Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's get some ART on this art blog, shall we?

My 1st tablet drawing
Here it is - my very first attempt to draw anything on a tablet, after just a few excited practice squiggles. I know it's a terrible pose - I had nothing in mind (was just impatient to begin drawing something - the way it usually is when new art materials come in!) And now I'm stuck with this crappy stupid male model pose. Oh well, on with it anyway! A problem I can easily see now - should have drawn figure AND background, and used a full range of tones including full darks where needed. I'm always hesitant (to put it mildly - terror being a more appropriate term really) to try to bring in full darks after the coloring is already underway. 

Ooooo - hung over. Is this a park?
WOW is he ORANGE!!! I was aware I could keep changing the colors - had already done it several times. Didn't realize how much desaturation and punching-up of contrasts would be required to make it look less like a neon nightmare cartoon black light poster and more like an actual painting. All those saturated colors are fighting each other for attention, like flashing neon signs along the strip in Las Vegas.

For the background I was thinking about parts of the woods near my house where I used to frolic and disport myself as a lad. I thought it was pretty good - didn't realize how weak it all was - practially a golf green with a tiny little stream trickling through it. And as hard as I worked on those roots I hate the way they came out - calling Dr. Seuss!! But I did make the realization that trees aren't really brown - learned that by checking one day while walking my dog. The ones around here tend to be grey (ranging from almost white to almost black, or fully black after it rains) some with a strong bluish cast to them. And yes, there's a bit of blue in the water, but I was already free of that particular cliche - the blue is reflected sky light, and there's desaturated colors where the dirt embankment and grass are reflected too. Even some atmospheric perspective in the background! Groovy! 

Busted out some photo ref for the abs and the face, but it looks puffy and bloated and the blandness of the expression is only exceeded by the blandness of his straight spine and forward-facing head. It's like there's a ramrod driven through his spine.

Adjusted face and abs - looking pretty good, but dayum!
Self tanning failure on steroids!! 
 Photoshop is an amazing tool - I was easily able to pull the tops of the embankments way up and the stream down to create a much stronger shape behind him. Now rather than a collection of small items rendered on a flat sward, the background is a couple of powerful dark silhouetted shapes creating a strong composition. Refined face and abs - I really like the sense of strong character developing in the face now. Did some of that with the Liquify tool. And this is a very important point that I only realized in the last few days - drawing (painting) with a tablet is an excellent way to learn because you can go much farther with corrections and complete re-do's than in any kind of traditional medium (and always know you can get back to the original in case you mess up). As in stopmotion - digital is definitely a great way to learn.

I desaturated the whole image and punched up the contrast a bit - thought I had fixed the Tang effect of his skin, but I was deceiving myself. Well actually I knew it was still pretty fluorescent orange, but I thought I would be able to fix that by adding dabs of different colors here and there.

Getting muuuuch better!
Here I decided to get ruthless with desaturation and contrast and to shift the whole image strongly toward blue. It all helps immensely! I'm stunned at how far I had to reduce saturation and increase contrast in order to fix what I thought looked pretty good at first. Blue, being the complement to orange, neutralized and greyed the glowing flesh tones and gave a sense of the brooding overcast sky light tinting everything. This is starting to look more like a painting done with a desaturated palette. And one more cliche bites the dust - dirt is not brown! It can be - but it can range to any color actually - I've literally seen black dirt, white dirt, grey, yellow, orange, blue - several colors marbled - every color of the spectrum actually.

I can see using a tablet to fine-tune a preliminary drawing and work out details and color ideas before committing to canvas (or in some cases finishing in Photoshop I suppose). I would never have summoned the courage to try any of these things on a canvas! 

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