Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Candy-N-Juice Creative Retrospective

It's that time of year again. The annual retrospective video is complete. These are kept short because the volume of work created during a year would cause the video to be an hour or so long if everything were added even with editing. The devices used this year were the Surface Pro 3, SurfaceBook, Surface Studio and a Roland Fantom G6 for the music. Surface devices have been the daily drivers for years now for the benefits of portability/power. Unfortunately this came at the expense of mobile tablets (Android, iPads) because they simple don't compare. Portable yes, but when it comes to power and software availability, Android and iOS simply can't match a full x64 desktop OS. There's no contest, it's not even close. For the photography, time-lapse and slow motion video, the Pixel XL and Pixel 2 XL (P2XL) were used. Fantastic devices with great photo capabilities. Nexus was nice but the future belongs to Pixel for the time being. 

Obviously, the software used are all non-subscription based packages. Rebelle, Amberlight, ArtRage, Clip Studio EX, Sketchbook Pro 7, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, Quark 2017, Power Director (15/16), Photo Director, Audio Director, Blender, InkScape, SkyFonts even Open Office, MusicBee and Steam deserve some credit for being used regularly. Now that this is done, time to spend the rest of the year playing Warframe and getting fat on cinnamon cherry pancakes and oregano eggs with cheese. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

"Foolish Little God" WIP - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

Update to one of the latest, end of year projects. Similar to the X-Men/Spiderman project this is a more laid-back piece being worked on a bit at a time each day as opposed to blazing through it. I changed Storm's hair due to never being a fan of her original design choice. Storm's parents are African (mother) and American (Black father). Yet Storm has blue eyes and long white straight hair. That never sat well with me because it feels like an attempt to depict some warped fantasy of what Black women should look like (Black Barbie) which speaks volumes in itself. It's not like there are an abundance of people of color in comics to begin with and Storm was made in such a way to stand out among them. But considering the media and the era in which she was created, one can't be too surprised. It said much that Storm was even created to begin with. If I were old enough during that era, Pam Grier alone would have inspired me to created all Black women super heroine comics. But they sure as hell wouldn't have straight hair and blue eyes!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Paint.Net - Surface Studio

Today was a bad software day apparently. Paint.Net is also available in the Windows Store. Although it's a freeware application if downloaded from the web, donations can be given in the form of a purchase from the store, currently only $4.00. There are legions of people that swear by Paint.Net as a image processing alternative to Photoshop that supports a lot of standard features one would expect from such an application today. Filters, Curves, Levels, Layers support, Hue/Saturation and more are all there, but there are problems that demonstrate why users could be better served using Affinity Photo, Photo Director or Krita instead.

Inspirit - Surface Studio

An email came through not so long ago from Escape Motions notifying me of their new app Inspirit being ported over to Windows. It's a mandala design application capable of creating really elaborate designs. It debuted on iOS at some point earlier this year but the Windows version is currently on sale for $14.99. I watched the sample video, tried out the demo and purchased it some time later. After spending a couple of hours with the full release, there are problems here. 

Paintstorm Studio - Surface Studio

A few months back I bought Paintstorm Studio. It's one of the few applications purchased that isn't good enough to use for anything serious. Recently, the application updated so I took a few minutes this morning to see what improvements have been made to address my concerns. Unfortunately, the negatives still outweigh the positives making Paintstorm a non-starter. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

WIP 121617 - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

YAY! The latest update for Clip Studio EX fixes the canvas glitch that the last Windows update caused. This is the first sketch created after installing it. Every works as it should from what I can tell and there are a couple of additions that I have to experiment with to see what the skinny is. But the most important thing is, Clip Studio now works correctly on Surface devices (at least on my Surface devices). 

