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Monday, May 30, 2011

Stepping Out Of The Comfort Zone: CGHub Challenge WIP

Every now and then it's good to step out of your comfort zone when working as an artist. It helps to keep our work fresh but also forces us to continue to grow.

I've always loved science illustrations and biological studies of different species of creatures, yet when it comes time to creating art it isn't something that I regularly try to do. Sure, now and again I will sketch things like this but I've never really tried to render one out.

So I am going to try to make a fantasy creature called the Durosni, a current CGHub Challenge for Creature Planet. Specs have been given in consideration of the creature including environment, what it ought to look like, size, ect. From there I looked at some prehistoric creatures and started sketching, and once I came up with an Idea that I liked I started to do my process and coloring work.

This is all very rough at the moment, and I am working in Adobe Photoshop directly, comparing my hand drawn sketch in my sketchbook to what I am doing digitally. This is supposed to be an insect like creature that has probably recently evolved wings for flight, though they are also areal creatures that can fly I need to be able to demonstrate that. Insects have delicate wings, and since this species is supposed to live in the cold I had opted to give it bird wings at first. But in my sketches I changed over to bat like wings instead.

My reason for this was that the creature is supposed to by asymmetrical and there was also a note that it would be vertical rather than horizontal. With that information I figured that perhaps it would use it's near claw like appendages and prehensile like 'tail' to climb up tress or rocks. From there it would launch itself into the air....more evolved forms might be able to sustain flight for longer. I also liked this idea because if my creature hangs upside down like a bat it might look like a pod if it had it's wings wrapped around itself, to act as camouflage perhaps, the help it ambush it's prey.

One thing that has been a bit of a challenge is that it is also supposed to be able to ram opponents or perhaps even prey. I figured that perhaps it would hod it's front appendages stiffly before it like a deer would use it's antlers. I didn't want to make anything too bulky, which might limit it's ability to fly.

Anyways, a lot of thought had been put into this so far and I started late with the deadline being the first of June, and it is currently the 30th of May. So I'll see if I can get this one done in a day or so.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gears And Roses

And here it is, in it's complete glory....Gears and Roses was painted for the Elgin History Museum and will be one of 60 chairs featured in a charity auction this summer. I believe the chairs will be on exhibit at the Gail Borden Public Library where people can vote on their favorite chair designs. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Elgin History Museum

With my chair almost done I decided to give myself a break from painting since I am almost done, and go check out the Elgin History Museum for which I am painting my chair. I met with Mrs. Elizabeth Marston once at the Museum and she was kind enough not only to give me a tour of the museum and reveal a bit of history, but to show me a sneak peek at some exceptional posters not yet on display. 

A painting of what the Museum looked like before lightning struck

I learned a bit about the town which was pretty impressive. A lot of commerce and business took place in the area that I wasn't really aware of, taking into consideration that companies in the midwest could easily ship both east and west of the country. I also learned that the building was once a school, the current academy now resides in a building next to the museum.

While there is some stuff about the Native Americans in the area and a few other things about Elgin I wanted to focus on the watch company that used to exist in Elgin. There are a lot of artifacts about the time pieces that I thought was really nice, including mock up areas of what work benches looked like as well as a rather nice collection of all sorts of watches. 

The case of wind up keys caught my eye right away. I haven't seen too many wind up keys for watches and had no idea that they had to be wound up daily back then. 

And one of the many beautiful watches on display along with it's key. I found it to be highly useful to see the watches in particular and noticed that I painted the face on the wrong side of the watch my pin-up is holding in her hand. Something I will fix today. 


I also found out that while the watch company made the watches they didn't make the cases. Instead they would work along with jewelers who would then create the case for the watches, much like they made cases for make up and other compacts. And.....

Mortar rounds as well.....who would have thought?

And finally on my way out the door I noticed these little brooches made from watch parts....I thought they were charmingly steampunk and had to share it. Anyways, I have yet to finish my chair, and fix the watch my gal is holding! TTYL!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Elgin Historical Soceity: Charity Chair WIP Painting III

I'm almost through painting my chair by now, having finished the seat and back and moved onto the arms. Once done painting I'll spray varnish the surface. Not a whole lot to say about this really, just thought I'd update my process.

