Showcase: Matte painting tutorial (sort of)

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Abandoned Station by *sandara on deviantART

Seeing as I just got home, and haven’t got my art mojo back on yet, I thought I’d do a showcase or two.

This is a quick and dirty almost-matte-painting tutorial. Sandara shows how you can “fake” ruined architecture by sticking a photo in your painting, and painting over bits of it to make the lighting right, and to make it mesh with the rest of your painting. It’s a highly useful technique if you’re like me and don’t want to spend a lot of time painting the little tiny details way off in the background of your pic.

In essence, lazy artist’s shortcut! It’s still extremely useful, though.

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Pine needle baskets

These are a pair of pine needle baskets I made for people for Christmas. I made them both over about two weeks, and boy, are my fingers sore. Pine needles have sharp little ends that like to poke holes in your fingertips.

Anyway, they’re just coiled bundles of pine needles, stitched with raffia from a craft store. I have different colors, but I think I like the greens and browns the best against the pine needles. I’d like to get some black, because I’ve seen some really nifty baskets stitched in black.

We have some lovely pine trees around here with needles a foot long. I don’t know what kind they are. I can tell which trees are healthy, because their needles are so long and thick. One of the trees grows in a spot that gets too much water, and its needles are shorter, thinner, and often moldy.

Gasp! An update!

Howdy, folks. I’m currently at the other end of the country, far from my sketchbook, my tablet, my scanner, and all the other art-related things that make life worth living.

About the only thing I can do is write. So I’ve been writing a story in my head. Really, I’m working on a sequel to my worgen story, and it’s mostly about a paladin who is trying to figure out the worgen characters’ backstory and therefore if they are dangerous.

One thing that amuses me about World of Warcraft is their religion of The Light. It’s like the most generic religion you can think of, except that they have cathedrals and priests and such, so it’s obviously a spin on Catholicism. So when writing fanfic, you can pretty much plug in any religion you want.

Last week we were sitting in church, and the pastor was reading from Isaiah 11 (since it was a Christmas service and all). And he read the following paragraph, and I went, “Oh! It sounds exactly like the kind of paladin I’m trying to write!”

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

So Jesus is a paladin? DANG STRAIGHT!

Anyway, I think I just found my whole paladin philosophy, right there in a nutshell. I’m totally sneaking it into the story somewhere now.

Portrait practice

I recently found this blog by an artist named Stapleton Kearns, and he posts lectures and comparisons on various old masters, and their techniques. I’ve been reading it closely, because they know how to do all the stuff I want to do.

Anyway, this post in particular appealed to me because it has a list. He’s talking about how Sorolla studied Velasquez very closely, to the point of using some of Velasquez’s faces as models. Kearns remarks that in this one head study, Sorolla used a red, an ochre, and a black. And the lights and the darks are modeled separately, and clearly separated.

There’s a lot more to the article (such as edges–he’s doing a really fine study on edges right now), but I got excited. A list! I can do lists.

So I gave it a whack. Here’s my laughable attempt at a moderately famous actor.

It doesn’t really look like him, but I’m still trying to achieve this whole “likeness” thing. Achieving likeness means you spend a lot, and I mean a LOT, of time in the sketch stage, doing measurements and corrections and all. And I really just wanted to do a color study. So the likeness is pretty vague. I plan to do a series of these, and if you wind up being able to tell who I’m drawing, it means I’m improving.

Anyway, here’s the palette I used:

I had totally forgotten that Painter has this lovely palette mixer, where you slop on your colors and stir them around. I started with a yellow ocher, black, and a red-orange. I had to mix some white into the red and ocher to make my highlights, and I added a touch of blue to cool them off a tad, seeing as my shadows were so hot.

I think I’m happy with my skin tones for the first time EVER. I don’t have the problem with it being too green (hello, Cezanne!). I’m eager to try another one of these.

Snow worgen

Now that the Cataclysm expansion is finally out for World of Warcraft, pictures abound of the new worgen models.

I thought worgen were awesomesauce since I ran into them back when WoW was new, so I’m really jazzed about getting to play one.

So here’s a male and a female out for a stroll in the snow.

I’m pondering putting them in red and white. The female is supposed to be wearing a cloak or a shawl of some kind. I’m not happy with their limb placement, so I’ll be refining that. I haven’t played a worgen yet, so I’m not familiar with how they walk. I might look up some videos.

Ice dragons

I keep trying to come up with concepts for ice dragons.

Different sketches of wolfish or reptilian looking beasts.

The trouble is, I can’t get away from this particularly excellent McFarlane model from the dragon series. This is the Dragon series 6, Ice clan.


Alas, this is apparently a rare, popular design, but here’s the entry on Amazon:

McFarlane Ice Dragon Clan

This is the most excellent ice dragon design, all the way down to the woolly feet. I’m afraid when I think “ice dragon” this design instantly pops to mind. I can’t seem to design anything better. I mean, look at his parasaurolophus head and his vestigial wings!

This is a parasaurolophus head:

Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit

I was reading The Hobbit again, and thinking of how Peter Jackson will adapt it into a movie. Having seen Lord of the Rings more times than I can count, and having seen King Kong only once (once is all anyone needs to see it), I set about writing a summary of Peter Jackson’s treatment of The Hobbit.

And now, without further adieu ..

How Peter Jackson will make The Hobbit into a movie.

The movie will start out with Smaug coming and attacking the Lonely Mountain. Big dragon, fire, smoke, fog, lots of people and dwarves getting eaten. Thorin and his father and grandfather escape through the secret side passage. Thorin’s father has a Ring (one of the Seven for dwarves in their halls of stone and all that).

Cut to battles against goblins in Moria, and then some stuff with the Necromancer in the dark tower in Mirkwood, who captures Thorin’s dad, takes the Ring from him, and leaves him wandering and witless. Gandalf finds him and receives the key and map before Thror dies.

Lots of long, picturesque shots of Gandalf roaming over Middle Earth, doing detective work, trying to find out who that dying dwarf was and who is son is.

Gandalf finds Thorin and gives him the key and map. Thorin starts plotting revenge on Smaug, and gathers up his friends. Gandalf promises to help them a bit, and will find the fourteenth man for their expedition.

Enter Bilbo, who is sitting smoking when Gandalf walks up.
Continue reading “Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit”

The trouble with leaves

I made three different attempts on those dang birch leaves. I finally went with creating my own brush, traced from a photo of birch leaves.

They’re kind of all over the place, owing to me going, “What does this Jitter setting do, anyway?”

I was going to use my Impressionist brush for leaves, but I kind of use it a lot.

See the leaves?

Aaaand these leaves here?

How about these?

Yeah. It’s a nice brush for leaves, but I use it all the time. And this time, I was specifically painting a birch tree, and birch leaves are diamond-shaped, not ovals.

So I made my own brush.

Ahhhh. Something aside from the Impressionist brush! I’m totally making some maple leaf ones.

Waterfall cont’

I messed around with the waterfall and the bird a bit more.

I decided to go with a smoothed-out waterfall, because the chunky water was competing with the foreground bird and tree branches too much. I added some darkness of rocks behind the waterfall, but first, it’s too random, and second, it’s too dark so it competes with the foreground.

Also the tree is a birch tree now. I love birch trees.

Although you can go overboard with birch trees.

I wish I could find bigger versions of the Bev Dolittle art. She had some great hidden pictures. This one has indians and pinto horses in among the birch trees.