Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tweaks

Among other things, I made more tweaks on that cover picture tonight. I also laid down some color which looked just awful. Decreasing the opacity helped a bit, but it was a very slap-dash job anyway, just to see what it might look like.



I also did some more rough sketches. Some are OK, some not so good. I'm up to episode 8, plus the front for episode 10. That makes seventeen sketches out of 36.

Unfortunately, I'm going to be away from my tablet for more than a week, and after that I won't have so much time to draw again. Sigh. Maybe I'll get some writing done.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SFW?



With a bit more cleanup of the lines in her pants, I think I'll call this the "clean pencils" version. It's a long, slow process, even when it's going well. It doesn't help that I spent an hour or so looking for references for clothes that I didn't end up using.

Fun, though. Did I mention fun?

I'm hoping to add a fair bit of background texture in the color. (Hoping is the operative word, here.) But for now I think I'll do some more loose sketches for the rest of the covers. After all, I've only got ten of the thirty six covers even sketched yet!

Hmm

It occurs to me that all this (near) nudity is making my blog NSFW.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It Does Get Easier

At least, it seems to have been easier to do some things today. I redid the concept for one of those cover illustrations I posted earlier, did a bit of editing on another, and then did the set for episode four. Here's the back, with boobie protection:



Here I will take the opportunity to explain two things: Why do I have boobie protection, and why do I need it in the first place (i.e. why is she nekked)?

The reason I cover up breasts is because I'm a little worried that I might run afoul of photobucket's terms of service. I'm only a little worried. I expect illustrations are given a bit of leeway, and I expect far more provocative stuff is left untouched on the service, but still, somebody might complain and then it would be an enourmous pain to put all my pictures somewhere else. (Funny thing is, I'm not worried about, um, between the legs, because I'm not drawing with any detail there. If I was drawing a male figure, and decided to go all out, I might need some crotch protection, too.)

Now, why is she naked? No, she's not going to be naked in the final picture. I would be lying if I denied that there is a certain... frisson in drawing ladies with no clothes on, but really that's just something to keep me interested. I draw figures naked first so that I can be (relatively) sure the anatomy is correct before I cover it with clothes. The best judge I have available of whether a figure is correct or not is my own eye. My eye is better at confirming than my hand or mind is at coming up with things in the first place, and so I spend a lot of time scribbling and re-scribbling while I try to find something that looks right.

Speaking of looking right, I'm not 100% happy with that picture at the moment. Something about her arms and hands, I think. Probably I'll see it next time I look at it.

Merry Christmas

My wife and children are in Japan, actually, and I'll be joining them for the new year. I already opened my presents a while ago. So for Christmas I sat around in my pajamas and drew pictures.

Most of today was spent struggling with Linda's model sheet. It took me far, far too long, but I did manage to draw something that I'm reasonably happy with, for now.

After that, I started doodling concepts for "covers," front and back, for each episode of Sweet Moonlight. Here are the first three sets (some doodled today, and some drawn earlier):



Whee! I wonder when I will finish any of them...

I had a great time drawing those pictures. For one thing, I wasn't worried about getting things exactly right, so I drew quick and loose. It's also a lot of fun to finally start producing some of those images I've had knocking around in my head for a year or more.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Inebriation (Edit)



No, she's not inebriated. I was, when I posted first. However, a post which basically says "I'm drunk" is even less interesting than my usual posts, so here I am editing it.

This picture is quite possibly the first time I have ever been able to draw the same character twice to my satisfaction. It didn't come without a lot of struggle-- about four hours worth of false starts, actually. I'm hoping that it gets easier with practice. Today, I'll see if I can draw her a third time.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Retry

So sometimes you just have to say, screw anatomy, I'm just gonna draw some pictures.



Maybe something will work...



And you might just get the boobies, I mean picture, you were trying to get in the first place.



I'm pretty happy right now, because (not to interfere with the images that any other person has of the character) that is awfully close to how I always pictured Linda, from my long running and soon-to-be-restarted serial on the Dead Channel, as looking. With clothes, of course. Usually.

