Lighthouse tinkering

Got a few minutes to spare today, so I worked on this pic a bit more.

Ignore the lighting on the house. It’s wrong. Instead, look at the spiffy foam on the ocean. I was trying to do that fishnet pattern that foam always gets, but I couldn’t make it look right. So I started erasing big chunks of it, and it wound up being that messy, foamy look that restless water has when it’s been talking to the rocks.

Also realized my lighthouse was leaning to the right, so I tried to fix that. My lighthouse still looks like it’s some kind of Cake Wreck, but it’s getting there. My architecture skills are sadly lacking. The dragon and guy are going to get some love soon, too.


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!

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!

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.

Robin on nest

I was trying to think of something to draw. I looked back through my art from a year ago, and I seemed to churn out my most artistic works when I was asking myself, “What have I never tried to draw before?”

A waterfall came to mind. I’ve never successfully drawn or painted one. Google image search is, shall I say, “awash” in waterfalls.

But a waterfall by itself isn’t much of a subject. And that one Streams in the Desert came to mind:

Two painters were once asked to paint a picture illustrating his own idea of rest. The first chose for his scene a quiet, lonely lake, nestled among mountains far away. The second, using swift, broad strokes on his canvas, painted a thundering waterfall. Beneath the falls grew a fragile birch tree, bending over the foam. On its branches, nearly wet with the spray from the falls, sat a robin on its nest.

The first painting was simply a picture of stagnation and inactivity. The second, however, depicted rest.

And I wanted to try my hand at that second painting.

Here’s as far as I made it tonight. It all needs work, of course, but for now I’m just establishing values. I’m hung up between doing a waterfall with the water still in chunks …

…or one with the water all blurred into a curtain.

Either way, it still needs work, and work I shall. I really prefer painting from reference whenever I can. Leaves room for artistic interpretation, you know?

Painting Venice/Solenna

I sat down to doodle, and this sketch came out.

I’m contemplating writing a story adaptation of the Sonic game that was on the xbox 360, since it had a totally rad story, more Final Fantasy than Sonic. The whole thing is set in a city called Solenna, which is based heavily on Venice.

So I went poking around, looking for neat pictures of Venice for the background. I found this one, which had the sort of lighting and mood that I wanted.

Started with a gradient …

Scrubbed in some sky …

Dropped in some building structure. I drew them as blocks and shaded them before I put in the windows.

So. Many. Windows.

A lot of those windows are off kilter or unfinished, because they fall behind a character’s head and there’s no point in adding all that detail.

Then I slathered in some light.

The light inside the buildings is essentially painted with a soft airbrush (I used a Gouache brush with opacity set to about 5%), and the water reflections are painted with Oils > Wet Brush. I love the wet brush.

And it’s late, and I’m tired, so I’m stopping here. 🙂

Cooler background

The background on that giftpic was too warm.

So, even though I liked the watercolor effect, it 1. took too long and 2. was too hard to rework. So I scrapped it and went with my old Corel Painter standby, which is the Oil Paints > Wet Brush, and the Oil Pastels.

Ta da! Much prettier! Now I’m off to Photoshop to work on the character. And the rocks. Again.