I've also been invited to the Historical Museum and may take them up on the offer despite my work almost being done. I just hope they like the end product. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Elgin Historical Soceity: Charity Chair WIP Painting II

Still working on my chair, and still finding working with acrylics to be quite a pain. I'm not quite sure if it's a bias for the medium, the fact that I suck at using it....or that the spray paint primer has been making it difficult for the paint to stick for some odd reason. I'm also a bit surprised that my Golden Paints aren't going down as well as I recall, and that the Utrect brand has been holding up a bit better. I'm also using the cheap craft acrylics you can buy at Hobby Lobby and Walmart. I had planned to add in colored pencils but they aren't applying smoothly, perhaps due to the wood grain, or else the primer. I've also opted to not use sharpies like I had planned because I'm not sure they won't run when I spray on the protective clear coat upon completion. 

I still haven't touched the arms of the chair at all. I figured I would save the smallest two parts for last, though I admit I am a bit worried about painting them since they should be identical. I went ahead and placed the back onto the seat to see how it's coming along so far...and I think it's holding up pretty well....

It's been difficult not only to work with a medium I'm not confidant in but from a computer sketch translated to the actual chair....and those pesky breaks  between the slats. I've also gone back and forth on some of the color choices I made, going from pink stripes on the legs to brown, as well as adding in red and making the blue brighter than it originally was. 

I'm working on the seat right now, which is a 'picnic' type thing going on. I have till the end of the month to finish....ok, a little less time than that since I will be leaving at the end of the month for Ohio. The chair will be done before then and turned over to the Museum. The title (how fancy is that?) for my chair is Gears and Roses....and will be one of 60 on display at the Gail Borden Library to be auctioned off later on in June. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Elgin Historical Soceity: Charity Chair WIP Painting I

I've finally gotten around to posting a quickie here on my chair. After spray painting the  base with an off white color I brought the pieces into the porch where I've set up a make shift work area by which I am painting in my chair. 

Looking at my original sketch I went ahead and roughed in a pencil of my pin-up right onto the surface. I've also done the same thing for the other parts of the chair, deciding to use a template copy only for the arms (since there are 2 and they are the same). 

With that done I started to lay the paint onto the chair, mixing up my colors on some wax paper with a plastic pallet knife. I am using acrylics, a bit watered down like washes. One thing I have to admit is that I find it very hard to work with acrylic paints, especially on the surface of the chair. Blending is becoming a bit of a problem for me, which is one reason I have watered down the paints so that I can apply them a bit more like watercolors. 

The weather has been kinda weird this last week that I have been working on my chair, going from hot and humid to pouring rain, to kinda cold. I have had to keep an eye on my paint mixes so they don't dry out as I am working, and also check to see how dry the applied paint is so that I don't displace or work it off the wood. (I had this same problem when I was working on a project with watercolor laid down on acrylic). Above is only a part of the work space, and only the back of the chair. You can see the lap top open so that I can see my original sketch along with some of the reference pictures that I am using. Along with that are my paints, pallet, water cup (filthy) and some straight edged triangles and French curves.

I've still got a long way to go on this chair, and only have till the end of the month to do it in! Stay tuned for more process of my chair. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Star Wars GM Screen: Round 4 WIP

So I've taken quite a long break from further developing this game master's screen because it was getting to be so overwhelming to work on. Working up tone in grey tones has been taking forever, and I am not confidant in laying down color on top of the grey tone work. Nor was I happy about the way I have been coloring in my illustrations in the past, and depending on the drawing so much (by that I mean the lines).

In fact, rendering and seeing my drawing disappear completely is a little scary. But after doing the mermaid piece for the CGHub challenge and being ok with the disappearance of my line made me reconsider coming back to this piece.

So in returning to this piece....
I decided to change up how I am working on this. I kinda nixed working up my tones in grey because I find that it's very hard for me to color over it that way. Why that is? I have no clue, it could be that it's because it's still a new process for me to color over grey. So instead I am doing what I did when I colored in my mermaid: working up color and tone on a flat tone drawing. I dunno why it seems to be easier for me to work this way, but it's whats working. For me at least....
So right now I have thrown in a little bit of color, trying to work out a pallet that will make sense AND look good. It's a struggle so far because 1) in reality nothing is color coordinated, so it's my job to make sure that in this picture the colors work well together, and 2) there is a lot of white on the right panel due to the stormtroopers. I'm really just laying in colors and figuring out my lights and darks right now, so things will get pushed back (saturation wise) as well as pulled out as I continue to work this up.

