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!

Doodling & Flowers

My first week at NSCAD was fantastic, better than I could’ve hoped for! It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by other artists and really encourages me to up my game in terms of skills. I thought we’d be starting with basics for drawing, but we were assigned pretty detailed homework, and I’ve got over 3 hours of drawings due next Thursday. I may share some sketches when I’m done if I feel they’re up-to-snuff, but won’t be sharing every single thing along the way, simply because there will be so much to photo/scan. I will have hundreds of drawings by end of semester.

In our studio class we were introduced to an exercise called Zentangle. You basically divide up a small piece of paper into several sections, and fill each of those sections with doodles/patterns. It’s extremely relaxing and creatively soothing. I highly recommend it to everyone! It’s great for creative block as well, since it’s more intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of thought. Check out the website for techniques and for videos of other people zentangling.

Doodling with black & white oil pastels.

Doodling with black & white oil pastels.

This is a larger version of that sort of doodle done with black & white oil pastels. I’m not a huge fan of pastels as I find them hard to use and blend, but the longer I worked on this, the better I felt about it. I’ve never really been confident working in black and white (with paint and pastels) but the only way to conquer that is to practice practice practice. Hopefully with more practice I’ll get better at pastels and feel more comfortable working with them.

Having fun with zentangling.

Having fun with zentangling.

This is a photo out of the moleskin journal I got for xmas last year; I finally have a use for it! It’s so much fun to doodle and not worry about the outcome. It’s also a great way to kill time if you’re bored! I predict that I will go through dozens of micron pens for this kind of thing. Maybe I’ll involve color soon as well. These kinds of doodles could be a great jumping-off point for a painting, as well.

Gorgeous multi-colored Hydrangea at Public Gardens.

Gorgeous multi-colored Hydrangea at Public Gardens.

On Saturday we went downtown so I could get some architecture sketching in, and walked through Public Gardens. Tim pointed out these hydrangea and I was immediately taken by their beautiful subtle shifts of color. I would love to paint these sorts of flowers and colors.

Alright, off to more drawing homework! Take care everyone!

Manga Speed-Paints & a Peak at my Sketchbook

I opened Youtube to watch a video earlier in the week and saw that it had suggested a few speed-paint videos. I love watching artists go through a piece, and I’ve been looking for some inspiration to start a manga-like illustration, so I went for it and subscribed to these three artists. Even though they’re using digital methods, a lot of the color work translates pretty well to traditional media. Some of the drawings are even “sketched” beforehand and inked afterwards.

I was really interested in the way she shades fabric, especially the skirt and sleeves. I also really love the character’s eyes. Like an artist who flips a sketchbook around to draw something at a better angle, the canvas here is zoomed in, out, and flipped quite a bit.

This one goes from sketch to finished product. The artist here uses Paint Tool SAI to their full advantage, transforming and realigning shapes that manually you’d have to erase and re-draw.

Here the artist starts by inking a sketch and then blocking in some basic colors. There’s a really cool bit at around 7:35 where she creates her own brush of snowflakes. Rather than painstakingly draw snowflakes on the dress one at a time (and warping them around the fabric), she draws a few and then sort of “stamps” them on, editing them to fit the dresses curves as she goes. Really cool! Can’t do that in the traditional world though… Again, her eyes are really beautiful.

After looking to other artists and manga for ideas I started to do some sketches of my own, and it was evident that I needed some anatomy practice. I’ve been drawing a lot of animals over the past little while (foo dogs, owls, etc) and haven’t done much in terms of the human figure since those figure-drawing studios I did in the winter. Drawing faces and the figure feels a bit foreign, so I went over to Posemaniacs, loaded up some tunes and sat down for some sketching. I’d like to fill a few pages of sketches every night until I get comfortable with the idea of drawing poses again (and hopefully get better at it as well).

First sketch in the new place!

First sketch in the new place!

Page of hands.

Page of hands.

Gestures 1

Gestures 1

Gestures 2

Gestures 2

Gestures 3

Gestures 3

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

That’s not everything from the past few days, either. The sketchbook is filling up quickly! Drawing gestures is great and a good backup plan in case I don’t feel like working on anything original. It’s very relaxing to turn on some music and fill up some pages.

Hopefully the paint is mostly dry on my models painting, so I’ll be back into that pretty soon as well.

Fashion Watercolors by Sara Ligari

Fashion illustration is a specialized kind of art, different than what I’m used to doing. Negative space plays a huge role in drawing your eye around the drawing. The model needs to be attractive enough to show off the clothing without distracting from it. Sara Ligari mixes lush watercolor illustration with the world of fashion for pieces that instantly draw the eye.

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

I love her combination of vivid colors and flowing lineart! Most of the detail work in her pieces is dedicated to the outfits in question, but occasionally strays to other elements of the work like accessories and makeup. The careful watercolor splashes above her legs give the illusion of fur, contrasting nicely against the pen work of her lace top.

