Monday, February 27, 2017

Black Magic is Real* - Sketchbook Pro/ArtFlow/Clip Studio Ex - Nexus 7/Nexus 9/Surface Studio

The last of the current touch up projects as the burn out subsides, just in time for the historical 2017 Oscars. This was originally completed in 2013 while practice rendering skin tones using Android devices and ArtFlow. I really like the way this project turned out because of the lighting but wanted to enhance it a bit more while making her skin darker. I like dark skin and feel fortunate that I didn't succumb to the unrelenting pressure to reject dark skin especially in women. So I made her skin darker and enhanced the highlights and red aspects playing on the contrast. The technique used here revolves around the airbrush tool across all three applications. It's a process I haven't used in a quite some time but will revisit soon.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Do! 2017 - ArtFlow/Nexus 7 - Clip Studio EX/Surface Studio

Another touch up project. When I initially drew this, I used the color of the canvas to be my highlight and built the shadows around that. In trying to get better contrast, I added highlights and used darker pencils to enhance some of the shadows. The work here is not as dramatic as the "Souls" project I posted earlier today. With the times, maybe I should rename this "Powerful women were never obedient girls."

Souls of the Hellbound 2017 update - ArtFlow/Nexus 7 - Clip Studio EX/Surface Studio

The last project left me a bit burned out so I'm working on some lighter works these days. Touch up of older projects mostly. This is a project that I've posted before from the ArtFlow days. I added new lighting and effects to it tooling around in Clip Studio to keep creatively busy due to the amount of distractions available. It's dangerously close to the Nintendo Switch launch and Steam keeps reminding me of why Switch is not only overrated but also a total waste of time and money compared to PC gaming on Surface Pro devices. In other words, why play a frame rate challenged Zelda on a technologically hamstrung Switch when I can play the WinPC version of Dark Souls II at Steam prices at home or on the go? Yes, the hardware is more expensive but you get what you pay for and it shows. Too easy to lose the day playing WinPC games. So I create to serve the better priority when getting back into the swing of things.

Anyways, someday I'd like to finish drawing the characters for the story. Someday very soon if time allows.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Music Sets You Free 2017 version - Rebelle - Surface Studio

This is the final project. It took far longer than I expected due to making changes that deviated from the original sketch and trying new things. I moved things around a lot playing with the placement of the characters. The goal was to try to lead the eye more. There is a circular motion in the middle of the project that extends from the lead character's (yoga chick on the right) locks into the boombox chick and then leads from the boombox chick into the right leg of the yoga chick which then follows the yoga chick's body arc back into the locks. The background I wanted on an angle to push the impression of motion from top left to bottom right. Obviously the bend of the background is to give a sense of height and distance along with the clouds. Ironically, I found myself liking this more turned sideways (example after the jump). There was a third character as you can see in one of the sketches but I deleted her because I simply couldn't figure out how to incorporate her while keeping the flow of the image. I changed the secondary character to have more personality from the original sketch. I even tried a couple of different sketches to see if I could push it a bit more before deciding to just modify the existing sketch. That bit took almost a day in itself because I was in the painting phase of a new sketch before realizing it wasn't going to be better than what I already had.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Music* WIP Update - Rebelle - Surface Studio

The background is slowing down this project. I was able to block in the colors and basic details fairly easily, but the clean up is taking forever. I'm jumping around a bit too. When working on one area starts to become a drag, I switch to a different area or work on an entirely different aspect. That way, it keeps the burn out at bay. Breaks every few hours helps too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Music* WIP - Rebelle - Surface Studio

In applying everything I've learned recently and with the new tools, I'm going to redesign a project I completed a couple of years ago. This is the beginning sketches for "Music Sets You Free 2017." The original was created using a Nexus 9 and ArtFlow and can be seen here. The original was good for its time and the tools used but it doesn't age well in my opinion.  Hopefully the new version will be an improvement worthy of the effort. I'll be using Rebelle (again) and the more chaotic under painting technique I used in the Morpheo project. I'll also be working on dark canvas as you can see and painting with light. A test of a modified creative process to see if it all gels together well. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Morpheo - Rebelle - Surface Studio

The warm up speed painting of The Crow from earlier today didn't turn out that well but it was a great warm up exercise. I needed to loosen up to try a new painting technique I saw on a different site. I wasn't sure if it would work because Rebelle doesn't have custom brush support and the brush selection in the application is small. But the technique worked out pretty well. The change in process revolves around a different approach to under painting that makes the piece look like utter hell for longer than I'm used to. But after working the project for a couple of hours, it all started to come together. I'll use it a few times more to really let it grow on me. But the initial impressions are good.

