So after posting really regularly for awhile (well, regularly for me, anyway) this blog got pretty quiet all of a sudden. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and TWO weddings in the family (my sister and sister-in-law) equal a LOT of craziness to get through. On top of that were a couple of work projects with tight deadlines, and, oh yeah… being pregnant. I can’t put my finger on how, but I swear being pregnant takes time out of your day.
But with all that going on, I did manage to get one illustration done! Come what may, we have to keep making art, right?
This is an idea that has been in the back of my head for awhile. It's more about the concept than the story. I, for one, think it would be completely awesome to have a gigantic tortoise as my main method of getting from one place to another. I feel like so many fantasy modes of transportation, from dragons to rockets, are about being the fastest and sleekest. But think about it--if you had a gigantic friendly tortoise to ride, you could take your time, read a book as you go, and just glance up at each page turn to steer or see if your stop is coming up soonish. It would be awesome.
I almost finished writing this whole post, and then the internet ATE it. And I’m not sure I want to write it all out again. Gah. Well, I can simplify.
First, the exciting news--I have a new Yiynova MVP22U(V2) Tablet Monitor. For you non digital artist people, that means that I have a special screen and pen that lets me draw directly on the screen, so it is much closer to the experience of actually drawing or painting traditionally than using a mouse or tablet.
This purchase was a long time in coming. We’ve been talking about getting a larger monitor for me to use with my laptop for over a year. I’ve been using my cheapo off brand drawing tablet for many years, and it has never been the perfect drawing tool, but as a student it was what I could afford and it was good enough. So, I could get a separate monitor AND a tablet, or for just a little more, I could get the super cool combined version that would also take up less room things AND let me work faster.
So, we decided on a tablet monitor.
It arrived last Friday night. I couldn’t wait to get it set up and put it through it’s paces. There was a small issue with the drivers at first, but the distributors were extremely prompt about helping me fix it, and then I was good to go.
Next big decision: What should I do for my first project on my fancy new toy?
I decided to do something I hadn’t ever felt confident in on my old tablet--painting in Photoshop. I’ve always been an Illustrator girl, and a big part of that has been because I never felt like I was able to draw well using a drawing tablet. However, I'd done OK on tablet monitors in my digital painting classes. Time to see if it really made as big a difference as I remembered.
I decided to do a Master Copy of a traditional painting in Photoshop, since I’ve been collecting pictures of awesome portrait paintings on Pinterest for AGES. (Pinterest isn’t just for recipes, crafts, and stylish outfit ideas. Artists figured out a long time ago that it is one of the easiest ways to collect and organize awesome pictures you find on the internet. Which I guess is what everyone else does with it anyway, but they don’t really think of it in those terms.)
So, a Master Copy. I gave myself some rules before diving in.
I wanted my process to imitate oil painting as closely as possible. So, no layers--everything was done on the base canvas layer.
Also, I did not do any color picking from my reference picture, I only picked colors I had already laid down on my own copy. My thinking was that my canvas could represent the “palette” of colors that I had already mixed, while the reference photo was just that--my reference. This was also just a good exercise in color matching using the Photoshop color tools, which I am NOT perfect at, so you will notice some color differences between the two.
Third, I used brushes with over 70% opacity for the initial 70% of the painting, and then used less opaque brushes or blending tools later. To me, this was like laying down paints on a blank canvas to start, and then painting into wet paints later in the process.
I also did not zoom in for the first 70% or so of the painting. This is kind of an indirect correlation, but to me this was like using big brushes to get in the main details in the beginning, and only moving on to smaller brushes to get the little details in the end.
Lastly, I tried to match the textures as well as I could, but since I’m relatively inexperienced in Photoshop there was a lot of learning and experimenting with the brushes to try and achieve this, and I still have a lot of work to do there. This is what I felt was least successful in my piece.
I started this on Saturday and have spent at least a couple hours on it every day (except Sunday) since then. It isn't perfect but I've spent many hours starting at it, and I think I learned what I wanted to learn from doing the project, so I'm calling it done.
It won't be hard to notice differences between the two, just so you know. I'm not THAT amazing at this. Photoshop is still a nuisance to me a lot of the time. But it was good to get out of my comfort zone a little with this piece.
So here it is. Which is the original and which is the copy?
Here is a closer look at my version. It doesn't look quite as bad when you don't hold it next to the original :-).
I guess I caught the Photoshop bug or something. Well, not really. I was wishing almost the whole time I was painting this that I was using oil paint instead. Well, except for when I could just nudge or liquefy things into the right place without having to re-draw them. I like using Photoshop at those moments. But all of the other moments, I was really missing the smell of turpentine. No joke.
But, this was really fun to do. It made me think of my head painting class, which I loved. Maybe I'll bust out that old painting box after this--I have a feeling that this is an itch I'll need to scratch.
New Piece! It was pretty experimental and I learned a lot doing it, and I like how it turned out! I've done so much with warm color schemes lately, It was different to do something in a colder color scheme.
And I totally had this song in my head while working on it...
"I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus's garden in the shade...."
I feel like I've learned an incredible amount in the last couple months of working on my portfolio. I feel like I've really found a process that I love that helps my style to stand out, and my drawing ability is at least back to what it once was. And I just completed a piece that I'm really happy with. In the words of Jake Parker, it's "Finished, not perfect" but I'm very happy with it.
You'll notice that the fox was much bulkier in my original drawing. Also, there was a bush that wasn't working, so out it came. After finishing it and getting some comments, I knew I also had to go back and fix the fox. It took awhile, but I'm glad I did. Its worth it to get the piece to look the way you want it to. You feel better afterward.
I saw some awesome designs for several classics during my last visit to Barnes and Noble and thought, what would I do if I were asked to re-design a cover for a well known novel? It ended up being a really fun project. I think that face cards have very distinctive and interesting designs, and decided it would be fun to incorporate that same look into a cover.
This next one was just done on a whim. We finished reading Lirael by Garth Nix the other night, and I wanted to do something with a quote that is repeated through the series, and.... this happened. As of now, it has been liked/reblogged 140 times on tumblr, which isn't a huge number but its more than any other post I've made so I'm pretty happy about it.
I finished a new piece for my portfolio!
This was a fun one. I've been wanting to do an Illustration of the Firebird for a long time.
I saved a JPEG periodically as I worked, so you can see how the picture progressed. When I was done, it occurred to me that the composition had a sort of twisting shape not unlike the golden section... so I grabbed an images of the golden section from the internet and put it over the picture. It doesn't fit perfectly, but it fits oddly well for something that was not intentional.
Progress photos from sketch to finish:
Awhile back I made a fold and cut ornament... which I never posted or gave instructions for. Eventually I might.
And then I thought, thats a simple thing to paint. It would be good to start up again with something simple.
So, I painted it.
It was a good reminder of how much I love painting, and how much I miss it. And how terribly, horribly, completely rusty I am at it.
I started it one night in November and never got back to it until last night, when I decided to be done with it. Not because its the best it can be and completely finished, but because it served its purpose--it was a reason to get the paints out, and to remember how fun painting is, and how hard.
Here is how it looked, at various points in its life. I noticed too late that when I held the iphone too close to the painting it made the whole picture look cold, with a sort of grey-blue cast over the whole thing. Something to watch for next time.
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