Friday, December 15, 2017

WIP Update - Sketchbook Pro 7/Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

Things are winding down for the end of the year so this is slow going. Having a bit of fun with some Marvel characters especially since Disney just bought Fox giving them Fantastic Four and the X-Men in addition to their current properties from the Marvel purchase (The Avengers, Captain America, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and a few others). 10 years ago, I would have been excited to see what Disney/Marvel created with the X-Men and Fantastic Four back in the fold but to be honest, I don't have high hopes today. This project is more inspired by the Marvel comics from the late 80s to mid 90s before the artwork took a total nose dive and the stories became so outlandish to the point of being unreadable. That says a lot when you consider the genre. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Super heroes! Doing something really fun for the end of year stuff. I don't think enough work was completed using Sketchbook Pro this year so it's on tap these days. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FYI - Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo are now available in the Windows Store

Admittedly I'm a bit late with this info but this is mainly due to the fact that I purchased Affinity Photo (On sale for less than $40!) and Affinity Designer from Serif for Windows 10/Surface almost a year ago. But for anyone using a Windows 10 powered device, both applications are available in the store which is awesome. Why is this important? Simple really, similar to our smartphones and gaming devices, purchasing applications direct from the Windows store tends to be more secure than purchasing applications from developer sites or third party e-commerce sites. It also allows for easier updates to that software. Some developers don't seem to care about the additional security that HTTPS provides and will ask for credit card information on a unsecure connection. In 2017, you'd think they would know better. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sketch Sessions 12217 - Flame Painter 3 Pro - Surface Studio

Video and images from today's Sketch Session. The goal was 30 seconds to 3 minute sketches of whatever came to mind. No erasing or over correcting and only one brush could be used. It was a lot of fun and similar to traditional sketch groups, it builds confidence and speed.

SpiderDude WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Trying out a simple comic book idea to see if I can draw some Marvel characters from memory. A slight change of pace from the last few posts. 

Disappointment Hope Love Passion - Flame Painter 3 Pro - Surface Studio

Sadness and Selfishness - Flame Painter 3 Pro - Surface Studio

Friday, December 1, 2017

Anger - Flame Painter 3 Pro - Surface Studio

I can't stress enough how relaxing it is to work on these projects. I just wish Escape Motions would take the application more seriously and update it. To be fair, that very update could be in the works as I type this but considering nothing has been released about Flame Painter 3 Pro in almost a year doesn't exactly inspire confidence. 

Apprehension - Flame Painter 3 Pro - Surface Studio

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Progression - Pencil/Rebelle - Paper/SurfaceBook

As the end of the year approaches some time was taken to look back at projects completed over the years to see the progression over time. Practice will increase skills over time, also increasing speed as it becomes easier to understand more details the eyes see and reproducing them. The drawing was a quickie completed before leaving for work. Due to a conversation had with my art director at the time who swore he couldn't draw portraits, although he created a charcoal sketch of his pregnant wife that was awesome. Even to this day I'm not sure if he was trolling or not. The next morning before leaving for work, the pencil drawing was completed in 30 minutes. Very fast, more loose than any of my other work at the time using a similar technique the art director used. The point was to not shackle ourselves in a self made box claiming what we can't do, especially when it was already demonstrated in other projects what we can do. It's about process. The art director already accepted the belief that he couldn't draw portraits even though he already proved the opposite using a process that produced a excellent result in the portrait of his wife. The cages we create for ourselves...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Proper Perspective - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This is a portrait created for a fan of the arts I had the pleasure of talking to recently. She photographs incredibly well and isn't shy in front of the lens. As a result, working on this project was inspiring during a time of year when it's easier to work less. A really smooth canvas was used, a default but in retrospect, perhaps a rougher custom canvas would have been a better choice. Maybe for the next project. I tried to push the perspective which really caught my eye with the relationship between her figure and the door. A custom palette was created with more emphasis on blues to give the image more of a cold feeling which felt right for some reason so I ran with it. More time was taken to mix colors as well to try to get more subtlety in various areas.  