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

I love those shoes! Drawing shoes, and feet for that matter, has always been challenging for me. When I was younger I would draw people and cut their feet out all together, but now I know better. The detailing on the straps of her sandals is really lovely.

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

The way the above drawing is composed leads me to believe that it might not be fashion illustration, but rather an ad for a skincare or haircare product. Her greens are very vibrant and refreshing; maybe this was drawn for spa-related?

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

Her linework varies quite dramatically, leading me to believe that she works with calligraphy pens and brushes. This method takes a lot of patient but definitely pays off, helping the work to pop and giving it lots of character.

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

The majority of her work uses detailed outlines and contours to form the outfits and models who wear them. I especially like the way she details hair, very believable and flowing. Bodies aren’t fully detailed, with foundation shapes sometimes left in the final drawing. This gives depths to the bodies and faces but at the same time downplays them so they don’t draw away too much attention.

by Sara Ligari

by Sara Ligari

The above piece shows that her style is varied and not centered on pen contour drawings. The blending with watercolors here is expertly done, especially with the eye which is very lifelike. By using a few key paint strokes, she’s able to convey the detail in the hat without drawing 100% of it for us. This style sort of makes me think of what you would see if you glanced at someone on the street as they walked by; getting the main idea and colors of the outfit.

Happy Monday everyone! For the canadians among us, enjoy the rest of the long weekend!

A Musical Color Wheel

I was on Facebook the other day when I noticed a music theory image that my older brother had posted. Right away I noticed that it looked like a color wheel, and asked him if there was any significance to the colors used for specific notes.

Chord Wheel (via Guitar Grimoire)

Chord Wheel (via Guitar Grimoire)

He wasn’t sure about it, but the question stirred my curiosity. In order to explain why, I’ll need to explain synesthesia. In a nutshell, synesthesia is when stimulation of one sense causes involuntary stimulation of another. For example, some people associate colors with numbers or dates and others associate images with sounds. Ever since I can remember, I’ve associated certain colors with certain kinds of music, even certain keys. While listening to a note, I immediately think of (or even “feel”) a certain color. To some “synesthetes” (people that identify with this neurological condition), these colors are felt strong enough to produce almost hallucinogenic affects, like seeing a colored aura around an object, though for me it’s only a mental visualization. It’s to the point where I can even relate certain weather conditions to different types of music (grey skies versus blue, green grass versus pavement, etc). Some of you may be thinking that this is all pretty trippy, but let me assure you that I was sober for this entire project! However, according to wikipedia certain drugs can reproduce these affects, though I don’t really condone that. ANYWAY…

It’s an interesting phenomenon that I haven’t really explored because I figured it was just a quirk of mine, one among many. Wanting to look into this in depth, I decided to come up with a playlist of songs, in as many different styles as possible, in each key of the musical scale (A, A#, B, C, etc all the way to G#). Using this playlist, I would paint a color wheel, with a sliver designated for each note.

I was able to do this because my father taught me piano/keyboard essentials at a young age, and in high school I studied guitar, which was greatly encouraged by my older brother. The point is, early on in my life I learned chords and how to associate letters with keys. I’ve since learned that I have “perfect pitch”; this means that I can identify a note on the piano simply by hearing it, and that I can sing a note when given the letter. This was extremely helpful when compiling my playlist, though I did need to refer back to the keyboard a bit just to make sure I was on the right track (no pun intended). This is what I came up with:

Musical Color Wheel by Jess Lingley

Musical Color Wheel by Jess Lingley (the image on top done with songs, the image below done with individual piano keys)

Initially I was worried that the color distinctions between notes wouldn’t be strong enough, but I was quickly proven wrong. I also thought that I’d be able to narrow it down to one color per note, but I was only able to do that using individual notes on a keyboard, and not songs. Songs are made up of so many different arrangements and instruments that it would be nearly impossible to sum it all up with one color. Instead, I blended a multitude of colors and textures, inspired by whatever I was listening to. If anyone’s interested in the playlist I used, leave a comment and I’ll share it.

I don’t know that I really learned a whole lot with this exercise, but it was really fun to do and a subject I’d like to explore more in depth in the future. More often than not I have some kind of music on while I do art and I’ve certainly painted some things with certain music in mind. It’d be great to understand this a little better and tailor paintings to music, or vice versa. In the future I’d like to make more color wheels using major, minor and harmonic minor scales.