Speed Painting - The Crow (Brandon Lee version) - Rebelle - Surface Studio

As an exercise before starting the next project, I timed this speed painting at 3 hours. The next idea I have in mind is going to take a couple of days and some more experimentation so I used this project to loosen up a bit. I'll probably make another Crow illustration but I need to test some things out to decide what's the best approach. That's the negative of having too many good options. It's hard sometimes to choose which road to take.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cold Waters of Winter - Rebelle - Surface Studio

Still in the experimentation phase as I'm trying to use different brush stroke language to complete landscapes. Since the acrylics worked well in the last two projects I decided to stick with it. The main issue in completing this piece is Rebelle doesn't have different brush shapes. For instance, there isn't a fan brush which would make painting tree leaves much easier. All Rebelle brushes work from a circle shape. This can be compensated for but it makes painting key areas of a scene a hassle because the correct brush type isn't in the application. I sent suggestions to Escape Motions about this and how it was inconsistent to have an application that goes to great lengths to mimic real mediums but falls short when it comes to brush types and custom brush support. Maybe such features will be in a future update, who knows. But for digital painting, I could understand why a person wouldn't use Rebelle for that reason. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cold Waters of Winter WIP - Rebelle - Surface Studio

Landscape painting day. I missed the Tattoo Convention so I decided to paint some more instead. Having a conversation about art with my day, he asked me "how is the Surface Studio?" My response was, "Excellent. there are some limitations with the Pen when using Rebelle but nothing I can't compensate for. The tools are capable, I just have to dig deeper."

I mention this because there comes a point in time when the tools available are so sophisticated that the only limitation is our own talent and comprehension. But it's popular to blame the tools because too many of us sometimes don't have the courage to admit "I don't know how to do that" or lack the patience and focus to learn. We'd rather point at the hardware or software and blame it instead of owning up to our lack of skill. Well, there are ways I could have used Rebelle's acrylic and watercolor brushes that I had not explored because my perspective was too narrow. So I'm pushing in a different direction for the time being to see how far beyond I can go from my current level. The goal is to be more expressive. Not so literal as pencil drawings and character designs can demand at times. Use a variety of strokes to convince the viewer of seeing what actually isn't really there.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Oh jeez! - Clip Studio EX - Sketchable - SurfaceBook

Nothing extravagant here. The character started as a sketch in Sketchable. The Windows 10 app has potential but overall it wasn't what I needed. It would have been awesome to use 2 or 3 years ago when mobile apps were my focus. Oh well. So I transferred the sketch to Clip Studio EX and finished the color work and clean up there. The idea behind the image was "frustration." Frustration for when you spend 3 hours trying to finish a stage, finally complete it but your computer crashes before you get a chance to save. Frustration when you spend all day at home anxiously awaiting a delivery from FedEx and you suddenly receive an email saying delivery was attempted but no one was at the residence. Frustration when your friend said "I'll be ready in 5 minutes" 45 minutes ago."

See, frustration.

Sleeping - Rebelle - Surface Studio

"Whew!" 😅 This was a challenge. I worked really hard on this project over the course of three days including two all nighters. But before I get into the particulars, the inspiration for this painting came from the Met. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some time ago The Met made available a large section of images from their collection to be used for free provided the use was for scholarly pursuits. I've found this collection to be a great resource for researching artists' works. To better improve our skills as creatives, sometimes we have to look and learn from the past more than we actually create in the present. The Met recently amended their rules and added to their public domain collection allowing free use of the archive with no restrictions. A great resource made better. 

The way some of the masters rendered skin tones and lighting really fascinates me. There are so many ways to do it well, the only wrong way is if the result isn't what the creative intended. Even then that's debatable based on personal preference when viewing the work. The are also a lot of great sketches and etchings as well as other works in the collection. I highly recommend giving it a look as it contains some truly impressive works. I learned a lot from it and continue to visit often. You can check it out here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Baby Sea Monster Thinger - Rebelle - Surface Studio

I'm done with this project. It took many hours to complete over 5 days (I actually finished this yesterday) mainly because of the size of the Surface Studio screen. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, this is good because it forced me to work very similar to a classic painting style from an easel. Back straight, paint from the elbow, standing and painting at times and stepping back away from the screen to view the piece from a distance. But it was definitely an adjustment coming from a 13 inch screen to a 28 inch.

I used Rebelle's acrylic brushes for this since they worked out really well for the "Selfie Love" project. I also set the water setting between 25 and 50% to get more play out of the paint. Since I was working on such a large screen and the Surface Studio spec is good, I increased the canvas resolution to 5000x3000 at 300dpi to capture as much detail and nuance as possible. In retrospect, that's probably a bit overkill but it should print really well. This was fun even if it did leave me a bit burned out. 😅

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Queen of the Ravens - Sketchbook Pro - Nexus 7 (2012 version)

This is an old test of Sketchbook Pro for Android on a Nexus 7. I made some adjustments using Clip Studio EX on the Surface Studio. Nothing too drastic but enough to warrant a mention. This image is based on a Iman fashion shot from many years ago. She reminded me of what death could look like, which is why I made all of the eyes glow red. I also thought it was interesting how Iman's face looks a bit sad, as if she does her job of claiming the souls of the expired but she doesn't enjoy it which really made the "death" concept stand out. I added the black makeup for tears to work with that idea.

