This is the the key question. The net is littered with “how to draw” tutorials - many of which are my own. Only after many students came to me with issues that “How” won’t solve did I finally realize the issue.

The quirk with that type of content is that it’s only 5-10% of the answer for any given drawing problem. The real stuff is the “What” and the “Why” of drawing. Without those crucial “Q’s” You’ll end up about as frustrated as you did before consuming that content. My aim with this post is to hand you the “What” and “Why” so you’ll have a much better time playing with the “How.”


  1. Using Powerful Resources

  2. habit-driven consistency

  3. Self-Critique + Community Critique

  4. Deliberate Practice. 

We’ll be taking a look at how each of these factors will allow you to improve your drawing abilities enormously over time, but first we have to establish something:


And like Any Skill - It can be learned.


Talent is a pursued interest, as Bob Ross stated.  If you’re truly interested in drawing, drop all ideas of “talent” at the door. It’s far too flighty of  a notion, and assuming you have it or not will ultimately harm your learning process either way. 

Now, let’s move onto one last thing before we get into the best steps.


As in, why do you want to draw better? 

Is it  because you want the envy of your peers? 

Do you find that you “suck” in comparison to other artists, and want to get better so you can feel better?

Are you longing for the praise of your friends and family? 

Or is it simply a feeling inside that is trying to find expression through the medium of drawing? 

Without a good “why” your “how” will fall apart. 

What drove me for so long was drawing inspiration from masters old and new, and wanting to count myself among them. Now I’m more driven to better express images and stories that enter my head, and mastery is only a secondary “why.

Here’s the thing, if you’re constantly seeking validation and approval, you’re linking your why to an external factor, and you’ll be at the mercy of that factor on your journey.

Internal factors can be harmful too—being beholden to feelings of inferiority for example. Yes, you may be driven to practice, but there will be sour notes all throughout that symphony. You’re robbing yourself of the joy of the process, and thus are more likely to quit again.

The theme that keeps coming up is to pick a why that doesn’t die. 

A chief aim that won’t permit you to quit, even when you feel like it. 

That is the key to the kingdom, the song for the soul. Even a simple “why” that don’t die is better than a grandiose vision that fades after a month or two. It’s the decisive factor between binge-gaming or picking up your sketchbook.

Now, onto the core of this guide. 



When you’re going the self-taught route, the wells that you draw from will greatly dictate your growth. Deeply flawed material will stifle your ability to climb upward. 

For example, when I was on my come-up from the ages 14-20, I spent a LOT of time on newgrounds.com - wherein the bar for good art is pretty low. It’s more about humorous and raunchy flash animations. Some of the gilded content there is drawn rather poorly. Yes, there are a handful of phenomenal artists, but they aren’t as deified as the ones who can make you laugh.

And most importantly, the resources on that site were few and far between. Mostly animation or coding tutorials. 

So what makes a powerful resource?

A Plate by the great Charles Bargue.

 A powerful resource is one that calls out to you on a deep level. You’re almost learning just be observing it. Some of the most powerful resources I’ve ever chanced upon:

  • Andrew Loomis’s Books

  • George Bridgeman’s Books

  • Harold Speed - The Practice & Science of Drawing

  • The Massive Black Tutorials (no longer available)

  • Charles Bargue Drawing Course

I’ve learned more from those author/artists than any other. They took timeless principles, distilled them into practicable exercises, and gave clear examples. Everything I’ve done my best to translate into things like the Beginner Drawing Course.

Having the proper resource to draw from, like just ONE good course or book that you work through front-to-back, and then revisit in intervals, will do so much for you that words can scarcely describe it. It’s almost magical, really. 

Image each resource as a sacred artifact. One that takes discipline and devotion to draw power from. As you examine, decipher, apply, and elaborate upon. That knowledge will transfer itself into your mind and hand, allowing you to perform new drawing feats. Drawing becomes a video game— addictive and engaging.

That’s why I list a great resource as the most important item. Words to push the principles into your mind, and visual examples to allow you to transpose them into your own style. 

Hell, even the 6 free drawing lessons I offer are better than simply wallowing about in the mires of ignorance. 

Find a method for that madness, a place for that potency. Update your tactics, approaches, and strategies as often as possible. Don’t let your habits become chains that prevent exponential progress.


Will power is weak. It’s a short-term strategy. Using your will to force yourself into drawing is a recipe for sporadic efforts, and scattered progress. 

Instead, you’ll want to build the drawing habit. The best way to do this, is to set an alarm for drawing 2-4 times per day.  Use your phone’s “clock” app to do so, and keep it simple. 

“At 9AM I will draw from X resource for Y Minutes.”

Then one at least one more in the PM.

“At 7PM I will practice from X Resources for Y Minutes.”

