Lesson 0: Getting Started
Using this Course
Getting the most out of Drawabox
This video explores the different mindsets that we've encountered from our students, those that work well with this course, and those that hinder one's progress.
It also explains how students can access feedback on their work, how the community feedback and official critique works, and so on.
Above all else, remember this: follow the instructions to the letter. Complete only the work that is assigned, as it is assigned, and do not deviate in any way from what is asked. We do not expect your work to be perfect, or even good.
Rather, you have but one responsibility - to give yourself enough time to apply the lesson material and follow the instructions to the best of your current ability.
Community feedback vs. official critique
There are a few major distinctions between the two main categories of feedback a student can receive on their homework.
Community feedback is free, but not guaranteed, as it relies on the good will of other students. While we have future plans to expand the reliability and structure of what our free students are able to access, right now I highly recommend making use of the unofficial critique exchange program hosted on our Discord server by one of our TAs, Elodin.
Official critique is paid, although it is one of our core principles to price it as cheaply as possible - to the point that we actually pay our teaching assistants as much as twice what a student would be paying for the same critique, something we can only achieve through our credit system (which is explained in more detail in the video).
In order to ensure that we're able to provide that feedback as cheaply as possible, we do impose certain hard requirements (which are only recommendations when submitting to the community):
Students start at Lesson 1, only moving onto the next step when their previous work has been marked as complete by a teaching assistant or instructor. You effectively have until you're finished Lesson 1's homework to decide which track you'd like to take (without redoing anything).
You must work with the recommended tools. We'll get into this in more detail later in Lesson 0, but for the most part it means working with fineliner pens and paper - not digitally, not in pencil. I cannot stress this enough - it's not because we think pens are the greatest tool ever invented. I myself am almost strictly a digital artist.
All submissions for official critique must be complete. Meaning, you may not submit partial work. In the case that a lesson includes multiple sections (like Lesson 1 has the Lines, Ellipses, and Boxes sections), all sections' assigned work must be included in your submission.
There is a 2 week cooldown between submissions. If you were to submit your homework today and have it marked as complete, you would not be able to submit your next lesson or challenge until 14 days have passed. This is not a deadline, and most of the lessons will probably take more than 14 days to complete.
While we strongly recommend that everyone follows these rules regardless of what track they follow, they are only hard requirements for those receiving official critique.
How do I sign up for official critique?
If you're interested in pursuing the official critique route, you can sign up via Patreon. In the future we hope to offer other alternative payment options.
Important things to note:
Patreon charges at the time of sign-up, and on the first of the next month (in the Pacific timezone).As of September 2022, this has changed. Now the subscriptions work more normally - you'll be charged each month on the same day as when you signed up, until you cancel.
Each credit expires 2 months after you receive it, and goes towards subsidizing the cost of critiques for everyone. This is a critical part of why we're able to provide feedback as cheaply as we do.
So you've reached the point at which you've had a lesson marked as complete. What now? Are we done with those exercises forever?
Hah! As if you'd be so lucky. No, those exercises aren't going away any time soon.
Whenever we complete a lesson or challenge, the exercises from that lesson goes into a "pool" of warmup exercises, and at the beginning of each sitting, we randomly pick 2 or 3 of those exercises to do for 10-15 minutes. This allows us to continue sharpening those skills, and helps us keep them sharp as we continue to move forwards. After all, when we've had a lesson marked complete, that doesn't mean we've mastered the exercise. It's merely a confirmation that we're headed in the right direction with them, and that we understand what we're meant to be aiming for.
Warmups are incredibly important - to the point that if you decide that you're going to take a break from Drawabox, you should still try to keep up with your warmups. 10-15 minutes per day (or every other day, etc.) is not too much, but it'll keep you from getting rusty in the interim.
Keep in mind that in that 10-15 minutes, you don't need to do a whole page of the given exercise - you merely do what you can in that time period. You can also choose to spread a page across multiple sittings, picking the same exercise across a few sittings until the page is done. All that matters is that you continue practicing regularly, and that none of the exercises get abandoned.
On the next page, we'll look at the tools we'll be using for these lessons.
The Art of Blizzard Entertainment
While I have a massive library of non-instructional art books I've collected over the years, there's only a handful that are actually important to me. This is one of them - so much so that I jammed my copy into my overstuffed backpack when flying back from my parents' house just so I could have it at my apartment. My back's been sore for a week.
The reason I hold this book in such high esteem is because of how it puts the relatively new field of game art into perspective, showing how concept art really just started off as crude sketches intended to communicate ideas to storytellers, designers and 3D modelers. How all of this focus on beautiful illustrations is really secondary to the core of a concept artist's job. A real eye-opener.