I'll probably end up changing stuff again before I'm finished, and in a month or two I won't like it as much, but for now, I'm pleased, if not satisfied. It does seem that inspiration is a matter of sitting down and working until it comes. Waiting doesn't get you anywhere.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

F'king Feet!



Lately I've been trying harder than ever to work on anatomy. This makes figure drawing from imagination, without a good reference, at best nerve-wracking, and at worst an exercise in frustration. And yet, I persist in doing it. Why?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stop



Stop it with the race queen already. So, I'm going to try to get back to my other projects now, or maybe try something else at least.

I Had a Bunch of Stuff

I had a bunch of stuff I was planning to do tonight, but instead I got sucked into cleaning up the line work of that last, self-indulgent picture.



And then, of course, I had to take another stab at coloring it. I couldn't just leave those places I had changed with mismatched colors! And once I started doing that...



Well, I stopped before I finished the colors, but it does at least look a bit like what I was planning on drawing when I started.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Self Indulgence

After that ugly painting during the day, I indulged myself in the evening. And you know what that means, don't you? Yes. More pictures of girls.

First, a sketch (if something that takes two or three hours can be called a sketch), of a "race queen" (ladies whose job it is to look appealing at car shows and such, usually in skimpy outfits, e.g. the one shown here):



And then, some color:



If I cleaned up the line art the color would probably look better, but I'm too lazy right now.

Paint Something Saturday 2



Another thing painted on a Saturday. I think I'm learning stuff, but God that's ugly.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

D-Link DSM 320RD

I'd like to post a review of this device on one of those sites which review these kind of things, but a casual Google didn't reveal any review-able entries for this particular one. So, here we are.

The D-Link DSM 320RD is a cheap (for the type of device) networked media player. This is a box that connects to your TV like a VCR or DVD player, and also connects to your computer through your home network (You do have a home network don't you?), allowing you to play video or music, or even display pictures, that you have on your computer. It has wireless 802.11g support (plus ordinary Ethernet), and also has a built in DVD player and a 5-in-1 card reader.

After considering some of the reviews of the DSM 320 (the one without the DVD player and card reader), I decided not to install the included media server software, and installed TVersity instead. It's beta software, but it's free, and it worked pretty well right out of the box. I have a couple of minor issues with TVersity:

  • The menus are a bit funny. They tend to stick open when you click on other windows instead of closing like normal menus.

  • When I recreated my media library because I had rearranged things, it took forever, much longer than the initial creation did.


Aside from this, I have no complaints with the media server software.

Configuring the DSM was not a simple plug-and-play dream, but it did work the first time through with no major hangups. The only problem I had was with the unclear user interface. When there is a list of options on the screen it is a bit hard to tell that the list is selected, and you need to select the list, then hit enter to go into the list, select the item, and hit enter again. I was stuck for a couple of minutes at the SSID (wireless network) selection screen because of this, before I figured it out. But anyway, it was up and connected to the media server pretty quickly.

So, the good news: The DSM plays many different formats of video and audio, including Ogg Vorbis audio and DivX video. It can also play these formats stored as files on a DVD. The picture quality was great. It downloads new firmware fairly automatically with support for new codecs and (presumably) bug fixes. It is exactly the device I needed to get my wife off the computer.

These are the reasons why I probably won't be returning it. However, now I'll talk about the reasons why this is a near thing. Basically, the thing still seems to be in beta (current firmware is 1.04 for the 320RD, it seems, although I haven't downloaded it yet).

  • Startup is very slow. Press the on button and (most of the time) the blue light on the panel comes on. Some fifteen or twenty seconds later the display says "WELCOME", and then the TV display comes on, displaying the "Connecting to network" message.

