Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bedroom at Night WIP - Blender - SurfaceBook/Surface Studio

The first day is over using Blender and I survived. Barely. Most times I can learn how to use new software quickly and almost painlessly. But Blender is painful to use and learning is slow going. I spent the entire time using it asking "where is "x" function" and "why can't I find "y" tool?" Basic functions, like, how to control the camera when in camera view or how to import an image as a texture or how to extrude a primitive shape into a curve. At one point it felt like I was expecting too much until I read various files and watched a lot of YouTube videos only to see more experienced Blender users say "yup, the UI sucks. Why is it programmed that way? Don't know but stick with it trooper!" At least I felt a bit better knowing my struggles wasn't just being out of practice. The UI really is horrid, almost evil in how bad it is. The process to import a texture to a plane is so convoluted that it was annoying just watching it on YouTube. Thank goodness someone wrote a script to fix that bloody mess. To be fair, Blender is incredibly powerful especially for it being freeware. It's almost scary because Blender is literally powerful enough to render studio level animations and A+ gaming models. That's why I'm putting up with the maddeningly atrocious UI to learn it.

Blender UI STILL sucks in 2017 - Surface Studio

Z-Brush Grrr Monster WIP after an hour of first using the program.

OMG Blender has to have one of the absolute shittiest UI interfaces I've ever used. Although it's been awhile since I've worked in 3D, the last application I got a chance to work with was Z-Brush, which is awesome. I've also used 3DS Max, Imagine and Lightwave. Trying to get back into 3D, I decided to go with Blender due to so many people saying it's really powerful and you can't beat the great price (free). But damn it all man, basic UI standards that have been in existence for over a decade Blender ignores making it a nightmare to work with. To hell with it being free, dropping $1000 on Z-Brush feels like a blessing instead of using Blender. WTF man?

Now I'm at a crossroad. Do I suck it up and learn this horrid interface that no other industry level 3D application uses or do I cut fence and break out for a 3D application that's not going to cause me to smash my Surface Studio screen?


Friday, May 26, 2017

Museum at Night - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio


This project was very hard to complete. The perspective in combination with the little details in the distance were definitely a challenge.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

She's Thirsty - ArtRage 5 - Surface Studio


Painting practice. This is inspired by the Honest Trailer for 50 Shades Darker. "Walking red flag" is a great way to sum up that series. It also led to a very simple question. How can a relationship ever be healthy when it's based on emotional and psychological dysfunction and the need to constantly control either through force, manipulation or both? "No" is an unacceptable answer when selfishness is seen as a virtue and adultery is pimped as an acceptable course of action. That is of course until the adulterer is cheated on. THEN it's a violation. Down is up, up is down. Irony of ironies, dysfunction is awesome until it's not but hey, their kink isn't your kink. 

  I went back to using some looser techniques to create a series of drawings and paintings to be used further in future ideas. This also provides a way to spend time with work that is sometimes a bit more expressive. The animation and comic characters are really fun to do but painting, even digitally can be more relaxing at times. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Untitled - Sketchbook Pro for Android/Sketchbook Pro 7 - Nexus 7 (2012 version)/Surface Studio


This is a very old project from a reference that I touched up recently adding some subtleties in the coloring. This is one of the very first skin tone practice tests using Sketchbook Pro for Android long before creative mobile apps were popular. There was no ArtFlow at the time, no Infinite Painter, no ArtRage for mobile, no Procreate on iOS, no Surface devices. I'd just upgraded from the Motorola Xoom to the original Nexus 7 when the skin tone rendering tests began. Sketchbook Pro for Android started out as a side project by a couple of developers at AutoDesk but ultimately turned into a million dollar win for the company, if memory serves. Similar to the Honey Brown project, I only made minor touch ups and left in the errors for the same reason as the prior post. To be aware of what mistakes to avoid in the future when using the airbrush tools. This brings back some fond memories. 

Honey Brown the Provocateur* - ArtFlow/ArtRage 5 - Nexus 7 (2013 version)/SurfaceBook


Update to an old skin tone test rendering project from a reference using nothing but airbrush tools. The goal was to capture the shininess of the skin and the shades of brown in a believable way. It was interesting because of the level of control that is capable with the airbrush tool even on a mobile platform. ArtRage 5 was used to enhance some of the highlights and to change the colors of the fan on the sides. Darker fans worked better to my eyes than the lighter version I had prior. Other than that, I didn't want to move away from the feel of the original project so I kept the changes to a minimum and left in the mistakes as a reminder of what to be aware of in the future.

This made me imagine a James Bond scene many times throughout the testing. 

