Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Where do you think you're going?" - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

This is a comic idea with a couple of characters in a scene that I wanted to create that's pretty straight forward. The hero just finished a mission as heroes tend to do, reaching the top of the stairs of the swanky super secret digs that heroes tend to live in. He's stopped by his partner who won't let him in as she meets him with a smirk on her face. He's about to get this work! The hideout is high in the clouds and it can only be reached if you have the correct powers for the journey. Simple and straight forward.

I purposefully avoided blue skies in this project and went for a sky palette that could be Earth or someplace other than Earth. A lot of emphasis was put into the tones and lighting. Lighting a scene can be fun to do but really hard to get right sometimes. I try to practice it as much as I can. Comic book styled art is fun to do in general when there are so many different approaches and styles that can work. Illustrative painting can become a drag sometimes when so much of the work that's produced in concept design for gaming and film looks as if the same person created all of it. The pressure is for your work to look like "his" work or "her" work. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Run Test 042817 - Sketchbook Pro 7/Clip Studio Ex - Surface Pro 3/Surface Studio

 I put a bit more work into this run cycle, but I don't think I'm going to take this further. Transferring the animation from Sketchbook Pro 7 to Clip Studio Ex is too much of a headache. Information online for animating in Clip Studio only covers native work. I haven't found any information on better ways to import animated sequences into the application. The process I used to get this to work is so god awful tedious that I'm amazed the developers actually thought the process was a good idea. I still don't understand why each frame needs a layer and I can't understand why batch import of my still frames resulted in 30 separate files being loaded each with its own window. There is no way to import the sequence directly into the timeline within the 30 cels already created. In the future, I'll have to animate directly in Clip Studio EX which is not something I'm looking forward to. If Clip Studio is supposed to be a standard for Japanese artists then they really need to rethink their UI and UX because some of the controls are flat out terrible.

On a positive note, as I mentioned in the previous animation post, the exported .gif from Clip Studio works correctly whereas exported .gif files from Sketchbook Pro 7 do not. The irony of this is, Electronic Arts created better 2D animation tools on the Commodore Amiga 30 years ago on machines that didn't even have 1/3 of the power of a smartwatch today. Sometimes, new isn't always better. 

Grrr Monster 0427WIP - Rebelle version 2 - Surface Studio

A new version of Rebelle released a couple of days ago and I quickly upgraded from version 1.5 to 2.0. My excitement for the upgrade stems from the addition of more varied brushes and a custom brush creator. Two aspects I requested in the 1.x releases of the software. I've been testing ArtRage 5 which released not so long ago so comparisons will be made between the two. I'm still in the testing phases of Rebelle 2 but the initial impressions are overall positive with some issues. First, the good. 

Rebelle still features one of the best if not THE best digital watercolor algorithms I've ever used bar none. Watercolors will bleed, blend and run damn close to their real world counterparts. This is even more so with the new brush additions and the brush creator. I'm going to have a blast working with Rebelle 2 watercolors. The only other application I have installed that comes close is ArtRage 5. It's a fantastic improvement over ArtRage 4.x but its watercolors, while capable in their own right, don't react like real watercolors. Rebelle 2 watercolors fulfill their potential when used like real watercolors. ArtRage 5 watercolors are still applied like digital colors with a active watercolor overlay filter. Good results are possible but applying them is no where near as intuitive as in Rebelle 2.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Priss: Knight Sabers Update - ArtFlow/Nexus 9 - Clip Studio EX/SurfaceBook

I took some time to update this older project to use as a wallpaper on Surface screens.  For those not in the know, Priss is a member of the Knight Sabers from the Japanese animation, Bubblegum Crisis, which is clearly inspired by Blade Runner. It's pretty old. I first saw the OVA (original video animation) in the early 90s. The original project was sketched on the Nexus 9 in a 2560x1600 resolution. The new version is 4000x3000. The palette has been changed, line work has been cleaned up a bit, the booster effect was redone and touches of highlights were added throughout. Subtle changes overall save for the palette change but it makes a difference when viewing the character as a wallpaper. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sketch Stuffs Update - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

I'm taking extra time with the tones in this project to try to get the lighting right. It's hard work but it's fun so I don't mind the difficulty much. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Run, Run, You Better Run Run! WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7/Clip Studio EX - Surface Pro 3/Surface Studio

