Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poster design

As I mentioned in the previous post, finding the old illustration was quite handy as I ended up basing my entry for a poster design exhibition on it. The designs are going to be screen-printed and we were only allowed to use one color (which was chosen for us) so converting my illustration took a bit of work.
I ended up simplifying it a bit and then using texture and pattern to create layers and delineate areas of space. It was a good challenge to work on, and there are definitely some nice areas of the picture which I wouldn't have come up with otherwise. I think it would be interesting to now use this as a base and add in a few more colors again to see what happens. But I don't know if I'll bother with that :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unearthed illustration

I was looking through some old files trying to find something when I stumbled upon this illustration which I had done in proparation for a music-based animation (which I never ended up doing).
The colors and illustration style quite appeal to me, and I was a bit surprised to see it, because I don't think I could do something like it at the moment!! I guess I was more immersed in illustrative stuff at the time. I like the simplicity and the types of shapes.

I was looking for a different file to use in whipping up a quick poster design for a sort-of-competition but I ended up adapting this illustration instead, as I decided I'm quite fond of it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Color scheme analysis

I was browsing a website and saw this great stock photo that had a really nice orange/blue color scheme. This is a very common scheme, and when you start looking for it in design stuff it pops up all the time. And for good reason, because the colors really pop against each other and I think it allows a very saturated, colorful image that doesn't feel overwhelming, because the compliments keep each other slightly in check.

Or something like that.

So i did a color study of the photo. I was thinking about doing a different image and just applying the color scheme but I'm glad I didn't because I think I learnt some stuff about how to achieve the look that I probably wouldn't have, if I just tried to make it up myself.


Yesterday I wasn't really feeling inspired but wanted to do something so I forced myself to just jump into photoshop. Ended up with this little doodle, not much to say :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Color value study

Like the previous exercises but I tried a color picture. Worked ok, you can see the value analysis in the corners (my painting is the left, photo on the right). The main difference seems to be that I don't push the darks enough in some bits, particularly the shaded half of his face. I knew this was an area I need to work on, but again, mostly quite accurate which is good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Practicing values

One thing that's crucial to realistic painting, and just good images that pop, is a good grasp of values - being able to capture areas of light and dark properly. On a very basic level it's not too hard, but as soon as I start dealing with shadows (which are, of course, everywhere!) I lose it a bit - it's really important to really see what is there, not just what you think you see...

So I did a few practice paintings, just trying to get correct range and contrast throughout an image. I blurred each one after I finished so I didn't get distracted by the unfinished, blotchy strokes, and I could look only at the overall accuracy. I think I did ok. In the last one, I took my painting and the original photo and applied a Gradient Map which basically colorises the picture based on brightness. And mine ended up fairly accurate, which makes me happy :)

Next I'll have to try using some color, because hue/saturation/value together is what's really tricky!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First acrylic painting

In an attempt to kickstart this whole 'artist' thing, which I temporarily suspended because I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do it (and still don't know), I have finally bought a few acrylic paints and decided to do some stuff with them.

I wanted to find something I could just copy, a still life of sorts, so that I could just focus on playing with the paint and learning how they work, mix etc. I painted on some crappy old paper that I had lying around. It turned out ok, it's pretty difficult, but I enjoyed it. I realised that all the digital painting I've done has been good for helping me understand color, saturation etc, but that the difficulties I have there are still translated across, as WELL as having to mix my own colors, and work with the medium.

Don't know how i'm supposed to get really dark values, I think black paint deadens everything but mixing my own didn't seem to work, so I'll read up on that. Good dark/lights is always something I need to pay attention to anyway.

But for now I'm trying to just enjoy it and keep myself actually working at it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Katie Melua

There's a video on YouTube of Katie Melua, a musician, playing in some hotel or something. I really like the look of it and the framing of her shifts throughout and makes some really great compositions. So I found a frame I liked and did a painting. I wanted to spend a bit more time on today's painting, and it did take a little longer, but not heaps... it came together pretty quickly which I was happy about. And I took some time to get the angles and construction better, which worked out too.