"Hello James. I've been waiting patiently for you..."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Grrr Monsters 2017 - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio


Final version of the monster thinger I'd been working on. The last steps were just touching up the lighting and increasing the shadows in areas. There are some cool story concepts behind this race of creatures and the growths coming out of their bodies. Once I flesh out a few more characters and monsters, I'll post details here soon. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Surface Pen Demo - Rebelle 2/Clip Studio EX/ Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Pro 3/SurfaceBook/Surface Studio


This is a really quick, spur of the moment video brought on by a conversation and comments from various threads about the Apple Pencil versus the Surface Pen. The Facebook group I post art in is basically a iPad Pro/Apple Pencil cheer leading group. In some cases I was met with open hostility because I'm not using an iPad and never wanted one. Thankfully there are some sensible people there so I stay on. But the latest leg of the discussion pushed the idea that the Surface Pen is jittery, sluggish and glitchy...not worth the effort of working with it. One user posted a video he made in 2014 showing jittery lines on his Surface Pro 3 in an application called Papyrus that I've never even heard of. But okay, fair enough...everyone's experiences aren't going to be the same so now it's time to compare notes. 


Friday, May 19, 2017

14-18-5 - ArtRage 4 - SurfaceBook


I guess the theme for the week is "finishing projects that have sat for too long." This is a landscape project that was started really early in the morning during a birthday outing. Getting sidetracked by other work, it was neglected. I was finally able to finish it 3 years later to the day.

This project was started using Android but it was finished using ArtRage 4 on the SurfaceBook. I tried going back to Android for this but the Nexus 9 didn't age well at all. Thank goodness for Surface devices. Anyways, instead of using the pencil tool for the sketch aspects, I used the paint brush and switched from the brush tool to various rollers and knife tools for the sky.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Annoyed - ArtRage 4 - SurfaceBook


Out and about with the SurfaceBook. Did a sketch and digital painting while watching the people go by. I really like the way this came out because it feels like a reaction to the times. There are quite a few things to be really annoyed about in American society and unfortunately, it doesn't look as if positive change is coming anytime soon. It's great to see a lot of people protesting against greed, stupidity, violence, various rights issues etc. But the effort is still plagued by the many isms and phobias that have never been dealt with in American society although many conveniently wanted to believe they were indeed, dealt, over and done with. 


Hero of Time - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio


The Sausage Link final. I've been a fan of The Legend of Zelda since it's debut in America in 1987 if memory serves. That was a time when Nintendo's gaming concepts redefined the industry, long before gaming was mainstream. Some of the concepts created and used in the original Zelda release are still used to this day by developers the world over. I wanted to create an illustration of Link featuring him as the determined hero from Ocarina of Time/Twilight Princess as opposed to the anime styled version that's favored today but trying to stay within the spirit of the character.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fresh Produce - Go Faster! - Power Director 15 Ultra/Game DVR - Surface Studio


There's some conversation ongoing on Steam about a early access title named Formula Fusion which is developed by ex members of the now closed Studio Liverpool, known for the WipeOut series. Formula Fusion is a title that wants to be WipeOut but for the PC. Another title called Redout also strives to be a WipeOut alternative for the PC. WipeOut set the standard for anti-gravity futuristic racing at break neck speeds due to its fantastic art direction, tight controls and dance worthy soundtracks. To illustrate some of the pros and cons of Formula Fusion and Redout compared to WipeOut (the Pulse version in this video) I recorded all three. I believe the best in the WipeOut series (Pulse, 2048 and HD) are still better than Formula Fusion and Redout due to superior controls, tough but fair A.I. drivers and more enjoyable gameplay. But Formula Fusion and Redout both have an excellent sense of speed and deeper customization than WipeOut. Redout has great art direction but Formula Fusion unfortunately does not. Judge for yourself by watching the video!

Fresh Produce - Video Production - Power Director 15 Ultra/Windows 10 Game DVR - Surface Studio


This started out as a simple test of the Game DVR function in the Windows 10 Creators Edition. It's been upgraded for better performance and 60 frames per second (FPS) recording. I used Toukiden 2 on Steam as the first test subject as the game runs really well on PCs. I had high hopes for it because it would save me the time, money and trouble of investing in a dedicated capture card which is the tool generally used in capturing 60 FPS HD game video. Game DVR didn't disappoint. It's amazing really, because running games can be a CPU/GPU intensive load depending on the title but Game DVR is also using CPU resources to record HD footage at the same time. In the past, the function capped videos at 30 FPS and some games would take a huge performance hit due to the load. But I've recorded a number of titles over the last few days and although some games did lose frame rate at times, overall, the recordings are really impressive. Far better than the earlier Game DVR recordings and cheaper than buying a capture card since the function is built into Windows 10 via the Xbox Live app. Microsoft really did PC gamers a solid.

For this video I used the trusty Power Director 15 Ultra to edit the footage. This includes trimming clips, adding transitions, adding titles, adding animations, changing video speeds and editing audio with Audio Director which hooks directly into Power Director. HD video and time-lapse photography are fun to record, edit and produce but working with video game footage provides a totally different brand of enjoyment. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sausage Link* WIP Update - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio


I was finally able to add in some tones and get something of an idea of what to do with the lighting. Because of the change in process (slightly) I'm using a lot of extra layers in case something goes wonky, the entire project isn't wrecked. The anime version of link that Nintendo promotes is okay, but personally, I didn't want to go the typical anime route. So I tried something of a compromise with the look of Link.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sausage Link* WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio


Initially I was going to complete this in Rebelle, but decided against it due to a couple of tools available in Sketchbook that Rebelle doesn't have (yet). I haven't played the new Zelda on Switch but I generally like the characters from the series. I do wish Nintendo would advance the story so we're not fighting Ganon/Ganondorf over and over again. It's been 30 years, why are we still fighting this guy? Why are we still using Link in this series and not his kid or grandkid?

