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Grading art (now with my two cents!)

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 17, 2012, 10:53 AM




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How do you determine what a "beginner" "intermediate" "advanced" and "master" artist is? Do you take into account only technical skill? How about the ideas behind it? What about the range of skill sets they have or how successful their career has been?

I want to see what your ideas of a "beginner" "intermediate" "advanced" and "master" artist/artwork is. Link me to an image or an artist that you think fits each one! I'll do the same myself after a few responses :>


Edit: This is a bit of a challenging question for a number of reasons, and I think you guys get it. It's hard to articulate our personal criteria as to what makes an artist good or bad--and it's even harder to present that criteria in a manner that sounds fair, objective, and void of personal biases, haha!
I don't believe art, especially illustration, is subjective as people like to say it is. I think everyone with a properly functioning brain can tell that your six year old cousin's attempt at depicting a giraffe will be less successful and DaVinci's best effort at depicting of a giraffe. There's nothing subjective about that at all, and I'm kinda glad no one has retorted to me that "all art is subjective" because in the realm of illustration, that just doesn't fly.

  I think when a lot of people weigh an artist and the quality of their work, they only consider what's immediately visible to them, which is fair! But I feel like that's only part of what determines the quality of an artist and their body of work. A very large part, definitely, but it's not the only thing worth considering!
  I feel another important aspect to consider is process. Some artists can have masterful work, but a poor and impeding process that prevents them from producing/completing a lot of their ideas. On the flip side, other artists might have a great process, but a poor end result. See, technical mastery doesn't just end with knowing how to draw or paint something. It also includes knowing your tool set, and knowing how to use and manipulate them to varying degrees of effectiveness and efficiency.

Hypothetical example: say we have two artists who are like art twins when it comes to the final product. They can produce the exact same image with the exact same visual quality, and they are both very, very good! But one of the twins takes several months and countless revisions to get that product, while the other artist has a much more streamlined process that results in less second-guessing and utilizes their tools more effectively and more efficiently so that they can get their work done in, say, three days. Are they still the same skill level then? Or is one more advanced than the other due to a more refined understanding of their tools?

With that said and considered! My ideas of each:

Beginner: img.photobucket.com/albums/v10… "The longer I work on something, the better it is and this took me two whole hours so it must be pretty great!!"

Intermediate: fav.me/d4r62ba "I don't like drawing backgrounds because I'm not sure of how to tackle them, but learning anatomy is what's most important now so I'm trying to focus on that."

Advanced Artist: fav.me/d5buz0d "Improving isn't just about focusing on one aspect at a time, it's about looking at your work as a whole, finding the all-around strength and weaknesses, and building on it all together. I draw every day, and I will never stop studying."

Master Artist: 2.bp.blogspot.com/-vGUruZLXTgE… "I still draw every day and am more critical about my work now than ever, but I know it's important to have a process that fits my ideas, my time constraints, and my personal tastes. My work is consistent, and I take pride, but not at the expense of getting my ideas and concepts out there in a timely and effective manner."

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background image by *ashwara
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:iconsambees:
sambees Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
if u can draw realism than i think u r a master!!
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:iconpainted-bees:
painted-bees Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
o good! realism is the pinnacle of all art!!! only tru masters can do it!!
Reply
:iconsambees:
sambees Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
or anime.
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:iconrachelcurtis:
RachelCurtis Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Anime is the shit and better than realism, everyone knows that cause it r supre popular.
Reply
:iconsambees:
sambees Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012
nuh uh, making it real is obviously the more desirable thing. You can tell it's the best when it looks like a real photo and completely defeats the purpose of drawing it to begin with!
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:iconrachelcurtis:
RachelCurtis Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Fuck it. I'm taking up photography.
Reply
:iconsambees:
sambees Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
that's not art. you just point at things and click.
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:iconrachelcurtis:
RachelCurtis Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
SCREW YOU! I'M GOING TO TAKE PICTURES OF CONCRETE BUILDINGS!
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconjuliadebelli:
JuliaDeBelli Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
So... grading art, you say... Yea, it's perfectly possible. Anyone, even the ones who lack knowledge of art, can say whether an artwork is brilliant or awful. What goes to subjective perspective is merely the chosen theme. Some might not enjoy a drawing due to its thematic although can still admit it's a pretty nice piece.

The equation to calculate art skills is quite complex and has many variables. I'd create a dozen extra categories if I could, but I'll make myself simple.

Beginners:
The ones who lack both creativity and skills. Many of them never leave the category; they see critiques as some kind of disdain or either offensive. They don't have much progress and always stay in the same style, same mistakes. They don't risk and may even feel sort of in a comfort zone. That's what I'd call Beginners number 1.

