Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Not a game, not a game......but practice!" - Allen Iverson

      I always found it helpful to hear other artist's practice techniques no matter the skill level. It is how I pick up new exercises and sometimes learn what I am doing wrong. So this entry is a record of some of the things I have been doing to improve by 2D skills. If you aren't an artist, maybe it will be interesting to see what goes into the development of 2D abilities. Chances are it won't, so I included some plenty of stuff to look at for a few seconds. For any Amish readers, there are a few figure drawing images of people who aren't covering their bodies with fabric. It is called nudity and it is a thing.
      Last year I was made aware of a site CTRLpaint.com, which is amazing for any artists looking to learn basics or just brush up on digital painting. I found it to be extremely helpful and contributed quickly and noticeably to my improvement as an artist overall. I started with short tutorials and assignments on the site. I quickly moved on to more complicated and dynamic assignments I borrowed from FZD, Gnomon and CGMA tutorials.

(This simple study is a CTRL Paint practice assignment. The focus was the rendering of light, clearly defined planes and subtle texture. Mastering the ability to define simple forms and their relationship with light are the foundation of everything.)

 (Again, thanks to CTRLpaint for the direction. The sheet consists of a reference photo at the top. A black square frame identifies the patch of color I am looking to find with out using the eye dropper. After putting down a color I then use the eye dropper, painting the exact color right next to it for comparison.)

      I have made a good amount of progress in not only by general ability, but also in my practice techniques. Rather than practicing by placing swatches when identifying color, I am now identifying color in context and relationship with others in daily studies of environments, objects and vehicles. I no longer use the color picker and hunt for the color. I now raise a slightly opened fist to an object on screen or off and peek through a small hole to isolate color. Then I blur my eyes and compare the source and what I put down on the canvas (Learned from James Gurney's books). It is surprisingly effective. Alongside this approach, I do more life drawing and mental note taking. I then can compensate for the color lost in the photo with an expanding mental library, particularly in dark shadows.
      Since starting to do so, I have noticed a rapid improvement in picking color accurately and quickly. My environment painting and also stylizing of reference material has grown considerably.  After a bit of continuation down this path, the next step is to mix in more studies that are from imagination and use reference as support.

 (Most recently I have included quick environment studies that help warm up my color and perspective identification. Above is the progression of what my warm up layer looks like over time. It consists of 15-20 minutes of line work warmups followed by a 20-30 minute color study.)

       My color ID practice has now been integrated into warm ups. What once took an hour or more to do I can do in 20-30 minutes with better results. So I start my day with warm ups. First just control warm up by drawing lines, elliptical s and 3D forms with some light rendering. Then I move on to a quick color study. I use only one layer and never erase or throw anything away. I just keep painting over what was there last. It also helps reinforce the all important principle of not making anything my baby. Anything at any point must be discarded for the sake of improvement. So this starts my day with that reminder and develops a mentality that keeps any piece from being too precious.
      Another improvement to my practice has been in my focus as it relates to what I am trying to do with my art. Before I would start drawing with no particular plan, which is fine to do on occasion. I now do focused studies on form, color, or production techniques. This helps develop the effectiveness of my presentation, build a mental library and expand my understanding of how a particular subject works. I always start by breaking the subject down into simple shapes before building detail.

(I often overlooked smaller details of spiders. For example, how they breathe out of a mail slot looking orifice under the abdomen. I know their legs were segmented, but when studying I understood just how the legs segments into more pieces that originally thought. The are just simple pieces of information that get overlooked when only focusing on the bigger ideas.)

(This frog study helped exercise rendering thicker skin and how it moves over the mostly soft masses of a frog. This one in particular was done in preparation for a character I will be creating from 2D to 3D next month)

Oh no! There are drawings of naked people below! Cover you eyes!

(Another adjustment is was to jump between more literal translation and stylized translations.  On top of that, I went out of my comfort zone and tackled different perspectives and trickier poses. This is to force myself to apply my understanding of the lighting when changing forms. It also is another way to build a large visual library in the mushy mass that is sitting inside of my skull.)

(After a while of doing this I got much quicker, again cutting an hour down to about 20-30 minutes with improved results. My pallets became richer and more dynamic. I was able to play with styles more and even change details with confidence. Patrice O'Neal can't believe what the frog just said.)
        Along side my studies I work on personal projects, as you might have seen if you follow the blog. These are pieces I intend to finish and serve as chances to push myself beyond previous limits, try new techniques, play with different brushes and experiment with styles. Eventually the idea is to get to a level where a small percentage of my warm up time is practice and the majority is working on content that contributes to various narratives Unlike before, these personal pieces will have a much more professional quality and presentation.