Want to make the habit even more tantalizing? Add a reward after each session. It could be something as simple as watching an episode of your favorite show, eating a healthy snack, or hanging out with your friends or pet for a bit. 

Once you’ve built the habit of drawing at least 2 times per day at regular intervals from a powerful source, you can begin to schedule “free time” in as well as a 3rd drawing slot. Even if it’s just 30 minutes playing free-form with what you’re learning, or spending 45 minutes pushing a personal project a couple yards closer to completion. 


This “What” frightens many artists, myself included. People can be cruel and foolish in their feedback, or downright trolls for no good reason. 

That said, there are a lot of helpful souls out there that can offer specific and moderate feedback to ensure you’re conscious of flaws and routes to improvement in your work. 

The artist ego is fragile. It will crumble like dry dirt, and ladle itself in self-pity— especially if the eyes of negative feedback so much as looks at it wrong. I get that. However, if you want to do this, you’ll have to build your sense of detachment, and your internal assurance. 

Some of the best places to receive feedback are listed below. Join a subreddit or a poignant FB group and hop into the fray. 



Loish’s Digital art Group

The Art Mobs

One more thing— don’t just seek pats on the buttocks or validation. They don’t do much in the way of improving your art, only cement the need for further approval. To improve, you must kindly express gratitude for such compliments, but remain unfettered in your quest for ongoing growth and expression. 


Self critique is among the most important skills to develop as an artist, or a creator of any sort. It’s the ability to see yourself and your work with greater objectivity, and the slider of that work toward greater brilliance.

Self critique isn’t tearing yourself up, beating yourself, or mistreating or denigrating the work. This happens from time to time because we’re humans, and when you first unleash the inner critic their methods can be cutthroat. If you’re feeling drained as a result of a persistent inner monologue that makes you want to devolve into a pile of tears, you’re doing it wrong. 

Instead, imagine that there is a kind master within you. You can create an avatar of them if you’d like in your mind. They can even be the future version of yourself as a highly-proficient creator. 

That person will be direct, but always constructive. They will use the depths of their knowledge to throw you a rope when you’ve painted yourself into a pit. 

And when your shoulders slump in a disappointed manner, they will pat your back, offer a few kind words of what you’re doing well or how far you’ve come. 



Well, closer to perfect, anyway. 

We all know the person who seemingly spends ages of their time doing something, but barely improves. The issue in this case isn’t consistency, it’s consciousness. 

If you’re just “going through the motions” when your drawing alarm goes off - do you think you’ll be reaping the full benefits of the exercises? 

No. No you won’t. 

It’s about zoning in on what needs improvement. External and Internal Critique will point these things out.

After that, it’s up to you to deliberately apply that feedback. Drawing wonky noses? Better focus on whipping those babies into shape for the next few sessions. A mistake can carry through your work like a chronic condition - dragging down the vibe for ages if left unchecked. 

Create a light sense of urgency will help to ensure you’re not being too lax with mistakes—especially recurring ones. 


Clearing aside the weeds, we can now see the garden of improvement is a place with infinite potential. I invite you to tend to it daily, and seek to use each of these steps to great effect. Here they are once more:

  1. Using Powerful Resources

  2. habit-driven consistency

  3. Self-Critique + Community Critique

  4. Deliberate Practice. 

Armed with these veritable “Whats” the “How” Will be much more resounding. 

If you’re interested in more posts like this that help you master your drawing potential, and offer real guidance in a sea of confusion, I invite you to sign up for the free drawing lessons list. After It sends you all of them, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on future writings. Just toss in your email below and hit “Sign Up!”

Until next time, Happy drawing.


Anatomy Course Released!

Check it out, family:


I'm really pleased with how it all came together. I don't often get the chance to do fuller courses (freelance and stuff, y'know?) But this was one I really want to wrap up. 

Most of it is just how I go about simplifying shapes and enunciating certain anatomical features. 

I break down things from a bone & muscle perspective, and do my best to simplify the drawings to just lines and process.

Legs can be tricky, but they're curvy cylinders that have fused, ultimately-- some bone-to-skin protrusions of course.

Here's another image from the course:

Lemme know if you decide to level up your anatomy :D.

It does have 6 weeks worth of assignments too. I'm big on making sure there's action at the end of the lesson. You're only going to get better if you practice.

And yeah, I don't claim to be a master or enlightened phD or anything, I've just learned a cool bag of tricks and mental models, and that's ultimately what I'm sharing.

Happy drawing,


Are Artists Afraid to Sell?

Are Artists Afraid to Sell?

If you look at the fact that the Artstation Marketplace has just passed $500,000.00 in payouts (some of which I happily received!) Then the answer is probably not. 

However, this is ONE big issue, and that is PROMOTION. 

Promotional Perils

Promotion, and more specifically, SELF PROMOTION is one of the hardest things to master. 

