Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why Not Take A Photo?

(The cropped version is at the full working size for this picture, if you click through. I personally like that level, where you can see the brush strokes. YMMV.)

Why go through the effort of rendering a photo as a painting? (Especially a digital painting? Let's not go there today.) Well, aside from the pleasure of finding out that, yes, I can still do that, there are choices made by the hand and eye that are not made by a camera. I think the appeal of realistic art at least partially lies in the fact that each aspect of a painting, each reflection, highlight and shadow, had to be noticed. The artist has to go through the picture and sort out, at least subconsciously, how to place blobs of pigment to regenerate the picture. The picture is (if you're lucky) brought to some sense of the essence of how it is seen. Not simply reproduction, but concentration.

Or maybe I'm just making excuses to draw pictures of pretty ladies. I'm probably not the first one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not Really One

Not really one of those other things.

I thought, hey, maybe I should try a practice painting to do something different. Oh but first I need a sketch. An over-rendered sketch that I will have to check and correct over and over again because I'm really not that good at judging proportions correctly. Yeah, that's a great idea.

Monday, October 29, 2007


It was issue 212.

Tempted to give the image another try, but I have a lot of other things I want to work on.

The Algorithm

Today I read (again) Tim Akers' story "The Algorithm" in Interzone issue 213 (I think it was 213... maybe 212). I like the story, but I have to be honest, I didn't like the artwork. It was passable art (although really it looked a bit rushed, I thought). What I really didn't like, though, was that it seemed to give away too much of the story.

I suppose it could be argued that people won't know what the picture depicts until they get to that point in the story (I had read the story before I saw the artwork, so my opinion is suspect). But anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could quickly work up my image of a illustration for the story.

This is the result. I actually wanted to have the girl kissing or licking the cog, somehow making a more physical connection to it, but I couldn't get those images to work out. I also wanted her expression to be more... enigmatic... or threatening... or something. So, I'm not entirely happy with this image, but it's kinda OK, the day is over, and I've spent about four hours on this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Something to Do

A somewhat rushed picture done from a photo, to see if I could still do that after the frustration of the past few days.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Return of the Boobies

Still nothing. I just happened to draw (badly) a naked lady... with fat thighs. Sigh. I think I need to do some practice with life or photos to get out of this rut.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Got Nothing

So, last night was a couple of hours of trying, without a visit from inspiration. So it goes.

Here's one of the better(!) out of all the aborted tries.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Unseen

Sigh. Those colors looked better on the panel than they do on the CRT.

There are some pictures, a few, not that many really, that I scribble while working towards a concept, and never see the light of day. For good reason, really, as they generally have major problems. Still, it might be interesting, if you find that kind of thing interesting, which probably only I do, to try and connect this picture with later, more developed and hopefully better pictures that I might do. It won't be that hard, I bet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Magic Pop Up

OK, the lighting solution here is sub-optimal. I may need to add another light source or otherwise change things to make sure her face is clearer. Also, it's a bit muted. All those blues and grays. Comes from being restricted to night scenes, but I think I could mix it up a little.

Still, I take back everything bad I ever said about color. Light and shadow do wonders for the sense of depth in a picture. Maybe I won't be so impressed tomorrow, but it really seems to have added some pop. If only it will also work for the glass...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


OK, the glass is driving me slowly mad. That's another hour of "inking" there. I've turned down the opacity of that layer in this image to simulate the color choice I expect to make. I also fooled around with some color before posting this, but, as usual, my first color experiments were not pretty.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Small Test

Yeah, I think fooling with the color of the lines will do it. In fact, I may not need to reduce the contrast much at all. (I've gone a little too far in this test image, I think. And the line color is all purpley, too, at least on the CRT.)

Danger, Will Robinson!

So, what's happening here is that all those insane little pieces of glass are overwhelming everything and muddying up the picture. Now, I'm thinking it might be possible to deal with that in color. For example, the glass lines could be colored something low-contrast, to bring the figure back into focus. The other possibility I'm thinking about is cutting down on the size and number of fragments, maybe even restricting most of them to the right side of the picture. We'll see, which is one of the nice things about working in Photoshop.

Oh, and breaking glass is hard to draw.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bullets and Glass

Let me just say a couple of things. Stupid perspective. Stupid showers of fragmented glass.

The glass is roughed in here. I'll be going back over it with my OCD and trying to give the scene a nice frozen motion feel with lots of detail. Maybe I'll add some billowing curtains or something, with lots of complicated folds and stuff. Stupid ambition.

Double Bonus

And here is a couple of hours of progress on the "inks" for that second image.

Yet another Sweet Moonlight cover. This one for episode three, wherein the heroine (shown) is shot at (gunfire not yet inked), in a scene almost but not quite entirely unlike the picture shown.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Today, two sketches.

First, a warm up, drawn from photo reference fairly quickly.

