Beginners Guide on How to make Fan Art that’s kickass

How to make fan art

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In this post I will share with you the top 5 tips you need to follow so that you can start as a beginner, how to make fan art that’s kickass, from laying the groundwork, developing a style, stealing from others, removing all fear and sharing what you make with the world.

The best artists of the world spend endless hours honing their craft. Whether they’re recreating their favorite comic book characters or reimagining a superhero as the president of Mars, their work is always the product of deep love for the source material.

That appreciation is why their art stands out among their peers and makes an impact in their fandom.

If you want to stand out in this competitive field, you need to do the same. Be original and put in the effort. You must learn how to make fan art that resonates with your viewers while still staying true to yourself.

Here are five tips for creating impactful fan art.

How to make fan art
Based on Patrick Brown’s fan art

1.   Lay The Groundwork

Learning how to make fan art isn’t as easy as it sounds. While being invested in the craft is integral to succeeding, you will need more than an appreciation for Taylor Swift to be able to draw her; you need technical skills.

When her fans see your work, they should be able to tell that you’ve drawn her immediately. Only then will you be able to make an impact.

Therefore, the first step to creating meaningful art is laying the groundwork: pick a medium and learn how to use it.

There are hundreds of art mediums, and you can choose any one of them. Some of the most popular ones used for fan art include:

If none of these appeal to you, take a look around your house and pick something else. Everything from spray paint to tape can be used to make art.

Once you’ve decided what you want to make your fan art with, learn how to use it. Reach out to an artist who is already skilled in it, enroll in a class, or watch YouTube videos.

Nail down the basics for whichever fan art niche you’re interested in. After that, you’ll be able to mix and match different mediums and come up with inspired ideas.

When your work is a combination of talent and passion, you’re bound to inspire anyone who sees it.

2.   Develop Your Own Style

As a beginner, one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your fan art is to create something that’s truly yours by developing your own style. Put a touch of you into every piece of art you put out.

For example, @upthehillart has modern interpretations of Harry Potter characters. The fundamental concept belongs to JK Rowling, but her version of Hermoine and Pansy Parkinson is completely original.

Here are a few ways you can develop your own style too.

Look At Different Illustrators

Research all the different illustrators you look up to. Examine their work and try to figure out what techniques they employ when making art.

Try to include a wide range of artists so you can take inspiration from all of them. Take your favorite bit of each one and put it on a piece of paper or on your tablet. Eventually, you’ll find a style that’s unique to you.


Purchase a sketchbook and practice regularly.

Most artists aren’t happy with the first version of their work, especially when they’re just starting out. So when you’re drawing for the sake of drawing, you can re-do whatever you’re not satisfied with.

If you think your character’s eyes are too small or the colors are too dark, you can change them. By retaining the aspects you like and amending the ones you don’t, you’ll eventually find a template for your style.

Additionally, practicing frequently will improve your technical skills. You can kill two birds with one stone in that regard.

Think Outside Of The Box

Pansy Parkinson tried to hand over Harry Potter to Voldemort and yet @upthehillart drew her and Hermoine as a power couple. This would’ve never happened in the actual books, and that’s what makes this artist unique.

You can employ this strategy if you’re struggling to come up with a unique style. Place your favorite character in a place they wouldn’t be caught dead in.

For example, @lulusketches has an illustration of Stefan and Damon starring in the Hogwarts diaries.

3.   Use A Reference Photo

Some of the best fan artists in the world use reference photos. They ground them and keep their artistic license in check.

So you, as a beginner, should definitely follow suit.

When you’re starting out in the fanart business, it’s difficult to limit your creativity without negatively impacting your work. You’re used to absolute artistic freedom. But that isn’t the case anymore.

So you either end up with direct copies of your favorite character or an unrecognizable version of them. It’s best if you avoid both.

For example, when you’re paying homage to a character from Avatar, your end result needs to resemble it. Your work can only be called fan art if viewers can instantly recognize whoever it is about. 

Furthermore, when choosing a picture, make sure that it highlights the character’s main features. Even if you adore them and have studied them well, keeping a photo nearby stops you from straying too far away from the character.

The purpose of fan art is to elevate a character and present them in the best light. Reference photos make sure you do that.

However, you need to remember that the photo is there as a rough outline and not as a rigid guide. If you copy it, your art will lose its depth and impact, which brings us to the fourth tip: don’t lose your creativity.

4.   Don’t Limit Yourself

When you’re learning how to make fan art, it takes a while to find the line between original and unrecognizable. But if you want to make an impact with your work, you need to figure it out.

Remember that as a fan artist, your work is paying homage to a character or movie. However, it doesn’t need to be an exact replica.

If you end up trying to copy the image exactly, you’ll trip yourself up and your art won’t be impactful. Instead, it will be restricted and your viewers will know.

When you put Spiderman in your sketchbook, he isn’t the character Stan Lee envisioned him to be. Instead, he is whatever you want him to be.

All you need to do is study the main features of the person or character you want to draw since the finished piece should resemble them. But beyond that, let your imagination run free.

You only need the key points, for instance, a frying pan and long hair for the princess from Tangled.

By locking yourself into an existing design or model, you will restrict yourself and there’s nothing more tragic than that.

Let your creative juices flow by taking a wide-eyed approach to every project.

5.   Share Your Art With The World

Fan art is a celebration of a character and its fandom. Therefore, the best way to improve your work is by sharing it with them.

As long as your fan art doesn’t infringe on the copyright holder’s capability to make money from the copyrighted work, publishing it is perfectly legal.

You can put up your work on one of several sites like Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook. Pick the platform where your fandom is most active.

Then find out how other artists share their art. For instance, you’ll need to add hashtags on Instagram posts and fandom tags on Tumblr.

Do your homework and choose your social media platform carefully. If you do it right, you’ll establish ties with people who are just as invested in your art as you because they share your appreciation for its subject.

Additionally, the digital art community is generally very supportive so they’ll be open to critiquing your work. They may end up giving you critical insights into how you can improve it, such as choosing different outfits or fixing certain proportions.

Moreover, since these people are also fan artists, they can help you tread the line between creativity and straying too far away from your subject matter.

Others have done it – so can you

Here is a short video that you can use as inspiration. Patrick Brown transitioned from a graphic artist to an artist at Marvel thanks to his excellent fan art.


Before you can create an impact in your fandom, you need to learn how to make fan art in its most basic sense.

Without that, you’ll never be able to express your ideas in their truest sense. The disappointment of letting your idols down will stifle your artistic growth.

Besides, think about all the illustrators you look up to. Aren’t they all technically skilled?

If you want to make it as big as them, you’ll need comparable skill sets. Take a few art classes and learn the basics of mediums and techniques. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to make meaningful art.

You should try to make something unique to your experiences. Draw inspiration from a character you feel a deep connection to because the best art comes from artists who have a deep bond to their work.

In short, the trick to creating impactful fan art is making something you care about. If you can do that, your work won’t just have meaning for you, but it’ll also be inspiring to everyone else in your fandom.

I hope you enjoyed this post on how to make fan art and have reviewed other fan art related posts that I have linked to. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or via Contact Us.

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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