  1. You have to be confident, but not cocky.
  2. You have to take a stand, but not be too polarizing. 
  3. You have to do it without any shame.

It's like committing to a line you're drawing rather than sheepishly drawing it. One comes out clean and crisp, and the other, well, it's crinkly and ill-placed.

Here's the thing, unless you get comfortable promoting your art, your exposure is limited. 

Limited exposure means limited opportunities. 

In which case, you'd better be REALLY kind to your Current ADs (which you should do anyway) in hopes that they keep sending you work. 

In fact a nice, warm studio seat is much better than going hungry because you're not comfortable putting yourself and/or your artwork in the limelight. At least then you have a measure of security.

Now, many artists are humble by nature. No one wants to be seen as a braggart with a big mouth and artwork full of gaping flaws. But many of us work HARD. We've studied this craft for years, and we've put the work in time and time again. 

We should be proud of our work, and if not, we need to go back to the drawing board (or the 3D interface) until we are. 

Now, not all promotion has to be self promotion, there are many ways in which artists can get featured, interviewed, or win a contest of sorts.

Like it or not, it opens doors. 

Sure, you can plateau for a while until someone finds you, or you can recede into your studio until you have a plethora of masterpieces that you unleash upon the world...But the bottom line is that in order to win, promotion is a non-negotiable.

In the future, I'll be creating more content regarding this subject, and documenting my journey when it comes to such endeavors. 

Even if I get snatched up by a studio in the near future, I'll still be honing my promotional prowess, ready to create new opportunities down the line. I suggest you sincerely think about doing the same.

Also, check out my courses and tutorials. They're incredibly affordable and value-packed.

& Don't forget to follow me on YouTube for free content.

Until next time - happy creating.

Endurance - What Most Artists Lack.

Endurance: the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way. 

Giving way - that part, that's the part right there. 

Avoid that at all costs.

Agreeing to bear the burden of creation and creativity doesn't mean turning it into a struggle.

You can be stoic in the face of the unpleasantness or difficulty. 

However, once you give yourself an out before the process has completed, you're cutting away all of those future benefits that lie in wait on the other side. 

The gilded pieces you never finish. The soulful stories you never write. The character-building situations that you go out of your way to avoid.

These are all signs that you lack endurance. 

You bemoan the lows, and fight the highs. You procrastinate, justify, whine, and cry...but you don't work on your endurance. 

Endurance Enunciated

This POWER, this asset, this iron-hearted force can be yours if you so choose. 

Some are born with endurance, and some are galvanized by their environment to have it. 

But all of us can cultivate MORE of it. 

How? That's simple - 

By getting to the end of your current capacity.

By learning how much you have, and how to manage it in accordance with your aimed achievements.

I'm not going to pretend I know your degree of endurance, but I can bet there are times in your life wherein you can recall having to use all of it- and then some. 

A time that perhaps broke you for a bit. A time that took you a while to come back from it.

Those times are a part of all of our lives to some degree. The greater the endurance we have, the stronger we'll be in the face of those times.

The more endurance you have across the board, the better off you'll be. Your tenacious adaptability and steeled-nerves sharpen you daily. You don't lie in bed waiting for the self-defeating and lackluster thoughts to stop - you plant your feet on the floor and you seize every opportunity the day presents.

One of my favorite things about having a potent wellspring of endurance is the ability to click into a flow state during unpleasant periods. 

This effectively allows you to usurp victory from the clasping claws of defeat. It allows you to derive unique and silver-lined pleasures from otherwise cloudy or sullen circumstances.

How to Endow Endurance

To gain this power, and the presence of it will yield rewards of every kind to you in multitudes.

Use your current endurance. Tap into your reserves. You have it in you, after all, you're still here. Gain more of it gradually, and do the things that replenish it.

Endurance is your ally all you need to do is focus on it, and watch it's power grow. 

That feeling in your solar plexus, right below your rib cage - that's what I'm talking about. Feed that fire. Fuel that diesel. You're a cutting-edge organism with latent potential you can't even fully explore in this lifetime. 

It's almost as though you can see the "stat" of endurance on your personal character. Every time you feel that surge of excitement, that electric undercurrent, you're pumping more power into it. 

Your job every day is to take that sacred reserve and USE IT. It atrophies very quickly from leisure, fear, and procrastination. You will have to rebuild it the longer it stays dormant.

If it's asleep, you can wake it by breathing into it and holding space in your physical body. If you're ever feeling drained or depleted, it's because it's running low. 

Look for a way to practice it in the face of every task. This will fully-orb your indomitable endurance. Lift weights? Hold it up instead of just repping it. Have to sit through a boring lecture? See how long you can listen attentively by pushing yourself to.

You needn't look far for an opportunity to cultivate endurance, these optional fortitude-quests are in every single task or situation life could ever offer.

Where's your attention?

I know, it's a bit like a video game, but our perspectives are so personal that it's hard to see and solve these matters when they arise.