30 Minute Desk Sketch by Jess Lingley

30 Minute Desk Sketch by Jess Lingley

Wanting to try something different after all the painting I’ve been doing, I decided it was high time I got back into sketching. Here’s a thirty-minute sketch of my desk that I did earlier last week. I tried to keep it fast and loose, not focusing too much on details but paying attention to the way objects were placed against each other. My desk is normally very cluttered; I attempt to clean it up regularly, but more art materials come in to fill the space again. This was a fun, relaxing drawing. I’m going to make it a point to sketch more often! Good drawing skills are the foundation for almost everything else in the art world, after all.

I’ve only made a little progress on the models painting, brightening the two dresses on the left and refining the design of the middle dress slightly. I’m starting to think that I should let it dry as much as possible, in case we end up moving in the next few weeks. Tim’s had a few opportunities to talk to people in Halifax and my fingers are crossed! I am dreading the moving part a little bit though, just because we’re going to have to go through all the stuff we’ve accumulated in the past 6 years living here. You can be sure that I’ll be making room for all my art supplies, though.

slight progress on models painting

slight progress on models painting

Enjoy the rest of the week! Looks like we have a heat-wave coming, meaning wide open windows if I’m going to take this oil project any further.

Owls Everywhere

A lot got accomplished over the weekend; I hashed out two more rough sketches, completed pencils for one piece and got ~75% of its inks down! It feels so good to pencil and ink again. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes after I finish inking a piece. When I first started experimenting with markers, it was a long time before I even felt comfortable coloring originals (I would scan or photocopy them and color that instead).

Tim was gone for the weekend so I was able to crank up the music and get stuff done. Even the kitties were getting a bit lonesome by the end of it.

Mocha on my lap, helping me draw.

Mocha on my lap, helping me draw.

Java perched on top of my chair, supervising.

Java perched on top of my chair, supervising.

When I was doing research for this project I found that owls were referenced in a lot of different lore concerning both life and death. Because of this, I decided to do a series of three drawings to explore the different takes on owls so I could include everything I’d found. In order, my drawings represent life, guidance and death. I’ve snuck in more references to mythology than I can name and it’s been lots of fun! Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Redraw & Inks for Life Owl

Redraw & Inks for Life Owl

Guidance Owl Sketch

Guidance Owl Sketch

Death Owl Sketch

Death Owl Sketch

As I get further into each piece I’ve been starting to think about what kinds of colors I’m going to use. I’m looking at really bright colors for “life” and subdued darker colors for “death”, but I’m not sure how to tackle the “guidance” one.

Alongside this project I’m going to try and continue working on the Chuck Close self-portrait study. It stares at me every time I sit down and I won’t be satisfied until it’s done.

Can’t wait to bust out my new copics!

Progress 19-01-12

I keep getting distracted by chores and my espresso maker breaking on me, but I was able to get quite a bit accomplished on Monday night. I’m so close to finishing my latest painting!

Assess Your Personality - progress

Assess Your Personality - progress (via Tim's flickr)

Tim needed a subject for his on-going 365 project so you can all reap the benefits of a higher quality progress photo. I need to clean up a little more of the text and make sure the edges are all touched up, but otherwise there shouldn’t be much more to do on this. Can’t wait to finish it and put all this stuff away!

Life Owl Progress

Life Owl Progress

This sketch will be the first in a series of three on the different lore and stigma associated with owls. The first will be the owl meaning life and knowledge. I found a lot of reference to owls in association with Athena and since I used to be really into Greek lore, and wanted an excuse to try drawing a tattoo-style gypsy, I figured I’d give it a go. I might move her and the fruit on the bottom up a bit so everything is framed a little better, but this is pretty close to what the final inked drawing will look like.

Inspiration 16-01-12

Happy Monday everyone! It was really chilly over the weekend so I stayed inside and got into some art but I don’t have any photos to show off just yet. In the mean time, here are some illustrations I’ve been drooling over recently.

"La Marelle" piece by Elodie

"La Marelle" piece by Elodie

Elodie’s pieces are colorful and traditional. She plays with different methods of shading (hatching versus pointilism) and patterns. Detail-oriented with interesting color choices, her work is captivating. The background of this piece with gradients from red to yellow really bring out the blue of the girl’s dress. Loving the detail on the skirt and jewellery.

Nothing Matters, We Are The Sweetest Mistakes by Fumi Mini Nakamura

Nothing Matters, We Are The Sweetest Mistakes by Fumi Mini Nakamura

Nakamura’s work is along the same vain as Elodie’s while being very different. This piece in particular caught my eye because there is so much to take in and try to understand. It’s composition is tattoo-like in nature and would be too cluttered if it weren’t for the carefully placed negative spaces. I think for work like this, a lot of planning is required to make it come together successfully.

Candy Elk Dreamer by Gerrel Saunders

Candy Elk Dreamer by Gerrel Saunders

The vibrant trippy colors grabbed me immediately with this piece. I love the mix of macabre and candy. The clean and crispy look of digital work (whether in Photoshop or Illustrator) is very appealing. I particularly love the way the feathers are laid out here.

