Trent’s Tips: Evolving a More Painterly Style

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super metroid art

Sometimes you have to throw out all the things you know and try something new. That’s what Trent Kaniuga has been doing lately on his YouTube channel. He’s still tackling some of his favorite subjects like old-school video games — in this case Super Metroid — but lately he’s been moving in a more painterly direction and achieving a new kind of growth, which is the subject of his latest video.

One reason he’s focusing less on lines and edges like a comic book artist and more on spreading around texture and color like a painter is that he likes trying out new things. He’s good at experimenting, always up for a challenge or a change. But the bigger reason is that he’s discovered a deeper love of digital brushes. “I’m digging in even deeper with SketchBook, and I’m starting to find that this is an epic painting tool. A lot of it because the Symmetry tool, and a lot of it because of the cut of custom brushes that you can make — they feel really natural and really painterly.”

We see that a lot with our app. There are a ton of tools inside, so exploring them all right away can be a little daunting. Many people simply start with the tools that interest them and that already work with their established art style. Not an architect? Then the Perspective Guides may not be what you need. Yet. But sooner or later everyone needs to draw a building, and those guides can then be a massive help.

All that technical painting skill that you could spend a fortune learning in art school — it means nothing if you can’t do a painting that says something or has impact.

Trent’s new-found love of brushes in our app go along with a desire to focus on impact over output. “I had a big eye opening experience with my Ninja Turtles painting just recently where I realized that nothing matters except the impact of your image. Impact is more important than technical skill by a long shot. And I never believed that.” The sumi-e style Ninja Turtles piece he’s referring to (which is amazing and beautiful by any account and perhaps a harbinger of this new kind of style) took 20-25 hours to create. It got a ton of exposure and viral sharing online, but other drawings that took just as long and showcased just as much of his technical talents didn’t garner the same amount of attention. “All that technical painting skill that you could spend a fortune learning in art school — it means nothing if you can’t do a painting that says something or has impact.”

metroid prime art
Trent’s move toward a more painterly look. Loosen things up and go with the flow.

As he notes, a more painterly style has a “slightly more mature look.” Indeed, it does. Paintings may have a tossed-off, messiness or fluid look to them that line drawings don’t, but make no mistake: Creating splashy character art with a crazy-pants backgrounds that has a real artistic bent to it takes a ton of skill. You might say the real skill is in making it look effortless.

“I’m pulling a lot of inspiration from some of my favorite artists here,” he notes as he tackles this painting of Metroid Prime. “You can see a little bit of, like, Yoji Shinkawa influence,” Trent says, referring to the much-respected Japanese artist who is famous for his dark, chaotic art for the game Metal Gear Solid. Yoji is an artist fave for so many video game artists and fans, and a great influence to follow.

Trent cites as an inspiration the much beloved Yoji Shinkawa, a favorite artist from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

We’re loving this new painterly side of Trent. Everyone has to evolve and change and try new things — even super-talented and already successful video game artists. If you like watching Trent draw (or paint) subscribe to his YouTube channel. He’s always talking something new and dishing out excellent advice.