Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Character Studies For An E. A. Poe Story

I am an illustrator. The title includes being able to do a lot of other things that have become a specialization. The title of character designer has become one of those specializations but if one is illustrating a story character design is one of the preliminary steps in finishing a project. Of course you have to design the character and it must be consistent through out the story. The more drawings or paintings you have to do for a particular project the more important this becomes.

As a personal project I wanted to illustrate some of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories. I am starting with The Tell Tale Heart. Just two characters I have to flesh out (plus some minor characters) and I've nearly filled up a sketchbook trying to pin down what I think they should look like.

First problem is that I haven't decided if I'm going to make it sequential art or individual illustrations or maybe even motion graphics (limited animation). I am leaning towards comic panels.

Then I haven't decided if I should make them realistic or cartoony. As a cartoon I can exaggerate and be very expressive pushing beyond what it would appear like realistically. If I choose to do it realistically I think there is more of a connection or nearness that makes it seem more horrific and gritty and,I think, more of the stories original intent.

Here are a number of the sketches I did for the two main characters in the Tell Tale Heart. If you like to comment on what you think of the different versions please do so.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Perfect Palette For Gouache Paints

Long time ago I had purchased a palette that was ideal for my gouache paints. It was made by Grumbacher and the thing that was so great was that it kept the paints moist when I closed the lid. There was a sponge underneath the lid that kept the paints fresh. Unfortunately that little blue plastic palette was very fragile and the hinges on the lid always broke. I kept buying a new one whenever this happened until I could no longer find the palette anywhere.

For many years I searched for a good palette or that same palette but never found one or it until recently. Creative Mark makes a palette called the color miser. It is advertised for watercolors and acrylics and I find that it works well for gouache. It doesn't keep the gouache paint fresh as long as the Grumbacher palette did but it can stay moist for a week or two, maybe three.

I don't mind re-wetting a glob of dried paint but I cant stand it when I get little clumps in my palette that are all over the place and I have to match the clumps with the colors and put them back in their wells. The Color Miser saves me that trouble. It can be purchased at Jerry's Artarama for $29.99. While it's not as good as my old Grumbacher palette it comes in as a close second.

The paintings I've posted on here are made about a week apart from each other using paints I loaded on to the palette. The paint had stayed pretty moist throughout, only beginning to try up by the third week but still not breaking up into little clumps.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

First Sketch On The Monoprice 22" Tablet

I've had this Monoprice 22" HD Tablet for about a month now but aside from testing it out on the different software I use I have not done ant serious work. I decided to do this sketch of a pirate using Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage to fully test out the tablet and pen.

The painting took about two hours to complete' The Tablet has worked just as well as my old Cintiq Tablet.

Here are the Sketchbook Pro version and the painting after touching it up in Artrage.

Below is a video from my YouTube channel discussing working on this painting, the tablet and using different software.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Illustration Assignments Done Using Sketchbook Pro

This is one of the type of illustration assignments I wished would come around more often. It was like illustrating an old pulp adventure story.

I used Sketchbook Pro through out. I was on a tight schedule to finish three illustrations in a short time so for the sake of speed and wanting the final illustrations to have a similar look I painted them digitally. The only thing is that I wished I had something other than a digital image for finished artwork.

The final printed image looks a bit washed out because of the paper that it was printed on. Something to keep in mind when I do another assignment for this publisher- keep the design and the color and values simple so that it reads better when printed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gouache Sketches on BFK Rives Printmaking Paper

These quick sketches were done before turning in for the day. I have a few sheets of BFK Rives print making paper saved from my college days. I used it for charcoal drawings back then and thought it should work really well with gouache, which it did. Very nice paper, takes wet washes and doesn't get warp also its very easy to build and blend the paint on this surface. A very nice painting experience.

