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This is gonna be a long one, so if you're not interested, it's fine by me!

Using the end of the month/year as a milestone, I figured it's a pretty good time to look back on the Artist Training Ground and the various successes and failures I've encountered with each drawing. This is mostly something to help me understand it, but I hope you guys find it interesting too. (Seriously. None of this would be here if it weren't for your support through favourites and watches.)

The last ATG I completed was in August 2012. In the intervening period between then and the start of November 2014's ATG, nearly two years, I uploaded only twelve art pieces, mostly due to procrastination. In November of 2013, I attempted an ATG-style marathon, using quotes as prompts – this failed after only six days, again due to procrastination and getting stuck on some of the prompts.

I was a little fortunate on two counts this year. For the first, it was only half as long. Fifteen days is much more managable than thirty one, especially with an event like Christmas that could get in the way. For the second, it wasn't in November. I'm sure some of you know that November is National Novel Writing Month, and I was busy for most of that month typing away at a pony fanfiction. (I hit 50,000 words, but the story isn't available yet. That's a different tale altogether though.)

But enough prattling. Let's begin the autopsy. All statistics taken on December 31st 2014.

DAY 1: POSE
Views: 133 (5th)
Favourites: 17 (4th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 2 (Jt 4th)

My first uploaded piece of art since January, and the first properly processed one since the previous November. This was more of an exercise into 'Can I still draw stuff properly' and 'Can I remember the methods I used', as well as an exercise into using Photoshop CS4 as opposed to Photoshop Elements 2. Still the same drawing tablet, but that still works fine.

The Crusaders look a little disjointed when in the same pictures, and there is a reason for that – due to the way they overlap in the final image, I drew them all separately and digitized them separately before arranging them and adding on a background. As a result, Applebloom's legs are twice the size of the others, and the work that went into hidden parts of the characters like Applebloom and Scootaloo's tails was pretty much wasted. And the lines look a little thick.

For a starting image where I was unsure of what I was doing most of the time, going by you guys, I did pretty good.

DAY 2: MOVIN'
Views: 129 (6th)
Favourites: 6 (Jt 9th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

This was where I made the partially stupid decision of trying to tie all fifteen images together into a coherent story, and I admit now without pre-planning that it's very difficult to do. This second day is barely related to the first one and then only if you read the description.

There was good and bad about this image. Good – Rainbow Dash. For the main focus of the image, it's an unusual frame of her flying animation I used as a reference, and the partially transparent wing effect was something last-minute that worked quite well. Bad – Carousel Boutique. Unlike a lot of my backgrounds, I sketched the building out on paper, and trying to stick too hard to that caused the distortion on the right-hand side of the lower level. I also spent far longer trying to make it accurate than I spent on Rainbow Dash herself.

Still, at 129 views, it seems to have paid off.

DAY 3: SNOW
Views: 102 (9th)
Favourites: 9 (8th)
Comments: 1 (Jt 4th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

Probably the image with the least amount of sketching, all I had to do for it was Twilight's head, and even then that still looks a little iffy. And the background is mostly traced, the parts which aren't covered in snow. Again, it's only marginally connected to the 'story', with a last-minute addition of Rainbow Dash's contrail.

More than anything else this was practice at MLP-shaded snow, which actually worked. Like the contrail, Spike was last-minute; the original design for the image had Spike standing on top of the snow looking down at Twilight, but I couldn't get the pose right and then I ran out of sketching time.

Somewhat of a letdown following the 'successes' of the previous two days, but come two days later...

DAY 4: DOWN
Views: 119 (7th)
Favourites: 5 (10th)
Comments: 1 (Jt 4th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

I'll admit it, there's an image of the actual collision missing, and again without the description, it's pretty confusing what's going on. That fact eluded me right up until I was pretty much finished – there'd be no sign of the collision on the door because Pinkie's opened it, and I didn't put enough of a bruise on Rainbow's forehead for that to work. As mentioned in the description for it, the tilted horseshoe was last-minute and in the scope of things it's barely visible.

I hate perspective. I've known that for a while now (and I'll go into it a little more on Day 11). So once more this was a background experiment, trying to take the reference images I had of Sugarcube Corner's front door and tilting them up. And you know what, it actually looks pretty good.

This was an image on which I did something unorthodox – I drew part of it, scanned it, faded it, printed it out, and then drew over the top of it. This was mostly because Rainbow Dash's original pose – which just included her head – no longer worked with the door layout, and I didn't want to rub it out because it was fairly decent.

Middle ground on this one in terms of views and favourites. But then, it was kind of overshadowed.

DAY 5: FALL
Views: 6071 (1st)
Favourites: 71 (1st)
Comments: 10 (1st)
Downloads: 35 (1st)

Yeah. Six thousand. That's what a bump from Equestria Daily'll do for you. I knew some images from the ATG got cycled into Drawfriends – that's what happened with Day 23 from 2012 – but when I clicked through onto EqD and saw a thumbnail from my comic frontpaged, my jaw hit the floor and the views hit the roof. By far it is my most popular image to date, surpassing my previous most popular image – Luna skiing (without wings!) by 5,000 views.

