What made this beginning approach to digital sketching especially appealing though, was its privacy. I could sketch without showing any of it to anyone.

At the time I began sketching on the iPhone, I saw a daily challenge that some artists were doing on canvas and in other conventional methods, but I’d never seen anyone do a daily challenge on the iPhone.

I decided then that the only way I’d get over my fear of creating would be to draw a lot. Like writers force themselves to write everyday, artists who are successful also create daily. Without excuses. Excuses kill creativity. It’s what I’ve noticed all unsuccessful creative people have in common. Excuses. In spades.

I started drawing one sketch everyday on my iPhone. I decided to do it daily for a whole year. As it went along, I ended up getting the iPad 1 as a gift for my birthday. Then the iPad 3 a little later. I now have an iPad Pro I create my digital drawings on.

I also graduated to many different styluses over that year. I love the Elago and Boxwave brands. They were very inexpensive and pretty accurate.

I just received a “Sensu” brand stylus for Christmas this year. It has a standard stylus on one end, with a paintbrush style stylus on the other end. Jury’s out on that one so far. I’ll blog about it later as I use it more.

I do love the accuracy of the Apple iPen, but it is a pain charging it up and keeping it charged. The battery dies very fast.

I did this for 365 days in a row.

What did I draw? I have no idea, really. Was it hard to think of things to draw? I honestly can’t remember. I just did it. I even look back on those sketches and am horrified to think I did them, at least until about day 300. After that, the dragons appeared. Those I was proud of.

Why dragons? I still can’t explain. Why did I end up drawing a whole bunch of women’s faces in the beginning? I think because I felt like faces were extremely hard to sketch, and I wanted to get better at it.

If you don’t mind sitting through something kind of long to see what I mean about transformation (the first one is about 12 minutes long and the second one is about 13 minutes long), here are the videos I put together of that whole year: (the dragons start showing up in the 2nd video at around the 6:46 minute mark, if you want to forward to the dragons)

How can you get started? Stop making excuses. Just do it.

Have similar experiences or a comment to make? I’d love to hear.

You can see how my dragons are sketched on the iPad here:

Until next time..