None the less, it's up to you to raise your awareness and ability. How else do you expect to succeed in the capacities you've defined?

In the face of it all, endure. 

See the process through, reach the next milestone, and strive to unlock the hidden powers you've sealed from yourself. 

Endurance is the channel through which they will manifest, so you'd better get to building it.

Happy Enduring.

If this hit home with you, consider enrolling in one of my courses/lists or working with me - Links below:

Beginner Drawing Course:  http://bit.ly/Beginner_DrawingCourse_... 

Beginner Painting Course: http://bit.ly/BEGINNER_PAINTING_COURS... 

Art Commission Specialist: http://bit.ly/GET_WORK_AS_AN_ARTIST 

Full 2D Art School Curriculum: http://bit.ly/PowerPainters2dartschool 

Personal Site: www.taypayart.com 

Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

Commission Requests: (Page Coming Soon) - Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

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5 Secret Ways You Can Draw Better TODAY (Revealed)

Look, it’s no secret that we all want to enjoy the art we make. But all too often artists are mired with thoughts of inadequacy, fear, self-doubt, destructive criticism, and just plain lack of inspiration and low energy.

I could go on and on. There are literally thousands of ways that we as creatives sabotage our efforts to create the work we want to create.

How do we defeat these “creativity killers” and actually let our work shine like it’s meant to?

I believe that all we need to do is shift the way we think, and thus the way we feel, act, and draw.

Leonardo Da Vinci said it best “There can be no smaller or greater mastery than the mastery of oneself.”

And with that, I want to share with you 5 ways that I’ve discovered that have been positively pivotal for me in my artistic development.

I’ve made a living through my art and freelancing for over 2.5 years now, and I continue to grow my income and abilities year after year. I say this not to impress you, but you impress upon you that what I’m about to give you works.

I’ve taken these techniques from books, other artists, videos, articles, deep meditation, and a bevvy of other sources. I’ve found them to be so effective that I feel obliged to do my part and share them with artists like yourself.

So give these an earnest attempt, and tweak them to your liking. Over time you’ll likely develop your own, but please allow me the honor of giving you a basis to work with:

1. Breathe deeply, calmly, and slowly before and during the creative process.

Take a minute to gather yourself before beginning. Stop any irrelevant thoughts that may have been floating about in your consciousness prior. Shift your attention toward your breathing and calm yourself with each deep breath.

Allow tension to release in your jaw, chest, stomach, neck, or wherever you’re holding it. You can use your mind to ease this tension with every breath.

Finally, simply smile — You’re about to embark on yet another creative journey, and whether it’s a quick doodle or the beginning of a 40-hour painting, you’re now in a state that will permit you to access more of your creative faculties.

2. Take frequent breaks, step backwards from the monitor/easel/sketchbook and assess the “impact” of the work from afar.

Taking breaks every 25–35 minutes will prevent you from cultivating Repetitive stress injuries, which will detract from your joy when it comes to drawing.

I like to use breaks as an opportunity to stand up and zoom out. In today’s day and age people see thumbnail-sized images before they ever take a look at the work in detail. It’s up to you to make sure that the thumbnail version of the work is interesting and well-designed enough to merit a longer look.

If it isn’t, then worry not, because these frequent breaks allow you to correct your course before investing too much time in the details.

3. Direct your thoughts into positive (or at least neutral) territory

As you’re working, keep your mind on things that are relevant to the piece by asking yourself questions regarding where you want to take it. Don’t allow the inner-critic to berate you or your creation whatsoever.

Shove such thoughts aside, as they are mostly destructive in nature. Destruction is diametrically opposed to creation, so we want to immerse ourselves in as much positivity as possible.

This is especially helpful when it comes to spotting and correcting mistakes, which brings me to the next point.

4. Profit from Failure

Part of being human is failure. From the greatest artists you’ve ever heard of down to the humble child learning to walk. Each has failed innumerable times in their endeavors.

We largely have a stigma when it comes to failure. We think that it means we’re inadequate or broken in some way, when really the opposite is true.

We are perfect in our failures, because they’re leading us to where the next success is.

Life is a series of cycles, ebbs and flows. Success cannot exist without failure.

So befriend failure, profit from it. Even if you make the same mistake a couple of times, there’s not need to fret. Clear your mind and probe the dirt of failure until your find the seed of success within.

I always recommend planting that seed as soon as possible.

5. Use every tool at your disposal

We are fortunate to have a plethora of tools in our ever-growing artistic arsenals.

These are things like process, references, programs, tutorials, and the like. Everything you need to improve your work rests both within you and outside of you, and they exist in the present.

It’s comforting knowing that the wells of your potential are as deep as the ocean, so long as you acknowledge them as such.

Many artists treat themselves and their work like they’re hardly more than a pothole filled with debris and muddy water. Shallow, unwanted, and inhabited with less than desirable materials.