Abstracts - Flame Painter Pro 3 - Surface Studio

It's unfortunate that Escape Motions still hasn't updated Flame Painter Pro to scale with high DPI screens (meaning everything is really small on-screen) because it's an incredibly soothing application to work with. A portrait of a friend was recently completed and I created some really loose sketches using Flame Painter just to relax. Fun stuff. The current batch will be used as wallpapers for the Pixel 2 XL but the application will be revisited again to see how much mileage can be gained with more detailed ideas. 

Nom Noms - ArtRage 4 - Surface Pro 3

Another old sketch idea that's set to be revisited soon. This is from the early days of using ArtRage 4, goofing around, testing out the available tools. It was a fun time full of discovery. I was surprised to learn an Android version or ArtRage was available shortly after buying the desktop version 4.5. Installing it on the Nexus 9 and comparing the mobile version to the full version on a Surface Pro 3, I quickly realized there isn't a comparison. The mobile version of ArtRage is good as a test run, but it's not quite as good as the full desktop version.

Candy and Juice - ArtRage 4/ArtRage 5 - Surface Pro 3/Surface Studio

Old quickie sketch that was touched up a bit. This might be revisited for a project soon. Although this image is rough, I really liked the way it turned it considering the work progressed quickly. If memory serves this was created in 40 minutes or so. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

During a lazy holiday, this piece was completed. The goal here was to use ArtRage to create something more animation/comic style. The application is great for creating painter-like images with abundant examples of such work across the internet. It wouldn't be a stretch to assume this is all the application is capable of judging by the work presented online. I haven't seen other artists use ArtRage for comic styled art or animation cell coloring. It's unfortunate because the application excels in these areas. 

The pencil tool and oil brushes were used to create this. Work progressed a bit more carefree than previous projects with a focus on creating smoother colors for the characters in the foreground but rendering fluffy clouds in the background with consideration for the lighting. It was a lot of fun. Something different to test the application. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Multi-Exposure Testing - Pixel 2 XL - Photo Director 8 - Surface Studio

A lot of slow mo 240FPS footage was captured to test out the Pixel 2 XL. During the archival process I took a bit of time to create some multi-exposure shots one some of the test shots. In doing so I noticed that even though I set the Pixel 2 XL to shoot at 4k/30FPS from the back camera, it shoots 240FPS slow motion at 720p. That's the exact resolution of the images which explains why the captures aren't as sharp as planned but after thinking about it for a second I realized the incredible amount of technical horsepower it would take to capture 4K video at 240FPS. The Pixel 2 XL is a powerhouse of a smartphone but it has its limits no different any other technology. But the positive of this is that shooting slow motion and being able to view each frame even at a lower resolution makes for great reference photos and animation studies. Obviously each frame from the walk cycle isn't included here in order to create enough space between frames to more easily view the sequence. But all of the essential key frames for the walk cycle are available and easily accessible in the multi-exposure process. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Walk Cycle Testing - 111617 - 111817 - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

This is a animation test created exclusively using Clip Studio. It took far longer to complete due to the mentioned Windows 10 Fall Update glitches mentioned in the previous post. As a result of those glitches testing will pause for the time being until an update is release to stabilize the application. The ultimate goal here is to see if the SurfaceBook/Surface Studio can be a comprehensive animation tool covering 2D, 3D and experimental animations. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Windows 10 Fall Update Screws Us Again

Me after installing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
Initially it seemed the Fall update for Windows 10 went over without any issues but this is not the case. The first issue, the GameDVR tag glitch that bricks Power Director 15 and crashes the system, fortunately has a simple solution (go into "Properties" of the video and delete the tag information). But Clip Studio hasn't been so lucky. The first problem I noticed is each attempt to draw will also activate the palm icon and pan the canvas. A demonstration of the glitch can be found here. The only work around found is to deactivate pen mode (This is the mode that prioritizes pen input preventing stray marks from incidental contact with your fingers or palm). Another problem has appeared that's causing additional headaches is after a period of time in Clip Studio, touch navigation, pinch and zoom/pan will stop functioning. The navigator can still move, zoom and rotate the canvas, clumsily, but all touch navigation ceases to function. Kind of a big deal considering I'm using Clip Studio on a Surface Studio and SurfaceBook...built around touch screens and touch navigation. The only way I've found to reactivate the functions is to quit out and relaunch the application. Not cool. Thanks Microsoft, really because this is absolutely brilliant for a smooth work environment.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pixel 2 XL Camera Testing - Day One

