Vector art

I haven’t done any vector art in aaaages. I saw this fantastic vector artist on DA, and I wanted to attempt something similar.

I might be overreaching myself a bit, trying to keep it to just silhouettes, but I’m enjoying fiddling with it. Vector art is a lot of fiddling with nodes, moving this and curving that, and making sure all your outlines are good. It’s completely different from painting. More left-brain? I don’t know.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as I work on it. I’m not sure my values work the way I want, and my layers don’t work right yet, either.

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Silly Sonic comics

There’s this new Sonic game coming out for Sonic’s 20th anniversary. It’s called Sonic Generations, and basically all the modern versions of the characters go back in time to meet their old 16-bit selves. The gameplay switches from 3D over the shoulder to 2D sidescroller as you switch between old and new versions of the character, and it looks pretty fun.

But I started pondering what would happen if the old and new versions just started talking to each other, and these skits ensued.

This is classic Sonic getting a load of Rouge, who is still kind of a pariah in the series, heh.

Tails hasn’t changed much.

I have more in the works. This is too much fun to leave alone.

Rockses

Been tinkering with rocks and the palette knife tool.

My reasoning was that since the palette knife works great for rocks in real life, why not in digital paint? And it does look pretty good.

I tried to follow the technique of “laying tile”, where you paint a stroke, then paint a stroke next to that, and so on, rather than going over the same spot over and over. It seems to work really well for rocks.

Works pretty well for water, too.

It made the foamy splashes on the wave kind of square, but the foam on the edge in the foreground looks really good. Not all is with the palette knife, though. Some is with the oil pastels, my standby.

And here’s the whole thing:

I realized that I had committed the cardinal sin of putting the horizon smack in the center. So I cropped it to bring it higher than center, since most of the interest is below it.

Details, details!

Anchored with rocks

I’ve thought and thought about this seascape, and how to make it really memorable. Make it tell a story, you know?

Anyway, I scrubbed in some rocks with my digital palette knife, and bingo, the picture worked. Before there was too much blue, and the whole thing was just floating away into the sky. But now it’s anchored firmly to earth with those rocks. I want Sonic and Tails goofing off, doing the sort of things you do at the beach. This sketch of them seems to work, but I’ll continue to tinker with it.

Tinkering with water

Here’s how I’m progressing on my little seascape.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at tiny thumbnails of Waugh paintings, like these.

You can really see the brushwork on that last one. There are a lot of photos of breaking waves, but nature never has the imagination and composition of a painting. A painting is like the ideal. And plus, the splashes aren’t blurred.

James Gurney reposted an excellent article describing a teaching session by Howard Pyle. You can read the whole thing here, but here is the bit that I have been pondering.

The last composition to be criticized was the work of a pupil already famous in the art world. Mr. Pyle usually criticized such pupils with much detail, but with a respect which showed the high esteem in which he held their work. The present sketch was an illustration to a detective story, a murder scene.

“In the first place, it is a mistake to show gruesome and horrible things plainly in a picture,” was the comment. “The mind is so repelled that it instinctively refuses further attention and thus defeats the purpose of the drawing. Then, suggestion is always more powerful than a direct telling. Here we have the dead man, the knife, and the murderer, unmistakably shown. There is no mystery, nothing to puzzle and intrigue the imagination, and we turn away. How much more powerful would be a mass of men crowding around a slightly-seen object. Then there is mystery. We want to know what happened and who did it.

“Pictures should suggest so many possibilities as to set the mind to thinking, and thus hold the attention. We have all seen wonderfully painted groups in art exhibits – perhaps a vase and a bit of drapery, marvelously executed. The artist may have spent weeks upon the painting, yet it has little interest. We turn away, saying, ‘Very clever, but in heaven’s name why did he paint it?’”

Why indeed? So I’ve been considering how to inject more intrigue into my pictures.

Distant island

I haven’t done a Sonic pic in a while, so I think I’m about due.

So here’s a Sonic pic to practice both water and atmospheric perspective, two things at which I’m sadly weak.

While snooping around for tips on painting seascapes, I stumbled across Frederick Judd Waugh.

Wow. Usually seascapes are pretty run-of-the-mill, but this guy’s paintings really showcase the power of the sea. How come the best painters are the dead ones?

Anyway, I doubt my little seascape will even approach this, but it’s something to strive for!

Water practice

On this one art blog I read, the artist talked about a technique called hard on top, soft on bottom.

Part 1 of this
Part 2 of this

Notice in part 2 that he uses this technique to make some really fantastic-looking water. I’ve recently tackled clouds and had some satisfactory results, so I figure that now’s a good time to tackle water.

Here’s my first attempt at hard on top, soft on bottom:

There’s a host of problems with this, mainly because I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. I started at the top and worked down, instantly finding that digital paint and a stylus is not the same as watercolor and a brush. Pixels don’t want to smear and fade out. I finally found that Just Add Water under the Blender tools works pretty well.

So then I tried all my favorite brushes for the hard line–oil pastels, Wet Oils, Gouache–everything was too hard, or made too soft of curves. Water doesn’t do soft curves. It does sharp, pointy little waves.

Down near the bottom, you can see where I was starting to get a handle on it. I was doing my waves too close together. I’m really going to have to study the structure of water if I’m going to do this right. I think yet another beach painting is in order!