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southpauz:

This website endlessly frustrates me

I am a black artist. I am a huge fan of Black Panther. These two things combined have resulted in me eagerly jumping into drawing Black Panther fanart. The movie was amazing and inspired me in ways that I cannot begin to describe, and yet, in the two fanart pieces I created for this fantastic movie, I have been called racist, terrible, accused of “white-washing”, and been harassed.

Me. A black artist. Racist against black people because apparently I’ve colored a character’s skin too dark for some people’s tastes or far too light.  

None of them were genuine critiques, either. Not advice on how to better reach a more approved way of coloring a characters skin, but just either vicious accusations or outright rude statements, as if they forget that there is a person behind the drawings they consume. 

I’m a person just like everyone else here. I am very open to critiques to improve my art when they come from a stance of actually wanting to have that person get better or learn rather than to just hurt them and put them down.

I made an error in my first Black Panther drawing of Shuri where I had drawn her a bit darker than I should have. I had realized that when I used a reference picture for her, I picked one where she was in a darker room with many shadows being casted upon her skin, adding more shade than what is usually shown by her skin tone. I acknowledged that mess up, but by the time I had realized, that post had already gathered a life of its own. I promised myself that the next time I made Black Panther fanart I would make sure to look at multiple references of the actor/actress and learn how to properly color-pick.

Which leads me to my new post I had created. I made a silly Killmonger comic that was a direct reference to the “you could shop at five or six stores or just one”. I was terrified to mess up on the skin tone, because I know even slight errors make people on this website go insane. I went out of my way to make sure I had a nice, flat skintone for him, seeing as I was only intending to implement incredibly minimal lighting and shadows in my comic.

I did research. I looked up information on how to properly identify skin tone (some of which were unreachable, seeing as they told me to check behind the ear of the person lol). All the information I looked up told me to find the skin tone through the “undertone”, which is the base skin color one has that is unaffected by light or shadows casted in a room. With that knowledge in mind, I made sure to find at least 5 references where I could color-pick out the undertones of Michael B. Jordan without focusing on any specifically bright or shadowed areas of his face or body. The readings I looked up also stated that more natural lighting may help with my choice, and a few of these (notably the Black Panther promo picture) have certain dramatic lightings. I kept that in mind and I predominantly focused on color-picking the area between his cheekbone and jawline to find his coloring. These were my results:

In all of my images that I referenced, where I made sure to avoid highlights in the cheeks, it showed that his skin tends to have a more honeyed brown undertone. 

At no point was my intention for this comic to be white-washed or offensive. I did research and tried my best to stay true to his coloring (and the fanart I’ve seen of him on this site have too wide of a variation in skin color that I was too unsure to pick one from those). If I perhaps hurt or upset others with my coloration of his character, then I truly do apologize. That was nowhere near my intention. I love the character Killmonger and I ADORED Black Panther. If anyone has a better way of finding base skin tones from real actors/actresses (I primarily draw fanart of cartoons that tend to have base set palettes so I rarely encounter this issue), then please by all means give me the sources and information. I’d love to learn more! 

What isn’t okay about this is how people on this website are so quick to jump and throw ridiculous and offensive statements without knowing anything about the person they’re targeting or the art they created. That these people are so easily able to forget that there is a person behind the art astounds me. I’m human. I learn, make mistakes, and grow like you do. I’m a passionate artist who was just trying to draw dedicative art to a movie that meant a lot to her in a number of ways. 

This movie is important. It’s doing something that has never been done before and that’s going to inspire a lot of people to start creating content. Some who are younger than me, who possibly don’t have a firm grasp on anatomy, color theory, or skin tones. They’ll try, they’ll post, and they will get harassed endlessly if they have a toe out of line. And that’s no atmosphere to inspire growth. If we want more fanart and more celebration for black characters and black productions, we have to be more understanding of growth and how to properly critique people without screeching that they’re white-washing monsters or awful racists. Of course, it’s not our JOBS to spare feelings of those hurt or upset, but I promise you’ll find more PoC characters being illustrated when people learn to not stick to the “one strike you’re out” policy that Tumblr has created. 

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Schweinderl