Some are just literally beginners, who are willing to learn and take critiques. They are also willing to take risks. This group often turn into intermediates real quickly. These are Beginners number 2.

Some samples: Number 1: [link] Number 2 showing some real awesome progress: [link] (see, most of the Beginners I know have already improved a lot, so all I can do is show you guys how it happens)

Intermediate
I consider intermediate the ones who got average creativity OR average skills. Only one of those, not both. Let's get Intermediates number 1 for the creatives but not skilled ones and Intermediates number 2 for the skilled but not creative ones.

Number 1: [link] Number 2: [link]

*He's close to advanced, though. A liiiiitle bit more skill would do.

Advanced
I guess I have no subdivision for this group. Those are people who are both creative and high-skilled.
[link]

Masters
What differs Masters from advanceds is variety. A Master, for me, is someone who's able to do well in both manga and realistic style. Someone who's able to do well at both digital and traditional. Someone who gets easily adapted to some new style. A Master may not be the best of all those categories, but always achieve above-average performance in any style. True geniuses.

A Master? Hm... let me see... Here you go: [link]

Haha... okay, let's get serious: [link]
Reply
:iconmarcotonio-desu:
Marcotonio-desu Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Filmographer
While I find the extensive commentaries pretty nice, I will try to keep mine to topics so it can be easily digested by anyone, any specific point someone wish to read more about, just ring a bell.

Beginner: Symbols rather than forms. Common sense colors, lack of ambiance (still speaking color-wise). "I don't draw X because I don't know how".
Examples:[link] [link] [link]

Intermediate: Forms, even if wrong. Color exploration, ambiance. Starts to apply subjective concepts being aware of its visual implications. "I don't draw X because I didn't try, so let me do some studies".
Examples:
Low-tier: [link] [link] [link]
High-tier: [link] [link] [link]

Advanced: Nice volumes, expressive poses and composition. Good stylization of reality. Mastering of color relations and even subversion of them. Able to break down and simplify nearly any aspect of linework, like doing simple gestural sketches which conceives well the overall aspects. "I don't draw X and will do some studies, but my visual library is enough to improvise." Easiness of correcting their own work without having to over-redoing it. Accurate line control.
Examples: [link] [link] [link] [link]

Master: Industrial workflow, can go pretty much anywhere with his mental library. References are just for fine-tuning. Flexibility and a signature style, even for realism. This guy probably doesn't even use skeletons anymore.
I wish I could name some examples, but some artists really excel at some point and lack in the others, and my main knowledge of artists are from people I follow on dA. So I guess I'll give a cliché response and that should suffice it: [link]
I guess also pretty few masters are really broad on their making, usually specializing in something, else there is no time for mastering it properly. =P

I haven't emphasized two points I find utterly important, because I found it hard to category: background interaction and creativity per se. While many artists look great at what they do, you can pretty much put them a level under where they seem to be just by seeing how a background looks just like a background, rather than part of the scene. I'm sorry, :iconlhuneart:, but you go into this for me, for there seems to be little exploration of enviroment even when it's present. So I would say she is yet to enter Advanced, but is really on the high-tier among the intermediates, while I sit in the middle or below of the same category.
Creativity is something I don't want to unfold here. I find myself to be very creative, above average, but that does not help me when my skills aren't enough. And even though I have concept ideas, it is not enough to visually think them al the time. I'm starting to push this more, "materializing" my thoughts into something which not only transmits and idea, but does so in an visually interesting way.

To end my walltext, I'd like to announce a group that does not look pinpointed by any of your subdivided groups. I might call it deviants, but in a bad way. It's something like :iconcat-bat: mentioned, but they are not necessarily on begginer level. Works like [link] are extremely polished and well looking, but the artist has no clue on how to procede to more complex things. I often say her to push forward and try some poses interactions, backgrounds, etc, but it shows in a very shy way, because there is fear of doing it. While she has some aspects which could put her in intermediate (on a good position above me!) like stroke precision, fast workflow, appealing colors, they all don't suffice for this rank upgrade because basic things are left behind. She took left of the main road of learning and keeps going forward, but in a diagonal line, so she keeps going forward, but is also driving away from the "right path" as she does so. These deviant paths can be taken pretty much anywhere on an artist's life before "master". From there, the goal point, one might decide to go anywhere or keep improving technically and straight-ahead.
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:iconlavalizard:
LavaLizard Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Beginner: That embarrassing "newbie" phase that all artists must trudge through before they can create anything decent. Your pictures look like crap but if you can learn to love them and keep drawing, you'll get good eventually.

