Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moray Guardians

Since I couldn't do any digital work earlier this week, I started a 18x24 traditional drawing. It's of two moray eel temple guardians for my Terra Incognita story idea.

"This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that that passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Its resemblance to the adventure of the Symplegades is obvious. But here, instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshiper into the temple---where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal. The temple interior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same. That is why the approaches of and the entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarves, winged bulls. These are the threshold guardians to ward away all incapable of encountering the higher silence within. They are preliminary embodiments of the dangerous aspect of the presence, corresponding to the mythological ogres that bound the conventional world, or to the two rows of teeth of the whale. They illustrate the fact that the devotee at the moment of the entry into the temple undergoes a metamorphosis. His secular character remains without; he sheds it as a snake its slough. Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. The mere fact that anyone can physically walk past the temple guardians does not invalidate their significance; for if the intruder is incapable of encompassing the sanctuary, he has effectually remained without. Anyone unable to understand a god sees it as a devil and is thus defended from the approach. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical adventures, both denoting, in the picture language, the life-centering, life-renewing act."

 - Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Friday, November 8, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Some recent stuff.

After looking through a huge folder of some awesome Craig "Goodbrush" Mullins stuff, I got inspired to do some environment stuff. First I have a few studies from photos:

Then stuff from imagination:

And another study. In the photo the girl has a huge cool tattoo back piece, but I decided to leave it out (mostly because I couldn't figure out a good way to add it in). I may go for a tattoo version later:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Catherine Bell Study

So I had some time to do a study and chose a photo of Catherine Bell. Here are some process pics:

This is the photo I chose. A couple of reasons I went with this picture over a few others are that I like the lighting scheme and that there are a few textures here that I've never painted before.

First off, the lighting is coming in at an angle, which is great for reading forms. There isn't much point to doing a study if you gain no insight into how light works from looking at the picture, and let it be known that the key to realism is lighting. Also, notice how the light is at an angle and the direction of the face is at an angle, but those angles don't line up. That's a good thing. Nothing is directly aimed at us, so we get to see how the light wraps around the shapes very well.

As for these textures...I knew I didn't want to use photo textures, so choosing an image with little pattern-like textures was a tough call. In the end, I knew I could use the challenge, so I went with it.

Here's my framework sketch that I began with.
Actually, I wouldn't even have this process picture if I didn't completely mess up when I started. At first I wasn't going to do a clean sketch; I just did some quick lines to get a composition. When I started to paint I realized how awfully placed my marks were so I went back a step as not to waste my time working with something fundamentally flawed.

That's another thing to note when doing studies; they're studies. You aren't creating a work of original art, so there is no rush. One of the biggest mistakes you can make from doing studies is to notice something is wrong and to leave it wrong. Since what you're making is a study, that moment is a perfect chance to correct what you mess up, which in turn ingrains into your head how to fix those problems. It's the essence of a study. So, next time you want to do a study, take your time, look for your own mistakes and fix them.

Anyway, so as you can see I cropped the image to showcase the face. I also changed the direction of the stare. I wanted my image to capture a sense of hopefulness. The original image had a slight sense of that, but I don't think what I wanted was the intended message in the photo. For the real thing, it gives off more of a sense of this thoughtful down-to-earth girl in contemplation, while the outfit sets the style. The way I wanted it was a more awe-inspiring approach. So for that I made her look straightforward and above us, as if she is looking to the skies. With that, the outfit seems to make more sense. Like she's longing to fly.

After I had my sketch, I created a new layer and just started painting under the lines. I didn't want to lose my markings before setting up the colors because I didn't want to deviate too much from the sketch. Normally if I'm painting and right away I start going over the lines, I tend to stray from what I had. While that isn't inherently a bad thing (often times it could be just what a piece needs), in the case of doing a portrait I kept the lines visible.

At this point I try not to get caught up in blending and smoothing everything out. This stage is all about color/value accuracy. If I find a color that I think looks right I'll blot it in. If it holds up to the colors surrounding it, I move to a different area. It's a bad habit to start blending in your colors right when you put them down, without placing the rest of your colors. The thing about color is that the way we see it is largely relative to the surrounding colors. It's why a grey against orange looks blue. If you just start dabbing blue everywhere you may find your colors to be t0o saturated/desaturated/warm/cool/etc. Your best bet is to work large and to not get bogged down by all those details.

Also note that I started with color right away. Deciding to start in color or black and white is very dependent on how comfortable with values you are as an artist. When painting there is no "just color," you either do a painting with just values or a painting with color AND values. Color has it's own inherent value. Either way, you need to make sure your values are good, so if you think you're going to have some trouble, don't think twice and just do it in black and white. Jumping into the deep end right away is a method of learning, but you'll end up wading through all the confusing bits, which not only takes longer but can be very discouraging.