I've been playing Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen lately and had a run in with Death. The literal Grim Reaper who shows up at random throughout the BitterBlack Isle or under specific conditions. I was ambushed by a bunch of goblins, a huge ogre and then three Garm (really big hell hounds, not fun). My party persevered but there were corpses and entrails all over the area. The Reaper materialized because of the body count, corpses will draw him out as will rotten meat from the undead. Well, if you manage to defeat the Reaper, you get a lot of really cool swag so I attacked him. That didn't go too well. My party hurt him, even staggered him. But one swing of the scythe and it was immediate death for all. Doesn't matter how well you buff your party. No enchanted weapons or armor against critical hits helps. Death, immediate. I had a ass load of Wake Stones so I revived and fought until The Reaper left on his own. The battle was epic though. It would have been even more epic if The Grim Reaper looked like Iman presented here as opposed to the typical depiction in the game...hooded shadow with a huge lantern and an even bigger scythe. Ominous, definitely, especially considering how creepy the BitterBlack Isle is in general but a very traditional look that's been done before (see: Castlevania).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

SketchWorks Testing - Rebelle - Surface Studio

There are going to be a lot more sketches going forward. The Surface Studio is truly taking me back to my college days, forcing me to remember what it was like to work really large. I'm a big fan of drawing/painting from your elbow as opposed to your wrist. This allows for more control in your strokes. I learned how to do this effectively at smaller sizes prior to college. But the real test of the technique is when we work larger. 18x24 and higher. Well, on a 28 inch screen, it's large to the extent that I have room to really be more expressive with the sketching and painting strokes and not worry about running out of screen real estate. It's a very relaxing, freeing way to work that I'd almost forgotten about since working smaller over the years, 7 to 13 inches. Obviously, the sketch phase is the foundation. Sketches can take on a life all their own because of the implied line that forces the imagination to see a scene in unfinished formed. A hint at something more, a incomplete, flawed thought that still holds the beauty of its imperfection, like a whisper of a good catchy melody. Whereas a finished render sometimes doesn't leave much to the imagination, forcing the viewer to see specifically what the artist wishes them to see. In short, The Surface Studio is reminding me of how much fun and relaxing sketching can be when we have the room to breathe on the page (screen).

I haven't forgotten about the Surface Puck either. I'm still testing it but initial's awesome!😆 I'm already asking key developers of software I use if they're going to support it thoroughly. I want to be able to fully customize the shortcuts and have motion controls for it. There's a lot of potential there. I'll post a full break down soon.

Friday, February 3, 2017

SketchWorks Testing - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

This project is pretty straight forward. A simple sketch of various characters. I needed to test out the environment working with a Surface Studio. Because of the size of the screen, the ability to actually tilt/angle, raise and lower the screen, I had to readjust how I work. Initially it was very uncomfortable because the need to reach to far corners of the screen for various tools and functions. But after rearranging the tools and menus for easier access (demo screen after the jump) working on the Studio became awesome. Similar to working on a easel with a very large canvas taking me back to my college days. The Surface Studio is a marvel of modern engineering which says a helluva lot considering how well built the SurfaceBook and Surface Pro 4 are. Ironic how Microsoft is better at being Apple, than Apple these days. The Surface Studio is very attractive in its simplicity. The screen is incredible at 28 inches with a 4500x3000 resolution. For those not in the know, a 4K screen is 3840x2160, 1080p is 1920x1080. Incredibly clear, incredibly vibrant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Selfie Love (Painted version) - Rebelle - SurfaceBook - ArtFlow - Nexus 9 (Penciled version)

In trying something different I used the acrylic brush for this project. A friend took a selfie some time ago and I based her portrait on it as a pencil drawing. To be honest, I rushed through the original and although it turned out okay, it could have been better if I took a bit more time with it. So I went back to it and used the original drawing as a basis for this painting. Because the original project was a dark canvas piece that required drawing with light, I painted it the same way. Working on dark canvas and painting with light. Very challenging at times but this is the natural order of things. 

I can't stress enough how many of us are taught backwards. To draw or paint on light canvas with dark line. Generally speaking, this is incorrect. In nature, all things exist in darkness and light is added. Not the other way around. We draw with dark line to add shadow to a white page only to add light again over the dark lines. It's redundant as opposed to using the darkness of a canvas and just add light where needed. Creating on dark and drawing/painting with light makes shadows and tones much easier to create from my experience.