Illustration – Loser.

Illusions, Uncategorized

Illustration Process

Breaking down the process of this illustration into stages:

I have broken down this piece into the five main stages used to create it. This gives some insight into how i work with an illustration and how i have put together my workflow. Hopefully this is useful to you, the reader.

If you create art digitally and dont know how to, or have not decided on a spesific way to structure your layers or workprocess. This is a great foundation to which you can add or detract stages as you work and get a feel of what your personal prefference is.

This way of working also lends itself well to focusing on one thing at a time. The struggle with the idea of thinking about light, depth, colour, shadows, detail and backgrounds etc all at the same time can be daunting and even exhausting. Which, in turn, could lead into abandoning or not finishing an image that would have been great.

Fun Fact: This is also how a lot of the good traditional artists and oil painters like Rembrandt is thought to have been working.

Stage One : Line art / Drawing.

Before you begin sketching and drawing, make sure to create a new transparent layer over the background layer.

There are two reasons for this. One reason is that we are going to add a background at a later stage. The other reason is that we want to manipulate the drawing as freely as possible without having to erase or refine a drawing filled with background colour.

This is where splotches, artifacts and “goblins” come from when working digitally.

Line art / Drawing

The drawing and line art stage is pretty simple in itself.  The focus here should be the idea you are drawing and outlining it. Try to think of it as if you were drawing with a pen.

Some like to draw loosely and then create a new layer on top to refine the lines further. This time i refined the line art while i was working on it.

Starting with a loose sketch and refining/redrawing it on a new layer could be a good choice as this tends to give the line art a more dynamic feel and gestures  tend to look better. You kind of keep the “magic” created in the sketch.

Do not focus on shadowing yet. If you are used to working traditionally this could be tough. But shadowing is a part of the next stage and a new layer.

Instead, think about making the line art crisp and keep the anatomy of what you are drawing in mind.

Stage Two : Gray scale / Underpainting.

The gray scale layer a.k.a the underpainting is just that. Tones of varying degrees of gray or in this case golden/yellow tones ranging from dark to bright.

The intention with this layer is to establish and define where the light in the image comes from. This along with establishing the shapes of the shadows and even the character itself provides depth to the illustration. It kind of moves into the three dimensional world from simply being a two dimensional line art/drawing.

Underpainting / Gray scale

Usually during this step i would paint in grey tones, spaning from completely white and black and almost everything in between. However as this was a more cartoony character with a bright colour scheme i decided to go with the golden/yellow scheme. This was firstly to make the characters colours pop more as this layer will bleed through to the colour layer. Secondly i wanted to try something new. 

I also found it interesting how some of the grey shadowing almost turned blue in contrast to the yellow scheme.

Stage Three : Colouring / Glazing.

Looking at the colour layer by itself, you will see that the hues chosen look really dark and flat. This is because it is displayed without the gray scale layer beneath it. When you create this layer make sure it is set to “color” as the layer type. This is usually done through a drop down menu after selecting the layer.

After you make sure the layer mode is correct andyou have seen to it that the layer is on top of the gray scale painting. Colouring can commence.

Colour / Glase layer

After the chosen colours are painted over the gray scale, you can notice how different they actually look if you turn off the layer with the underpainting. usually darker and flatter than we would have chosen if we were painting with colours from the start.

Classical and traditional painters call this step glazing, as they  paint over the gray scale with a thinned out paint to make the underpainting shine through.
When working digitally with the layer set to colour mode we can mimick this, but yet, have more control and change the colours as we see fit afterwards as they are gathered seperately on their own layer.

This way of working also takes a lot of the guesswork away, as you basically just fill in the different areas with the one desired colour. It kind of turns it all into a paint by numbers scheme after the grayscale is done.

Stage Four :  Putting it all together.

Now we put all the layers together in the correct order to have an illustration that is close to being finished. This is a good time to go over all the layers and organize them if you have not done this while working. 

This means giving them names and making sure that if you come back to work on the illustration, you know what layer does what. 

Line art, Grayscale and colour layers combined.

I like to give them full names like “Grayscale”, “Colour” and “Line art” but abbreviations works just as well as long as they are understandable to anyone opening the file wanting to work on it. Suggestions here could be “GS”(Grayscale),”CLR”(Colour) and “LA”(Line Art). 

Stage Five : Finishing Touches.

Finally you can add some finishing touches like effects, highlights and Specularity / diffracted light etc as you see fit. I like to add a backdropp to my characters in the form of shapes and design elements rather than painting a city or forest behind them.

Completed illustration.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful.
Thank you for reading.
            -J.

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Illustration – The Gunman.

Illusions, Uncategorized

This illustration was created mainly for me to improve my workflow and broaden my understanding of working with clipping masks and layers. I spent a lot of time experimenting with how Photoshop works for illustration during the process of creating this image. In this post i will try to breakdown the main steps in how i brought this image to completion and what i learned from the process.

Initially this illustration was sketched, drawn and written about in an earlier blog post, however i did not feel like it was completed. The line art was done and i added some blood spatter to illustrate wings. But i wanted to take it further and experiment with colour and some shading.  The previous post can be seen here : Wings of blood.

