Please bear with us while we get the FAQ updated to include Tumblr-specific information. Until then, here’s the main FAQ from ArtSlam at LiveJournal.
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What is ArtSlam about?
This community challenges artists of every skill level to pick a concept and develop it for one, two or three months. Generally speaking, if you have a character, setting, story or skill that you would like to develop, this community encourages you to think about it every day and get some sketches down that you can later use to develop your concept more thoroughly. Think of it as an artistic NaNoWriMo, with the goal being one sketch a day.
When can I sign up, and how?
Sign-ups are held annually, just before the beginning of June, July and August. Wait for the ‘Sign Up!’ thread to open HERE if you are participating in the tumblr format, or HERE if you are participating in the livejournal format, then fill out the provided form. If you only wish to work on one concept, you only need to sign up once. If you wish to change your concept, you will need to sign up with the appropriate info.
Can I invite my friends?
Of course! There are even achievements that you can earn by sponsoring friends!
What if I’m late and the sign ups are closed?
You’ll have to wait for the next available sign up thread in order to fully participate. You can still draw, post and comment, but will not receive achievements for these.
When can I change my concept?
Whenever a sign up thread is open, you may post your concept change. If you’ve posted in that month’s sign up thread and change your concept before the thread closes, please alert us to let us know that you’ve changed things! Once sign ups are closed for the month, you’ll have to wait for the next sign up to open before you can officially change yours again.
What if I can’t finish on time?
ArtSlam isn’t going to punish you for being late - Do your best, and if you find yourself lagging behind, you can change ‘difficulties’ with the next sign up thread. What’s important is that you get inspired, motivated and excited to create.
What are the community’s Difficulty ratings? How can I change them?
Difficulties are simply marking down how long you want to participate, and how long you want to work on a single concept: ‘Easy’ marks one month of participation with one concept; ‘Medium’ marks two months of participation with one concept; ‘Hard’ marks three months of participation with one concept.
You could set a goal for yourself in June to sign up with the ‘Hard’ difficulty, and switch to ‘Medium’ if you aren’t able to participate in August. Likewise, if you have more than one concept that you want to work with, you could sign up in June with ‘Easy’ as your difficulty and work on one project up until July, where you sign up with a second concept on ‘Easy’ mode. You can mix and match the difficulty ratings you’re working with; these just help to give you a specific goal to aspire to.
How does tagging work in this community?
Tags are added by mods, and are limited to the usernames of the participants. When you post, please include your username in the tag field. This way, you and other participants can go back through your posts to see what you’ve done throughout the year. Please refrain from using another participant’s name in your tags; this system is just to find your old posts and for moderators to effectively keep track of entries.
I’m having issues with my tag, help!
Chances are that your username hasn’t been added yet. If this is the case, please find a mod (a list of moderators is available on the right hand sidebar) or send an ask to this account and let us know. Mistakes can happen!
If you have changed your username that you originally signed up with and want your old post’s tags changed, let us know about the change. We’ll have your new username added to the tag list so that you can transfer the old posts over.
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How do I participate?
Once you’ve signed up in the sign-up thread, wait for the first of the month, and start drawing and posting! Art done before the month began does not count towards gaining achievements and should not be posted, with the exception that you would like to create a small header tag to more quickly identify and unify your posts. The focus of this community is on art produced during the three months, so that’s what we’re looking for! You can draw as much or as little as you want to each day, just set aside however much time you feel comfortable with to work on your concept.
The second half of participation comes with interacting with the rest of the community. If you’re a vet, please welcome the newbies and help to show them the ropes! Commenting on one another’s posts, giving constructive criticism, and offering useful links will all earn you achievements — and they’re great to receive in kind.
How do I post?
To make a new post, click the ‘Submit‘ link if you do not have a tumblr account and follow the step by step instructions on the ‘How Do I Submit’ page. If you are participating and using a tumblr account, then you can post as you normally would to your dashboard, but make sure that the selected tumblr that you are submitting to is the ArtSlam tumblr.
Link posts and submissions should be used if your images are larger than 400 pixels wide, or if you are posting more than one image. This entails composing your entry on your own personal tumblr or blog page, and then submitting a link that is titled in the general “Username: Day” format.
