Friday, August 28, 2015

Parade of Heads - drawing the Asaro head from life

Above is my 1st attempt at drawing the classic Asaro head from life. I've done very little drawing from life and was never very good at it. Proportions came out pretty weird, but I understood why - basically I started with the Loomis circle, and for some bonehead reason I then extended the face out in front of it a little ways. Derp!! I also just failed to really be checking everything against everything else before darkening in my lines. So I decided to do it again the next night (tonight).

Dramatic difference!! I switched from an HB to a B Conte pencil, which I like a lot better, and also pulled the few remaining pages out of the newsprint pad (I was getting the cardboard texture effect in yesterday's drawing) and just clipped them directly onto a drawing board. That in itself seemed to make a big difference. My shading went down so much smoother and I felt like I had much better control. Oh, also wore my glasses for this one. That gives me a really tight level of detail control, almost like a super power! My shoulders hurt a bit less than they did last night - getting stronger I guess. It ain't easy holding your arm out in front of you for over an hour!! Need to get on those shoulder endurance exercises. Oh, another difference - I lowered the easel to mid chest level - yesterday it was mostly up around the level of my face. Which was awkward and doubtless why my shoulders hurt so much. Weirdly the  left trapezoid always hurts more, though I draw right-handed - stabilizing I suppose. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

And this round goes to... The HAND!! DING DING!! (refurbishing some old digital paintings)

Mostly what I've been doing this last week is refurbishing a few older paintings to make them portfolio-worthy. I don't mean a portfolio for getting work - not ready for that yet - just printing them up to put in my own display portfolio so I have physical copies to show people. Here they are - older versions first. 

My manual dexterity has improved dramatically - or the artist's hand as I've heard it called. Notice in the original versions edges were ragged and choppy, but now I was able to get them pretty smooth and crisp without much trouble. 

I also seem to have gotten more subtle with the use of soft edges and textures. Looks like those brutal early exercises in softening edges has paid off.

I was able to clean up the edges (it took a lot of doing for this one!) but I actually still like the earlier version better. Those hard edges were a vital part of what made it work. Now if I could just clean them up but not soften them I might have something decent. Oh, I've been playing around with using gaussian blur to soften some edges - a trick I learned from Camilla Veilmond from her Conceptart sketchbook.

Used a lot of gaussian blur on this one because the background elements were too overpowering. Didn't do much repainting though - it would be a massive job and basically I'd want to start fresh with a whole new composition. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

20 hours in 3 days (recent graphic art projects)

I decided to start keeping track of hours spent working on art, and was quite surprised at how much time I've logged just in the last 3 days. It's because I was working on the computer - for whatever reason it's a lot smoother and easier and less intimidating than putting pencil to paper, and it seems to draw you in like playing a video game. Doing digital art is sort of like playing video games - you can always go back to a previous save if you mess up! Honestly though, I don't think pencil drawing itself is intimidating, it's just the fact that I'm trying to learn all this new stuff - a completely different way to hold the pencil and draw, as well as trying to learn all this technical stuff about heads.

What I've been working on is partly digital painting - finishing and adjusting some of my older pieces so I can print them up for my display portfolio, and it's partly graphic art - creating disc images and cover graphics for some CDs I'm making for my car. Hah - that sounded bizarre - what I mean is I wanted to put put together some CDs to keep in my car, and when I dug out the old ones I had made years ago the covers were all just hand written in ballpoint and looked like crap. Since I've been developing some skills in working with graphic elements I decided to try my hand at making my own covers and labels, with art snatched from the internet and modified heavily.

I started last week with the Season of the Witch CD seen above. Didn't log my time on that one, but it took around 10 to 15 hours on 2 consecutive days - some of the same days I only did like an hour of pencil drawing. So hey, at least I was working the art muscles!! I used a picture of Tura Satana (star of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill) and reduced it to harsh black and white, heavily Thresholding it and with much use of Dissolve. I also lifted the title graphics from a George Romero movie of the same name. The picture is of the insert - it would be folded in half and glued together with the edges colored back using a Sharpie so no weird white slivers show, and you have to open the CD case to read the song listings. I hd to use good photographic paper to get the solid blacks - on regular printer paper they come out grey. I also had to sand the back of the paper to get good adhesion using spray adhesive, and lightly dust the front three times with Krylon Crystal Clear, which seals the paper and gives it a tough coating. I had noticed the good photo paper has a sticky surface feel to it and gets smudged and finger printed super easily. I also got some printable CDs and put the same image on there - but in bright orange. Sealed that too, otherwise it can smudge pretty easily.

Wow, so much detail - but this is my journal where I record how I did things in case I forget later (which happens all the time!)

'Nuther pic, plus the other projects:

See, she's looking at her own dark reflection.

Here I lifted a painting by Rodney Matthews - it must have been originally for an album, as it works perfectly. I need to re-do the title text - don't care for the way it looks and it's off center on the case (it's placed to fit the disc image, didn't realize that wasn't going to work for the cover until I printed it). Really this is just a rough draft - I'll be perfectifying it and printing it up again. I got these flexible plastic cases because as amazing as the slim jewel cases look, they have an annoying tendency to break very easily at the hinges. No way these can break, though they don't look quite as good - I think of them as my utilitarian cases. Plus you can print a title along the spine to see what's in a stack of CDs. I also like the fact that you can print up 2 covers and put one in backwards, to show through on the inside. When I get really ambitious I'll start designing them differently, but for now they're just duplicates.

 Spent the better part of yesterday working this one up. I want to get it printed on a shirt. The dude is Zeno of Citium, founder of the school of Stoicism. The quote is actually the Serenity prayer - used by Alcoholics Anonymous (no - NOT where I learned it!) but I think it perfectly encapsulates the idea of stoicism in one brief phrase. From a time when philosophy was actually practical advice on how to live your life, not just the academic study of  the history of philosophies like it is now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Must. Develop. Discipline.

Not going to post warmup sheets anymore unless they include something decent. Seeing all those warmups gives me a false sense of having accomplished something - I'm trying to get myself drawing more. The above was from a day when I set my timer app and drew for 2 hours. That's a good start - I want to do that 5 days a week - like a part-time job. Then I need to build up to double that, and then double it again, making it 40 hours a week - more like a full time job.

I think it'll become less intimidating as I get better at drawing the head abstractions and Asaro planes etc - right now I tend to find excuses to do anything else. It'll also be more fun when I start getting back to what I was doing before my big vacation - drawing Fafhrd and the Mouser and assorted other character types. Oh, also I'm going to allow myself to draw with a graphite pencil (or whatever the hell I feel like using) in sketchbooks - or whatever the hell I feel like drawing in! Using that Conte pencil is pretty intimidating in itself! But whatever else I do, Ill keep getting back to the Loomis head construction and the rest of it, and using the Conte at least now and then. I really do like the results when I've got my concentration cap on.