But this is only true as the fulfillment of one’s own perceptions.

No one outside of you can dictate the way you feel about your art, that administration is yours and your alone. Remember that you can always tap more of your potential and find the solutions to every problem you face.

And there you have the 5 key steps.

I can guarantee that these techniques will be of great use to you if you’re willing to implement them with earnest effort.

It also bears reminding that your journey is purely unique, and it does you no good to compare your life or development with that of another.

Keep digging deeper into the wells of your potential — breathing deeply and letting creativity and joy flow forth from your works. It’s never-ending and ever-expanding development with you as the centerpiece.

To master your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions, means that mastery cascades into your works as well.

I recommend that you re-read this post daily and practice at least 1–3 of these techniques every time you find yourself gifted with the opportunity to do so, as they all unfold deeper and work better with persistent application.

If you want a more solid grasp on basic drawing concepts so that you can express yourself even further and expand your artistic arsenal, I have several courses and tutorials on the matter at the bottom of t his article.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck and fortune in all of your endeavors, creative or otherwise.




˚˚˚˚˚˚ Full Courses ˚˚˚˚˚˚ 

Beginner Drawing Course:  http://bit.ly/Beginner_DrawingCourse_... 

Beginner Painting Course: http://bit.ly/BEGINNER_PAINTING_COURS... 

Art Commission Specialist: http://bit.ly/GET_WORK_AS_AN_ARTIST 

Full 2D Art School Curriculum: http://bit.ly/PowerPainters2dartschool 

Personal Site: www.taypayart.com 

Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

Commission Requests: (Page Coming Soon) - Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

Groups: FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/14441... Discord Server: https://discord.gg/hNZyukp

Struggling with your Art? Try this.

Despite what you’ve been taught, Struggle is NOT a natural part of the process.

There are literally hundreds of quotes out there that cater to glorifying the idea of struggling. Most of them deem it a valiant and unavoidable part of the process of progress– like a swift prick in the arm before you get your lollipop from the doctor.

But what if you could get the lollipop without having to endure any pricks? Even if you did have to get your shot it wouldn’t feel like one, it’d just be a mere stepping stone to get your hands on the true prize.

Let’s take a look at how we can make this happen for you artistically and creatively.

First, let’s define struggle– Stewart Wilde gave the best definition I’ve ever personally come across, and he defines it as “Effort laced with emotion.”

So it goes to reason, that when you’re feeling poorly about a given endeavor, it can easily fit into the ‘struggle’ category.

Now what you may not yet be aware of is that you don’t have to give way to those emotions when you’re making an effort. Even if they begin to arise, the fact that you recognize them is enough to combat them back to whence they came.

Second, begin to accept the notion that struggle is not a natural part of the process. Effort is very natural– for it’s how you translate your thoughts and ideas into action, but struggle is the sour byproduct of debilitating beliefs about you and your art.

Let’s say you’re trying to draw for the first time in a day– a “warm-up” if you will…but for whatever reason every mark you make looks like a toddler going wayward with a crayon. It feels as if all of your skills and knowledge have made a quick getaway when you weren’t looking.

So naturally you feel an upset begin to stir, and then the negative thoughts come flooding in. Now you’re officially in “struggle” mode.

“I hate this, why can’t I draw today?”

“What’s wrong with me? I’m done with this.”

“I’m going to suck at art forever.”

Anything along those lines sound familiar? Read on.

The worst part about struggling is that once you shift into that mentality, even decent drawings seem terrible to you. It’s like there’s no winning until you do so on an emotional and mental level.

Sometimes it can get so bad that we don’t draw again for the rest of the day! And we both know that’s not how progress is made– that only ends up with one feeling worse.

So next time you’re feeling stuck, upset, or self-deprecating about your art (or plagued by emotional pain in ANY endeavor) I urge you to give this simple procedure a shot:

1. Recognize when your actions are starting to cause frustration and negative feelings. A deep and calming breath really helps.

2. Say to yourself (mentally or aloud) struggle is NOT a ‘natural’ part of the process. Make a conscious effort to return the fun to your endeavor.

3. Dispel the negative feelings and thoughts, it may take 5–15 minutes depending on the severity of the struggle.

4. Return to the task at hand. Even if you have to draw 25 heads before one comes out right, you’re still making progress! And what’s even better is that it no longer feels painful. Laugh at the ones that come out poorly, assess what you’ve done wrong and attempt to right it with the next iteration.

Once you’ve pulled the negativity out of your struggles, they simply become efforts. There is an great freedom about this. One can work all day, failing left and right, yet making progress all along. It’s not the result of your work that matters, but rather the spirit of diligence you’re cultivating to keep it evolving, and the strength of character you show to overcome the infamous ‘struggle.’