You may create a header tag for your posts that don’t need to be put behind a link, and can be added by inserting an image (clicking the icon of the polaroid of the tree) in the description box of your enrty. The maximum dimensions of these header images should be 400 pixels wide and 200 pixels tall, though you can make them smaller if you’d like!
How often should I post?
You can post every day if you have content, but you can also post once every few days, once a couple of weeks, or even all at the end of the month. So long as you can keep track of your images, your timing is up to you.
How do I find content by other participants?
The tag list on the right-hand sidebar will give you a full listing of participants past and present in the community. find the one you’re looking for and click on ‘em!
What’s Constructive Criticism?
Also known as crits or con crit, constructive criticism is a term used for when artists point out areas that look great in a piece and areas that need improvement: they point out why something needs improvement (or why it looks great) and how they think one could go about improving it.
Constructive Criticism is specific and is based off of an understanding of the basics of design. “I like it,” and “that’s okay, but something feels wrong about it,” aren’t con crits. “This looks great: you have a strong hierarchy going on by using bright colours right where the characters are clashing, and more washed out colours further away,” is an example of con crit. “You have a great image here, but the anatomy could use some tweaking: the shoulders and elbows aren’t quite aligned, but here’s a red-line of what I think would look more anatomically correct…” is another example.
If you aren’t sure about constructive criticism, take a moment to think about the piece you’re looking at. If you can’t be sure what is off about the piece, try to focus on what is bothering you and why; sometimes refering to anatomy, colour theory, and other design basics will help to give you a basis for a comment. If you’re nervous about receiving con crit, let others know that you’re uncertain — that can help to influence the tone of the comment at times. Generally, don’t be afraid of giving and receiving crits! They help artists grow and their images to get better — and the best artists in the world take constructive criticism all the time to make their works great!
What concepts can I use for the Slam?
Generally, if you have a character/cast, a world/setting, or a story that you’d like to express visually, this is the scope of your concept. Some Slammers have used the community to brush up on their art skills, for example, using June to do observational anatomical studies, and July and August to create derived images from what they’ve learned.
Depending on your bent as an artist — are you interested in character design? Graphic design? Are you a beginner, or have you been drawing for a long time? — base your concept on what you would like to achieve. Phrase your goal with the end result in mind: “I’d like to develop my characters for a graphic novel.” Or, “I’d like to have a solid grasp of colour theory by the end of the Slam, so I’d like to make a bunch of speed paintings of portraits using tricks I’ve researched.”
Is fanart acceptable?
This depends largely on your intentions and whether you can pitch a strong concept. With regards to fanart, if you’re taking someone else’s idea and building off of it, eventually working with your own story or ideas, this is acceptable. Redrawing someone else’s characters without much thought for the growth of the original concept is not acceptable. Keep in mind copyrights and permissions; if you’re drawing fanart, making a profit should be in no way a part of your Slam’s goals.
An example of using fanart to develop your own story, while not from the Slam in particular, can be found with Water Tribe by rufftoon. (In a general sense, using characters and a setting but really focusing on telling a new and different story is the point, here. Taking other steps towards original content with your own work is even better!)
What kind of maturity ratings does the community hold to?
ArtSlam doesn’t reinforce a strict maturity rating system. However, if the drawing in question is dubiously NSFW (such as non-suggestive nudity, like nude figure studies; faintly suggestive images, suggested gore or violence), place it behind a linked post with a clear warning for other participants. If the image in question is very definitely NSFW (suggestively sexual images or explicit gore or violence), please only link to the image, instead of posting it. Also leave a clear warning for participants so that they know what they’re getting into when they click the link.
How much do I have to draw in a day to make it count?
As much or as little as you have time for. We suggest enough to make a presentable thumbnail — scribbles are hard to read and don’t offer a lot for other participants to critique, but if you don’t have the time that day to refine an image, that’s okay. You can show progress of an image from day to day if you’re aiming to finish a larger picture, though the progress will only count towards earning achievements if we can see a significant change from one shot to the next.
Can I draw a bunch of images on one day and take a break for the rest of the week?
Yes! If your schedule makes it difficult to finish even one drawing on a day, it’s okay to skip that day and make up for it later. You may not snag certain achievements for timeliness, but it won’t hurt the overall goal of the Slam!
What if I want to explore more than one concept within one month?
