Making art again

So I’ve been trying to make art more often, now that I have a new tablet. The littlest ones are old enough to sit and watch videos while I draw, which means I actually get to focus on my doodles.

I recently discovered the joys of texture brushes. They make painting a lot of little things, like leaves, a lot more pleasant.

Or chains.
chained-tree

I thought it might be nice to try a matte painting tutorial. The one I found turned out to use a lot of stock photos that you have to buy first, and my attempts to Google comparative images was hit and miss. I gave up, but produced this.

matte-painting-1

However, I learned a few things, I tried my hand at speedpainting a mountain scene. It’s more a study in values and atmospheric perspective than anything–both things I need to study up on.

mountain-painting-practice

Here’s the painting I did today, using these cloud brushes for Photoshop. They’re kind of odd and blocky, but they stack well with themselves. It was also fun to paint a dragonish creature there in the foreground. I’m super rusty, though. I need to get back into the swing of art.

sunset-dragon

So there you have it. My super-productive week. :-p

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Lighthouse progress

I’ve been working on this in short snippits of time. Here’s how it looks so far:

The lighthouse’s stripes aren’t working for me. I think it’ll have to go pure white. Some of my rocks are too uniform (you can count them, stack of five, stack of five, stack of five). So I need to break those up a bit more. But you can see the values coming up from the deep darks I started with. The darks reinforce the drawing, while the lights carry the color. It’s one of those quotes up there in the widget.

I think the guy and the dragon might be a little too understated. My thought was that the dragon is more of a sea-dragon type, with big fins, and he’s waiting for a fish for his dinner. But maybe I should make him bigger and more European. I don’t know. I like smaller, more approachable dragons.

Crafty things

I was trying to think why I seemed to have no art mojo this past week. Then it dawned on me.

I’ve been helping my hubby paint his War Machine models.

These dudes are only an inch to an inch and a half tall. I’m having to remember all of my nifty sculpture painting techniques, like antiquing and dry brushing. They’re very shiny in person because of all the bronze and silver paint. I’m even mixing the blue with pearl paint, so the blue has some sparkles in it.

My art teacher always laughed about how I loved sculpting and painting teeny tiny things. Well, these models are giving me a run for my money. See the tools in the first guy’s tool apron? Each about the size of half a grain of rice. Try hitting that with an ol’ fat brush.

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.

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.

Navi self-portrait

I just saw Avatar on video. I still don’t know if I liked it or not. It felt like more of an art movie than anything–lots and lots of pretty art and weird stuff. Like looking at one of those books of concept art for Myst.

Anyway, I wondered what I might look like all CG-d up as a navi, like I’m sure half the internet has already done. So I figured, might as well give it a shot! It’ll be a fun exercise. 🙂

Here’s the photo I took of myself. Gah, I look so tired. That’s going away when the airbrush comes out.

And splash on 45 minute’s worth of airbrushing and liberal use of the Hue slider:

Yay, I’m a blue-skinned catgirl!

I haven’t painted in Photoshop in a long time, especially not ancient Photoshop 6. I miss the wonderful blend tools of Painter, but I managed to bend Photoshop to my will pretty well.

Here’s my reference pic:

Griffin art exchange, progress

I looked at my old sketch, and decided it was too stiff and overworked. So I sketched out something a little more appealing to me.

Not so stiff now! The other griffin is mine, and they’re playing catch with some sort of leather ball. Or a magic ball. So I can draw sparkles. I’m not sure yet.

Then I dropped in one of Painter’s excessively gradient gradients.

Then I disturbed its perfection with a big fat oil brush. Wet Brush, I believe.

The colors aren’t ones that I’d normally use, but it’s kind of nice painting a sunset in green and orange instead of blue and pink. Makes my brain work harder.

Then I started roughing in the griffins …

…and had to call it a night, since I’d been working on it two hours straight and I was tired.

More coming soon!

The March Lion

March came in like a lion this year, here and in a lot of other places. I got to thinking about what the March Lion might look like, and this pic came about.

I’d love to have some snowflakes blowing out of his mane, but then I’d love to include some flowers, too. I’ll have to play around with it.