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

Fox in snow, nearly done

Worked on this for a while tonight and got it mostly done, I think.

Here’s the black and white layer.

Here’s the color layer on the fox. It’s subtle.

Now her eyes look alive!

And then the liberal amount of blue airbrushing for the background.

I think the fox’s coat needs another layer of lighter hairs and some snow sprinkles. And I want some red holly berries. Think I could get away with some kind of red berries, because pine trees totally have those?

Making vector pics

Here’s how I went about making that vector dinosaur pic.

Vector art has to be very heavy on design, because that’s what it does very well: crisp, clear shapes. A lot of great interplay between positive and negative space. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to draw, so I sketched some thumbnails to figure out the design.

The one on the far right was the one I liked best, so I made a bigger, more detailed sketch.

Once I was happy with it, I dumped it into Illustrator and traced over it. Also, I looked at a lot of pictures of Australian Red Tingle Trees. They’re amazing and look like something that would need grazing dinosaurs to keep them in check.

Anyway, this was the rough stage I showed in my last post:

It was okay, but eh, it had some problems.

Here’s what it eventually became:

Here’s what it looks like with all the objects selected:

It has a lot of junk going on it. But vector graphics are nice like that. You can grab them, stretch them, flip them, and drag them wherever you want. It’s almost like making a scrapbook page, or a collage. Except your little paper shapes can be any size, shape and color you want, and you don’t have to mess with scissors. Heck, you don’t even need a stylus. Just a mouse.

Here’s a few individual elements selected.

That’s one leaf element. I just copied it, flipped it, rotated it, etc. about four times to really fill out the foreground foliage.

Here’s the black border taken off. You can see what it was hiding. Scrappy edges!

That’s one of my “cheaty” background shapes. You can’t really see much of it, but it plugs the holes between the trees nicely and gives the impression of dense forest. I have a lot of cheaty background shapes in this pic. You’re not supposed to be looking at the background in that spot, anyway. You’re supposed to be looking at the dinosaurs.

Moral of the story: making vector art isn’t like painting, but it’s still very right-brain creative. It’s just more like making a collage with paper cutouts.

You can get freakishly detailed, too. You just start with the silhouette of whatever you’re drawing, then put small shapes on top for features and details. I think I’m going to do some of that for my next one.

Trees and dragons

Over at Inspiration All Around Us, this month’s challenge is a dull pic of a dull tree reflected in a dull pond. I decided to take a quick whack at it to see if I could make it a little less dull.

… I couldn’t. Notice I put the main tree smack in the center. Ick. I’m not going to submit this as an entry, but it was relaxing to do all the scribbling.

So relaxing, in fact, that I decided to conceptualize one of my husband’s fun beasties.

This is Ben (think Big Ben) the time elemental. He started life as a pet over at GaiaOnline, but stuck around in our stories as this little lizard guy who jumps around in time as the mood takes him. He mostly eats time debris, but he adores shiny things, so the only word he can say is “Shiny!” He’s always swiping stuff and hiding it in his time-displaced lair, so they’re hard to get back.

If somebody actually hurts him, though, Ben fast-forwards his own timeline and grows into a gigantic, mature time-elemental dragon. With lots of clockwork bits and wings. I modeled him after a skink, because skinks crack me up with their long, fat bodies and teeny tiny legs. They eat bugs, and I wanted Ben to have a non-predator look to him. Small teeth, skinny jaws. He won’t mess you up by biting you, he’ll just screw with your timeline. Maybe just erase you entirely out of pique.

This is a skink:

Five-lined skink

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.

Scribbly tree

I started scribbling, and this is what came out.

For some reason it looks like hot summer … maybe it’s all the white in the background and the contrast of the shading on the leaves. Leaf … scribbles. Whatever.

I forgot how liberating the scribble-shading technique in pen and ink can be. I think going back to Painter has actually been good for me art-wise, because I’m having to think in real media again. And plus it’s just relaxing to sit and draw whatever comes to mind.