Testing testing...123. Each time I change phones, a few days are taken to go out and about, testing the photo and video capabilities of the new device. The test includes taking a series of photos using the stock camera app, no filters or post effects applied, slo mo, and monitoring exactly how well the battery holds up with heavy consistent use. Subsequent days go further adding key 3rd party camera apps, shooting manually, lowlight performance testing, video and timelapse. 

Last year's Pixel XL performed incredibly well while taking photos, shooting video and timelapse, frighteningly good considering it's a smartphone and the battery lasted the entire day even though it was at 4 percent by the time the test was done. But the slo mo functions were broken pretty badly. So badly to the extent that I never used them again. It's anyone's guess at to whether Google fixed the problems on the og Pixel XL. This year's Pixel 2 XL performed incredibly well taking photos too, better than last year's model. But this time out, slo mo actually works and it works in 4k. The new device sees the return of OIS (optical image stabilization) and the addition of EIS which is Google's software alchemy that stabilizes shots using the gyroscope juju I'm not familiar with. Pixel 2 devices use both OIS and EIS at the same time for more stable photos and videos especially for those with shaky hands or shooting in less stable environments. Shutter speeds are very fast and focus was maintained really well even during quick shots that were little more than "turn, point and pray." This is the first patch of photos captured using Google's stock camera app. Pretty straight forward stuff to start the test, but hey, at least my Pixel 2 XL works in the cold.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Do You Still Hate Subscription Based Software? So Do I! Here Are Some Alternatives

This is an update to an earlier post for people that hate software subscriptions as leasing software is just evil. Yes, Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft and all the rest, punishing legit users by not allowing them to purchase the tools needed to complete projects is an evil I simply can not support. This is an updated list of alternatives to popular software and their availability that can be combined to create creative suites that will cover many bases.

Affinity Designer

Monday, November 6, 2017

"Don't Be Mad*" WIP - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Trying out a idea from a scene in a comic book story. Teammates laughing at one of their partners after joking with him. Simple. After finishing the last Yoga project, the goal here is to use a similar technique in ArtRage 5 for a comic book concept and see what the results would be. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fresh Produce: WarFrame - Return to the Plains of Eidolon - Game DVR/Power Director 15 - Surface Studio

During break time I play Switch or Warframe on PC. This is a recent session played on the Surface Studio, recorded with GameDVR and editing/output with Power Director 15, 1080p at 60 frames per second. These videos are usually pretty straight forward to produce but it still requires a bit of know-how to get them output correctly.

IMPORTANT NOTE* - If you updated your PC to the Windows 10 Fall Creator's Update and plan to use GameDVR and Power Director 15, there is a huge glitch you must be made aware of. Post update, GameDVR adds tag information to every video it captures. Power Director 15 hates this tag and as a result, it can cause your machine to slow to a crawl using 100% of all available RAM. This will either crash the application (which is the case on my SurfaceBook) or force the system to reboot (which is the case with my Surface Studio). To avoid this annoying problem, before loading the video into Power Director, open "Properties" by right clicking on the video and selecting the bottom option in the window that appears. Select "Details" from the tab at the top of the screen. In the next window you'll see "Tags" and a ridiculously long string of text and symbols in this category ( I already deleted the tag in the sample image). Delete it, click "Apply" and then "OK." Your videos will load into Power Director 15 without issue. Images after the jump!

Around Town - Pixel XL

In a few days I'll test out the camera on the Pixel 2 XL. In the meantime, I captured a few images with the original Pixel XL (OGPXL). It's been some time since photography was a focus mainly due to the fact that illustration and animation can be very time consuming. Hopefully that will change soon. These images were captured without the use of filters and no post effects. The only addition being my signature.