That's another note to take, if you do a study, especially in color, don't color pick from the photo. I say especially in color because, like I said, the colors have inherent value. You're color picking the colors and the values. At that point, what are you learning? How are you challenging yourself? And in the end, will it feel worth your time and are you a better artist because of that study?

Also, if you're starting color, keep the lighting in mind at all times. Knowing how the light affects the colors is very important. Remember, lighting is key to realism. Here we have warm light from the sun. What warm light will do is saturate warm colors and desaturate cool colors. Also, since the light is warm, the shadows will be cooler. Anyway, time to move on.

After I set up all I wanted to under my lines, made a new layer over them and got to work rendering. Here's the long grind, where you can take all the time you need smoothing things out and detailing all you want. As long as your framework is good, go at it. That said, you may often find that your framework wasn't perfect. During this stage a few times I found myself using liquify and warp and such to adjust angles that felt wrong, or change the sizes of things (also just repainting areas). This is due to my shortcomings in my knowledge of skull structure, which means I need to study those more too. Anyway, with this shot you can still see a few lines as I work around the image. I like to keep my lines layer full opacity, while I work over them. I know some people like to lower the opacity or mask out or turn off the layer completely, but the way I see it is that alone they may be lines, but when you start filling up your image with color and value, they become part of that. Also, what you are creating is art, not a simple reproduction. If a line looks great in that one corner, think about keeping it there. What we make is poetry, not a research article or a page from a dictionary.

Okay, so after more painting into my lines, correcting some of my drawing mistakes, painting in those textures, etc, here's the final image. There's always more I could do but I think I hit a good cut off point. I wasn't keeping track of the exact hours, but it was on and off for about three days, if that helps. I hope you guys learned a little bit. Now go and study something!
(If you do an image search for Catherine Bell, you'll find a few good portraits like this one, for future reference.)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hey folks, long time no post. Anyway, I did another fan art, and saved some steps for ya. This time, it's for The Witcher 3. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some Destiny fan-art.

Super excited to play Destiny. I'm pretty sure I'm going with the warlock class when it comes out. I'm a fan of guns and magic. In my excitement, I just had to do some original warlock design.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Darkest Before Dawn

At the moment, I am unable to digitally paint. I mean, it's possible, but really it's too f'ed to the point of "I can't work like this."

For a while now, my FujitsuST5112 has been having a few problems. Blue screen of death, etc. Also, the Wacom drivers that I use for my pen have been occasionally screwy (I'd lose sensitivity / the buttons on the pen wouldn't work). I could always fix the pen driver problem by simply re-installing the driver.

But not this morning. I had quite the series of blue screens today (six in a row), and then when that stopped, my driver shite out. Like usual, I tried my fix by re-installing it. Only this time, no luck. I spent the entire morning fiddling with re-installing it, rebooting my computer, trying different drivers from both Wacom and Fujitsu, trying different fixes that I found online, and all sorts of methods that one could think of. In the end, I was left with an weak form of what I previously had: the latest Wacom driver which only read one trigger button on my pen, rather than two. I need two to be proficient: one for ALT / dropper tool and the other for right click / changing brushes and brush size.

I can't really work without both. Right now I'm stuck with just ALT. This not only sucks for when I use my computer for anything else, as there really isn't a right click, but it makes me have to open up the brush menu to change and resize my brushes. I could make due with opening the menu for changing the brush, but not for the resize. I resize my brush as much as I drop pick colors. Both of which I do practically as much as I make brush strokes. I really just can't paint without these primary functions.

So then I spent my entire afternoon looking at new tablet pcs. I've really been getting into the idea of upgrading for a while now. The Fujitsu, being fairly cheap, was really my gateway into digital painting. From Daarken's awesome tutorials, I knew that the machine was decent for painting and the price was pretty good too. So like a first car, my Fujitsu was my pretty old, yet reliable junker. I mean, I love this machine, but now that I've matured as a digital painter and I've solidified digital painting as an attainable job for me, it's time to upgrade.

So now, I'm going from the trusty, rusty FujitsuST5112...: an all new, Windows 8 tablet, the Sony VAIO Duo 11:

I should be getting it shortly and I'm looking forward to the new mustang of a computer. I'm entering a bright age of digital painting, professional on the inside and the outside. Wish me luck.

UPDATE:  It turns out that the Duo is not too friendly with Photoshop. After some looking, I may have found something better. I will get back to you on this...

UPDATE 2: It's here, I'm using it now...the Fujitsu Lifebook T902:

I'll make a Photoshop painting demo on it shortly.