Bird sketch and art musings

I need to draw from life more. I was thinking of this, and discontentedly looking around for something to draw, when I noticed my cockatiel dozing in the cage near my compy. He held pretty still, so he made a good model.

I’ve been thinking that I’d like to make more “wall art”, but I wasn’t exactly sure what constitutes “wall art”. I was thinking vaguely of landscapes. I did a poll over on DA, and the results surprised me. So far “Other” is in the lead, followed by Landscapes, Seascapes, Still Life, and Religious. “Other”, according to the comments I’m getting, is anything from posters from Nintendo Power to anime characters to the person’s own artwork or photography.

I am aware that the folks I tend to attract over on DA are mid-range teens through the low twenties, and that does affect what they hang on their walls. But still, it’s quite illuminating.

Then Stape, over on his art blog, did a rant about how you should make good art first and worry about marketing it afterward.

While pondering this, I thought about copying a Thomas Kinkade painting for practice. Did you know he’s been doing paintings for Disney now?

The blog I found it on had a rant about how “kitchy” Kinkade is and how aggressively he’s marketed his art.

And the more I looked at his art, the more I wanted to throw up. Maybe I’ll just copy some of the old masters instead, or maybe some of the Hudson River School painters. I could do worse than learning about landscapes from those guys.

Misty raptor, step by step

I sat down to do a little doodle, and doodled a raptor. I seem to default to them when I’m tired.

I wondered what to do with it, then thought of James Gurney’s latest post on his blog about How to get a feeling of misty light. I’ve been reading that the best way to learn from someone is to copy their work, which is why artists a hundred years ago used to copy the old masters until they learned their technique. Then they went on and applied that to their own works. (They never claimed the copy was their own, though! That’s where the internet gets messy.)

Anyway, I decided to copy the light in Gurney’s pic and follow his directions as closely as I could. The best way to learn is by doing, after all. Take a look at it.

Isn’t that so very pretty? I want the book this is in, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

Anyway, I laid in a similar background on my pic, first with a pinkish flood fill, then laying in colors with the oil paints > wet brush (my favorite!). (I’m working in Corel Painter, by the way, but you can do this in Photoshop or some other painting program, or with real paint, whichever you’re more comfortable with.)

Then I made my raptor into a silhouette.

Looking carefully at Gurney’s, you can see that the brightest parts of the silhouettes (the orange bits) actually have bright yellow highlights on them that make them look solid. Gosh, his art just makes me want to cry, it’s so beautiful.

He says that this effect, with the orange silhouette close to the light source, is easy to do digitally, but in real media, it takes some careful planning. Let me tell you, it took quite a bit of fiddling in digital to get it right! I painted over and painted over until I was satisfied.

Then I threw in some mid-tone trees to indicate some kind of background, and turned off my sketch layer.

Experiment done for now. I’d like to go back and try this sort of thing on a serious illustration of some kind and really put some time into it.

ELB finished

Well, I worked all evening on it and I think I finally got the Eyelazorbeams banner finished.

It’s over the top shiny and heroic, and I just had way too much fun making the poses and expressions look way too DC. Considering that this is Capcom and supposed to look anime, it winds up as this odd-looking visual crossover. Especially having Carda and Slasher in there, too, who just don’t look Megaman at all.

Anyway, I have some serious artist’s cramp going on, so I’m off for a break.

Eyelazorbeams commission

I’ve had this commission sitting here for, gosh, something like eight months: a commission to draw the staff of the Eyelazorbeams blog.

Anyway, due to a few kind nudges from my husband, I sat down and actually did it. I was imagining something like this:

So I patterned my sketch of the staff avatars on it.


(Click to enlarge)

The title at the bottom is just there for a little extra cheese. I don’t know if it’ll stay there, or be in that particular font (it’s called Badaboom and it’s from blambot.com.)

They’re talking about doing a video series about various gaming things. I envision this pic as the header, and then suddenly flashing this:

With, like, eye lazer beams. 😄 😄

Anyway, just waiting on approval and detail information from my commissioner(s).

Two gradients

James Gurney, on his blog, had a post a while back about the sky’s dual gradations.

Everybody knows that the sky is dark blue at the top and gets lighter and lighter down toward the horizon. But it had never occurred to me that there’s another gradient from the sun. The sky is lighter blue close to the sun, and darker further away. I don’t know why this never actually occurred to me before.

Anyway, I had the idea that I could duplicate this by two layers with two different gradients on top of each other. One gradient shades light to dark, for the horizon-to-zenith gradient. The other goes sideways, shading from warm turquoise to darker blue. It took some tweaking of the layer blending settings, but I got a look I finally liked.

I put some clouds and ground and dinosaurs on there just so the eye has somewhere else to go. Staring at just gradients gets tiring.

In case you can’t see the gradients, here’s some helpful arrows:

Gurney does it better than me, and with actual paint, too. See his post and example pics here.

Airbrush space, part 2

Welcome back to my attempt to airbrush space instead of auto-generating it!

I went back and took a look at my gas clouds, and decided that they were too busy. I’ve also been staring at space art, and it finally dawned on me that the black areas are just as important as the lit areas.

So I erased big black chunks, and went over those with the Chunky Oil Pastel to make them even blacker. Then I added in a few bright stars. Bright stars are always kept to a minimum in really good space art. They overwhelm a sky really quickly.

Whole sky:

I decided that putting a yellow glow over blue moons was a bad idea, so I just went with a nice blue glow instead. I think the whole sky is still a little too bright, but I’m much happier with it than I was before.

Previous post in this series: Airbrush Space part 1

Airbrush space, part 1

After staring at that last showcase pic for a while, I decided that I wanted to do a space pic like that.

But Painter doesn’t seem to have a Distort > Add Noise function anywhere. It has all kinds of really cool effects, but nothing that basic.

So I decided to see if I could do it with the airbrushes.

Starting with a black canvas, I got one of those airbrushes that just leaves a few dots at a time (I think it’s Tiny Spattery Brush or something like that), and painted in some very dark specks.

They’re in there, even if you can’t see them. It makes an important foundation for starfields, and they’ll show up later.

Picking brighter values of each, I added some red, yellow and blue stars:

Because the real night sky is full of all colors of stars, so a starfield should have something other than white. Or so say the various tutorials I’ve used.

I have all kinds of tutorials on how to make planets, but why go to all that trouble when deviantart is awash in stock planets?

They make nice moons. I just had to get them rotated so the light was coming from vaguely the same direction on both. I didn’t want the mysterious galaxy of twin suns. That’s just shoddy art planning. (Or Tatooine, but I digress.)

Now I dumped in a simple black-to-blue gradient. On top of that, I put a radial gradient of yellow-orange to black, then set the yellow-orange one to Hard Light with an opacity of about 45%.

Now for some nice swirly nebulae. I just scribbled around with a soft airbrush, then used the Smear tool on it. Then I added some lighter pinks and blues with the airbrush. Then I used more Smear tool.

It’s kind of like fingerpainting.

Yanking out that tiny spattery airbrush again, I put some stars on top of the nebulae on a new layer, then went back with the eraser and got rid of the ones that went outside the color clouds.

Here’s how it’s looking so far.

It’s time to do the glow effects and the really big bright stars, but I ran out of steam for tonight. That’s why it’s only part 1. 🙂