I knew from the moment I saw the prompt that a comic like this was something I wanted to do – for me it's a bit difficult to convey such a fall in a single frame. But who to use? Trixie came up for two reasons. The first, I just like Trixie as a character. The second, teleporting without checking where she's going sounded just like her M.O., and Spike is completely uninterested because she's done it so often it's stopped even being funny.

After the success here, I'm glad I did what I did for Day 3, even if I did just use the snow to springboard off into this gag. Staying up until 2AM most of the time is a bad idea, but it paid off so well here. Though I knew that lightning probably wouldn't strike twice and I wouldn't get frontpaged again, and none of the following images could possibly match this one in popularity, it was a real wonder for morale.
I hope to get to the point where the majority of my images reaches this point. But to get there, I just have to keep drawing, I suppose.

DAY 6: LARGE
Views: 144 (4th)
Favourites: 3 (Jt 11th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

This was an... interesting one. (And at this point, Fall hadn't been frontpaged, so it was just another drawing.) Here, I found the first drawback of my self-imposed story challenge – I wanted to draw Star Swirl, or Commander Hurricane again, or a pony that actually was legendary, but I had to keep to the story, and the Rainbow Dash/Rarity line was waiting to be continued.

Day 6 was all about perspective, and 'breaking molds' as it were. Neither Rarity nor Rainbow Dash have been seen from these perspectives in the show, and I had to adapt both the sitting pose and Rarity's rage face accordingly. It didn't work 100% - Rarity's ears are way too far back for the angle her horn's at, for example, and somehow I screwed up the alignment so she appears to be looking slightly to the right, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it turned out.

DAY 7: BREAK
Views: 93 (10th)
Favourites: 13 (6th)
Comments: 3 (2nd)
Downloads: 4 (3rd)

Following the frontpaging of Fall, I'll admit there was a little pressure here, and the story challenge was wearing thin. Plus, Applejack and Fluttershy hadn't turned up yet and I felt I couldn't finish the ATG without at least drawing them once. As far as views go, it's not actually that impressive, but high up there on downloads for some reason. You guys work in mysterious ways.

Again I used this image to debut a new technique, in this case the gradients seen on the grass and the stump. I just hadn't been sure how to make them work before, but with layer masking – which wasn't possible in Elements 2 – it became a reality that worked with a good degree of success.

DAY 8: CHEER
Views: 106 (8th)
Favourites: 15 (5th)
Comments: 1 (Jt 4th)
Downloads: 1 (Jt 5th)

Technically a sequel to Fall – I guess I was hoping for a little more connection but you take things as you get them, right? Trixie, along with Luna, seems to inflate viewing numbers a little, but that's what makes her one of the most popular antagonists.

More gradients, and a decent-looking background that wasn't traced for once. Trixie's side-on mane style still looks awkward, but the image wouldn't have worked any other way. She was also supposed to still have bits of snow all over her, but they got dropped last minute because... well... it looked a little explicit. I won't say any more about that. This was also an opportunity to draw a pony on their hind legs alone, and the pose I found for it works pretty well.

DAY 8.5: MAUD JOINS IN
Views: 56
Favourites: 15
Comments: 2
Downloads: 0

This was silly. I've acknowledged it as much. But silly is good, especially where Maud is concerned. Fairly popular in terms of favourites for minimum effort. I should do more like that (and I did, see Days 9 and 15).

DAY 9: GAMES
Views: 71 (12th)
Favourites: 12 (Jt 7th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

I ran out of ideas here, and the viewcount does show it. After a couple of late nights, and straining against the story challenge, I just decided to go with the Maud-style minimum effort snowball fight. I can't really say much more about this one, other than that it was a break I sorely needed.

DAY 10: DECORATING
Views: 84 (11th)
Favourites: 12 (Jt 7th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 2 (Jt 4th)

In spite of the view count, I'm really, really happy with this one. It's an old gag, but done properly, with enough attention paid to the details like the running paint and the wooden floorboards. Derpy's holding the brush a bit oddly, but hey, I enjoyed myself. I might just have put this one in at a bad time.

The only real letdown here was the background through the door. Clearly the room beyond is far larger than it should be and goes on forever, but I couldn't find a place for the back wall to go without it looking weird.

DAY 11: STRETCH
Views: 19 (15th)
Favourites: 2 (12th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 0 (Jt 6th)

...Yeah. The less said about this one the better. It only has 19 views because I didn't put it into any image groups – it's more or less the present-day equivalent of an old shame. This is where the story challenge hit me the hardest, and why I abandoned it for the remaining four days. Still not the least amount of effort, though – I had to redraw Spike's arm due to foreshortening six or seven times.

Perspective and foreshortening, the bane of my art existence. Vanishing points and geometric shapes, yeah, sure. An arm that looks much shorter than it ought to be? Argh. He wasn't even on a ladder originally, which made the pose look very strange indeed.