Many artists give way to their emotional responses to struggle– there are some who simply power through the pain, even though it causes them a great deal of distress. distress does not make you better at art, it only serves to bitter your workflow.

This technique may take some time, but I assure you the results are more than worth it. parrying the stress and riposting with a keen blast of positivity will take you farther than you can imagine.

Remember not to lose sight of the path on the way to your goals!

˚˚˚˚˚˚ Full Courses ˚˚˚˚˚˚ 

Beginner Drawing Course:  http://bit.ly/Beginner_DrawingCourse_... 

Beginner Painting Course: http://bit.ly/BEGINNER_PAINTING_COURS... 

Art Commission Specialist: http://bit.ly/GET_WORK_AS_AN_ARTIST 

Full 2D Art School Curriculum: http://bit.ly/PowerPainters2dartschool 

Personal Site: www.taypayart.com 

Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

Commission Requests: (Page Coming Soon) - Mail: taylor(at)taypayart(dot)com 

Groups: FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/14441... Discord Server: https://discord.gg/hNZyukp

STRATAEGIS - The Tactical RPG-inspired World building Project

I’ll Start at the Beginning.

Growing up, I remember my first PSX Console. It was a humble thing - a mere solid gray rectangle with a circular top that popped open.

My dad got it for me when I was 6 years old. He bought it used from a Pawnshop (we used to frequent pawnshops with my pop, as it was one of his hobbies.)

He then told me to pick out a few games from behind the glass.

There I stood, mesmerized by the case art and the titles I could barely read. I picked based on feeling, as most children do, and out we went with a used PSX and a gaggle of games.

When I sat down and plugged everything in, I was overjoyed. I don’t much remember the first 5 titles or so I played, but one of them stood out to me above all else, and that was Final Fantasy Tactics.

North American Box Art

This game captivated me immediately. The wonderful art of Akihiko Yoshida was quite memorable and appealing:

Art by A. Yoshida - Copyright SquareEnix

and the captivating scores of Hitoshi Sakimoto rang my little soul like a bell.

Never mind that I could barely read, I sat there sounding out the words as the story unfolded, and before long I found myself in the tutorial battle.

Controlling only Ramza, the protagonist, I played all my turns until the allied AI destroyed the opposition.

Then it was time for the real battle, the first one wherein you fight with your entire party. You had to be smart, as the units were under your control this time, and not at the whim of the game’s surprisingly smart AI.

I lost that battle countless times. Then I figured out I could add more units to my party prior to starting. From there the game really kicked off, and I was hooked.

I spent hours customizing my units, changing their abilities and equipment, and playing through the story while synergizing the group I was growing.

All of these memories are some of the most dear to me. I sought these types of games thereafter, and have played and thoroughly enjoyed many an SRPG since.

In fact, it’s what lead me to generate the world of Strataegis: Rhapsody of Battle.

And overview on some of the completed pieces I’ve done thus far.

My highest ambition is to realize the project as a game for a major console or directly on Steam, but for now it’s an excellent exercise in world building and visual development.

Here’s a bit of backstory

Strataegis is the fabled shield of the creator, wielded by a long lineage of heroes in times of great need – the likes of which occur every 888 years.

A chaotic populace of malevolent forces are always aiming to besiege the world Valon. This populace is ever-scheming with various occulted denizens of Valon; some of whom hold great power and influence.

Sanquisition is a secret organization that seeks to recruit promising soldiers, warriors, arcanists, agents, and everything in between in order to carry out a gamut of missions. The aim is to thwart the malevolent takeovers and onslaughts while seeking the fragments of Strataegis.

It is the 880th year in the grand cycle, and as the two moons begin to seek their celestial alignment (growing closer to the planet Valon on which this story occurs) the attacks from the Morivolum are growing more frequent, and require greater cost to fend off.

Worthy recruits of Sanquisition are being scouted and indoctrinated faster than ever in an effort to reunite the fragments of the Strataegis before it's too late.

Pictured in the center is Arcus - a sword-wielding Taroteer who plays a crucial part in the events of Strataegis.

If that wasn't enough, a triumvirate alliance of kingdoms and surrounding principalities have banded under the kingship of a possessed Ruler, Khard Trummeldane IV. Khard  will stop at nothing to ensure that Sanquisition gets wiped off the face of the planet.

Villains serving Khard T IV.

It's up to small collectives of Sanquisition agents (Sanquisitors) to do everything in their power to fell all of these opposing forces within 8 years, lest the veil break and the Morivolum infect the world.

Caeli - one of the higher-ranking Sanquisitors.

Thus far I’ve focused primarily on illustrations, but there have been some classes or job concepts completed as well:

Generating worlds visually, textually, contextually, and otherwise is one of the greatest joys of expression. After a certain point you begin to feel more like a faithful teller, rather than the creator of said world.

