Friday, March 31, 2017

Back to the Pencil - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Final. Honestly, the goal was to try to push this further after seeing this phenomenal artwork. I know the process he used but for the life of me, I don't have the patience to take it that far yet. It requires an obsessive level of focus and attention to detail. The other plan was to put this away for a few days and working on it from time to time to see if I could get it to look totally photo realistic like Arinze's work, but the point has been made. The model is beautiful which is why I penciled the project with her as the focus but I'm not obsessed with her enough to go further. Maybe tomorrow the obsession will kick in. I'll think on it. 

NSFW version after the jump.

Back to the pencil, WIP - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

I've been working with the various paint brushes and blenders so intently in ArtRage and Rebelle that no serious drawings have been done lately. Only the sketches for various projects. I started working on this drawing to try and balance the scales. Nothing extravagant here, just a portrait of a  woman with a pretty face that has fascinated me for some time now. Her look is, different, in a good way.  The New Muse interests me for similar reasons. This was created using the cross hatching and facets technique I've used and mentioned many times throughout the blog. Still tedious, still time consuming, still awesome.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Study/The Old Muse, Not To Be Confused with The New Muse - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This was an test of the soft scrub brush. Initially I didn't like this particular blender because my first use of it looked weird and freaked me out. It creates a bit of a mess on your canvas and has a rougher quality than I anticipated. But for this project, I stuck with it. I never really liked the drawing of this pose because I lost my way with the back and screwed up the hatching and facets. It was one of those days when I just couldn't get it to work. Hindsight is a 1up so I realize my error now, but decided to not correct the old drawing. I painted it instead.

NSFW after the jump

City Hunter: Neo Philadelphia 2055 - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This is another project working from a quick sketch for a painted project. I still feel the urge to take sketches from loose ideas to fully rendered pieces. For painting projects this isn't always necessary and getting the loose idea down saves time. Fully drawing out the sketch would have added a few hours to a another day to the completion time. I've learned how to better work with custom palettes over the last few projects. This, in combination with the wealth of blending tools allows to more easily capture lighting and tone. In Rebelle, I always felt I have to be more meticulous because of the lack of custom brushes or even, more preset brush variants. In ArtRage, there are so many brushes and ways to tweak those brushes that selecting a preset blender and tweaking it just so for a particular effect is standard practice. That's exactly what I did here. I tweaked a blender to minimize the spread and give more of a dry brush effect. I used a simple daub technique to add the lights in the darkness and used a similar technique for the details in the building on the right.

The key factors are patience (obviously) the palette, a good blender and custom brushes.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

At Night - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This project was far more ambitious than the fan art project and took a lot more time. I created a sketch and spent a lot of time creating the palette.

Be good for daddy - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

BioShock fan art inspired by BioShock cosplay at a con.  Needed a bit of a break from the usual new muse stuff so I decided to work on more fun stuffs and other ideas I wanted to try but never got around to. The oil paints were used for this project as well as the soft scrubber on the little girl. The scrubber is weird as a blender because it's a bit hard to control. It spreads wide when you don't want it to and has a funny reaction to the grain of the canvas. It works, but it's another example of how ArtRage forces you to work on the developer's terms.

 I have BioShock and BioShock 2 original and remaster in my Steam account but STILL haven't gotten around to finishing them. Great games though. Maybe I should hold off on Toukiden 2 and play BioShock instead. Even the Surface Pro 3 can run that in HD with high frame rate.

Original reference photo by

Friday, March 24, 2017

WIP update - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

I'm going to take a break from this for a while. There are little details I need to work on and then the background which I may kill or replace with something else. I'm not feeling the background sketch at this point (which is why it's not posted 😅).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

WIP - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

The focus here is the Bristle 7 brush and nothing else. No knife this time.

Creativity is like life. There are a laundry list of ways to achieve a desired result. The individual has to decide what's the best practice for them. The key being "For Them." The eternal argument of "my way is best way" is pointless. The best method for one person could just as easily be a nightmare for someone else. "One person's treasure is another person's trash" comes to mind.

