Well, just a wee bit more than a year! I have been drawing for two and a half years now and this drawing of a Violet Tailed Sylph Hummingbird was one of the first where l finally felt l was starting to make progress. Well l looked at it a few weeks back and thought, 'l am sure l could do it better now' so l set out to redraw it. I used my exact same outline (l keep all my outlines, l use transfer paper to put them on my paper), so no cheating by having one bigger making it easier to get detail, the only difference between the two pieces is paper, the new one is on off white paper. The photos were taken on the same day, at the same time, with the same camera settings. I actually wasn't expecting to see much difference (even l struggled last time l did a comparison piece!), but l surprised myself! I can see a clear difference between the two pieces.
The first thing l noticed was how much less outline l now use. I actually now draw a very basic, actually pretty crude, outline and l found the markings on this old one a bit annoying. I feel like they confuse me, l draw far more totally freehand as l go now. My outline is usually just the basic shape and a mark where the eye should go and any major lines that will serve as guides.
The next thing l noticed was the difference in the sharpness of my drawing, it has become more defined. Because l am not so tied to my outline and feel more comfortable just drawing individual feathers totally freehand (and because l have now drawn a number of hummingbirds and know better how the feathers go) the newer piece has much better feather shape and texture, plus my new hummingbird must have twice as many feathers as the original!
I can see that the vibrancy has improved, which l have really been working hard to achieve, so l was happy to see that and the other nice thing is that my colors are cleaner. I am more confident in my use of color and l actually left (or altered) a few parts. I left out the sludge gold brown from under the bill as l thought it just muddied the green, and l brought more purple in to the dark feathers you can't really see at the sides. Subtle but actually ties the piece together better l think. I didn't use green over the body feathers like l did in the original (partly because l think it muddies the color and partly because it is not really there to that degree, l ended up with it in the original trying to achieve iridescence).
I also see that l have used more contrast in the newer piece which helps to give it better shape and a more three dimensional effect.
So overall, subtle differences, but l was so happy because l can see such a definite improvement. For me that is what motivates me to keep drawing. It doesn't matter that there are people doing far more amazing work than me, knowing that l can make progress and get closer and closer to where l would like to be is just so exciting and l hope that anyone reading this will feel the same motivation, because anyone can do it, l really believe that, it just takes practice.