(A progression of personal pieces from the earliest posts to now. Improvement is noticable, but with my new techniques and routine, I will be improving my efficiency and increasing the rate at which I successfully apply new lessons. This will ultimately lead to larger leaps.)

      Below are the list of sites and resources that have made my self education possible. I highly recommend their content on YouTube and their respective sites. However, these alone aren't to be credited. The help of fellow artists, teachers and getting my work out for feedback has been just as crucial.

- Gnomon - Jameys Gurney's Books - FZD - CTRL Paint - ZBrush Central - ConceptArt.org - 
 - CGMA - Google! -

This post is done now. Bye.

Friday, September 20, 2013

One Person's Treasure is Another's Trash

 (This was painted from a collection of reference and subtle use of photo texture for the trash piles and overall texture of the image. Pieces like this are more relaxing as they are more abstract and more about the creative flow. Although the subject matter isn't relaxing it leads to positive mental friction.)

     One day, there is a good chance that wonderful, very expensive phone in your pocket will just be another target for the modern day game of kick the can. Maybe not, I'm guessing when trashed it is taken apart and distributed to both legal and illegal e-waste dumps. At the very least part of it will be kicked by somebody at some point and it will be more or less worthless. In other words, it will soon match the value of a lot of content pushed out through the device.
     It is tragic to look at photos of communities living in poverty, yet they are surrounded by skeletons of the technology that brings a better life people across the globe. E-Waste is a rising health and environmental problem and to no surprise it primarily effects Africa, China and India.

(These are some images that inspired the painting. It just struck me as something that is worth painting. Outside of production and entertainment art, I am finding myself searching out subject matters that fly under the radar. There may be some value keeping these realities in the back of one's head.)

        That said there is no way of completely removing yourself from this system. The reality is many of us are born into fortunate circumstances just as many are born into unfortunate circumstances. The very least we can do is to try and show some awareness and operate with efficiency in our everyday lives.If we keep certain realities in mind it will help promote better living unless of course, you are a scumbag looking to take advantage of people's misfortune.
       It would be nice if we didn't replace perfectly good phone every year because the apple thingy comes out with a new version that takes better selfies and has gold trim. The problem with the world's systems boil down to the problems with us humans as individuals. Maybe overtime if we try to improve the way we operate and think as individuals it will manifest in our larger networks of activity. 

      I believe Billy Bush once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world". Did I get that right? Yeah it was definitely Billy Bush.

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Coming to A Pirate Cove Near You

 (Traces of an environment help build the character more than if it was just standing in an abyss of white space.)

       I had a back story for this character while working on it which helped. Below is an example of a decent but not full character back story I like to have when working on a character:

      The alien migrated to earth from a distance planet and found refuge in the pirate communities of Somalia. Through ruthless tactics and it's natural physical advantage over most humans, it soon rose to power as a infamous crime boss. Often in hiding, it occasionally takes it's hyenas for strolls around the shanty towns, picking victims at random as a ruthless display of power.  Although the rumors it's incredible acts of brutality are believed, no one has ever seen it take action with their own eyes.
       There are occasional whispers that it is in fact not an alien, but a human in a disguise using the alien image to strike the fear of the unknown in people. No one has ever scene it with out it's retro fitted breathing apparatus or ragged clothing hiding most of it's body. Basically it is mysterious as shit and terrifies people.

     This was just a personal piece that is an offshoot of another concept I was working on. I didn't push the rendering as far or even develop the narrative behind it as far as I usually would. This as usual is due to having to squeeze in time between work. It was fun and helped in planning character concepts that reveal a bit of the environment which helps build the narrative.
      If I gave myself more time I would have designed the background elements a little better. This would have really come to life if I populated the street with more foot traffic, peppering in some aliens. The vehicle in the back also could have been a little more fleshed out and numerous. The color pallet was a bit of a step back for me, it is an overall improvement but it could use a little more flare. One last thing I would have done different, REFERENCE! I can be stubborn and need to be better about gathering extensive reference for specific pieces of the concept.

(This study/concept was a victim of a busy schedule. I picked at this for only 30 -40 minutes at a time days to far apart. That is no way to work on something. A lot of good energy fizzled out effecting the final piece.)

    It has been awhile since the last post. I have been working on a lot of 2D pieces as well and picking 3D back up to gear up in that area again. So that said, this month will have a good amount of updates from a bag log of work. Goodbye.