Oh well. The other reason I wanted to use Sketchbook Pro for this project is its line quality. The pencils work great in Rebelle, but I can't stress enough how incredibly clean Sketchbook Pro's pencil lines can be. Especially at high resolutions (this is 3000x4000). They almost look like vector art. For what I have in mind for this project, the line quality has to be as clean as possible. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Rebelle version 2.0.1 test - Surface Studio


Update to the sketch I started a couple of days ago and featured in the second Rebelle video from last week. I used the sketch to test some of the new brushes, pencil options and the blending tools. Everything worked great without a hint of the problems of Rebelle 2.0. I was considering taking this a bit further but changed my mind since that wasn't the original intention of the project. The point was to create a sketch, clean it up a bit and color it. After doing so I can definitely understand the benefits of the new brush engine over Rebelle 1.x. Brushes and paint on canvas react more realistically which is frightening considering how good these aspects are in Rebelle 1.x. The new selection tools are a welcome addition too. Although this project is a bit rough, it was fun. I look forward to using Rebelle 2.0.1 again.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Back in Action! - Rebelle 2.0.1 Video - Rebelle 2.0.1/Power Director 15 - Surface Studio/SurfaceBook



After posting the video showing the Rebelle 2.0 glitches, it was only fair to post a video of the 2.0.1 update. This update, released yesterday (05-04-2017) addresses every issue I had with the original 2.0 release and graduates the application back to daily driver status. I had a great time putting this together even though it's a simple video. Rebelle is just a really fun application to use. There are still a couple of features I'd like to see added but I'll save that for a different day.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

SketchWorks - Rebelle 2.0.1 - Surface Studio


Wow, that was fast. Earlier today, Escape Motions released Rebelle version 2.0.1 and it fixes the glitches in the original 2.0 release. The brushes and pencils work correctly and the stencils aren't wonky anymore! If only Sony, Google and Microsoft fixed their busted software as quickly. This is a really quick, down and dirty sketch I jotted down in a few minutes to test the new release and it works great. The idea behind this sketch is...

A group of mercenaries have been chasing their bounty for weeks and finally caught up with him holed up in a small town. A tracker brings the leader a report.

I'll go back in and correct/clean up when I have a chance to focus on it. Rebelle 2 has just been added back to daily driver status. 

SketchWorks WIP - Rebelle 1.5 - Surface Studio


After growing increasingly frustrated with Rebelle 2, I loaded Rebelle 1.5 and was able to sketch this out fairly quickly. Drawing in Rebelle 1.5 compared to 2.0 is night and day. I'd rather have the old 1.5 brush engine back if the new brush engine in 2.0 can't be coded to work as good or better than. The lesson in upgrading the day Rebelle 2 arrived...sometimes, early adoption is not your friend.

Anyways, this sketch is based on an idea I had many years ago. I have one fully realized version of it but I wanted to elaborate more on the design and push the symbolism with an updated version. This also allows me to render it at nearly 5 times the resolution of the original. Lighting was a focus in the original version so it will be in this version. Clip Studio and Sketchbook Pro 7 are great for this type of work providing all of the tools needed to create really elaborate tones and lit scenes. Rebelle is capable of this as well but requires more jumping through hoops due to the lack of standard functions like lasso tools, "glow" layer blending options , deeper transform functions and the total lack of a fill tool even for the markers. But what Rebelle has that the other applications do not, are much better rendering of textures and textures on canvas. If an artist is going for a more anime or American comic book feel, then Sketchbook Pro and Clip Studio are great options. If an artist is going for something more unique, with texture and more of a painter's or illustrator's feel, Rebelle (1.5) is the application I'd look to. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rebelle 2 Video - Brush Engine Glitch - Power Director 15 Ultra - Surface Studio




In this video I give a description of a very annoying brush glitch I've found in Rebelle 2. Had I known about this issue previously, I would have waited for version 2.1 or 2.2 instead.

Grrr Monster WIP Update - Rebelle 2 - Surface Studio


I'm putting this away for awhile due to the fact that Rebelle 2 is proving to be too glitchy to use right now. Although there are some good aspects to the update, in some respects, Rebelle 2 is a downgrade. As I mentioned before, the pen and pencil tools can't accurately produce fast quick strokes correctly generating broken lines and broken paint strokes if generating anything at all. It turns out that the entire brush engine suffers from this. I've come across the layer glitches again that I pointed out in the vase sample image from the original Rebelle 2 post. Importing my logo caused the application to totally bypass the scale and rotate options normally present after import, applying the logo on the canvas immediately and taking up a large portion of the viewable area leaving me with no other option but to delete the layer. Only a restart of the application sorted that glitch out. Although there are some aspects to this image that I like, producing it up to this point has not been fun. I'll post a video soon explaining the main brush engine glitch that's ruining Rebelle 2 for me.