There are always multiple ways to reach the same destination. Avoid the pointless argument of what's the "best" way. Ignore the chatter and the idiocy of "critics" that don't even create half the time. Focus on what's the best way for you and do more, produce more, create more.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chess? Anyone? - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

More knife work. I did two things differently with this experiment. I worked from a sketch (shown after the jump). I also kept the paint a lot less refined than the Jazzman project. There were times when I really liked the way the paint clumped and stacked on the canvas. A happy mess. I didn't want to lose too much of that so I cut the pressure of the knife to 50% and adjusted my use of the Surface pen. This allowed the paint to smear but not to as great a degree prior to the change. The paint still clumped together a bit but allowed me to even use a bit of a hatching technique while smearing at the same time. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jazzman - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

More knife painting practice. Still learning how to let go and not be so focused on clean up and fine precision. The palette knife is really great in that regard because you can't actually paint with it. You have to work around the way the knife doesn't work. It forces you to think a bit differently in how to create details but most of what you're doing is implied. When you step back and look at what the implied shapes and colors achieve, that's when it becomes even more evident that a pencil line isn't always necessary. Actually, it's not necessary at all. Painting is teaching me how to unlearn all of the bad habits I was taught in college. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gotham - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

It's been a long time since I've practiced with the paint tube and palette knife in ArtRage, so I decided to give it a go early this morning combined with some of the things I learned over the last week. In keeping the theme of loose,relaxing painting, I used the paint tube to apply the basic colors I needed to the canvas and used the palette knife (Flat settings) to smooth and spread the paint to create the scene. This is on a dark, smooth canvas. I kept the painting loose throughout, fighting myself to not instinctively clean up the image. The opposite side of the technique would be the new muse's portrait (Stay Calm), which I spent hours fine tuning the rough, cleaning up the painting and getting the blends correct. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Stay Calm and DGAF - ArtRage 5 - Rebelle - Surface Studio

Maybe I should call this "The New Muse" considering how well the project worked out. This is a portrait of a friend I met over a year ago, drawing her first and then painting the drawing recently. I tried something a bit different this time combining a few things I've learned. I used ArtRage 5 to create the initial paint sketch. Then, transferred that to Rebelle and finished the project there using the acrylic brushes and blending tools. I switched from a rougher canvas to a smooth canvas at a very high resolution (3000x5000). The goal was to get as photo realistic as possible within a few hours time. As you can see from the sketch (after the jump) there was a lot of work to be done. A rough, loose sketch was done purposefully as part of the test to use a different method than relying on a pencil sketch which can take more time. I tend to complete sketches, fully rendering them. A similar simplified process was used with the Morpheo project, a really rough paint sketch/under painting and then extensive use of the brush palette and blending tools to capture tone, shape and light. I corrected errors as I went along which is a key part of the process, using one layer 99% of the time. The one extra layer I created was only for the necklace which I couldn't get right for some reason until I did it on a separate layer. It may seem like a no brainer for "painting 101" but I can't stress enough how important it is to work from background to foreground. This makes working on one layer not only viable but very easy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SunRise Speed Painting - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This was completed in an hour and 20 minutes using some of the new brushes in ArtRage 5 in combination with the oil brushes.

Smile - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Third in the series of tests for ArtRage 5 and this one was the most revealing. In the first two tests, I struggled a bit when it came to blending colors and using some of the brushes. Blending either seemed to not work or introduced colors into the palette that shouldn't have been there. For instance, blending a red and yellow would cause large blotches of white to appear. I used the new brushes and blenders exclusively for the first two tests, but I decided to go back to the OG oils for this project and I'm glad I did. Although the new brushes and blenders are awesome, they work better in combination with the older brushes. I was able to blend colors more easily working this way. I kept this portrait loose too as if I were working in Rebelle. This is technically a speed painting because using a more loose technique, not getting caught up in making the image perfect down to the most mundane details allows us to work faster and in many cases more carefree. In the future I may strive for something a bit more structured by in this experimental phase, loose works.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Flutterby - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

This is the second test using ArtRage version 5. I took a lot of time with this project. 4 days total and I learned a lot too. Good stuff, the new brushes in ArtRage 5 are really good overall and the ability to make custom brushes is awesome. I was able to create these results in large part due to custom brush use. I could have created this in Rebelle but in some ways it would have been much harder because of the limited brush selection in that application and the inability to create custom brushes. But where ArtRage 5 is a step up with brush support, it's a step down when it comes to blending colors. Blending colors and was not as intuitive as I expected initially. There were times when ArtRage would get wonky when I tried to blend colors, inserting a weird off white into the mix or some other weird color. I'm not sure why that is. To compensate I had to stop using the default - Palette Knife - Preset - Hard Wet Blend and Palette Knife - Preset - Just Blend Colors all together. Instead, I used the new blend brushes and ultimately created a few of my own. Those worked much better but there was still some weirdness. 

