Jumping Into Digital Art

A few days ago (on a Wednesday night, surprisingly) my new Wacom Create tablet showed up! Once it was installed I had to give it a test run:

Wacom Doodle

Wacom Doodle

This tablet has pressure sensitivity, but unlike the Cintiq I had access to earlier this year, it doesn’t detect tilt-motion from my wrist. To be honest, so far I don’t miss that aspect of the tablet, and really love how lightweight and mobile it is. I don’t even mind the fact that it’s not wireless. It feels very similar to what a sketchbook is like, and instead of hunching down over it, I’m looking up at a screen.

I’ve been trying to gather resources to build a nice “digital workspace” for myself. This includes going through the art magazines I’ve purchased over the last few years and copying the resource CDs that came with them, to scour them for content. Many magazines, ImagineFX in particular, have downloadable tutorials and brushes in each magazine. Every so often they’ll have some really beautiful art inside and I’ll pick one up. Now, I have a chance to take advantage of the Photoshop brushes and tutorials they offer.

While going through one of the tutorials, I learned that some artists use 3D software to simulate models to use as reference. What a brilliant idea! My next thought was, what software should I use to do this? 3D software can get pretty expensive and can be very complicated to learn. After some research, I came across the Daz 3D Studio software. To my surprise, it is freely and legally available right now! This will be hugely useful when trying to come up with realistic lighting and anatomy references! I was skeptical at first since it seems too good to be true, and was afraid it would end up being trial software, but found an article explaining why the devs decided to make it free. They have customization packages that you can buy to add-on to the software, but on its own it’s more than enough to give me anatomy reference. They have landscape modelling software I’m going to look at as well.

This brings me to the next part of the workspace: software. There are so many programs out there for digital artists, so which one is the best? The answer to this greatly depends on what kind of art you like to do, and who your audience is. While I was researching different software online, including Corel Painter and Easy Paint Tool SAI, I found this Fur Affinity forum thread. A user by the name of Arshes Nei compares sketching and painting in 6 different pieces of software, results shown below. It’s highly educational and totally worth checking out!

Apple Still Lifes by Arshes Nei

Apple Still Lifes by Arshes Nei

Paint Tool SAI has become very popular as of late because it’s a lightweight piece of software (in comparison to Photoshop and GIMP which can be resource hogs, and slow down your computer) and is relatively easy to find. I’m going to play around with that a bit, keeping in mind that when I eventually get a Macbook (way down the road when I stop being a poor art student), I’ll have to switch to something else since there’s no Mac version.

Armed with references and painting software, I should be ready to go! I was drawing in my sketchbook when the tablet first arrived, so I may start off by translating the sketch to the laptop…

I’ll end this post with my Foundation Computer final project. We used Adobe Illustrator frequently in that class and I fell in love with vector drawing. Our final project for the class was to do an animation, any way that we wanted. I used Illustrator to draw the frames and put them together in iMovie. I recommend watching it in the highest resolution available on Youtube’s website. Enjoy!

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Brightly Colored Illustrations

With spring blooming and bringing in some warmer temperatures, I find myself gravitating towards art that use brilliant colors. Getting an introduction to color theory back when I took that intro to acrylics course has helped me understand why colors appear bright or glowing. This totally changed the way I looked at things and gave me a lot to think about while coloring and painting. There is so much more to lighting and shading than white and black.

unfinished piece by Viktoria Gavrilenko

unfinished piece by Viktoria Gavrilenko

The flowers in this illustration scream spring! Going from the top of the drawing to the bottom, the flowers start out very impressionistic and gradually gain more detail. The skin and dress are light and airy which brings the butterfly nicely into focus. Unfortunately, according to this artist’s deviantart site, she says she won’t be finishing this piece, but I feel like it’s a strong enough piece to stand on its own. I just wish I knew why this girl was so sad…

Magical Girl by Kim eunhye

Magical Girl by Kim eunhye

My recent manga-craze has led me to look through tons of anime/manga artists for more inspiration. Because of shows and comics that appeal to a younger audience (pokemon, yugioh and the like), a more simplistic cell-shaded art style has become very popular. It’s sad, because it’s not the kind of style that made me love anime and I feel like people get the wrong idea about the genre since this stuff is so popular. The drawing above is more what I gravitate towards: frills and flowing fabrics, beautiful fantastical dress, the backgrounds with gradients and patterns and exquisitely detailed accessories, like the sceptre! Rather than simple cell-shading, this piece uses interesting colors for shadows that give the whole image a surreal-floating kind of vibe.

Las Teclas Negras by herringbones

Las Teclas Negras by herringbones

The warm versus cool color palette drew me into this illustration and at first I almost didn’t notice the text in the corners. There’s a lot going on, but somehow it all flows together through a story I don’t fully understand quite yet. I really love the style of bubbles and water, things I’ve always struggled with. The line-work in this piece is very nice as well, helping to bring things to the foreground and push others back, organizing the image.

by Sinad Jaruartjanapat

by Sinad Jaruartjanapat

The more colors the better, right? By having a rainbow-colored palette it’s easy to overwhelm the viewer with too many colors, but having a neutral background here gives the eye somewhere to rest. Without that space the colors in her fins may not look as bright. Again I’m lost in the details, from the tips of the trident to the flourish of this mermaid’s tail. Her colorful armor is reminiscent of a butterflies’s wings. One day I hope to be able to design characters with this much impact and draw as flowingly as this.

Books, Spoons and Barbies

Assess Your Personality by Jess Naish Lingley

Assess Your Personality by Jess Naish Lingley

I wanted to get a better photo of this to post but since Tim’s got dibs on the camera for the weekend, this will have to do for now. I’m just glad it’s finally finished! I was finally able to dismantle the still life setup and put all the books away; my studio feels so much larger now. This still life was a great study in perspective and text, especially on drawing things as they are and not how you expect them to be.

I showed my uncle a progress photo while I was visiting last weekend and he asked me if I turned the canvas upside down to draw the text on the bottom (501 cocktails). The only reason I would do this would be to avoid pushing my palm up against a wet section of the painting. Our eyes and brain tend to auto-complete things for us. Most of the time, we can read text that’s upside down or sideways and even when it’s faded out because we know what it’s supposed to look like. I tried as much as possible to paint the text exactly as I saw it, as if it were symbols or something that I didn’t have to read, rather than trying to re-create what I thought it should look like.

Ice Cream Scoop Warhol Style

Ice Cream Scoop Warhol Style

Messing around in Photoshop is fun! After doing his photo of the day a few nights ago, Tim asked me to rearrange a few different colored versions in a Warhol-style frame. Since he supplied me with the photos, all I had to do was line them up on a new canvas. Not very difficult, but a good exercise in Photoshop layer/ruler skills.

Barbie as Famous Works of Art by Jocelyne Grivaud

Barbie as Famous Works of Art by Jocelyne Grivaud (via Beautiful Decay)

Something fun for Friday; Jocelyne Grivaud has remade several works of art using Barbie, whether through photography or painting. The result is a nice contrast between styles. Some works are very similiar but in others the tone is completely different. For example, with the Mona Lisa version the barbied-image is a stark contrast to the original in several ways. Mona Lisa is beautiful, but she’s not a model and she’s not smiling with teeth, things that that the Barbie version makes very obvious. I especially like the Picasso-Barbie painting, in a world all its own.

If you’re in the Maritimes braving the snow, keep safe! Hope everyone has a great weekend, snow or not. 🙂