Intermediate: Finally defeated the newbie phase. Starting to get the hang of it and develop a personal style. Still have much to learn, but you know enough to make art you're not embarrassed to share.

Advanced: Been making art for several years now. Your skills are fully developed, you understand anatomy, lighting and composition, and you can produce very respectable pictures. To a beginner or even intermediate artist, your art looks perfect, but you (and the critics) can still see areas that need improvement.

Master: Master-level artwork has a sublime perfection to it, even to the most critical eye. Whether your style is silky smooth or hard and rough, there's really no way it could get any better. And another sign of mastery is that it comes effortlessly. An advanced artist might be able to compete with you if they really push their limits, but you as the master can match them without breaking a sweat. Your time as an artist is most likely measured in decades, not years.

All of this applies to arts like music and writing too. Just change the terminology to fit whatever art you're into :-P
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:iconquilsnap:
Quilsnap Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012   General Artist
I like the quotes
dandy apples
Reply
:iconpainted-bees:
painted-bees Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
* U* <3
Reply
:iconcat-bat:
Cat-Bat Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I think that it's generally pretty impossible to rate by experience or education, but by what the artist produces and their mindset/technique.

Beginner: I think there's a certain stubbornness to those who are stuck in the beginner stage. I believe what really marks a beginner is a lack of willingness to change. Their ideas may have merit, but a lot of times they will latch on to a comfort zone and not allow themselves to look at how anatomy truly works and get stuck producing sub-par work over and over. I think a lot of self-proclaimed anime artists fall into this. They skip learning anatomy and jump to the basic, appealing shapes of the anime style, which leaves something to be desired.
[link]
[link]
[link]

Intermediate: I would consider myself at the intermediate stage. Speaking from experience, I understand anatomy better, I've had color theory crammed down my throat for four years, and I've got a basic understanding of composition. However, I'm definitely still in a "comfort zone" and have become overly comfortable with short cuts in my work (the way I do hands or use cookie-cutter poses.) The big thing that would separate me from a beginner is that I can see my mistakes and am attempting to take on the task of evolving. Intermediate entails more of a willingness to experiment. I believe intermediate covers the widest range of skill.

Advanced: Where Intermediate covers the biggest range of skill level, I think advanced can covered the widest breadth of styles and artists. Advanced artists may have a "style" but that doesn't mean that they're too comfortable. They've got a distinct understanding of shapework, anatomy, and composition, as well as color and depth.
[link]

Now, I would consider this intermediate: [link]
And this advanced: [link]
The former is absolutely beautiful and she has mastered the use of the medium, but her style is comfortable and there's a repetition of anatomical anomalies that don't seem deliberate (don't get me wrong, she's also one of my favorite artists ever, but this is more to prove a point.)
The latter, on the other hand, manipulates anatomy very deliberately, but never loses the shapework and consistency, even though it's more sketchy.

Master: After discussing this journal with my housemate, she brought up a good point. A "master" is an advanced who has done what they do enough to be able to teach it to others, or to lay it out in such a way that it can lend itself to inspiring and influencing other's art.
This would be the best example I can come up with, as it's hard to truly embody my definition of "master" art: [link]


Okay, thus concludes my rant. XD I hope it was coherent!
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:iconziblie:
ziblie Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
I like this answer. :)
Reply
:iconmythorie:
Mythorie Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I largely agree Lhune here. I consider myself as a intermediate artist as I'm largely concentrating on lighting and composition and mastering basic shapes, as I don't believe that great anatomy (I'm still studying it, just not as much) is con save a 'broken' picture. To bad for my rule that I never show my sketch books (For the sake of getting me into the habit of drawing in said sketch book) or I'd actually have something other then ponies in my gallery.
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:iconkaytay89:
KayTay89 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I wouldn't judge on success, because that doesn't really mean you are a skilled artist. Some monkey's finger paintings sold for 1.4k$$$, and I don't consider that monkey to be a skilled artist. xD

I judge based on skills, ability to draw different characters and settings in different styles. Becoming really great / amazing at realism is when I consider the person to be masterful.

