2018’s Incredible Artistic Growth from the Etchr Community

2018’s Incredible Artistic Growth from the Etchr Community

When we announced the Christmas Giveaway on Facebook, we asked to see your art progress.

All year long, you’ve been helping us make the world a better place by making more art. We expected to see some stellar stories of struggle, perseverance, and of course, major improvement.

What we didn’t expect...
...was how many of you were surprised by how far you’ve come.

We couldn’t resist celebrating your success with you. Below, we’ve picked some of our favorite before and afters, and the stories that go along with them.

And of course…
Stick around to the end, when we’ll announce the winners of the Christmas Giveaway!


Gunja Bhaidva Bhatt


Gunja impressed us with her bold compositions and risk-taking color palettes. We reached out to see what she focused on improving this year:

"I focused the entire year on daily studies, doing more traditional gouache and watercolor paintings, along with sketching more thumbnails with planning of color and light, composition, and value. That also helped me explore my style for  portraits. Keeping a habit tracker really helped me, and this Slate has helped me become more productive since the day it arrived, as it makes us minimalist and forces us to produce on the go. Because I have it with me all day wherever I go, it reminds me how much artwork I’ve done." - Gunja

Nataliya Ryazanova


Nataliya dedicated 2018 to the study of color theory, which is already a herculean goal - but she pushed herself even further by exploring a brand new medium: watercolor.

(Can you believe she’s only been practicing for two years? We’re blown away!)

"I dreamed of drawing since my childhood, but I never studied anywhere and it still remained a dream. [In 2016] I watched someone on Youtube painting with markers. Then I signed up for an online marathon of drawing with markers (these are mini lessons, where people recreate a given photo or master’s drawings). I saw a lot of wonderful works there, and I also learned about watercolor. It got me interested as one can do so much with few colors, there is no need to have many colors, as in the markers.

I cannot imagine how I haven’t noticed so many colors around me before, the world is amazingly colorful. As I continue to study color, specifics of paints, technique of execution, watercolor attracts me more and more. With only three colors, you can create a beautiful still life - it is amazing!" - Nataliya

Yenthe Joline


Yenthe impressed us with her utterly charming character design and massive progress in posing, proportions, and form! When she mentioned on Facebook that she was surprised by her own growth this year, we reached out to see how such exponential growth managed to sneak up on her:

"I did know I must have progressed a little, but I never realized the progress was so noticeable, until seeing them side by side. It’s funny because I do look back at some of my older art from time to time. And I did see things I could do better. But in the last few months I never really looked at them closely and compared them with my recent art. Seeing them side by side made me realize I did make progress, and it was really encouraging." - Yenthe

Nathan Birchall


Nathan’s strides in portraiture and likeness caught our eye immediately! The form, depth, and technique are all certainly more advanced:

"I first started using ink back in 2016 using just your average ballpoint pen (nothing fancy!) My drawings were okay but had no consistent style or proper appreciation for line weight. Since then in 2017 I made some drawings I was really happy with at the time and a few weeks ago I finished this portrait of Jodie Whittaker. Even though I like both, I believe that the latest portrait shows much more development and control over the past year." - Nathan

Kristy Glas

Check out Kristy's work

Kristy’s “after” piece for 2018 is a huge leap forward in character design and color, but we were especially impressed with the anatomy. We wondered how she managed to make such huge strides in her work, and were delighted to discover she documented the process behind the “after” image dragon, and the study she did to achieve such convincing scales. It pays to do your homework!

"I mainly focused on color theory and patience. Spending more hours on 1 painting, instead of doing more of them." - Kristy

Jess Murcia Mejia


Many artists feel the rift between traditional and digital art, or struggle to bridge the two. Not only did Jess make the leap, she managed to maintain her striking, painterly style while doing it.

"I just tried using the oil and watercolor brushes on Procreate at first. I love how real they look. Even while painting, smudging and blending in the colors are so relaxing, just like real oils. Procreate did a good job achieving those artist experiences." - Jess

Bara Kunasaka


Bara’s work in 2018 has rewarded them with uniquely charming watercolor sensibilities. We’re impressed by her undeniable progress towards a definable style.