Hopefully this turns out well. I'm not really sure when this is going to be finished at all anymore, but hopefully it  turns out well in the end. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ponderous Pondering II: Space Elephants

I've been musing over my cup of almost too cold to taste good coffee about the possibility of Space Elephants. What would a Space Elephant look like? Would it eat little mutant space plankton? Would it wear a space suit? Would it  be sad cause it was the only one of it's kind (and possibly a distant cousin to the infamous pink elephant!?!).

Here is a doodlie I did of Hernan Monster, a Space Elephant. He gets around by wiggling his doofus looking ears to fly (cause in space he doesn't weigh much) and he looks for space plankton with his one eye in a special helmet designed to magnify things (cause space plankton are small and kinda invisible looking too).

If anyone wants to color this in or make their own Space Elephant feel free too and if you want to send me your Space Elephant I will post it on my blog.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Star Wars Day! it was technically yesterday. I'm a little late on posting the art I did yesterday because, well, I started it at about 11 p.m. yesterday and was too tired to post it.

Anyways, this is kinda a tribute piece to two great American Illustrators: Joseph Leyendecker and Iain McCaig.

Illustration by Joseph Leyendecker

Concept Art by Iain McCaig

Sketch in tribute to the above artists

You can see in my sketch how I kinda copied the design originally created by Leyendecker, most likely for one of the Saturday Evening Post covers. I put a spin on it for Star Wars Day by making the woman into Padme instead, using inspiration from Iain McCaig's concept art.

I've started coloring in my piece as well. I've been looking though some old sketchbooks of mine where I used markers or watercolor to throw in color ideas and I like those messes of color. So I tried to mimic that a little bit in how I began to color this in.

Working in digital media is a lot different than working traditionally, as you can fix a lot of stuff as you move forward as opposed to putting a bit more thought into things in advance. I'm not sure how I feel about that and still try to plan ahead a little bit, though I hope to keep my work a bit more loose by being able to work this way.

Anyways, I hope you like it....

Monday, May 2, 2011

CGHub Mermaid Challenge: Final

I've finally completed my mermaid concept, though I admit I  might continue to tinker with it. After dropping it into greyscale to take a look at the contrast I had decided that I needed to make it murky and that I didn't like the spear. 

So I looked online at different types of fish spears and after finding one I liked, looked at the possibility at making it appear a bit more organic. I didn't want to use wood and metal, since  it seemed an unnatural element for a sea-creature to use (though the idea of pillaging materials off a ship wreck was pretty intriguing). 

In the end I wound up using the skull of a marlin as the spear, adding a bit of a spike from a narwhal to the center of the 'spear head'. I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out overall. Now to submit it into the challenge!

Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mermaid Challenge: WIP

Yep....another challenge over at CGHub, this one is for a mermaid. I wasn't going to participate in this, but then I saw I had a sketch in my book that I could go with. So I entertained the idea and went a head with it. At this point I am not sure I will continue with the Eowyn piece, since I have the chair to finish up by the end of the month.

So I'll post some of my process on this mermaid.

My inspiration is the lion fish, even though it's considered the bane of the sea since it's an invasive species. What better for a mermaid warrior/scout? So the above doodle is based off of an earlier sketch I had done in my book a few weeks ago as part of an idea for the chair I am going to be painting. 

Once I had that done I kinda just let it be for a while. Today I actually decided to pick back up on it. I wasn't feeling too confidant about rendering this in since I don't feel I am adequate at digital rendering, though this is turning out a bit better (especially since I can hide my sketch layer and the image still holds up!). I'm working in Photoshop CS4 from start to finish. I'm using layers set to normal at a range between 50%-75% opacity, standard round brush at full flow and opacity. On occasion I lower the opacity for blending. 

Right now I am adding in the fins and will move onto the spear. I haven't really planned this out and don't have any intentions for the background right now as I want to just focus on the mermaid concept. Once I am done with the 'sculpt' I will add in the markings and maybe a few other embellishments to the mermaid. Right now this is an exercise in rendering for me, more than anything so I am trying to keep it simple. 

A quick update. I added in the stripe pattern using multiply at around 50% with a sampled reddish-brown color. When I was happy with that, I switched to difference and played with the color and saturation as well as the lightness to get the effect seen above. I'm still not done, but I thought it was time for another post!