I have been searching for my own style of illustration for a while... copying, learning from other's techniques.
In the end, the comment I receive is that my work doesn't convey enough emotion to the viewers, nor message. Of course there was not much, i was merely studying, trying to figure out what works, but it was a wake up call.
It was obvious that my focus was wrong, it was on what might work for the audience, not myself.
Art should always work from bottom up. (doh I knew this! but when you felt what you liked didn't work, you will lose some focus trying to find out what's not working.)
I was aiming too much for the detail, not enough for the story.
In the past, when I did a story, it was more like a panel out of my manga, not illustration, so it doesn't have enough power. Now after I studied more illustration I am learning to do composition not of a manga panel, but of a single piece of illustration.
Illustration speaks differently for a "moment in time" from a manga.... manga's "moment" is more direct, straight forward emotions build up like animation, and CLEAR storytelling because you have a series of panels, eyes should move through them faster.
Illustration should be more in your face visuals, show stronger emotions, conflict, irony, awe, and everything in one shot, but more subtle and ambiguous on story telling to make people ponder about it, thus creating a longer "stare time."
I studied and tried many techniques, trying to level up, but i find i lose interest and patience in pure digital art quite fast, despite I actually managed to sit at the computer for hours upto 30+ hours a piece. I find it hard to push for details "naturally."
I was forcing myself to try what others are doing naturally, and feel defeated every time I can't push to their level. In the end, their technique is their technique, I can only come close, I can't become them, so I have to find my own.
When i pick up pencil again and try to doodle one night, i noticed I was still a lot more comfortable with traditional medium, its easier on the eyes, I can go slower and not feel as pressured by the light.
Digital medium is still better for contrast, and details so I use it for touch up... and I like my result.
I will push toward this direction, I think i can say I found a direction I actually can stay with, and I can honestly say, I don't care how well this piece might do, it satisfied me first as an artist. No regrets. XD
Next I will just aim to pull off more elaborate storytelling in a giant piece.
This is not a new method for me, I have used mixed media on my manga, but applying it to my illustration is still quite new. :/ Funny how i spent all that time studying i still go back to what I have been doing in my mangas. BLEH. Sometimes it's frustrating HOW MUCH of a mangaka i am. XD