Paint doesn't always react quite like you'd expect. The results are great as the relationship between paint and canvas works really well. But actually applying paint doesn't always feel like painting. It's sometimes feels like a digital approximation whereas Rebelle feels more like actually painting. Especially with watercolors because of how they act and react to the applying them to canvas. I know that sounds strange considering we're talking about a 100% digital environment but that's what makes Rebelle special. Yes, I'm using a Surface Pen instead of a brush. Yes, I'm working on glass instead of canvas but seeing Rebelle in motion is amazing because of how true it is to traditional mediums.  With that being said, Rebelle blends colors much better than ArtRage 5 although the latter is still capable if you give it some time and patience. I'll have to investigate more on that score later because a broken color blending system could be a dealbreaker when it comes to rendering skin tones in ArtRage 5.

In the final test, I'll have more complete thoughts.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

SunnyFlower Testing - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

First test using ArtRage 5. Rebelle flower painting after the jump, for comparison.

ArtRage 5 just released and I've been able to spend a few hours over the last couple of days testing it out. Initially I didn't see a reason to upgrade considering I use Rebelle as my go-to application for digital painting. ArtRage 4.5 has features that Rebelle doesn't but Rebelle is better hands down when it comes to realistic digital watercolors and acrylics which matters most. But I watched a demo video of ArtRage 5 on YouTube and was convinced when the artist said "custom brushes I created myself." That's the one aspect to Rebelle that's lacking. No option to create custom brushes, something the application needs desperately. So I bought ArtRage 5 and got it on sale with a discount code from Ambient Design. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Narciss Princess WIP - ArtFlow/Nexus 9 - Clip Studio Ex/Surface Studio

This is a drawing of a really interesting woman I met a couple of years ago. She liked looking in the mirror and taking selfies. Technically speaking I could call this "done" but I do want to finished the background for it. Today isn't the day though. For some reason I have no desire to complete it. But there are some interesting things that happened with this project. Initially it was a dark canvas/draw with light project like some of my others. I started cleaning it up and wanted to play with the background color. But I realized, I only used one layer for this. Meaning, if I changed the color to the background then it would wreck the pencil lines. So I had to manually clear out all of the black around the figure and THEN change the background color from another layer. Tedious work but it's all good now because I can export the figure without a background if I decide to use it for a layout or experiment with it in a different application, without the complication of a background color if necessary.

I'm also keeping the figure darker for the time being. I'm building up the light in steps and want to see how far I can take it and what the results will be. Again, it's tedious work requiring a lot of focus but I like the texture the constant hatching of lines creates.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sorcerers of Avalon Ogbunabali - Sketchbook Pro/Nexus 7 - Clip Studio Ex/Surface Studio

This is another character inspired by Soul Sacrifice. Initially the illustration was a half body length. I extended it making it full body with some other minor changes. In Igbo tradition, Ogbunabali is a African God of Death, also called the White Goddess which I find, ironic for so many reasons that are too much to go into here. In the story I came up with for her, Ogbunabali is a favorite of the 14th Persapius because of her cold heartless efficiency in destroying the corrupted. Just as the God of Death she's named after, Ogbunabali hunts mostly at night and chooses the most wicked of the corrupted to pursue. She has never failed in any task chosen or assigned to her from the Persapius himself or the counsel in Avalon. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sorcerers of Avalon - Sketchbook Pro/Nexus 7 - Clip Studio EX/Surface Studio

This project is bittersweet. The inspiration for this came from a game, Soul Sacrifice for the Playstation Vita that Sony in their douchebaggery no longer supports. I created my own versions of characters for the game after completing it. It's a fantastic title that features a really rich story about sorcerers of three factions, a conflict between two Gods that spread among the populace promoting all out war and a Chalice that will grant your greatest desire for a very high price.  Avalon, Sanctuarium and Grim are the three factions and each has a specific belief and purpose that is directly linked to the Gods and the Chalice. The Chalice itself appears to those in despair or in desperate need. Those who accept it are corrupted by the power the Chalice offers and tranformed into monsters that rampage across the land. 

Avalon are battle mages that seek out and destroy these monsters regardless of the circumstances of why the Chalice appeared to them or why the individual accepted its dark gifts. Avalon believes that the corrupted can't be redeemed and their code demands the corrupted be sacrificed.

Sanctuarium are sorcerers that seek out those that have been corrupted by the Chalice and saves them, giving the individual the chance to redeem themselves. They believe that all living beings deserve to be saved and redeemed. Their code strictly forbids soul sacrifices.

Grim believes Avalon and Sanctuarium have no right to act as Gods themselves determining the future of others. Only Fate has that power and responsibility. Grim believes the corrupted should be left to their fate whatever it may be...soul saved, or soul sacrificed.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fro Appeal 2017* - Sketchbook Pro/Nexus 7 (2013) - Clip Studio Ex/Surface Studio

Individuality. This project is a perfect example of the importance of knowing when to quit. When I completed the first version I took it too far and it ended up being a hot mess (example after the jump). At the time I was still learning the full capabilities of what was possible with Android tablets. But in retrospect, I could have stopped three steps prior to where I landed. A good lesson in life is at work here. "Sometimes when you're confused or overwhelmed, go back to the beginning to get a new perspective." Or, you could go with something my father still tells me to this day, "Answers to all questions lie within the individual." In other words, be honest with yourself and you'll know what to do when the time comes. 