Yoga Camel Pose Series - Sketchbook Pro 7/ArtRage/Rebelle/Clip Studio Ex - Surface Devices

Camel Pose WIP 11417 early version created in Sketchbook Pro 7 on a Surface Studio
This is the second half of the yoga series of drawings and paintings that a friend posed for. Working with her has been a great experience that took me back to my UArts days when students had models to work from almost every week. This latest version was an experiment in Sketchbook Pro 7 using the default brush sets. Generally I don't like using these brushes because they tend to be a bit clumsy to use but I wanted to give them another try. Unfortunately, paints didn't react the way I'd expected. They reacted like some really weird digital approximation of acrylics or oils. With patience and practice, I was able to create the image above (the final, NSFW after the jump). It looks like something that could have been created using Rebelle. The difference being, Rebelle's acrylic brushes actually react more true to the real thing allowing the work to progress easier than in Sketchbook Pro 7. There was also a degree of fine control that was lacking. More practice could alleviate the problem, maybe. Yes, I was able to pull this off but I don't think I'd attempt it again in version 7 unless I found or created better brushes to use.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sketch Works - Sketchbook Pro for Android - Nexus 7 (2013 version)

Another old WIP that was dug up recently that I'm think about revisiting for an idea. Initially started using Sketchbook Pro on my old Nexus 7, it might be a good idea to rework/finish this using Sketchbook Pro 7 or Clip Studio EX. Looking at older works definitely brings a lot of possibilities to mind. 

Sketch Works - Various applications

These are a series of sketches completed over the years using Android (ArtFlow, Sketchbook Pro) and Surface devices (Sketchbook Pro 7, Clip Studio) with one pencil drawing I included because I really like it. Sometimes it's easier to figure out what you're going to do next if you look at what you've done prior. Sketches can be a great inspiration for future projects which is why it's never a good idea to throw away sketches. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sketch Sessions 10/23 - 10/29 (NSFW) - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Cropped version of the final which is after the jump (NSFW). 
This is another practice drawing using the hatching and facets technique but used with a different textured canvas (again) with much more time taken to layer the lines even further than the previous exercise. Pencils used were the equivalent of a 4H  to a 2B with some uses of a white pencil for highlights but I stopped using the white pencil early on as it didn't quite feel right. For now the project is done in the sense that other projects need to be tackled but more work may be put into this later if the feeling is right. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Happened to "Silence?" - Rebelle/Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook/Surface Studio

"Silence" - Rebelle v.2 image
This is a test image for a freelance book project I was working on in late 2016. It was originally created using Rebelle version 1.5 but what you see here is how it looks in Rebelle 2. The Rebelle 1.5 file was recently opened in Rebelle 2 and due to the changes in canvas types and the brush algorithms in the latest version of software, the original project was changed. No manual changes were made to the file after opening it in version 2. I like the smoothness of the old version and the colors but I like the textured canvas and ominous look of the new version. Speaking with representatives from Escape Motions (the developer of Rebelle) it was explained to me how the brush engine for the software was rebuilt for version 2 to also coincide with the custom brush creator. It all makes sense. This image was a test creation for a page layout in the book project so it won't be revisited. But it definitely provides some great ideas to try out going forward. 

"Silence" - Rebelle v.1.5 image

Monday, October 23, 2017

Yoga Crow Pose series (NSFW) - Rebelle/ArtRage - Surface Studio/SurfaceBook

This is the latest addition to a series of works featuring a friend. The above image is the SFW version (Safe For Work). After the jump is the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) versions. For the uninitiated, that means those that are working in offices with delicate sensibilities or are in front of the computer with their kids around, do not view the jump.

