Sunday, August 24, 2014

Outer Hell - 2560x1600 - ArtFlow

"Outer Hell" Created using ArtFlow for Android on a Nexus 7 2013.

I had a lot of fun with this one even though the forest background was killing me. Sometimes it's easy to forget how much work goes into the details of a background until you're neck deep in it. I tried using a bolder line with this piece inspired by +Rayya Brown-Wright. I was watching her sketch using SketchBook Pro on her iPad and noticed she was using a 3B or 4B pencil. It worked really well for her drawing giving it depth with a nice rich clean line. So I tried it with this piece and liked the results. I tend to lend towards thinner lines because the cross hatching technique I use turns into a mess with thicker lines. But the combination of the two is worth exploring. 

The color rendering process used is similar to the process used for "It's Dangerous to Go Alone" and other pieces presented within this blog, with the exception of the line thickness and the large number of layers needed (15 - large for a tablet, not for a desktop rig). I'm still experimenting with lighting too as I seem to like darker pieces which doesn't always work for clarity. But it's a great way to push the lighting of a piece. I like the comic book-esque quality in "Outer Hell" and will produce more like it in the future. Also, the name "Outer Hell" is inspired by Metal Gear Solid's (MGS) "Outer Heaven." I'm a big fan of tactical espionage games but unfortunately have no desire to play the latest MGS installments. Guns of the Patriots (MGS4) was truly an end of an era for me once the final credits rolled. Prequels aren't inspiring me to play, but they do inspire me to draw more. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do As Ur Told! - Digital Crosshatching on a tablet.

"Do As Ur Told! Defiance" - Created using ArtFlow for Android on a Nexus 7 2013

This is a special piece for me. An experiment created from two separate reference photos (one being my own hand, pointing) this was an attempt to use an extensive crosshatching technique that I'd used for years on paper, but with ArtFlow. I have completed pieces using a digital pencil crosshatching technique with Sketchbook Pro for Android in the past. But ArtFlow's pencil tool is better (as I've stated many times in this blog). I worried from the fact that I completed previous digital pencil work using a Nexus 7 - 2012 which has a more stable digitizer in it for touch input. The 2013 Nexus 7 has a digitizer in it that's a bit wonky at times so I wasn't sure if I was going to get the 1-to-1 input necessary for such a detailed and controlled technique. 

I was happy when seeing the final results. The process is almost exactly the same as I'd done using pencil and paper. I sketched out the basic forms in ArtFlow. One layer for the little girl, one layer for the hand. From there I used a 2H pencil with a light shade of gray and sketched out facets of the forms of the head, arms, body and larger hand. Trying to capture the depth of the forms. I crosshatched very thin, very light eraser lines across the facets in trying to show the light underneath the form. Then I went back to sketching more facets at a slightly different angle to intersect the previous facets and eraser lines. I alternated between drawing lines and erasing lines until the forms start to stand out. Then I switch to a darker pencil to sketch facets across areas of shadow. I use a larger eraser with a lower opacity to add highlights. I did this for three days, at least 5 hours a day before I was finally finished. 

Yes, the process is very slow, can be very tiring. But I have always loved the results when using it with traditional 3H-3B pencils and paper. I never cared for smearing of lead or graphite to create tone. I've always felt that was too easy. Being able to achieve these results on a Nexus 7 (2013) with a capacitive stylus using such an extensive technique was a huge "wow" moment for me. It made me truly believe in what these devices are capable of regardless of the naysayers. The key is to use the same or similar traditional techniques but in a digital environment. You will see digital crosshatching techniques in earlier entries in this blog, but somehow, I neglected to include this piece until now. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

1080-3 - Trying something a bit different

1080-3 Created using ArtFlow for Android on a Nexus 7. 
This is a piece that was inspired by Andrew Easter in the ArtFlow Art community. He creates a lot of great work using the app. His landscapes are really good. I'm not 100% certain but I believe Andrew uses classic painting techniques, but digitally to create his pieces. Many different tools and brushes are used to create the visual language that his landscapes are built upon. His work has strong atmosphere with great use of depth and fine details. My approach is different. I tend to get overwhelmed by details if I attempt to work that way. So I used the pen tool and literally drew out sections of mountains one at a time. I chose the pen tool because it gives the sharp look that I like (almost like vector art) and also because I can control it easier than using the airbrush or paintbrush tool. I did use the airbrush tool for the snow on the board, side of the foreground mountain and I used it to fade the mountains in the far distance.