The "honesty" part can be tricky because too many of us base our opinion on what others think, holding no value in our own knowledge base and preference. We're not honest with ourselves. We think and believe what is assumed is acceptable to our peers or regurgitate what we're told to believe in an effort to find acceptance. Or simply to not look like an idiot. I had an art director constantly refer to her "photographer friend" or her "painter friend" to inform her of what is defined as good or bad in photography and art in general. Her opinion was based solely on what she was told to believe and she defended her position each time with the phrase "Well, my friend said..." never her own thoughts on the subject or even the ability to say whether she liked it or not. Not honest at all is it? "To live and breathe as an individual, by living exactly as everyone else does and believing exactly what you're dictated to believe, while still demanding the respect of an individual." Irony of ironies.

Sailing 2017* - ArtFlow/Nexus 7 (2013 version) - Clip Studio EX/Surface Studio

It seems my time touching up older works isn't over. It's surprisingly relaxing and reminds me of what inspired the project to begin with. This particular piece was inspired by Christopher Cross and his song "Sailing." My father used to listen to Christopher Cross when I was a kid. I never forgot that song after decades. I also remembered Sailing because of the incredible mix and the incredible strat guitar in the song with Cross's distinctive voice. As far as the creative technique goes, this is one of the first projects that I used DaVinci's dark canvas/add light method using current technology.  I stuck with using line (again) throughout the project but started with a black canvas and added the lights gradually. It gives the shadows a more natural look in my opinion and makes it much easier to create tone and more realistic, gradual transitions from dark to light. I can't stress that enough. It's not the only way to achieve those results but it's one of the best methods because it's true to nature. 

The Room Speed Painting - ArtFlow/Neuxs 9 - Clip Studio EX/Surface Studio

This is a speed project that was completed in an hour or so based on a reference. Ironically, the implied layout of the room looks eerily similar to the main bedroom in my old apartment. That was the primary inspiration for taking this on. I added the lighting and made other subtle changes afterward but it added almost nothing to the overall completion time. A friend saw this and said laughing "I know that room. I have great memories sitting in that same position looking out of that same window." No other words need be spoken after she made that statement. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sketches! - Flame Painter Pro - Surface Studio

Sometimes, just to loosen up and not think too much while working I'll do a series of really lose sketches. Using a traditional creative app and a pen or pencil tool works well for this. But I've found that Flame Painter Pro works even better because of the awesome vector effects it generates with its custom brushes. I'll probably do more of these soon because they're really fun. The only issue is the UI doesn't scale well on 2K/4K screens. This is a problem that has existed for quite a while and I really don't know why Escape Motions won't fix it. As I mentioned when I first posted about Flame Painter Pro, it's a potentially great application that I can't recommend until the UI scaling is fixed. 

Disa Vector - Affinity Designer/ Pixlr - SurfaceBook

This didn't quite work out like I planned. I was able to recreate the glow effect I was going for to an extent but not in Affinity. The only way to do it that I'd found was to go to each section of the image and apply the effect individually. Even then, a gradient would be needed for a number of the parts. It was such a hassle I said "screw it" and used Pixlr for Windows 10 to apply a similar effect as the original from a .JPG export of the Affinity vector graphic. I'll take a L on this project for the time being because the process needed to get the desired results while maintaining the image as a vector is such a ball breaker that it's going to require some more thought and even more patience. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Undress - Sketchbook Pro/Nexus 9 - Rebelle/Surface Studio

This is a project I took on almost on a whim. It's similar to a few others I posted recently in that it started as a drawing that was never meant to be taken further initially. But due to the excellence of Rebelle, I reconsidered. The same friend that posed for the yoga projects is the subject here and I really like working with her because her body allows me to clearly see the anatomy and what it's doing in each pose regardless of how simple or complex. I used the highly detailed, highly tedious hatching and facet technique for the original drawing (after the jump) but instead of using watercolors for the painting I used acrylics instead for better control. The anatomy presented here has a lot of detail that's literal and implied. To not drive myself crazy I avoided the watercolors because the bleeding could cause more problems than it solves. I took special care with blending the colors, getting the lighting right and articulating details. The goal is to become really good at handling details in more straight forward projects so when it comes time to create something massive, I won't be so easily overwhelmed with the details. Unfortunately, that was the case with the "Music" project.