Pure Morning by carissa rose

Pure Morning by carissa rose

I was turned onto this artist from a local shop downtown, Pretty Little Freak Boutique, who sell her prints! I love tattoo-style drawings of people with tattoos… does that make me weird? Her watercolor and ink combination is lovely and the blanket is especially beautifully colored. I love the detail in the patterns, backgrounds and environments that she puts into her work. I should really look into getting a print to hang in my studio.

Until next time, stay warm!

Digital Impressionism and a Design Tutorial

So far, *knock on wood*, nothing terribly unlucky has happened to me on this Friday the 13th. I hope it’s the same for you guys! Here are a few tutorials I found, one of them from an artist on my inspiration post earlier this week!

Digital Impressionism Tutorial by `MartaNael

Digital Impressionism Tutorial by `MartaNael (via Deviantart)

I was so excited to see that this artist broke down her work for us! Seeing it come together step by step is beautiful. She starts in a very abstract way, layering colors, strokes and shapes on the canvas to create a rich intense backdrop, and then slowly adds in more defined strokes and shapes to bring her subject forward. She uses many brushes and filters as well, but by themselves they wouldn’t make the work shine. Used with her method of bring seemingly unrelated colors and forms together makes her pieces fascinating.

Collaboration! Two samurai (artists) are more powerful than one.

Collaboration! Two samurai (artists) are more powerful than one. (via GoMediaZine)

I’ve seen tutorials from these guys before; they’re very thorough and educational! Part of what inspired me to start putting more effort into my original work was seeing these kinds of tutorials. They explain their research and sometimes even show what they use for reference. Much like my own work, after initial sketches are done and they choose a version they like, inking begins. Digital inking and vectors are both really popular these days, especially if you’re planning to color digitally, but I still find inking by hand extremely enjoyable. Here they ink the sketch with microns and then color digitally, blocking out colors and adding in symbols and logos. The design is extremely complicated and it’s great to see what went into making it, start to finish.

Since those tutorials are both fairly lengthy, I’ll leave it at that and recommend that you take a look through them. Have a great Friday and weekend!

Happy 2012!

After a nice long lazy holiday break I’m ready to write again! Though I wasn’t active on here (or very much online at all), I was quietly working away on several projects in between family and junk food.

Assess Your Personality progress

Assess Your Personality progress

I’ve put more detail into the text on the books and started filling in the background. Hopefully this painting will be finished in 3-4 more sessions. One of the hardest parts has been waiting for the oils to dry enough for me to continue work. Tim is ready for me to be finished; he bought a nice frame for it so once it has dried so he can hang it proudly in his space. It’s nice to have that kind of motivation.

Chuck Close self portrait progress

Chuck Close self portrait progress

I finally dug out (and forgot to dust off) my Close-inspired self portrait. Last year I was very focused on coming up with a portfolio of works, specifically still lives and studies, so my original works took a bit of a back seat while I strived to improve. Now that the new year is upon me I’m going to dive head first into original works again but first I’d like to go through any unfinished work I have and a) finish it off or b) white wash it. With a piece like this it’s hard to track progress. Even once all the colors are down and opaque (which is largely all I’ve been working on so far), how do I know I’m done? I’ll have to go on instinct. There’s still a lot of things I want to do with this piece but thankfully it’s in acrylics, so work can proceed a little faster. On the downside, I can’t mix paint ahead of time so really have to think on what I’m going to need for colors beforehand. I really need to focus on distinguishing each side of the painting: bright colors versus bland pale shades. I also need to bring some more darks in and start looking at defining smaller shapes within the grid.

It feels like it’s been awhile since I picked up a pencil for some simple sketches. On that note I decided last week to start work on a new illustration project meant for my new copics! I’m in the research phase at the moment, trying to get comfortable with my subject.

Owl Study

Owl Study

Owl Study 1

Owl Study 1 aka what can I say, Christopher Lee looks like a barn owl...

Thinking back to last year around this time, something like this would’ve really intimidated me. I don’t normally draw animals or wildlife so it’s out of my comfort zone. Now though, it’s just another challenge! I think having so much on the go last year and chugging through so many works helped me gain confidence enough in my abilities to try new things.

Last year was a big year for me artistically. I threw down all my pre-conceived notions of what kind of art I should’ve been doing and just went at it. Through all the frustrations, headaches and giddiness I put together a portfolio of work that I feel confident with. Looking at the first and last pieces I can see improvement and hope that’s it’s visible to others as well.

Last year I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark for a lot of the time. I pushed on without having confidence in the result simply because I knew I had to. This year is different; I’m not longer a rambling artist chasing inspiration, but a focused artist seeking it. I know it’s within my grasp and I’m ready for it. Bring it on, 2012!