"I love watercolors and I'm finally developing a style I'm happy with! This year I wanted to develop expression and a little bit of texture." - Bara

Sam Cosgrove


Sam’s improvement is impressive in its own right, but what interested us most was the idea of self-teaching through Instagram. We reached out to see how she achieved such amazing improvement through such an unassuming teaching tool. Sam’s dedication is truly inspiring!

"I started by just trying myself (I did art in high school) and then did a half day workshop in watercolour in the little village I live in. From there, I started finding artists I liked on Instagram, and as the app improved they began sharing videos of their application.

I tried out how they did things and also what products they used, and went from there. I have four little kids, so I need something quick and easy and quiet that I can watch.

I have no fear of making mistakes. I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect. My most popular work has been from making mistakes." - Sam

Zak Jackson


Zak’s before and after showed explosive improvement! His work in color, composition, linework and figure drawing is markedly more confident: 

"This is a piece I recently created for a friend, a year ago I wasn’t drawing as much as I am now. After sharing some work on social media, I’ve had several commissions in the last couple of months. So much so that it’s paid for Christmas. My belief in what I can create is more now than it ever has been." - Zak

Steven Portelli


Painting murals isn't easy, but Steven's focus on color really shows on his newest work:

"Last year I was commissioned to do a wall mural for Jbhifi head office in Chadstone. I still felt at that time my colour theory practice was lacking depth and realism so this year I focused on improving my colour artworks." - Steven

Tamara Kidøy

Check out Tamara's YouTube channel

While most entries showed work from early 2017 next to work from late 2018, Tamara’s charming characters and bold color choices have grown this much in just six months. We asked how she achieved the depth present in her “after” image:

"I've basically just focused on drawing humans, trying to tweak the features and the details more and more with each piece. I really want to get good at it, so it has been something I can't quite stop doing. I think dedication and constant evaluation would be the mains things for me here." - Tamara 

Elizabeth Gehöör


Elizabeth’s accomplished a world of improvement - literally! She went from drawing single character portraits, to placing her characters in fully realized environments. She shared some tips on managing the complexity of a full environment:

"I felt my art was missing something, so I wanted to make it better! The biggest struggle has been to come up with valid backgrounds and make the perspective as good as possible! I tackled it by studying perspective and by making every art piece as a concept sketch on a smaller paper before actually tackling it on the scale I want it! Then, I know where I want things, how I want them placed and how to deal with the perspective." - Elizabeth

Thank you all so, so much for sharing your work with the world. Your stories are a constant source of inspiration!

Drumroll please…


And now, our winners! 

Winner #3: Eliana Elizabeth Clemente


"The before was the best I could do at the time in terms of color and lighting. This year has been incredible.

Realizing how much I know about colors now and applying that to my future paintings has been a blast! I think I've improved a lot on foreshortening, anatomy, perspective, flow, lighting, and coloring for the most part in the making of our comic. As you can tell, my colors have become more vibrant. They're as vibrant as I always wanted them to be. Took a while to get there. Lots of confidence boost to not be afraid to let colors I love to be seen as much as I wanted to show them off. I truly believe I'll continue to push myself in this area." - Eliana

Winner #2: Martha Reyes


"It was difficult to represent the ideas I had in mind, so this year I focused on improving my fundamental drawing skills like gesture and form, as I worked on my anatomy and figure drawing skills. Now, I'm making some copies of old master studies." - Martha

Winner #1: Ciara LV Uddyback


"Being surrounded by the inspiring artistic energy has inspired me to draw each and everyday. It has also helped me pick up a project I have been wanting to do for a long time now; a graphic novel series named Convicted Lords.

All this great energy, inspiration, drive, and drawing daily has improved my gestures. It has also improved my "storytelling"--because a picture is only good if it tells the viewer something worth knowing. My line work has improved too; I am using it more in favor of the atmosphere instead of, "Doing it like this because I want to." - Ciara

Check out Ciara and Eliana’s upcoming Graphic Novel project, @ConvictedLords:

Thank you to all our features for sharing your journeys with us! We can’t WAIT to see where 2019 takes you.

What Do You Think?

It takes a lot of nerve to put your own growth under the microscope, so don’t forget to leave a kind word of encouragement for them in the comment section.

The contest may be over, but we’d still love to see your work! Post in the comments below with your before & afters, or tag us on social media, using the hashtag #etchrxmas!

Here’s to an even brighter 2019!

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