DAY 12: COCO(A)
Views: 40 (14th)
Favourites: 3 (Jt 11th)
Comments: 0 (Jt 5th)
Downloads: 1 (Jt 5th)

I drew a wallpaper! ...and the attempt fell flat. Shading, glows, proper shadows, even ditching my usual show-imitation style for something a bit more natural, and, it's not very popular. I only did the wallpaper thing because I had plenty of time after actually completing Coco, and it seems that the time was wasted. Oh well.

Still, I impressed myself with the fire. I'm usually rubbish at fire.

DAY 13: FAMILY
Views: 148 (3rd)
Favourites: 35 (2nd)
Comments: 1 (Jt 4th)
Downloads: 1 (Jt 5th)

Thankfully I was able to finish off the ATG with a few big hurrahs. I haven't drawn this many characters in one image since the treasure hunt (Mane 6 and Spike) and this has seven ponies close-up and one in the distance. But I'm glad this one got at least some of the attention I think it deserves. Drawing then digitizing them all was a long and arduous process. Maud was pretty much the icing on the cake by the point she was added in.

If Pinkie's a part of the Apple Family, then by extension her three sisters are too, and that's where this image came from. Apparently we might see something concerning that in Season 5. Pinkie doesn't strike me as a good navigator, most of the others would be arguing over whether they're going in the right direction, and Maud is, as I said in the actual image description, just being Maud. One of the others had to be paying attention to her – and Marble's on the top so she drew the short straw.

DAY 14: TRIUMPHANT
Views: 269 (2nd)
Favourites: 34 (3rd)
Comments: 2 (3rd)
Downloads: 6 (2nd)

Luna, Luna, Lunaaaaa. I don't know what it is about her that makes images popular, but whatever works. One of the happy tales of the ATG, while not living up to its full comic potential, it still retains a degree of popularity. This was the last fully coloured image I drew for the challenge, and I went out with a bang.

DAY 15: REVIEW
Views: 53 (13th)
Favourites: 6 (Jt 9th)
Comments: 1 (Jt 4th)
Downloads: 1 (Jt 5th)

Or with a whimper. One final experimentation of styles, and it's the second least popular of the fifteen (not counting Stretch). The temptation was there as before to draw ponies doing every challenge of the ATG, but that went out the window in favour of sleepy Dinky surrounded by the sketch drawings of the previous images. Shock twist: it's actually her art. And wait, isn't the image of her sleeping also a drawing?!

I tried to keep the sketches intact here – the only page I modified in any way was to erase part of the page on the upper right to clear the door. And then I removed the lineart for the main image and it still looked like it worked, so I went with that. “This is actually perfect,” said KlarkKentThe3rd; I don't know why it's perfect but for the trends in this ATG, just one comment is all I need to know I've done a good job.

So that was December 2014. Starting off with no idea what I was doing, peaking early, and then refusing to go off quietly into the night. Not every image can or perhaps will live up to the standards set by a direct link from Equestria Daily, but I can sure try. I submitted Luna's Longest Night as a manual entry to a Drawfriend after I drew it, but it hasn't appeared; either it's in a long queue (as I imagine there is one) or it wasn't accepted, which I'm totally fine with. You win some, you lose some.

To the future, then. I refuse to let procrastination get the better of me for the coming year. I've still got Anatomy of an Art: Break to come up – still got to decide on the composition for that – and hopefully a few covers for my stories, as well as some OCs which I want to properly design. They have the personality, I just need the looks.

If you took the time to read all of that, thank you very much. If you didn't, well, thank you anyway, whether you were here to begin with, came in from other sources during the ATG or just came in following Trixie's Fall. 74 watchers, 4,500 pageviews – let's see if we can't make that the big 5k, shall we?

deviantID

Kinrah

Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United Kingdom
Procrastination is the name of the game. Just can't be bothered to play it, that's all.

Want to contact me? I'm an admin at the MLP Wikia.
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:iconsupersmashbrony475:
SuperSmashBrony475 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015
Can you take a request?
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:iconkinrah:
Kinrah Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Let me know what sort of thing you want, and I'll see what I can do.
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:iconsupersmashbrony475:
SuperSmashBrony475 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2015
Well first can you take requests?
Reply
:iconkinrah:
Kinrah Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Whether or not I can take a request depends on the content of the request itself. If I can find the proper references and colours, and the requestee has a good grasp on what they want, then yes. As mentioned below, though, I don't have good experience with OC ponies.
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(1 Reply)
:iconbunkatsu:
Bunkatsu Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014
do you take requests? 'v'
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:iconkinrah:
Kinrah Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
At this point, stuff might take a while. I believe there's 8 days left of the ATG, then I want to do a Christmas thing, but hopefully I'll have some time after that. Then it just comes down to what the request is, really - as fair warning, I'm not very good yet at OC ponies. The vast majority of my current stuff is put together through looking at those characters in the show and then piecing the references together.
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:icontehmaster001:
TehMaster001 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Are you Kinrah from MLP wiki?
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:iconkinrah:
Kinrah Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes.
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:iconjonbuddy:
jonbuddy Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
TAGGED [link]
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:iconnightbolt-2:
Nightbolt-2 Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
um... this may sound like a stupid question, but do you by any chance, take requests?
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