None the less, I’ll continue to put work into Strataegis whenever time permits - if you’re interested in direct updates you can sign up for news here: http://eepurl.com/cLDqrn

If you’d like to talk about contributing to the project, you can reach me here.

Here’s to further developments! Until next time.

Value-Based Pricing: Why I don't have "rates" as a freelance artist.

Set rates our hourly rates don’t make sense in many cases.

Ah, rates. The classic tyrant to many-an-artist.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a screenshot from the “Services” subforum on Deviantart.com

The sad thing is, is that many of these poor artists will never be able to make it out of this very forum with that mentality, and a vast majority can barely get ONE commission.

It’s a bummer, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve secured my fair share of commissions from this job board.

In my lowest of lows, I was selling commissions for a mere $50 a pop. Art-slaving away for hours just to eat. It was the worst - even if the clients came back with no revisions…I spent the better part of the process mentally flagellating myself for stooping so low.

That’s no way to live, and whether you’re an artist or you’re interested in making a career out of your creativity. I’ll explain how I ascended beyond this dead-end, pale-green scene, and instead began to prosper from my hard-earned skills.

In short, I had to earnestly seek answers to these dollar-based dilemmas.

For me it was all about education and implementation. Following the advice and practices of high-earners in other industries, and translating them to what it is I do (more on that later.)

I studied business acumen, marketing prowess, principled actions.

Let’s go into more detail.

The turning point - when I began pricing based on value

I had finally reached my breaking point after barely being able to save money month and month. I was working full-time, but my income did not reflect that.

The breaking point hurt, but it was also a seemingly magical event, a sudden willingness to challenge old beliefs. I did so until my efforts became the sword of sovereignty, deftly slicing that old mentality to ribbons.

here’s how I shifted my approach:

  • I went from charging for time, to charging for the event, to charging for the process and it’s effects.

  • Instead of hungrily taking every job where the client seemed halfway sane, I started being far more selective.

  • I began to look at myself as a peer, rather than a for-hire commodity.

  • The focus shifted from “make them the art they want” to “get them the objective results they’re after.”

  • I raised my prices. A lot.

  • I became less of a pair of hands, and more of a brain.

  • New thoughts about business practices and paradigms had to be programmed into my operations.

  • Specialization became the focus, rather than generalizing.

And those are just a few ways I had to pivot from my once poor mindset. You see, life is too full of riches to stay under the providence of our limited scope. You have to be willing to reinvent yourself and your work for the results you’re after.

The world will try to melt you down. It will want to standardize, unify, and program you. It’s your job to reject what everyone else in your field or your community is doing, and do the opposite.

Let’s talk Clients - an integral key to value-based pricing

The client is best served by having their issues resolved quickly and effectively.

And here’s the thing - hourly billing isn’t moral in that regard. This is something I learned from Alan Weiss and Nathan Stark.

The longer you stay, the more your client pays - that’s not quite right, is it? After a project drags on and on, and your clients are over-budget, you get the “client from hell” scenario - even if circumstances were beyond your control.

No - it’s better to go in lean and mean, and price yourself based on the big difference you can make for your client’s business. Then deliver as quickly and effectively as possible.

For example - if you pay me $100,000.00 up front to knock out a project and it makes you 1,000,000.00 over the next 12 months, you’re happy.

Whereas if things aren’t coming together right, and the scope keeps changing, and over the course of a year you’ve spent $1,200,000.00 trying to get the thing to fly, no one’s happy.

That’s why having a bid where you don’t pay a dime more than the agreed upon price is ideal for the client.

Again, it took a while to pivot into these new paradigms, but now that I have a more solid foundation, years of experience, and the income to triple down on my skills and ongoing education, the effects are multiplicative.

I strongly urge artists who are freelance to consider value-based pricing, and to reap healthier profits, and happier clients.

For the clients out there, make sure that going to a particular freelancer is what you’re in definite need for at whatever project stage you’re in.

I can’t tell you the number of gigs wherein I took the job to fast, only to find out that my clients weren’t every 100% WHY they needed the artwork created. Some had asset lists wherein 80% of the items were superfluous to their project goal.

If you’re gathering another round of funding, that needs specific strategy - if you’re trying to engage your player base more, that needs a specific type of work as well.

And if you’re unsure about what will move the needle, then don’t be afraid to ask. Part of having integrity on my part is to let you know if what I can do for you is something that you actually need.

It requires a good deal of forethought and transparency to conduct business at this level, but ultimately it yields more desirable results for all parties involved.

Value is the key to creative collaboration, and when both sides can mutually prosper as a result of a near-alchemical value fusion, the resultant projects are more readily bound for success.

An Artist’s Best Friend: Iterative Drawing (Step-By-Step Drawing)

We’re going to explore some well-known drawing keys that will unlock new areas of creative potency and technical expression for you.
Today’s Lesson: Iterative Drawing

Here’s a simple rule you can begin to apply today: Draw in stages.