With that out of the way, the acrylic brushes were used for this project. Harder to use than the watercolor brushes in my opinion but just as impressive when it comes to producing quality results. At this stage, it may be time to develop more custom brushes for various effects as some of the hair was a bit more of a challenge than it should have been primarily due to not having quite the right brush.   

Remember, the jump is awesome, but totally NSFW

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sketch Sessions 10-21-17/Second Half - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Another quickie sketch (long than the previous though). A different pencil and canvas were used to see what the results would be. More time was spent on the hair than anything else. These exercises are good for just getting the image down on the page. Sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in the details, constantly fretting over things looking "perfect" in anticipation of harsh judgment. Focus on the flow and freedom of the work, ignore the baggage. Being so caught up can truly be a detriment to the piece you're trying to create. 

Sketch Sessions 10-21-17 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Quickie sketch from today's sketch sessions. Nothing too extensive, this was created using a B pencil for smoothing in ArtRage 5 working loosely. In ArtRage and Rebelle I've begun to experiment again with creating custom canvas types, using one of them for this drawing. One advantage in ArtRage is that it will support canvas types in .jpeg and .png formats whereas Rebelle will only use canvas types that are .png format. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Guilty Until Proven Innocent - Rebelle/Quark 2016 - SurfaceBook

Poem by Anthony Colquitt
Another creation for a project that will never see the light of day unfortunately. This was inspired by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and all those that stand against inequality and racism. There is something dangerously wrong with a society when the police can flat out murder a child in broad daylight (as one of many examples) and no one is held accountable for it. 

America - Quark 2016 - SurfaceBook

This is an image created for a project that's pretty much dead in the water. It's an image that represents America's sadistic fetish for guns and gun violence. This will always be a serious problem until common sense is more prevalent than greed. 

Yoga, Crow Pose (Again) - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

This is a speed painting as part of the yoga series that was started in 2015, featuring the same friend/model. This was completed in a couple of hours. Rebelle 2 watercolor brushes again are in effect, at this point I think they're becoming an obsession. The Wet Wednesday's project caused a good deal of burn out that required a break for a few days. In order to get back into the swing of things, Crow pose #2 was the focus. Nothing too strenuous that could bring back the feelings of burnout. A very relaxing project to help build confidence. There are times, as artists, that the best thing we can do to help further develop our skills is to take a break. It's great to be that person that's die-hard and constantly painting/drawing/creating every day. Every free moment of every day. But this isn't always healthy.  Sometimes we need to walk away and come back with fresh eyes and a fresher mind to pick up where we left off, for continued success. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wet Wednesdays Rebelle 2 Portrait - Timelapse

Video of the processed used in the previous post.

Wet Wednesdays Watercolor Project (Morgan Hurd) - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio

The original plan for this project was to draw it using the hatching and facet technique used in the previous post. But I haven't used Rebelle in a week or so and decided to use it instead and go with the watercolor brushes. Similar to the yoga project from a few days ago, this was pretty straight forward. No problems at all from sketch to final. Well, actually there is one issue I've been dealing with but it would take GPU support or new hardware to correct. The watercolor algorithm in Rebelle/Rebelle 2 is pretty extensive. Even though there's a Core i7 with 32GBs of RAM in the Surface Studio, Rebelle 2 can struggle at times when working with watercolors. This results in a pause every now and then as Rebelle needs time to catch up. Calculating the data to simulate the bleed of water/paint on canvas + pressure used is no minor task (which is why Rebelle isn't on iPad Pro, it's not powerful enough) but I have a sneaky suspicion that the bottleneck is the i7. I don't think this would be an issue if Rebelle 2 supported the GPU for processing instead of the CPU. As of now, GPU support is experimental in Rebelle 2. To avoid crashing the application or the entire system while recording, I stick to CPU processing for the time being. But I will definitely make the switch once GPU support becomes stable.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sketches Session 10/4 - 10/8 Time Lapse - ArtRage 5/Power Director 15

Time lapse of the latest project. Yes indeed, this one was harder than I expected.