 In keeping everything in order, I used a lot of layers. Maybe 13 or so just for the mountains. But it's worth the effort especially in the experimentation phases. This was a fun piece to work on. I'll probably create more of these in the future. 

Why did I call it 1080-3? Because I was listening to the 1080: Avalanche soundtrack while working on this. It gave me hope that Nintendo does fans of the series a solid and release a new installment for 3DS or WiiU. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"It's Dangerous to Go Alone" - Final - 2560x1600 - ArtFlow

"It's Dangerous to Go Alone" Created using ArtFlow for Android on a Nexus 7 (2013) with a
Friendly Swede Stylus

I had a lot of fun with this piece. It's also another good example of how tablet generated renders don't have to start on the tablet itself although it is entirely possible to do so. The original drawing was created in one of my old sketchbooks. I transferred it to my tablet (which can be done either by taking a photo of it with your smartphone or scanning it in and then transferring the digital file to the internal memory of your device through USB, Android Beam, Bluetooth File Transfer or cloud storage). What inspired me to render this image out was the only version I have is a very small, very low res version that looked like total crap in HD. I couldn't find the original 300dpi (dots per inch) scan or the original drawing, only the craptastic 72dpi web version. 

To fix this problem I loaded the 72dpi image into a blank ArtFlow canvas at 2650x1600. I scaled the image to fit the dimensions which made it look terrible because of the low res. I created a new layer, switched that layer to "multiply" in the layer effects menu and traced over the original drawing using the pencil tool with a 70% black or higher. I DO NOT recommend using the pen tool. The pen tool in ArtFlow is good for some things, but ironically, not that good for inking. More on that in another entry. This granted me a 2650x1600 line art version of the original drawing ready to be rendered. Keep in mind the original was never colored on a tablet. There's one color version I rendered in Photoshop some years ago, floating around somewhere but it didn't turn out so well. 

After the new line art was complete I realized there was more I could do with the piece. Originally it was a portrait oriented piece which you can see below.

Original artwork for "It's Dangerous to Go Alone" by Ubiv Tnomal 

I decided to rotate the line art 90 degrees so that it was now in landscape. With so much extra room, I decided to add the missing left arm, sketch out the pants, sword+sword belt for the Hero. The DoucheBro monster in the back I really liked except for his hand. It really annoyed me so I erased it and redrew it. In order to create a better sense of danger I figured the characters should be somewhere scary. A forest at night is really scary because it's so dark making it hard to see anything. So I quickly sketched in a forest background on a separate layer and added a lantern in the Hero's left hand. Notice below that the forest is really loosely sketched. I never bothered to clean up the lines or add more details because I already knew the trees would be cast in shadow, making the extra work pointless.

"It's Dangerous to Go Alone" - Line art and some shadows created using ArtFlow.

I built a custom palette in ArtFlow, created another multiply layer and added the flat shades or base colors to the piece. From there, I simply "turned out the lights." In other words, I added another multiply layer and filled it with a really dark blue tone. It was literally like turning off the lights because everything when dark. From there I worked from dark to light (which I'd been practicing in another piece featured in this blog). Adding lights and building on them until I arrived at the final you see above. 

This isn't the only way to control light sources in digital illustration. This is simply one of the ways I learned to do it through trial and error. I'm going to experiment with it some more in the future. I like the results and would like to push it further to see what else is possible. So far, I have not been disappointed with ArtFlow at all. The last time I was this happy with software was when DeluxePaint AGA and True Brilliance arrived for the Amiga systems waaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day.