Comparing past and present work

Working at a skill takes time, and while you’re doing the actual labour, you don’t notice how you’re getting better at things. SOme days you draw crap; some days you want to show the world your amazing piece of art because you feel like you’ve finally cracked that artistic nut. Most of the time, you feel like you’re running really fast just to stay in the same spot.

So when a recent facebook group (which is sadly shutting its doors after a whopping 250 weekly challenges) announced its final challenge was to redo an old piece, I dug up my first ever submission to the group, and decided it would be the subject of my redraw.

It happened to be a Chibi Red Sonja, which I hastily sketched on the way to work one morning.

Red Sonja 2013

At the time, it piqued the interest of a friend of mine who happens to be the editor of Lifehacker, Australia. He got me to draw a couple of pieces for an article he was doing, on the subject of female characters in video games: Should Gamers Be Penalised For Choosing Barely-There Outfits? I supplied two pieces for his article, and I was happy enough with my skill at the time. More importantly, so was he.



I felt proud enough. I used Photoshop, mainly, and was trying out some new colouring techniques, but looking back, the overall linework was a bit wonky, as were the underlying shapes that made up the characters. The colouring really saved it, so I guess it was functional.

But then I did this piece just yesterday.

Red Sonja 2016

I used a new tool – Krita – for the first time, although I do not attribute the improvement to the software, rather the skills I have acquired painting on a wacom for the last three years. Not to mention studying various poses, anatomy references, and generally working hard at improving depth, pose, proportion, etc.

I felt pretty proud of what I’d achieved in a few short hours. I mean, pencilling digitally is a nightmare, but also rewarding, because mistakes are quickly rectified thanks to multiple undos, select and rescale tools, and the one technique I absolutely stand by: horizontal flipping, to check that it still looks good mirrored (you’d be surprised how easy it is to overlook a lopsided face, or a lean that stands out once you flip your image).

I stuck the new piece on Instagram, as well as Deviantart and I awoke to a pretty sweet share by a fan site, redsonja_art which has nearly 29,000 followers. Getting a lot of love there in the few hours it’s been up, and it was awesome that they credited me, linking back to my own Instagram account (that’s the way to do it, folks!)


Putting your current work next to older work is something I highly recommend. Especially if you’re feeling that your art is going nowhere, or you’re just treading water. If you’ve kept at it, if you’ve practised and tried new things, you’re bound to see how far you’ve come over the years, and it’s guaranteed to boost your mood a bit.