Sketch Sessions 10/4/17 - 10/8/17 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

For this project the hatching lines and facets were layered many more times than the previous project. Because of this it took twice as long to complete, four days as opposed to two. The pose may seem simple to others but it was a challenge to work with. The perspective in general and the angle of the right hand specifically threw me off at times. Working on a dark canvas and drawing with light was also a challenge but easier than previous projects (practice paying off). But it's the difficult challenges that teach us the most so it's more beneficial to stick with it until the end. Laziness, excuses and rhetoric do nothing but waste time and energy. We have to do the work otherwise nothing is learned or gained. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sketch Session Time-Lapse 10/01/17 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Video of the Sunday Sketch Session.

Sketch Sessions 10/01/17 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Yesterday was a Sketch Session Sunday but I didn't finish the video and .gif creation until today. I stuck with ArtRage 5 but used a watercolor canvas with a thin fine liner pencil for the figure. This allowed my hatchings and facets to come together better than the second Shon Tenaj portrait which incorporated a rougher paper and a different pencil. Also, the initial drawing here was created using a scribble technique, simply drawing loosely what I saw from the reference photo. The scribble lines weren't erased when the facets and cross hatchings were applied, I drew over them, new lines covering the old. This was to avoid the old habit of correcting and over correcting which wastes time and energy. Of course, there was some clean up around certain areas but it was minimal and performed later in the drawing phase. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Brandon Time Lapse - SurfaceBook/Power Director 15

I was finally able to get the video for the last project produced. Apologies in advance,  there is a duplicate cursor in the video. I have to figure out why that is.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Brandon - ArtRage 5 - SurfaceBook

A few weeks ago, I posted a really loose digital painting of The Crow that didn't quite work out like I planned but served as a great example of working with more of a loose, free flowing strokes. I got a chance to revisit that style of working today and was able to create what you see here. Working in this way requires almost a total disregard for rigid lines and structure, allowing your eye and your stroke to flow with more of what you feel and less of what you see. Working in such a way was an amazing feeling. Many of us are taught to work within rigid confines of what is thought to be "proper" or "best practice." But this line of thinking is subject to preference. The reality is any and everything can work, any and everything are possible and any combination of technique and application are viable. There was a time when I didn't think I'd ever even begin to learn how to work as loosely as what's presented here but the key is practice. Always practice and ignore the naysayers with the knowledge that if someone isn't hating on your work, then you're not pushing it hard enough. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Yoga - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio

Watercolor project that initially started in ArtRage 5 but was killed and restarted in Rebelle 2 (for the same reasons mention in a recent post). Not too much to say about this one. It progressed pretty quickly with nearly no other problems to speak of. Technically this is a speed painting as I worked really quickly jumping between this and the Wei Sketchbook Pro project over the last two days. It was a good contrast considering Sketchbook Pro 7 required a lot of clean up and correction to achieve the results presented. But this project was more expressive and free flowing. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Wei* Time Lapse - Sketchbook Pro 7/Power Director 15 - SurfaceBook

Video of the general process used in reworking the character. This was really fun to do and inspired my next project which should be ready tomorrow.

Wei - Sketchbook Pro 7 - SurfaceBook

Final re-design for Wei. Instead of using Rebelle 2 for this project I went with Sketchbook Pro 7 for its blending and smudge brushes. They're really good even if they work very differently than similar functions in the Rebelle 2. The beauty of Sketchbook Pro 7 is that it's a very lightweight application (in terms of resources needed to run it) but it's easily capable of incredibly high quality results. Technically I could have produced this entire piece on an Android tablet using Sketchbook Pro for Android...the old version from 2010. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Wolvie and Jubilee - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio

This is a X-Men comic cover by Mark Morales so I take no credit for drawing this. I did provide the colors using Rebelle 2 though. While looking at work in a Comics group, I couldn't help but notice that no one was actually using a painting application to color comic books or comic covers. So I decided to try coloring one using ArtRage 5. That didn't work out due to the annoying way ArtRage 5  blends color so that version was halted and the project was restarted using Rebelle 2 instead. Maybe in a day or so I'll try to complete the ArtRage version but blending colors is one of the things I hate about ArtRage 5. It's overly complicated and never worked like I expected (read: it doesn't work like every other mainstream digital painting application and it doesn't even try to emulate how blending works using real paints).

