As your moving towards working as a professional artist you are often told how important it is to develop your own style. It’s very important for getting noticed and having your work stand out from the artists around you. Developing your style is very important and should not be overlooked by any aspiring artist, but there are many career paths in the art world where it is just as important to be able to work with in the style of the project you’ve been hired to develop.
This could be as simple as the armor in the world your working on having exaggerated shoulders and specific decorations, or as complicated as the finishing has to match the body of work as exactly as possible following very specific guidelines and models. Whether the style is that of matching a known artist like Norman Rockwell, working with-in a game style, like Magic the Gathering, or working in the style of an animation like the Simpsons, you need to approach the project in a similar way.
First and foremost, spend time studying the franchise and how it’s developed over time. when other people have worked in that style what are the key elements included that makes it stand out. The broad strokes are important, matching colors, brush strokes, and/or line weight, but it all comes down to the details. The angle of a jaw line, the direction of a hair part or the thickness of a lip can be the difference between nailing a character or having an audience know somethings wrong, even if they can’t place what it is.
I find a good exercise is to take the base style you need to work in and your personal style and mash them together in order to let yourself find ways to use your own methods to express the style you need to. Below are some studies I did for working on projects for American Dad! I worked with similar colors, character design and shading, but my own base features for eyes, noses, mouths and ears as well as exaggerated the line weights and I was a little more expressive with body shapes.