  • There are problems with video stuttering. It's not consistent, and it seems to get worse the more things you watch between reboots. Video files will start showing static frames while the sound drops in and out, or you may see sound and video go out of sync for a while, and then the video speeds up to catch up. As I kept trying and retrying this, the problem got completely unbearable. Then, after resetting the machine and media server, it went away completely for the first video I played. The second video had a few small, fairly unobtrusive, stutters. I suspected it was a network bandwidth problem, and that might be it (playing from a DVD seemed to be much better). However, and much worse, something similar even happens with DVDs, although it is much less pronounced. This is the thing that I'll be watching over the next little while. If I see this again with DVD play, this machine may be going back to the store after all. I have a DVD player which cost one fifth as much, and it doesn't stutter.

  • If you accidentally hit the DVD button on the initial screen without a DVD in the player, the thing locks up. It may need to be unplugged to get it going again.

  • From time to time the system seems to get stuck while navigating menus or trying to start a video. Usually it comes out of it after a while, but it is very annoying.

  • The remote buttons are a bit touchy, and the thing feels flimsy. The layout is pretty unintuitive, and the labels for buttons are far too small.

  • There are two modes for searching through video: either you can fast-forward and reverse, or you can jump to a specific time you enter with the keypad. Unfortunately, you need to switch between these modes using an option buried deep under the setup menu. Also, fast forward is rather slow, at least on video from the media server. Jumping works better, but you need to have some idea what time you are aiming for. Making it possible to use fast-forward or search without changing modes (they're different buttons!), and having the option of a slider type of interface for selecting the time would be perfect, and not that hard to implement, I expect. Maybe in version 3.0.


Anyway, I'm keeping the machine because it does perform the tasks I needed performed: show video in many formats over a wireless network and from DVD, and it works well when it works. However, it is so flaky that only a determined early adopter like myself could put up with it. I half expect my wife to destroy it within a month. If you are in the market for a similar device and you are anything less than a tight-fisted uber-nerd, you should probably get something else.

Monday, December 11, 2006

How Long

How long must this go on... About a month, maybe?



Anyway, enough of listening to advice. I struggled for ages trying to get those hips right, and ended up with something not all that different from what I started with. Her hips are fine. (Until I decide they're not.)

(Actually, I'll still listen to your advice.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bridgman's Method: Construction of the Head



In George Bridgman's book Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life there is a method for constructing the head (you know, figuring out where to place the features and stuff using guidelines and landmarks) which seemed pretty weird at first. I felt a bit skeptical of its value, but I tried it out and it... well, works. This may not be the best portrait (from imagination) I've ever done, but it was fast and things just seemed to fall in place. Let's hear it for classic texts.

Paint Something Saturday



So, my idea was to start taking an hour or so on Saturday mornings before my wife gets up, and paint something in the room. This is my first, somewhat disappointing try. Of course, the point is to learn, so it only makes sense that it starts out unsatisfactory.

I ended up spending most of the time on the initial sketch, trying to make sure the shapes and perspective were right (which may have been a waste of time, judging from the results).

We'll see how long I can keep this up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Proportions



In response to Tim's comment on the last post I went and traced a semi-random photograph of a real person in a similar position scaled to the appropriate size. The angles are slightly different, of course, but mostly everything seems to be in place. That hip line might have been a bit high, so out with that. Maybe I should have more confidence in my sense of proportions. Or maybe I'm being stupid and still not seeing something obvious.

Bellybutton too low, maybe?

Lines

Trying to clean up the line work.



Better, but still not good enough. I will try to go through with this picture (because there's stuff I want to try out in the color, and that last colored version was a mistake). I guess it's good that I keep running up against my limits. Maybe that means I'm pushing them. It seems to be a learning experience, anyway.

Jeez, I gotta fix that hand though.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Standards

I quote:

The point is, you must hold yourself up to the highest measure and accept the harshest criticism and you must always come back for more. And you better come back with something new every time.


Yes.

This is why I keep going back to my stuff and saying, while it might not be really, really awful, it is nowhere near what I would call good. High standards. Middleton level standards. If I could draw half as well as that ... guy, then maybe I would have reason to be happy. Until then, I am sticking to the position that I suck.