Monday, September 18, 2017

Shon Tenaj Time-Lapse #2 - ArtRage 5/Power Director 15 - Surface Studio

Time lapse of the last post. Admittedly this was harder to finish than I anticipated due to the mentioned (in the previous post) pencil/paper type combo used. Due to that error I had to take extra time and care to get the shading close to what was originally intended. Call it a happy mistake, a blunder or a non issue but either way, it was definitely a learning experience. 

Some artists over time have asked which is the better application for digital painting, ArtRage or Rebelle? Personally, I'd get both. Rebelle is phenomenal for watercolor painting and acrylics, while the pencil, markers, pen and airbrush tools are all really good. ArtRage has excellent oils, palette knife and pencil tools, with a deeper selection of brushes. Both applications have great canvas and paper options and both have great custom palette options, layers and layer effects support and transform options. Adding ArtRage and Rebelle to your toolkit gives an enormous amount of creative options for high quality digital painting that simulates traditional mediums.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Shon Tenaj #2 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Take two of this particular series using a different reference photo. There were some complications with the paper type and pencil that prevented me from making the shading as smooth as intended. I was never a huge fan of smudging or smearing of pencil lines as it always felt like a cheap short cut. Yes, I understand that great results can be had by smearing and I have used the technique many years ago but I never liked it. Instead of trashing the piece at the halfway point and starting over with a different pencil and paper, I ran with the rougher look. There weren't any measurements taken, position marking or prep in the beginning. I literally just looked at the original picture and started drawing. The measurements/position marking help in making the image close if not exact to the original in the drawing but it can be stifling. Bypassing that step allows the artist to be a bit more free with the interpretation. Overall this was fun but in the next drawing project I'll either use a different paper type and pencil in ArtRage or run with Rebelle or Sketchbook Pro 7 instead. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shon Tenaj: Rebelle 2 Time-Lapse Video

The portrait took a couple of hours longer than anticipated. Even though the video is time-lapsed, it's still edited for length.

Shon Tenaj - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio

After trying a few experiments over the last month, the tried and true technique was used for this project. A few of the more elaborate watercolor brushes in Rebelle 2 were used for the hair to try to capture the texture and I used another brush I rarely use to try to capture some of the texture of the skin. That was more difficult than I anticipated which leads me to believe I'll need to use the brush creator to make a brush that can better create the texture I was looking for. Water on this particular canvas didn't react the way I anticipated either causing a bit of deception. The water didn't bleed as expected leaving me with the impression that the canvas absorbed more water than other canvas types used. But this wasn't the case, the water+paint simply bled slower than usual causing large painted areas to bleed into others in a chaotic way over time. It was cool because watercolors will do that in reality on certain canvas types which is impressive for Rebelle 2 to simulate this so accurately. But it was annoying as hell because it totally wasn't what I wanted to do. So for this project, I used far less water, more paint and more pressure than in previous projects to better maintain control.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wei Ting*, WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - SurfaceBook

After spending some time sketching after taking a bit of a break, I started working on two of the key characters in the fantasy project that come from lands that would be the equivalent of China. Wei Ting* is a prodigy martial artist that is on a mission that may result in never being able to return to his homeland.  What is this mission? Justice. Brutal and bloody. The reasons behind it I'll share later but I'm excited to see what others think of them. Soon. 

I decided to to use Sketchbook Pro 7 for this design to generate more of an animation fell. Sketchbook Pro is truly one of the absolute best applications for drawing, sketching and color rendering. The techniques used in Rebelle with the previous designs will be used in Sketchbook to see how the final compares to the Rebelle versions.