I spent no more than two hours on each sketch.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New Graphic Tablet (Much Cheaper And Just As Good As A Cintiq)

Wacom Cintiq 12WX
A long time ago I made what was then an expensive but worth while purchase. A brand new 12Wx Wacom Cintiq. This tablet acted as a monitor and allowed me to draw directly on to the screen with a specialized pen as if I were working on paper. This was sometime before an Ipad and long before a Surface Pro was invented and worked better than either of them. The Cintiq made it very easy for me to learn how to use digital software. The only draw back was that I could only afford their smallest version, a 12 inch screen. As time went on and newer models were developed the price went up. There were Cintiq alternatives but none worked quite as well. Up until recently there was not a stylus that would work well with an an Ipad and I had no wish to do illustration work with just my finger. The Surface Pro was okay but did not work quite as well as a Cintiq. Both have made improvements though and I hear are a real challenge to Wacom's Cintiq but I had already purchased an earlier version of both and was not about to spend more money  on a continually developing product.

Then there is the issue of size. I wanted to work larger, if I was going to purchase another monitor it would have to be at least a 19 inch screen.

After finishing a couple of illustration assignments I had some extra money to spend and I started seriously researching Cintiq alternatives. I spent days looking at YouTube reviews and reading reviews on different tablets that were in the running for an inexpensive quality alternative. The biggest obstacle was that most, if not all models had issues with installing the drivers and that those drivers did not work with all Graphic software. Also unlike the Cintiq their pens were either battery operated or had to be recharged. There were also issues with the screen on some models. Either the resolution was on the low end or the screen would appear unclear depending on the angle its viewed.

There were some models that seemed okay except that I would always have to deal with the challenge of the drivers and a rechargeable pen.

Monoprice 22 inch HD Pen Display
Then I happened across a couple of reviews for the Monoprice 22 inch HD Pen Display. It was....

1- A large 22 inch HD screen. with no issues about angle of view or resolution.
2- There were no issues with the driver and it worked well with all the software I had- Sketchbook Pro, ArtRage, Manga Studio (Clip Studio), Mischief, Paint Tool Sai, Photoshop, Rebelle.
3- Even though the Amazon page said the pen was rechargeable the pen in fact did not need to be recharged. It worked just as well as the Wacom pen and was in fact similar in weight and size.
4- To top it off it was less than a third of the cost of a 22 inch Cintiq. The 22 inch HD Cintiq cost $1,799.95 and The Monoprice 22 inch HD cost $470.31 (you would of course have to figure out the tax but the shipping is free for items in this price range on Amazon). Even the 13 inch HD Cintiq cost more at $799.95!!!

When I finally got the display I set it up immediately and it worked as expected. Below is a YouTube video I made to demonstrate the monitor. I thought this was important to share for those who who wanted to buy a Cintiq but were put off by the price and especially to those who are used to working with traditional tools but would like to learn how to create art digitally. A tablet like this makes the transition much easier.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Convenience of Working Digitally

Having a nine to five means that there is less time in a day to get much work done 5 days out of the week. Yet I am determined to make everyday count. Because of this, unless I've already managed to start something that I can work on during the week, I do a lot of sketching between Monday and Friday. On the weekend is when I can get something started that I can work on everyday but If I have nothing going I sketch, hunting for an idea or just to practice in a particular medium.

Having a family life makes this doubly hard though. One of the things that has helped is being able to work digitally. The sketch above was done in Artrage. The approach I use to paint digitally is the same approach I would take in oils except that I can't always anticipate the brush stroke in Artrage, but it comes close.

Working digitally I don't have to worry about set up or clean up. I just sit in front of my computer and start. I much prefer working with traditional tools. They are worth all the bother of setting and cleaning up. Sometimes though it is difficult to find the time. If I didn't have the choice of working digitally I would have found another way but I am thankful for the convenience because the important thing is to do some work everyday.

The video bellow shows stroke for stoke how I worked on this painting (it is sped up- I can't actually work that fast of course). It is that same way I would have approached it if I were actually working in oils. There are flaws in the painting that if I would have cared to carry it further I would correct.