That's kind of the reason why I hesitate to comment on artists' blogs sometimes. The blogs I visit are generally good, but, you know, sometimes I find myself thinking how they could be better. It's not my place to tell these people what I don't like on their blogs, especially since I suck so much more badly than any of them, but I still end up thinking it. A lot of these blogs end up with a lot of compliments. Deserved compliments, yes, but I often can't join in. I don't want to sound like a goddamn wet rag and pretentious twit criticizing his betters, and I'm sure these people get lots of frank criticism elsewhere (most of them do art for a living, after all).

Cruise on over to Joshua Middleton's site and see some real skill. Jaw dropping skill. I want those clear lines and smooth colors, dammit. I don't want to be messy all the time! (But I know that right now, if I tried, I would take three thousand years to produce a boring, stiff picture, and the colors would still suck.)

Oh yeah, I also want to be able to paint like J. C. Leyendecker. Is that asking a lot?

The point is, I suck now, so that means I can keep getting better, right?

Bloody optimists.

Whoops



Sat in front of the computer for too long again. I was trying to solve some compositional issues, but I couldn't stay away from trying out some color.

Don't look at the perspective though. It's gone all wonky.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Digging Down

So, I thought, "What would be the most embarrassing thing I could do to myself with my blog?" Then I thought, "Well, no, I'm not going to do that, so how about the second most?"

"Aha," I said, "Post my old attempts at drawing a comic book."

Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for me, I don't have it with me. It may, in fact, have been thrown out at some point. So instead, as a consolation prize, here are three pictures drawn about fifteen years ago, during my earlier flirtation with art. At the time, I thought these were pretty good. Right now I think they're... well, aside from being copies of comic book covers for the most part, they're not all that awful. (The girl is not a copy, and she is the worst.)

I'm happy that my current regular level is pretty much as good as my old peak performance (or so I think). That's encouraging. You can also see how deeply engrained my bad habits are.

Sorry about the image quality. These are very poor scans of faint pencil drawings on discoloured old paper. I played with the levels to try and get good contrast, but it didn't make them look very pretty.





Politics?



More dogged pursuit of an idea. Probably not all that good an idea either. Sharing unfinished or unsatisfactory work is a bit disheartening sometimes, but I like it when other (good) artists do it, so I figure people who come here might also like to see the struggles and, yes, failures.

Sometimes I get to a point in a picture where, while it seems to be going OK, I can feel it all about to fall apart. Of course, that also happens to me when I play board games or anything else I have an emotional investment in. So right now, I'm feeling kind of meh about the whole thing, but I've still got that little spark of optimism that keeps me thinking, "maybe I'll be able to pull it off this time."

Maybe. We'll see.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Prelim



One part of a sketch I did tonight. I have this idea I wanted to see if I could draw. Things aren't coming out exactly as I imagined, but I'm having fun anyway.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rapid and Repetitive



A very sketchy sketch of that same model, again with the same resemblance to other sketches of that model, but not resembling the model herself. I must have some sort of eye problem, I think.

Still, if you zoom out a lot and squint, some of this sketch almost looks OK.

Why do I keep drawing this model? Well, I think she's pretty, for one thing, in a way that isn't boring. Nice smile. (Again, obviously the resemblance of my pictures to her is not that good.) And I've got a bunch of photographs of her which have somewhat interesting lighting or composition. It's a nice combination for practice.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why I'm Not Updating

Because I have lots of work to do, my parents are visiting, and Nanowrimo is going terribly. I should be back next month.

In the meantime, here's a picture I did some time ago. It doesn't really fit the character it's supposed to be a picture of, but it is a not-too-terrible picture, at least.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nanowrimo Extract 1

I would put this up on the Nanowrimo site, but I think it's on fire at the moment. I already expect to revise this heavily... in December.

White light, the color of innocence, the light of the dawn. White skin not yet darkened by the sun. She ran between the tree trunks, her feet leaving blue pools of shadow cut in the snow, her coat sweeping a wake behind her. She twirled and jumped, sticking out her tongue to catch the glittering dust falling from the branches overhead.

