I don't see why you shouldn't just come out and ask the things you want to know. I mean, don't expect an essay in return because he's got other things to do today. But artists are just people, not some sort of royalty that you need to be "in the circle" to talk to.
Just try and make his job (answering) as easy as possible. So avoid asking questions in very general terms like "how do you make pictures?" that requires a long answer and that's not fair. Limit yourself to one or two specific questions that can be answered quickly.
If he doesn't want to answer he can just ignore you, and if that's what he chooses then leave it be.
Since you're a beginner I think rather than asking about the finer points of his style it might be an idea to ask him something about how he learned to draw in the first place. You've not got a sound basis in the fundamentals yet so I think this should be your area of concern. It's okay to have artists whose stuff influences your process but you can't really expect to skip any steps by reproducing what they do, because what they do is the result of having gone through all the steps. I hope that makes sense
Depends on how popular he is, and how possesive he is of "his" technique.
You can always try asking. But don't do a "OMG! this is so great, how do you do that?" comment, but something specific "I really admire the way you have mastered light and shadow, can you give me any pointers on this?" And expect either a "no" or a very brief answer in response.
No one is going to sit down and tell you exactly how to duplicate their style. Quite frankly most artists with a noticable style will not be able to tell you how, because they developed it organicly, working on skills and techniques, continuing to refine those they did like, and leaving behind those they did not like until they had a recognizeable style develop all unknown to themselves.
Why ask him? Just copy it yourself, it shouldn't be that hard. What colors the person uses, what anatomy she/he uses and so forth. If this ain't working out, then you probably need to grind at the fundamentals.
Nah, I wouldn't recommend asking the artist. You most likely won't get an answer or they will be pissed that you ask the same thing as many, many others. =/
Also, mind their FAQ: "Q: Can you make a tutorial of... A: I DON'T MAKE TUTORIALS PLEASE STOP ASKING IT FUCK PLEASE!!!"
It's not the same but at least similar. So better learn yourself by applying tutorials that are already out there. If you want to get closer to that certain style, analyse the anatomy, apply standard cell shading and some nice sparkling effects and you're there!
I looked at his work and it doesn't look like he does anything special. It's just plain cell shading with a little bit of digital painting as far as I can see. So... you can ask but even if he answers, I don't think it's going to be an answer you particularly like. A lot of what he does is the result of him training his mind to notice certain things and then remembering those things. And what's he supposed to do to get that knowledge to you? Stand behind you for the next three years going "notice that" "remember that"? That just isn't going to work. You need to train your brain to notice and remember things. When you do that, you will draw better.
"I don't want to come across as unoriginal or a copy cat or just another hopeless fan."
I think it's way more important to not come across as a selfish, irritating nuisance. Remember that an artist is an artist, and a teacher is a teacher. An artist wants to spend most of their time *making art*. If they had wanted to teach, they would be in a classroom right now. Now, some artists don't mind teaching, so it's worth asking. But if you're going to ask, then *be respectful of the artist's time*. Ask politely, directly, sincerely, only once, and if they don't answer or don't want to do it then let it go.
Your answer is incredibly insightful though I have some questions. First, when you say cell shading what do you mean? I'm new to digital art, I dont know the terminology. Second, you say, "A lot of what he does is the result of him training his mind to notice certain things and then remembering those things", if you could elaborate on "certain things" it would be immensely helpful. Your analysis at a glance carries much needed information! Thank you for taking your time to answer!
Cel shading is hard-edged shading, like that used in 2D cartoons, back when they were painted on celluloid. The highlights and shadows mostly have hard edges. Soft shading has blurry edges. Fully-rendered shading generally refers to painting styles that make the picture look 3-dimensional. My recommendation is to go through all the tutorials on dA, read various threads in the forums so you can pick up on what you don't know, look at art blogs and generally learn moar stuff. Google search is going to be your friend. After all, it's going to be difficult to follow techniques if you don't know what the heck the artist is talking about.
Certain things -- well, the things you need to know in order to draw a picture. Shapes, proportions, colours, light, shadows, how people act, what they wear, how animals act, how trees look, blah blah blah. The more you know the less likely you are to get it wrong! If you happen to notice that eyes are about halfway up the head, for example, you're a lot less likely to stick them two thirds up. Now, the world is huge and there's a TON of stuff to notice and remember, and you're not going to ever learn it all. However, that's also why you are never going to find a book that has everything you need to know inside it. A lot of people look for someone to tell them "well the leg looks like this and goes here" without realizing that they're asking someone to type up an encyclopedia for them!
So how are you expected to memorize all this stuff? Well, you're not. Most artists use reference photos to tell them stuff that they don't already know or that they've forgotten.
It's sort of like writing an essay, actually: - as you get older you learn more details about more topics, so if someone cornered you and said "write me an essay on X topic", you will be more and more likely to be able to bang something out without getting everything wrong - but if you want to get every fact right, you'll still want to look stuff up
So if you want to draw a picture, you will learn more and more about shapes, proportions, colours and techniques as you go along and what you'll be able to draw from your head will get better and better. But also it'll always look best if you don't rely solely on your memory and you look stuff up.
I can go anywhere to learn how to develop my own style. I can only go to him to learn about HIS techniques. I dont want to copy his style, I wish to learn from his style and incorporate his techniques into my style which is pretty non-existent. Though, even he could have gotten his techniques for another source.
I don't think it's a good idea to ask TBH. He probably gets thousands upon thousands of notes and emails a day about artistic advice, so chances are he probably may not answer you.
It's great to admire one's art and use it for inspiration, but it's best to come up with your own style. Even if he were to give you advice, he'd probably give you generic advice such as "study anatomy, study from life, and get your own style" pretty much. Really; I don't think he has enough time to give you any detailed information. Rather than trying to copy one artist's technique, I look at other artist's technique and apply it onto my art.
I know what you mean, I also always feel funny about asking people about stuff like style and such. Sometimes you just have to ASK. They might tell you, they might say they aren't comfortable sharing their ancient art secrets (haha) but they aren't going to diss you just for being curious about how they do things.