Second, a rough for the "work" picture, which took much, much longer to get to this state. Part of it is there was no reference, of course, and the other part is, I didn't really know exactly what I wanted the picture to look like, so I ended up flailing about a lot.

Friday, October 19, 2007


120 minute drawing from a reference photo. As usual with an exercise, some things I like, and some things I wish I could fix. I'm getting better with values, I think, so this practice is doing what it was supposed to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When It Doesn't Work

Ouch. Keep trying.

I got some thumbnails done for what was going to be my October project, though. Now it's going to be my who-knows-when project, but I was sort of expecting that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Click through for right-sized image.

I was worried, probably rightly so, that I haven't done much drawing from imagination lately. So I started doodling, and, after many, many false starts, drew this. I like it, actually. It's not perfect or overwhelming or anything, but it is a nice little picture.

Why yes, I do draw pictures of Asian women to the near exclusion of everything else. Why do you ask?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Back Again

Back online, for now.

Come to think of it, maybe the original didn't have that much wrong with it (at my level). Anyway, a little bit of fiddling produced this, which isn't much different.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Withdrawal Symptoms

My internet connection at home is broken. Do not like.

Another picture drawn as an exercise last night. Some bits I like, but I've made her right arm too long from shoulder to elbow, I think. Makes it look a little wonky. Maybe I'll try and fix it later. Otherwise, though, a nice way to waste a couple of hours.

Today's educational moment: Humans don't have straight lines. They can be useful approximations, sometimes, but you'd be hard pressed to find a really straight line on a human body. The subtle curves can really make a difference, and they can be really hard to get right.

On the other hand, straightness can be visually useful, and it can show up in strange places.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Tightening other parts of the sketch. Correcting a few problems. Fidgeting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Two Steps Back

I'd been staring at this in-progress picture for a while, and finally decided that I needed to go back and tighten up the sketch. The faces involved weren't right. I couldn't trust myself to fix them after the fact. So, here I am back with the sketch I thought I had left behind.

Right now, I'm very happy I went back. This is feeling a lot better now. The people shown might even slightly resemble the people they're supposed to. But that would be crazy, wouldn't it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Real sketching with a real pencil and paper.

This is a fairly pathetic imitation of a drawing by Adam Ford, done as an exercise during lunch, yesterday.

That evening my wife was asleep on the couch, so I did what artists are supposed to do when unsuspecting family members fall asleep-- draw them.

It's a bit better than what I would have done a year or two ago, but still not a very good resemblance.

The pictures look a little better than they deserve, maybe, because I used Photoshop's "Auto Levels."


I may have worked through this. Maybe. Anyway, this one is a bit rougher than the others.

A bit more practice on light, and some interesting angles on shoulders.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Just One More

Not likely. I'll be doing more of these, I expect. I think I might be learning something.

But, I will get back to that painting shortly. And the writing, too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Evasion and Object Lesson

Another one of those strange pictures that I like better from a distance.

Obviously I should stop this "warmup" thing, or I'll never get the actual painting done.

Today's educational point: This was the first save, after (again) roughly 90 minutes, if I recall correctly. I continued to work on the picture for at least an hour after that, and, upon looking at the results, decided this was better. After a certain point, it's better to just stop (even though I'm not terribly happy about the picture either way).

Friday, October 05, 2007


This started out as a warmup, and ended up taking about 90 minutes or so.

I think it's part of my nervous avoidance of the next step with the painting below.

The educational part: The eraser is your friend. It can be one of the most useful general tools, I believe. It's not just for making mistakes disappear.

Color Variation

The flat panel display on the laptop I'm using gives things a blue cast, while the large CRT I have at work gives things a yellow-green cast (that changes as it warms up-- yipee). End result is, the background colors that I laid down last night using the panel look pretty horrible on the CRT. I'll be doing some correcting there.

I'd be fooling around with them anyway, no doubt, but just a note about the risks of painting for monitor display.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Say Goodbye

To the sketch. (Not really, since it's duplicated on another layer for reference.) This is the part where I start getting really nervous.

I may touch up the sketch a little, though, just to calm my nerves.


Click through for the right sized image. Actually, that's resized too, but resized in Photoshop. Now moving over to Painter.


Yet again Photoshop crashes at a very inopportune time, leading to stings of curses and an urge to throw the computer across the room.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Different Kind of Finally

Finally, maybe, hopefully, a sketch which I can get behind and get this picture done. I was going for a sort of western movie poster composition, centered on the lady. The easy way to make something look important: make it bigger than anything else!

The cowboy needs work, since he doesn't quite fit right (a bit pressed up against the side), but overall I quite like this. Here's hoping I can carry this one through, and it doesn't take a month like the last one.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Then Again

Who am I kidding. I'll keep tweaking it for a bit longer yet. But the tweaks are getting smaller.

Not much work done on any writing or art over the weekend, but I did receive my copy of Process Recess 2. Wonderful, and thoroughly intimidating.