“We can’t stay long. You’ll catch a chill.” The nurse moved at a more sedate pace, picking her way carefully along the path. Her long coat of deep blue drank in the light. The gold threads on the cuffs and collar glowed with it.

The girl made a defiant face and bent to dip her hands, safely encased in mittens, into a smooth hill of white. She began to gather and press, but the air was too cold. Her sculptures collapsed into formless heaps before she could complete them. The nurse smiled indulgence. No harm done yet, and no need to assert her authority. She glanced behind, to the trail of their footsteps leading back to the gate, and the tower rising behind that. Her eyes were drawn inevitably to one certain window.

In the room lit by that window, the nurse knew, lay a woman. The woman was the girl’s mother, and she did not look out over the field to see her daughter play in the winter snow. She had not risen from the bed for many days. She lay there, on her bed, and waited for the black wings to come and take her.

The girl did not know. It was better that she did not know. A child should not be burdened so, not so young. That was the Lady’s will.

The nurse returned to watching her charge, and so she saw the visitor’s carriage emerge from the wood.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Next

And so I start on the next thing. We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

So Yeah...

I stopped there, pretty much.



On to the next picture.

Continuing Where We Left Off...



Not all that much has changed, but I'm seriously thinking about stopping. I don't think I'll learn much more by destroying this passable effort with more brush strokes. Maybe I could do more detail in the background. I'll think about it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Painter in Progress



Another attempt at Corel Painter. This isn't finished, but I'm almost tempted to leave it at this point. I have a foreboding that anything I do from here on is just going to make it worse. (Insert smiley face.)

I have an excuse, you know. Not only am I trying to teach myself how to paint with this piece of software. I'm trying to teach myself how to paint, period.

It's fun, really, now that I'm coming out of my latest slump. Very engrossing. Too engrossing, sometimes, since I end up painting until all hours in the morning.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Model



Yes, the same old subject (but a different woman). Tonight's theme was, "Draw faster, and enjoy yourself more." I need to start drawing other things though. Maybe cars or buildings or trees or something.

Sooner or later I will also have to go back to painting practice, too. So many areas that need work...

Critical



A doodle, more or less, done from imagination in a bit less than an hour. I'm not posting this because I'm particularly proud of it (I'm not), but because, looking at it and comparing it to old pictures I have posted here and elsewhere, I could see how it was relatively good. I looked at old pictures and found very little I liked, and some stuff so bad I had to delete it. I forced myself to keep some pictures just so I could remind myself from time to time that I am improving, it's just that my criticism of my own skills increases as fast, if not faster, than the skills themselves.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Guh



Feeling uninspired.

Funny that one. It's the same model as my Corel Painter experiment below, and I think the two pictures have a resemblance to each other. In fact, the pictures resemble each other more than they resemble the model, I think.

Time for bed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Nanowrimo

So, in a bout of foolish optimism I signed up for Nanowrimo, the "National Novel Writing Month". I'm not certain which nation, exactly, it is national of. I am, however, fairly certain of one thing: I'm not going to be able to participate in anything but a feeble parody of novel writing. But hey, it's really easy to sign up.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sometimes you Steal

Only for practice, but this picture is based, loosely, on a picture by Craig Mullins (see his Goodbrush site in the links on the right). I've been feeling particularly incompetent lately, and this semi-copy was the only thing I did tonight that I liked enough to keep.



I hate it when I get stalled like this. Sometimes it feels like I'll never get any better.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Corel Painter Essentials



I have been avoiding using this program. I found it intimidating, actually, because I was never really any good at painting. On the other hand, I really wanted to try some more natural looking effects, so tonight I dived in and tried it out. There you go. My first picture in painter. It's not as bad as I was worried it would be. Not great, either, but it seemed to be easier to get colors and a nice looking stroke than it is in Photoshop. I will be playing with this again, I think.

The picture, by the way, was from a photo (again), but it drifted off a bit.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Painting is Hard

Even digital painting. I doubt I'll ever be able to get a picture I really like out of this, but at least I'm getting a lot of experimentation done.



