Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hands WIP Update - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

Current version of the "Hands" WIP
Work is still progressing on this project but it's one that is being approached with a lot of patience. The technical goal (as before) is to try to get a high level of hatching and facets than previous drawings creating a more dense texture of lines while also controlling the light and shadow. The inspiration for this project comes from many sources but James Baldwin comes to mind first and foremost.

James Baldwin was one of the great writers of his era. Unfortunately, he wrote and spoke from a perspective that many in American society found far too easy to condemn be it Black, White, male female, democratic, republican, christian or other. James Baldwin was a gay Black man, that spoke out against many ills including racism and homophobia. He was branded a communist, anti-American and many other derogatory terms as a result. James Baldwin was forced to live his final years abroad in France due to being blacklisted here in the US. The irony of this is James Baldwin is being quoted today, his works are referenced today and his books are being read today. Very similar to how Dr. King Jr.'s words of equality and peace are constantly pimped by politicians to promote peace in the face of political adversity today as if Dr. King Jr. wasn't labeled by the same government as a communist, a radical, a terrorist, socialist, anarchist, profiled, ridiculed and threatened (ultimately assassinated) for preaching the exact same message of peace and equality during his time. Call it, acceptance by convenience after the fact, to serve an agenda but not necessarily to promote or make lasting positive societal change.


James Baldwin Debate with Malcolm X - September 5, 1963

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Invincible Shaolin II - ArtFlow/Nexus 7 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Invincible Shaolin II movie poster idea featuring Bruce Lee. Invincible Shaolin is a classic Run Run Shaw film starring Kuo Chu, Lo Mang, Chiang Shen, Lu Feng, Sun Chien, Pai Wei and Wang Lung-Wei.

This project is inspired by old Run Run Shaw films of the 70's and 80's. Originally started on a Nexus 7 using ArtFlow but there were some aspects that didn't quite work. The original pencil work of Bruce Lee and a sketch of the dragon were transferred to the Surface Studio and imported into ArtRage 5. There, the dragon was corrected and finalized, the line work for Bruce Lee was cleaned up a bit with additional shadows and subtle highlights added and the Yin Yang symbol was created as the textured canvas background of the original didn't age well. The technique used to draw Bruce is a variation of the same technique used for The Ex, Shon and many other drawings. A key difference is ArtFlow/Android are capable of creating incredibly clean lines with high accuracy even on the old Nexus 7 but pressure sensitivity wasn't supported. There are ways around this by managing pencil selection and palette values (depending on what the project requires) but there always comes a point when actual pressure sensitivity is a necessity. This is why I moved away from Android tablets and mobile apps in general as Google and many other manufacturers/developers didn't seem to care for implementing the feature until Microsoft made it a standard for the Surface line. Of course, this was old hat for Wacom users but to my knowledge Wacom never made a device with the slimmer form factor of a Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 or SurfaceBook.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fresh Fei - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Fresh Fei, different versions of Fei Long, the animated version of Bruce Lee from the Street Fighter series. 
Technically a throwback since the original drawings for this project are from my college days. The addition of Fei Long aka Bruce Lee in Street Fighter II is a total no brainer. How does one make a game called Street Fighter but NOT have Bruce Lee in it? He's still one of my favorite characters even though the series is fetish bait for Ryu and Ken. The only other rendition of Bruce Lee in gaming that's worth mentioning is Marshal Law from Tekken 6. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Monk - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

The original Monk drawing was created in 1998 in a sketchbook I had stashed away until recently. The update was cleaned up and re-rendered in Sketchbook Pro 7.
This character is very old and the first created of the recent batch of updates. I remember showing it to my ex's mother during a visit as I was working on other sketches of the Monk. She liked him and wanted to know his back story. When I explained it to her she smiled and said "You know, his story sounds like the story of Jesus." I thought "bloody hell, that's not going to work" and scrapped the original idea. I'd rather not have any characters that can be thought of as Jesus-like because of the rabid dogma that tends to cling to the Christian fraternity. Similarities in the original story were totally unintended as the Monk at one point in his back story traveled to far away lands looking for peace of mind. He was a young warrior in his homeland and grew tired of the constant lust for conquest, done in the name of the Gods of the land. He grew impatient with how the Gods were used to justify greed, theft and murder. He grew angry at how the Gods were used to manipulate a large percentage of the population that became too weak minded to use reason. So the Monk left his homeland, rejected the rulers and the beliefs of the land and set out to find peace of mind and spirit. That doesn't sound like Jesus to me. Jesus wasn't a warrior, Jesus didn't reject Christianity for being a farce, Jesus didn't abandon the population for using religion to justify evil. I'm not sure how my ex's mother made the connection but that's a connection I'd rather not have so I changed the story. 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Throwback Thursdays - Sketchbook Drawings 4H - 2B

"Nyema" created in 2004. This drawing was a challenge because it was created from a really bad underexposed photo reference. 
Looking at these drawings brings back some great memories. Constantly practicing to learn how to build on the technique. Basking in each success, moaning with each failure. Seeing the progression of the facets/hatching technique and how it evolved over 14 years is interesting. I really liked how the "Nyema" portrait turned out despite the struggles. The technique used teaches focus, patience and control, good attributes to learn for art creation and for dealing with day to day survival. Unfortunately, Nyema didn't like it and only reconsidered after her niece saw the portrait and was amazed to recognize her aunt in the image. Oh well, hey, we can't be everything to everybody. I still love it though because it captures some of the aspects of Nyema that inspired our connection to begin with.  

At some point pencil and paper will be used again but I have no idea when. These days, digital drawing is far more convenient than pencil drawing for my needs. No need to worry about sharpening lead, no shavings getting into everything, no worry for unintentionally smeared graphite or the degradation of paper over time, no need to run to the art store for a constant resupply of pencils, erasers, sharpeners, sketchbooks. No worries for want of a scanner (or a good camera to transfer works to digital format), I don't miss those days. Of course, digital isn't perfect by any means. Working digitally means understanding the technology at least on a basic level which is a challenge for a lot of people. Drawing digitally also means drawing on glass or some other smooth surface that removes the sensation of pencil on paper many artists have grown accustomed to. The entry level to acquiring the technology can be cost prohibitive for some. Then there are battery life concerns, storage concerns, backup and output concerns or that awesome feeling when Windows/Android/MacOS/iOS updates and breaks something that prevents work from being completed. There isn't a perfect creative tool that I'm aware of so, like most things in life, it all really boils down to preference.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

For Music Producers or People Trying to Learn, Cakewalk is Officially Free to Use

Early access to Cakewalk for Windows is available now. 
Cakewalk by Bandlab is the replacement for SONAR by Cakewalk Inc after Bandlab bought the assets from Gibson. I've been out of the loop when it comes to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) developments mainly because I tend to use my keyboards/synths for the work a DAW would be used for. But for those that live and breath from a DAW on their computer, the Bandlab Assistant (BA) and online music client are a good way to get your feet wet while Cakewalk proper is installing on your computer. There are options for multi-track recording, time shifting, filters and effects, tuning, cutting, looping and more. I was able to get a couple of my own tracks loaded, running and adding compressor attributes in a matter of minutes. This is, of course, after signing up with Bandlab.