Thursday, 30 August 2012

Early Halloween

Yes, I know it's still only August, but I felt compelled to doodle a cartoon pumpkin holding a scythe yesterday. As you do. So I thought I'd quickly run through my process from taking a hand drawn picture through to a digital piece of art.

First of all, I drew the pumpkin in pencil, and outlined it using a 0.4mm black fine liner. I took a photo of it using my camera phone and emailed it to myself.

It's a bit dark and I need to be able to see the lines to trace them, so I used both the Levels and Brightness/Contrast command to tidy up the picture a little. Doesn't that look better?

Now I place this into Illustrator (on a locked layer) and I use the Pen Tool to trace around each of the shapes. I keep each thing on a separate layer, so the scythe is below the hands layer, and the feet are below the body layer, and so on. It gives much cleaner lines than trying to work with my original pen lines!

I use Illustrator to block fill each shape with flat colours. This gives me a solid base to work on when I get onto the next step.

Now I take it into Photoshop and create a new 'shading' layer for each part of the pumpkin. Using a soft round brush at around 40% opacity, I add highlights and shadows by choosing lighter and darker shades of the flat colours. As a finishing touch, I applied a radial gradient to the background, and added a shadow beneath the pumpkin. I also used a canvas texture on a separate layer to add some punch to the piece. I also added a border with rounded corners, and a copyright notice.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Paintings 01

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to take up some form of painting again. It's been years since I did any proper painting, not since my art A Level, in fact, aside from some low level digital painting. I knew I wanted to try to master digital painting, but I also wanted to try a more traditional form. I was torn between oils and watercolours - I'd done oils at school but knew they were both messy and expensive, while watercolours were far more readily available. So far, I've just really been practicing with washes, colour mixing, and different techniques, but I did want to try and paint something recognisable, instead of just page after page of meaningless colour. This was one of my first attempts.

It was really rather simple. I began with a graded blue wash, simply adding more water to dilute the colour, to make the sky lighter as it approached the horizon, and then dried my brush in order to apply the blue paint for the water using the dry brush technique. The resulting white patches among the lines resemble light on water.

Once the sky and water were dry, I then used a much finer brush to sketch in the boat using dark brown. When it was dry, I added another layer to give a shadow and sense of depth to the hull and mast. Again I used the dry brush technique to add a reflection in the water.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with it - it's not exactly going to blow the minds of the art world but it's simple and recognisable!

As for my attempts at digital painting, I loaded up Photoshop CS5, plugged in a Wacom Bamboo, and had a go.

I started off by actually tracing the tree outline from a photograph, and just added shadow by going over the areas several times. Then I created several background layers, altered different brush settings in the Wet Media brush set, and created a graded sky by sampling colours from a photograph of a sunset. I was quite pleased with the stipling on the grass, and the blending of the sky, although the white cloud effect doesn't work. All in all, I think I may give digital painting another go!