No picking colors off the reference this time, but actually I think the figure colors are too close to the reference in some ways. I don't want him to be as pink as he is, and I want more depth.

The background will need a lot of messing with, too.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hand Studies and Cheating

A few hand sketches, because hands are fricken fracken hard.



And this is cheating. I picked colors off a photo, which is why the colors are close to right. But it does show that small brushes with no mixing can work, although I'm making that hard to see by only giving the small version here.



(Yes, it is the same catalog picture from earlier. So sue me, I like the look of the model.)

I still have a lot of work to do before I can get colors to work reliably when mixing them myself. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Headshot, Backdrop, Figure Sketch

Three more pictures to pick apart.



This was a head-shot done from a photograph which cut off the tip of this man's nose and the left side of his head (his left, our right). I tried to be very, very careful to get everything placed correctly, and in the end it still doesn't look much like him. Still, I like the picture, especially the squinty sort of cowboy look. But the part I really like best is his ear.



A background, actually from the same picture as that head above. I'm painting the background first, modifying a few things (especially the colors, and I'm not sure that's gone so well). Still needs a lot of sharpening up, and I should really fix the perspective on those posters.

What I'm most happy about is that I managed to get some fairly nice effects with light on the floor, and not totally mess it up. The thing that I most want to improve is the contrast of the darkness in the hall with the light at the end and in the foreground.



A figure sketch done last night, in about an hour (obviously not from life!) I actually don't have much to say about it, except that it seemed like good practice, and I wish I could find the time to take some figure classes to do this from life.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Models

A couple of pictures of models from old catalogs.





What I was trying to learn, aside from just practice: 1) Attention to detail, 2) Improving my line quality.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Possibly Offensive

This picture is hard to explain if you don't know the background. OK, maybe not that hard. The basic concept is in the pinup tradition, plus the "Japanese high-school girl" tradition... That's a tradition, right? ... Is there a girls with guns tradition? I think there might be. Anyway, the point is that although I'm not against pinups and all that stuff, (Honestly, I do think school uniforms can be pretty hot... Oops, did I say that out loud?) this picture isn't some kind of literal fantasy. It is a bit of a joke, building on a bit of another joke, until things like Hello Kitty emblems take on a whole new significance. And no, I'm not going to explain it more than that, because what I really wanted to talk about was my approach to the picture and how I feel about it.



This is a return to line art style, but trying to be relatively clean. The most obvious change is probably that I avoided shading where possible, instead outlining the shadow areas. I'm considering coloring it later, and shading in the line art gets in the way there. Even without color, though, I do like the style of using outlines to indicate shading.

Aside from just wanting to do the picture, I also wanted to complete it quickly, in one night. In all, including finding references, it took a very long night, but I did finish it. If I'd had more time, I think I would have fixed a few mistakes, but I also think that splitting things up over multiple sessions can make a picture lose something.

The figures, except for the backward facing man, were posed with references (from fashion catalogs, as I think is obvious), but just sketched to catch the poses and work out difficult areas (the legs, the legs, the legs-- thanks to The Temple of the Seven Golden Camels for some tips on that and other things). The sketches were moved around and scaled a bit to fit together the composition, then they were fleshed out. A few positions were changed from the reference poses, and the faces and clothes were drawn from imagination, which shows a little, particularly in the clothes. I was pleased that I could do it this well. Drawing figures was something I had neglected for a long time, and drawing a group shot (even one with as little interaction as this one) is not something I feel up to doing very often. A couple of times in the sketching process I got frustrated, but persistence does pay off, if not with a perfect drawing, at least with something.

Ah, about the composition, that's one of the places where I'm not all that pleased. I have a feeling that it could be better.

Funny, but I seem to recall being able to draw this well in high-school. On the other hand, up until last year I was convinced that I could draw reasonably well. It took some trying to draw specific things and comparing to the work of real artists to see just how bad I was. If I dug out any of those old drawings I have a feeling I might be able to see flaws now that I couldn't see then. No doubt the same will happen with this picture.

