What makes an image successful

Every artist struggles for visibility and success, browsing other artist's stuff to find the perfect idea and make his own successful artwork. But how does image success really work?

Your best

First thing, never stop improving! Each new image should be better that the previous one.

Your best artwork should be the last one you made.

While this is true, some images in your portfolio rise much more attention than others, maybe for no apparent reason.

The Elven Goddess (Lineage of Elysium).

"The Elven Goddess" by Francesca Urbinati

From the trash to the front cover

The Elven Goddess was a style test I made for my project Lineage of Elysium. I wasn't happy with it, so I put the image aside.
During a comic con, a visitor browsing my portfolio just saw the image by chance, and asked for prints. I didn't have any, that image was there just because I forgot to remove it. I learned the lesson and printed some copies for the next event. It sold well, and during my personal exhibit in Gradara it was one of the most appreciated images.

The Green Mermaid was born as an exercise. However, this artwork rose so much attention than I decided to use it on my cards, banner, t-shirts. I pencilled a blue version during Lucca Comics & Games 2013 and was amazed by the amount of the final bid on it.

I started When we first met as a speed paint. I ended up adding details and turning it into a complete illustration. Despite this, it became another appreciated piece in my portfolio.

The question is still there: how comes these images unexpectedly became so popular?

Green mermaid

"Green Mermaid" by Francesca Urbinati

Common ingredients to success images

I do not refer to my art only, but to most famous artworks out there.

  • Tell a story. Surprise. Portrait a climax, or do something extremely well detailed (not the whole image, just the focal point or element.
  • Express emotions. Use facial expressions and light to set a palpable mood.
  • Color enhancement. Color is a language on its own. Use it wisely to enhance the mood of the image.
  • Take it easy. It's ok to struggle to overcome your limits, but staying relaxed really gives best results. Don't think about the future, don't wonder if people will like the final image or not. Practice on keeping Zen state while you paint.
  • Start wide, then add details. This will help you stay relaxed and focus on the overall image intead of that tiny thing nobody will notice. Not all parts of the image deserve the same level of detail. Indeed, such contrast is desiderable.

Learn, don't copy

See how other artists do things and try it yourself. If you're not confortable and can't improve with it, try to modify the technique to better suit youself. If this fails, try another technique. Rinse and repeat until you get confortable... then it's time to focus on learning something new!

When we first met.

"When we first met" by Francesca Urbinati

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Francesca Urbinati Artist

Francesca Urbinati

Sono illustratrice e fumettista freelance. Ho lavorato su effetti speciali 3D, graphic design e multimedia per RAI, Mediaset, Adobe, ArtOrder LLC, Studio Hamburg, MoveTheGame e molti altri. Pubblico la serie a fumetti Niki Batsprite e aiuto altri artisti e autori a emergere.