The act of drawing can seem overwhelming, rather than fun and expressive.

After all, there are so many things to consider.

But if we prioritize and organize correctly, then we have more freedom in each step, rather than fear.

There’s a tendency to fight what works– even if we know it does. Some of us are addicted to a certain degree of uncertainty in our work.

I invite you to look at everything you’d like to create in steps or layers.

Some people barely go beyond Stage 01 (I was one of them.)

Others stop at Stage 02.

And where I happened to land this time was Stage 03.

Still, there are further stages after that one.

You have your own stages.

All stages are for the purpose of reinforcing and harmonizing what we’ve established.

Your most rudimentary scribbles can turn into potential masterpieces if only you take the time to develop and divest their potential.

Sometimes it will require starting over entirely, and only keeping the “feeling.” But if you have a process you can have faith in, then that feeling is all you need to carry with you.

So think of your work in stages– each one prioritized for your best expression.

If you need to return to previous stages to reinforce what you’ve created, then so be it.

A well-optimized model for working allows you to “move backward in time” if need be.

This means keeping things light and easy to retract in favor of solidifying the more appropriate pieces.

In conclusion, if you take things in a clean, step-by-step fashion (which our impatience often doesn’t permit.) You have a much more “bankable” result.

  1. In the beginning be free…Express, create, and channel.
  2. As you move forward, be sure to refine, harness, and subtract.
  3. Then as you approach the final stages, tweak, detail, and conclude.

Surely as you develop yourself and your patience, your art will follow suit.

This Golden Key is now in your possession. What you use it to unlock is up to you.

and as a friendly reminder: Always Work Your Fundamentals.

Happy Drawing,

-Taylor Payton



From raw cave paintings to elaborate murals, from the tiniest post-it sketch to the most complex composition imaginable; drawing is the backbone upon which a vast swath of great works have been built.

Drawings can be established in virtually all mediums and media, and all you need is a surface and a drawing utensil…That is to say, a piece of paper and a pencil.

The act of making marks upon a surface is something that we’re wired to do. Whether it’s letters of the alphabet or a complex mechanical juggernaut the core principles remain.

Drawing can allow us to express ourselves and our ideas, it can train use to think in ways that shift our perceptions to higher planes of cognizance.

It can be a therapeutic act of creative joy, or a delightful discipline that we pursue in an effort to reach mastery.

Chances are that if you’ve read this far, then somewhere inside of you burns the sincere interest to draw.

The point of this post is to stoke that burning desire– whether it’s a small candle or a roaring furnace, you can be taken on a journey that will show you not only what you can create, but reveal to you aspects of yourself that may surprise you.

So why should you follow that urge? What have you to gain from allowing yourself to create?

Well, as I hinted to earlier, the journey is the true reward, though another wonderful thing about drawing is that you have something to show for it.

Even more wonderful is that if you persist you will have a timeline of evolving works, the source of which is yourself.

From humble beginnings you can steadily (or explosively) grow your skills. Even if you’ve been at it for a while there’s always room to improve.

There’s nothing like a feeling of progress and achievement to layer atop the simple joy you can gain from sitting down and making work.

When you get right down to it, we only have some much time on this earth. That’s a fact.

Assuming you only get one shot, wouldn’t you like to allow that creative urge within you to express itself? It would be a shame to regret that you didn’t develop the talent that you naturally possess.

You could spend copious chunks of time playing games, watching netflix, and consuming media ad nauseum.

It’s not wise to cut those things out altogether, however, all you have to show for hundreds of hours in many games is a save file and some memories.

So what does one do in order to embark or continue upon this journey? How do you find an outlet? What do you study? The questions are seemingly endless, but allow me to simplify things a bit:




Let the forms and ideas come into being through your pencil or pens.

Listen to music, or if you prefer, a good audiobook.

Pay attention to your thoughts, and train your already keen senses to perceive the work in new ways by squinting, flipping the work upside down, or holding it up to a mirror.

Over time your hand will grow more sure. Shoo away the thoughts of self-doubt and non-technical comparison to others. It’s apples to oranges.

There’s only one you doing what you do.

And the more you do it to the best of your ability, the better you will become.


Do it daily. But don’t over-do it (aka hurt your wrist and such.)

There isn’t any real need to compete (unless that’s your thing.) Give yourself the freedom and liberty to work.

That’s it, really. It all begins and ends with you.

Make time for it, obsess a little. Find out more about who your are through your sketchbooks, and find out how you and your work change with each sketchbook you fill.

Don’t forget to have fun, it really isn’t all that serious. Drawing is a game with few rules and many exceptions.

If you get lost or feel unsure, that’s okay. We all need a little guidance from time to time.

And that, dear friend, is why it all comes back to drawing.

Happy creating,