One major thing I would have done differently for this picture, if I was going to do it again, is create a background. I'm thinking a background would help tie the picture together better (see the "Tips and Tricks" page from The Comic Strip Artist's Kit, also from the Temple of the Seven Golden Camels, for example).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Messy



Back to the messy sketch style. Crufty, but it was quick and easy.

I need to practice drawing figures for a while.

Good News and Bad News



The good news is, new picture. The colors worked OK, maybe kinda' a little, although I still haven't managed to get much pop. I avoided some of the washing out by mixing less, and picking from a swatch of colors I had mixed elsewhere on the canvas instead of from the picture I was drawing. It seems to help keep the colors distinct, and avoid the gray, even if I'm still far from the vibrancy I want.

The bad news is, it doesn't look anything much like the original subject (again!). Later I think I'll going to do a comparison and try to figure out what I got wrong.

Here's the original. He's the one on the right. Damn embarrassing that I can't even copy a photo better than that.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blue and Yellow Make...

Yesterday, or was it the day before? Anyway, recently I lamented that all the colors in my pictures look washed out. Well, it turns out this is not a unique problem. Take a look at this page, and this one, particularly this quote:

Even if you hand pick and paint every color in your image, if you rely only on the luminosity slider, you'll have the same problems. You see this luminosity slider reliance a lot, especially in the skin tones of the work of beginning painters.


Bam! Hit the nail on the head there, friend. I'm not using the luminosity slider, but I am using opacity mixing a lot, and I'm getting dull grays when I mix. The solution, then, is to pick the correct color between the two I'm trying to mix and add that in, instead of over-mixing everything. Looks like I'm going to be experimenting with the color picker for a while...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Watching a Trainwreck

First of a series, I suspect.



This is a picture which, well, sucks. I don't think any of the pictures I post here are really outstanding. Frankly, they range from rather bad to OK, and this one is on the bad end of the scale. It does at least look vaguely like a guy in a suit, but otherwise there's not much to recommend it.

There were many things I did wrong here, so let's go over a few points. (This is mostly me talking to future-me, which is pretty appropriate, seeing as pretty much nobody reads this blog anyway.)

1. Back to front, dark to light, big to small. I plastered in the background after outlining the figure, which makes it harder.

2. Checking proportions. That head is too big, and it looks to me like there's too much space between his brow and his hairline. His legs are too short, too.

3. Colors. Washed out colors. I had a really hard time getting flesh tones for this one, as you might be able to tell in the video. The tones I ended up with are not good. There simply isn't enough definition. I think I need to remember to get a good midtone, highlight and shadow value before progressing. I also really, really need to figure out how to get deeper and more vibrant color in general. All of my pictures, even the realtively good ones, are washed out.

Even though it was painful, there were also some fun things that happened with this picture, although it may not be apparent. Initially I played around with drawing the features using a big brush, letting the difference between one brush stroke and another define smaller things. It did work in some interesting ways in some places. I also had fun with the folds in his pants and shirt. I'll probably look back on those too some day and feel ill, but for now it was a bright point in an otherwise rather disheartening exercise.

I expect I will be coming back to that picture, starting from scratch.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Sense of Scale



So, what I'm liking about my recent pictures is that I seem to finally be getting where I can scale them. A lot of my older pictures (and by older I mean a few months ago) turn really ugly when you start shrinking them. I'm not talking about issues with detail being lost or cruddy algorithms which don't anti-alias. I'm talking about mistakes that reveal themselves when you back up: a face that looks fairly reasonable close up suddenly has a completely wrong shape when you back away, that sort of thing. Seeing that my pictures have fewer of those problems recently is a real source of encouragement.

I'm particularly happy that my pictures without references (the one from the Imagining Things post below, for example) are also showing this. Of course, in that case it's a procedural thing. That picture was started as a small sketch then blown up and re-drawn at the larger scale. It definitely helped.

Still, progress. There may be hope.

... I'm such an optimist.