Pitch them as one concept when you’re signing up, or save each concept for a different month. For example, say that you have two different story-lines that you’re working on that share a character in common. You might pitch your concept as, “I’m exploring my character in different settings,” and then focus on the character with the different stories as supporting the concept. Alternately, you might focus on one story in June, and one in July. Because the Slam is about taking an idea and really hammering out the visuals and the details, skipping through multiple concepts within one month is not what the community stands for. If you’re interested in that, you might want to try a 100 Themes Challenge.
What if I don’t have a concept?
That’s okay! It can be tricky to come up with something that you want to spend an entire month on. Would you like to develop a story? A character in particular, or build a culture or an entire world? Would you like to work on improving your speed with painting, or really experiment with your artistic style? Do you want to focus on developing your understanding of anatomy? ArtSlam is largely about character design, but the basics and underlying skills that artists need to visually communicate are important, too.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a concept, you may wish to turn to older stories and myths to lend some inspiration. Putting a new spin on an old story, or merging two old stories together is a good way to work an idea out that becomes original. If you had a character that you liked as a kid and would like to see about updating them and making them relevant now, that could be another route to take.
You could also set yourself a goal of doing some research on anatomy, hierarchy, landscapes, architecture, machinery, painting, 3Dmodeling, storyboarding, or anything that suits your fancy, and practicing a little of that each day. You could merge one basic artistic skill from the above list with a setting, character or story that you already have if you want something familiar and something out of your comfort zone to work on. If you need help, you can always ask for inspiration! Just remember that your concept should be solidified before the end of the sign up phase.
Are there any rules about how finished a piece has to be?
Nope! Readable sketches would be preferred, but if you have a more organic style that doesn’t necessarily lend well to readability, that is okay. Similarly, you can have a sketch each day, or you could spend several days on one larger image. Just show us your progress if you’re spending more than one day on a single piece.
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What are Achievements?
Achievements are similar to those that are all the rage in video games these days. When you pass a certain set of parameters, they are yours for the taking. They don’t really do anything, but you can look at them and say, “I earned that!” and they can give you some goals to work towards if you’re feeling pretty stumped about what to draw next.
In 2009 and 2010, achievements were given out as participants unlocked them, but that became extremely draining on the mods and admin. In 2011, we tried holding a monthly Portfolio Show Off: participants made a portfolio post showcasing their art for the past month, splitting it up into sections. Everyone can then also see everyone else’s work showcased in one post.
In 2012, moderation and distribution for achievements is still up in the air.
How do I get achievements?
Draw! Draw lots of things. Challenge yourself. Comment on other people’s work. Push yourself and try new things. Be helpful and kind. Have fun! The list of achievements, as linked above, will give you hints on what you need to do to earn specific achievements, but most if not all of ArtSlam’s achievements are aimed towards pushing yourself to be more artistic and more social.
Where can we view our progress with achievements?
This year, it’s looking like achievements will be self-moderated. Achievements are not only fun, but challenging. Use them as a guide for pushing yourself and your ideas. Award them to yourself when you meet their requirements. Above all, be honest with yourself on the achievements you meet - cheating only hurts you as an artist.
Where can I see what kind of achievements I haven’t got yet?
The list will be kept updated as time goes by. If the admin has time to make new achievements this year, they’ll be added to the list!
What’s a monthly portfolio? How do I put it together?
A monthly portfolio, within the scope of ArtSlam, is a post containing all of your work from that month. You should keep each image separate, or if you’re condensing sketches into one image, label your daily progress so that the mods will be able to see that you’ve drawn something each day.
Your portfolio will allow other participants to see your progress, and allow mods to count up all of the achievements that you’ve earned for the month. It should be divided into sections to suit your concept: putting all of your work with specific character designs together, settings in a second section together, culture development such as costume design, transportation, architecture together; any narrative work should be showcased together as well. If you’re working on a concept that aims to reinforce your basic skills, like anatomy, you might want to divide your work by how much time you spent on each piece: 30 second gestural drawings, 1 hour speed paintings, and portraits that you spent a couple of days developing.
Basically, splitting your portfolio into these different sections will allow you to coherently show off the progress of your concept, especially if you’ve been jumping around throughout the month. You can define the sections of your portfolio, but they should be more considered than a tally from June 1st to June 30th. (That’s what the daily and semi-daily posts are for!)
I have a question that’s not answered in the above FAQ!
Post it as a comment here and we’ll reply to it, and add it to the list for future Slammers!