I think her face feels a bit flat, but i'm not sure why. And I'm still learning a lot about saturation and how to get a good balance with colors. Overall I'm happy though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of painting

Thought I'd do a few quick studies of clouds, to understand a bit of how they look and how to construct them in painting. One from a tutorial, the other just copying a photo reference.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Underpainting test

I'm not sure how common underpainting is nowadays, but as far as I understand it, it used to be used very widely... the idea is that you paint an underlying layer of your picture in the complimentary colors of the final, then paint over the top of it. And bits and pieces of the underpainting will peek through the finished work and add more vibrancy and depth to the colors. I'm not sure if people always leave bits showing, in fact, or if it's just a way of achieving richer, more interesting mixes as you paint.

I thought i'd give it a go on a quick painting, so I whacked down a VERY rough layer which looked pretty bad (all greens and purples). You can see it most clearly in the face - there's green showing in bits that stops it becoming too pink and monotonous. I think I overdid it, because she's looking pretty sickly, but it was just for experimenting anyway so it's all good.

Then, for fun, I painted streaks of bright colors on the underpaint layer, which ended up looking a bit like using a Colorise brush mode in Photoshop. Whatevs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eye painting

Today I followed a "tutorial" of sorts that gave some hints on painting eyes, from an artist I really like. I tried to follow it quite closely, to see what happened and how it differs from my usual approach. Gave me a few things to think about and reminded me how much work goes into the refinement process and how much difference it makes.

No wonder all my half-finished sketches never have the look I'm going for, when I abandon them before the real work begins!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A game

Today we are playing "guess who went to the European Masters exhibition"?

One thing I really liked there was looking at the way color was used in many of the pieces... some of the paintings just felt like a breath of fresh spring or summer air. Lots of high-value paintings, sometimes with NO real darks at all. I guess Monet is one of the better-known examples of painters using these kind of colors.

Anyway, I started this as an illustration that was going to have a character in a foreground balloon but I ran out of time and anyway I liked the spacious, calm feel of this.

All my work with color recently is starting to affect my work, too, which is encouraging.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Another color study, this time I wanted to try a film/photography approach, using color as a stylistic thing in the shadows and highlights. Worked ok, I think it has potential. I should start focusing on accuracy and proportion as well when i do these studies, because a well-colored but very wonky face still ends up looking weird!

EDIT : Ok, every time I glanced upon this image, the severe wonkiness was giving me the irrits, so a few seconds with Liquify in Photoshop and it's a lot better, but I have kept a little thumbnail of the original proportions in the corner to remind me that it's worth spending a *bit* of time on construction even for quick stuff.

Then, following the same idea, trying to paint depth of field, which is pretty much a totally wrong concept, but i like the idea of capturing a 'lens' with its particular qualities and artifacts in paint...

I'm getting a bit keen to try some "real" painting, on canvas, so that will be cool. Gotta keep working on anatomy and portraiture fundamentals as well, though.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Color studies

A few quick digipaintings to test out some of the colour theory stuff I've been learning recently. Very interesting.

I can see already how a better understanding of colour and lighting will help my work... some of it is technical knowledge/science of why, and some of it is artsy "this is how you can manipulate colour even if it's not technically what you see". Both of which are very valid.

Not concerned about proportions or accuracy here, it was all about the color.

I'm particularly pleased with the nose on the first one... that rosy glowing look that comes from saturated color next to quite neutral midtones. Something I've appreciated a lot in other people's work but never really understood.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quick painting

Was messing around with a quick idea, and ended up with this. Some proportion issues but i like the overall graphic-ish feel and the color palette.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Value study

Today I did some reading about colors, skintones, color temperature and all that sort of stuff. A lot to think about, and I realised a few things I was doing wrong, which is good.

Didn't have time to play around with it but I did a quick values study, since getting the values right is just as important (or even more, I guess).