That is just a personal preference though. :) And I pretty much agree with the people below me about the different levels.
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:iconkaytay89:
KayTay89 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
But the big difference I see with the I guess the 'lower ranked' artist and a Master is the ability to sit down and take your time or put the time in it and know how to use that time wisely / well enough to have a nice finished piece. :)

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:iconlhuneart:
LhuneArt Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Post got way more lengthy than I intended xD. Hah, sorry about that.
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:iconpainted-bees:
painted-bees Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
naw, you provided exactly the kinda response I was hoping to see hehe!
I agree that a beginner artist will, by consequence, no be able to communicate their ideas very well. Even if they are the most "original" ideas in the world, their depiction can only fall flat and appear trite if someone lacks the skill set. Which is unfortunate--buuut it's probably those grand ideas and the desire to depict them properly that makes an artist want to be much better at what they do * U*

Meanwhile, I have seen a lot of "intermediate" artists enjoy a rather long, fruitful and successful career. And by consequence they learn a lot of "tools of the trade" which doesn't necessarily make their work better looking? But makes them faster, more convenient, and by proxy, more employable. Which is what often has me wondering if that should play a determining factor in how we weight their work. On that same token, I've seen a lot of artists with "advanced" and "Master" looking works fail really badly at making a career out of it.

I mean, even I have a hard time feeling excited about employing the talents of an artist who I know is really technically skilled, but is either very flaky, or just takes way too long to get something done (and redoes a painting five times before they are 'happy' with it). I find myself vesting more appreciation and confidence towards who maybe isn't as good, but can get the job done well and in good time. Yeah, I don't know! There's definitely criteria that exists that determines whether or not an artist is "more advanced" than another artist--but trying to figure out what those criteria are exactly is kinda an effort in futility, isn't it? Haha!
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:iconlhuneart:
LhuneArt Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Of course, but we were talking about levels in general, not levels vs. successful careers (or professionalism). On average though, the better the artist, the more likely they are to land a job and become successful in an industry if they actively aim for it. But there are obviously exceptions to every rule.
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:iconpainted-bees:
painted-bees Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You'd be really surprised! At least in north america it seems really common. A lot of employers greatly prefer technical effectiveness and efficiency (knowing your tools of the trade an using them in the most effective/time efficient manner) over slow, steady, methodical visual mastery. Which kinda bothers me because I don't believe that process alone makes an artist great... but if we're talking about art and artists, I think that kind of skill set is still important to consider in weighing an artists, despite not having a visual impact on the final product.

I think it's fair to call an artist who produces visually stunning (even 'masterful') pieces but with poor efficiency an "advanced" artist no problem! But a master has the technical prowess in *all* areas of art making that they can manipulate their style and their process expertly to produce stunning work, fast, while making it look easy. Perhaps two household names that I feel fit this level of artist would be the tried and true Craig Mullins and Tadahiro Uesugi. Two very different types of artists, but two masters no doubt.

I hope that clarifies my thoughts a little more! I personally feel process is as important as the product, is what it boils down to. And sometimes artists can have a great process but a poor product--while other artists have a poor process and a great product! Most artists are neither here nor there with both process and product, but a handful of them are expert with both, and those I feel are the 'masters'.

...Hey! I didn't understand that for myself until I put it into words just now! That's kinda neat hahaha I happy for this conversation ahhh
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:iconlhuneart:
LhuneArt Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Of course, but I think most artists naturally get faster as they get better. If you're really good but very slow, something's wrong. Either you don't have enough drive to finish it or you haven't had enough gesture or thumbnailing practice, which are all part of a master's skill set. So yes, I agree that the process is as important as the result, but if something's wrong with the process (including if it's very slow or otherwise inefficient), the artist simply hasn't refined their skills well enough yet to be considered a master, which would make them advanced. I guess we're basically saying the same thing, but an intermediate artist (in my book) would neither be very fast nor produce a very good result. Either quality (though being fast alone means little obviously; my mother can scribble a rabbit in a second but it will look nothing like a rabbit, just for example, let's just say "being fast at drawing something recognizable/appealing") would make them an advanced artist, be it of the lower advanced level.
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:iconlhuneart:
LhuneArt Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
A beginner: [link] . A beginner is an artist who looks at art and the world around them with what I guess you could call "unseeing eyes". They are largely unaware of their mistakes, when there are seemingly countless. They do not think of the subject they are drawing as a 3D object in space that is affected by light but rather as flat lines on a paper (or canvas) that function as a border for whatever colors strike their fancy.

An intermediate: [link] . I think this is the largest group. Intermediates, to me, are the artists who are gradually becoming aware of the fact that they are doing things wrong and are looking for ways to improve on that. They start to think of their subjects and art as more than a flat shape, they start to think in terms of light, form and color and are more conscious with their design choices. Which means that this group ranges from beginners who are studying geometric forms and skeletons and so on to improve their work, to people who know most of the basics of anatomy, perspective, light and color. I've noticed that with this group, more advanced knowledge such as that of composition is still largely disregarded.