This should have been simple but proved to be a huge pain.  I started this run cycle animation some time ago on the Pro 3 using Sketchbook Pro 7. It was a simple test to see if 2D animation was viable on Surface devices. It is, very much so and I was happy with the results even if the tools aren't as extensive as I'd prefer (This is running at 30FPS and shot on 1s). Recently I decided to clean up the lines a bit after making preparations to finish the run cycle and incorporate more aspects to it. But for some reason, the .GIF export stalls at the end of the cycle. Initially I thought maybe I duplicated the end frame but that wasn't the case. I tried to fix/compensate for this in other ways but nothing worked. Ironically, exporting the animation as a .MP4 file resulted in a smooth animation but I didn't want to go through the hassles of a YouTube upload just for a simple run cycle. So I decided to export the animation as a .PNG sequence and import the files into Clip Studio EX to see if that application would export the .GIF version correctly. That's when the nightmare began...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sketch Stuffs WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Update to the latest sketch after some clean up. One of the keys to this series is keeping the resolution high. In this case, the canvas is 2835x4500 if memory serves. This keeps your line quality really sharp and makes clean up of sketches easier. Sometimes, looser lines can give a really good quality to the drawing even digitally. But when you need a really clean look with sharp lines that look almost too clean, Sketchbook Pro comes through like an ace. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sketch Stuffs - Sketchbook Mobile (Windows 10) - Surface Studio

Just before I was going to take a break from the previous post, I decided to give Sketchbook Mobile a quick test run since I haven't booted it up in over a year. I wanted to see if maybe Autodesk learned the error of their ways and changed the subscription model to a purchase model. No such luck but there is a discount available for the subscription, $22 a year. To be fair, that is a much better deal than what Adobe charges but users still can't own the software. Ever. Leasing software is just wrong. On the strength of that, I can't support Autodesk even at a reduced rate. 

Sketch Stuffs WIP 02 - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Update to the latest sketch with a bit of clean up. I wanted to create a simple scene, no action scenes, no fighting scenes, nothing over the top. Just a simple scene from a rough sketch and see where it goes. I'm taking my time with this one too. For comic book, graphic novel illustration and 2D animation, Sketchbook Pro 7 still works extremely well. Every applications works better on a 28 inch screen, I really need to use this application more often. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sketch Stuffs - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

Really early, really rough sketch of an scene idea. I was talking to a a group of artists in a Facebook group and Sketchbook Pro vs Procreate came up. I wasn't surprised to read many people prefer Procreate especially since they decided to buy a iPad Pro. Procreate is exclusive to the iPad and it has the added benefit of being very good. But at the end of the day, Procreate is still a mobile app, limited by a mobile OS. I bought Procreate for someone I knew so she could sketch on her iPad. It made sense for her because Procreate is a good way to get your feet wet in digital illustration if you're married to the Apple ecosystem and overwhelmed by the mobile version of Sketchbook Pro. I tried it out on her iPad and it was fun. But in terms of overall capabilities I wouldn't use it for anything serious. I can't go back to ArtFlow even through version 2.0 is out in the wilds and looks great. It's too limited and the only way to get dedicated stylus support with Android is to buy a Samsung device, which I'll never do again. After using full creative applications on robust hardware, using a mobile app can feel like such a downgrade. Surface Pro devices and Wacom devices win that battle hands down.

Anyways, in the spirit of the conversation had, I decided to do a couple of comicbook style projects using Sketchbook Pro and I'm planning to do a couple of other similar ideas in Clip Studio Ex. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Did You Miss Me Darlings? - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

Bayonetta fan art, completed just in time for the Steam stealth release of the original Bayonetta. Nothing too extravagant here, just more paint and less blending. I considered rendering this in digital pencil like the last few posts but couldn't maintain the focus for it. During the last few evenings I started watching "13 Reasons Why" and it distracted me something awful. Far too many moments in that series caused me to shake my head. Art imitates life and 13 Reasons is a good show but painful to watch as the tragedy of the series mirrors reality far too closely. Relentless bullying, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, rape, substance abuse, neglect,'s real. Can't completely disregard the show as fiction when it portrays real life for legions of people trying to survive some very destructive, everyday circumstances. Unfortunately, this tale, just like some in reality, led to suicide. Despair is a bitch and no one cares until it's far too late. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Misty on a Sunshiny Day - Rebelle - Surface Studio

In the most recent of the digital pencil drawing series I went back to Misty Copeland. More than anything else, skill is attractive to me. Mastery of a craft gains a lot of respect. Passion for that craft is even more of an attraction. Yes, Misty Copeland is a very attractive woman. But what has always been more attractive to me than anything else is a woman with the passion and developed skill for a craft. This is why from time to time I like to draw or paint Misty Copeland. She is a constant inspiration. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

FanGirl - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio

The new muse series continues. This was really hard to finish. The rough canvas was harder to work with than I anticipated but that was manageable. I used a step in the facets/hatching process I sometimes don't use which proved to be a constant problem. The step is, cross hatch with a thin eraser cutting across the pencil lines/facets at the opposite angle of the drawn lines to add light underneath the form. Doing this, alternating between drawing pencil lines, then cross hatching with the eraser, then drawing more pencil lines at a slightly different angle builds the form in 3 dimensional space as well as adding light to the form. Rossman from University of the Arts foundation department was adamant that his freshman students learn this technique. After all these years, I can't get the full process to work consistently with the eraser step. Sometimes it works, other times, it's just a mess. In this case, it made the project twice as hard and twice as long to complete.