On the left is my attempt (in 5 tones), on the right is the reference image, and a posterised version of it in the corner. As you can see, I didn't do TOO badly, but I didn't use my highlight color enough, and the shadow-covered eye I kept too bright (which I knew I was doing but even after adjusting I guess I didn't do enough).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


At the moment I'm pretty impressed by some painters who use color in really interesting ways - either unrealistically, or in a realistic palette but with dashes of contrast colors throughout. I wanted to give a shot at using a non-realistic palette and also thought i might try something from my head (no references) to see if my recent work has been paying off.

Overall I was pretty pleased - I felt like I had a better sense of the form and contours of the face, but there are still plenty of problem areas. But that's good to know, so I can work on it. And I also realised that even in some areas I knew how it should look but my rendering skills let me down, particularly around the mouth.

The color was fun to play around with, I think i will study some examples to get an understanding of how to use color effectively and creatively.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sketchbook scans

Back into sketching again... trying to work on anatomy (where I seem to have forgotten the little I learnt, but hopefully it will refresh quickly) and also faces in particular so I can start doing portraiture.
I'll be picking up some acrylics soon too, would love to get into some proper painting.

I want to experiment a lot and go a bit wild, but also be very disciplined in developing some skills. And illustrate. And do sculpting. And everything.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

More quick snaps

I've been getting into some anatomy and drawing again recently, but I haven't got it scanned in yet, so in the meantime I'm chucking up a few more Hipstamatic shots.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fairy Lights

Today I needed to take some photos of fairy lights for work, and the first shot I took came out really blurry - it was a much longer exposure than I had expected.

This kind of shot can often look really cool when people play around with lights and drawing stuff. Maybe a cheap trick, cause it's not very hard to do actually, but I still like the results.

I simply cropped this shot and did a bit of color treatment on it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wuthering Heights

Finally got round to doing another book illustration... this time for the brooding, strange gothic novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It's the only book she wrote, yipes!

A linocut style illustration came to mind so I gave it a try. It's kind of tricky to show what's going on without more details, and lighting is really important - the best linocuts can have a really dramatic, moody feel to them due to interesting cast light/shadowing, and that would have worked really well for this novel but I didn't really hit it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hipstamatic 2 - Sky edition

Some more photos from the iPhone app Hipstamatic. This is the "sky" series. Basically I had to wait for a train so I wandered round taking photos, and liked a lot of the skylines I found... thought about some nice framings that would feel spacious and balanced.

I'm not sure if it automatically ghosts the images, but it seems they all have it except for the one highly saturated one I have here... so perhaps my hand is just always a bit shaky? I don't mind it, but it would be nice to have *slightly* higher fidelity. There's a high quality option for the app but it takes way too long to develop shots on my phone (it's already about 6 seconds which tests my patience sometimes!).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hipstamatic Photos

There's an app for the iPhone called Hipstamatic which emulates an old, analog camera that was made in very limited release many years ago. Basically it's just doing the typical retro/weathered stylings which are perhaps overdone, and purists loathe, as it's essentially hipsters (ahh, the name is quite convenient!) jumping onto another trend.

But y'know, i don't really care... the iPhone camera I have is fairly crappy, and this app means that I can take photos that are kind of cool looking. It's making me look at lighting, composition and other photography stuff, which I haven't done much before, and I wouldn't be doing with the normal iPhone camera, so as far as I'm concerned it's opening up new creative possibilities and that's a good thing. I reckon the random snaps I take will inspire other art I do, be it in color choices, composition, subject ideas, whatever.

Here's a few shots I have taken with it, just during my wandering home from work, or around the house.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Alchemist

I guess this counts as a book illustration. I recently read The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo, and that's vaguely what I was thinking of when I did this. Really, I was just too lazy to do a proper illustration and just wanted to throw some (virtual) paint around for a few minutes...

But I quite like the colors and although fuziness is a cop out to avoid actually trying, I do like some of the results. This is sort of a bunch of desert people coming out of the hot haze. Gotta love haze.