I suppose I consider myself advanced. To me it's like the transition group between intermediates and masters. Advanced artists have become pretty good at spotting their mistakes and knowing how to fix their problems, or knowing how to prevent themselves from making said mistakes in the first place. They are more independent and thoughtful about their art. Since they master most of the basics, they can start to learn about the finer aspects of art such as building up a strong composition, how colors relate to each other, what to put care and attention into and what less so. I guess you could say this is the group that's polishing and finetuning their skills and knowledge.

A master: [link] . Masters are trained in practically all aspects of art. As such, their pieces will look good as a whole; anatomy (if present) will be accurate, gestures strong. Perspective, color and light will be convincing and appropriate for the mood that needs to be portrayed as well as the composition. They can of course still improve and they probably will with each new piece as they explore the possibilities they have with their knowledge, but their art will be believable and look "right" to others even if it's not entirely their taste.

I do believe the technical skill of an artist largely determines of what "level" they could be considered (I don't actually like thinking in levels as such though). This because a more advanced or professional artist will have a larger visual library than a beginner, they will have soaked up more knowledge of their surroundings and be able to incorporate that into their own work. They will have a sharper eye for what works and what doesn't, therefor an advanced or master level artist will probably have better ideas/concepts than a beginner or intermediate artist. Diversity in media might help in this area, but I think at some point an artist will have to choose what their primary media of choice is and get really good at that, or they will likely end up being mediocre at a large variety of things.

Depending on what you mean by a "successful career" (if you manage to make a living out of art for about 10 years, I'd say that's pretty successful), I guess that plays a part as well, but it's not or/or, it's and/and; a successful professional artist will most likely be very good at what they're doing.

I'm always a bit skeptical when it comes to "original ideas" in amateur work. It's why I don't believe an art contest that invites artists of all levels to join can ever be fair, as an artist who is only just starting out will not have the tools (mentally nor physically) to rival those of a more advanced or master artist. "Good ideas" are nice and all, everyone has them. But if you can't communicate them well some way or another, very few people will be interested in them.
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:iconakaikane:
Akaikane Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
I really enjoyed reading your response and agree with everything you've said. However, I have a question for you (simply because I think you could provide an insightful answer).

How would style play into those categories? As you said, technical skill plays a role in determining how successful a piece can be. Does that mean that only pieces with a high level of technical skill can be created by master artists, or is it possible for someone, such as a cartoonist, to be considered a master? A cartoonist could possess all of the skills you listed under master (such as a perfect understanding of anatomy, lighting, color, and perspective to name a few), but may not have as refined of a painting style as your examples indicate. Or they have stylized anatomy a certain way, though they may exhibit in other pieces a grand understanding of the concept.

I'm curious to know what you think, as I believe that you could have an interesting answer to this question.
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:iconlhuneart:
LhuneArt Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
The things I said apply to every style, every medium even. A master sculptor may not be able to paint a painting like the one I posted either, but he will have an equal (probably even a better) understanding of form, gesture, weight, anatomy and color. A master cartoonist will be able to bend the rules of reality to their hand to create a working, sensible cartoon character that a master of fine arts may not be able to create so easily. In the end, a master of arts (whatever form of art that may be) has so good an understanding of their subject and what is relevant for them that they can create pieces of art of an excellent quality consistently.
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:iconakaikane:
Akaikane Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
That makes sense. Thank you for your thoughtful response.
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:iconreneedelagee:
ReneeDeLaGee Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
wow you consider yourself advanced?
you're a true master in my eyes
your designs are really cool <3
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:icondarlingmionette:
DarlingMionette Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Generally my thoughts are thus:

Beginner: anatomy has some serious glaring issues, and/or the coloring shows definite signs of newbie-ness.. like over using the burn/dodge tool and the airbrush. Lots of fan art... very little original stuff. Desperately wants to improve on their art... but lacks the know-how or strength of will to do so.

Intermediate: Anatomy has some issues, but mostly accurate... the discrepancies aren't enough to worry over: color palette's are diverse, poses are diverse. They try new things every once in awhile. Maybe some fan art, but a lot of original stuff too. Has put in some serious effort to improving their art.

Advanced: Anatomy is near-perfect, coloring is good, poses are good, employs perspective, light, always has backgrounds when warranted. All, or nearly all original work unless hired to do otherwise. Not only looks to improve their art, but also to diversify it.

Master:Anatomy is perfect, coloring/poses/perspective/light is perfect. Always has background, and shows a lot of diversity in the things and styles they can draw. All original work unless hired to do otherwise.


Now i'm not saying these are accurate to everyone, but that's personally how I categorize artists in my head :3 Though I usually lump advanced/master together into one "epic" category. I consider myself an intermediate artist.
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