A previously drawn sketch / line art

A previously drawn sketch / line art

To continue working on this illustration i first cleaned up the sketch again and began reworking and preparing it for the next step.  After i removed the spatter i re-cropped the image to be in portrait mode instead of landscape mode. I also refined the line art.

 

While working on the image i organised the layers into folders, even though this consumes the focus and some time from working on the illustration itself, it was well worth it for the workflow later. I could then click through the layers and display them as i saw fit while working on the illustration.

Layer folders

Folders created for the layers during the illustration work flow.

I proceeded to add the base colours to have a middle tone to work from. This means having a base that i could work in both lighter and darker colours if needed. I also added a somewhat bland background colour to further figure out my colours later.

Working with Pure white as a background is not good when trying to figure out skin colours etc as it is a very sharp and dominating colour, it will influence the choices you make, as darker colours look a lot darker in contrast to the white background.

 

 

After i added the base colours i used a colour slider to tweak the colours on each layer. This makes the overall colour scheme more cohesive and ensure the different colours and layers work well together. Following your instincts during this process is important.

This affects the aesthetic of the whole illustration so taking the time to get the base colours just right (in accordance with your own taste) is time well spent.

Base colours 2

Base colours have been tweaked using the colour slider on each layer.

When all the base colours are a nice mid-tone and seem coherent, the next step was adding two layers to each folder. One for shadows and one for the light. Personally i always start with the shadows as these are larger blocks of degraded light. filling in the shadows also helps in figuring out where the light is actually coming from.

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The shadows add some needed depth to the illustration. Finally the highlights are added as well as some final detailing to finish the illustration. The highlights also puts some further emphasis the shadows. They can be used to make the shading more gradient as well, giving the image a more completed feel in regards to the direction the light is coming from.

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In this image the lighting is coming from the right side of the person.

For future illustrations i think i would benefit from experimenting more with bounce lighting. It is also evident to me that i am not completely confident when it comes to colours. These are aspects of illustration i will be working on to further improve my work.

Blending is also something i am intending to work on. Too much gradients when it comes to blending makes the illustration look a little flat. Being rougher with edges, lighting and shadows could be better as it may create more interest and depth.

Thank you for reading.     -J

Design & Art History – Pop Art (CA.1959-1970)

Design & Art History, Uncategorized

The exchange of creativity and culture.

“Good evening.
The world of pop art, the world of filmstars, the twist, science fiction.
A world which you can dismiss if you were feeling so inclined of course as being tawdry and second rate, but a world all the same in which everybody to some degree anyway lives,
whether we like it or not.” -Unknown

In a world of fast food and fast cars, pop art emerged in the mid fifties, during Americas post war economic boom. In the sixties Americans went big on cigarettes, alcohol and sex. Because of this an industry sprang into action to sell more of it, namely advertising.

A brazen new art, it shrugged of the tragic burden of the human condition.
Adding to a new mass produced world, filling the billboards and television screens for a new wide eyed generation of consumers. The British had started it, but the Americans made it bigger and more daring. Pop art in itself was a rebellion against the expressionist art movement at the time.

 

Andy Warhol :
There is simply no way around it.
There is no discussing pop art without mentioning Andy Warhol and the pop art he created of Hollywood stars and starlets.

Most famous of which would be the Marilyn Monroe prints. These silk screen prints were created in, and distributed from, his studio known as “The Factory”. The Marilyn print portfolio was created in 1967, after she passed away in 1962.


There are more than 20 versions, of which just one of them, recently sold for 28 Million USD.

Andy Warhol, being the man that he was, claimed painting was “dead” and that he was at the forefront of creating a new art form. This was in 1966 after he created “The Cow Series”.

This series transcended the expectations of printmaking and artistic expression at the time, and is probably the reason why this technique was later adapted for his work with silk screens and the Monroe series. The cows were printed on wallpaper.

 

 

Roy Lichtenstein :
Another artist working in New York at the time was Roy Lichtenstein. Known for recreating single frames out of cheap comics in a large and matte  format.

Lichtenstein had a masters in art from Ohio State University. He worked in advertising up until 1957 before he became obsessed with the shape language of pop art.

One of his most famous artworks is an image of two jets called Whaam. These are two individual frames combined to create the full work of art. His works keep inspiring artists to this day, and his style has become a staple in what a new generation might misinterpreted or call “old style comics”. For instance, the dots a printing press would create, were recreated in his work as an aesthetic.

BHP-Roy-Lichtenstein-Whaam.jpg

Whaam by Roy Lichtenstein

 

POP ART NOW.

Pop art is very much still a big part of the times we are living in currently. Inspiring new as well as established artists and students, in many ways.

 

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Artist : DogHollywood. “I’ve always loved the Andy Warhol pop art style from the ’60s and wanted to do a homage to it.

 

Yoshitomo Nara :
Talking about pop art in more recent times, the biggest name is Yoshitomo Nara, a japanese artist working out of Tokyo. His art is being displayed in museums and galleries all around the world. He attended the University of Fine Arts and Music in Aichi japan and later moved on to study at the Düsseldorf Art Academy.

Being a part of and inspired by the modern pop culture from both the western world as well as pop culture in Japan after the second world war. He is recognized as the greatest contributor to Japans very own pop art movement in the 1990`s.

 

Yoshitomo-Nara-Girl-with-Cigarette-image-via-Tyoindexcom.jpg

Artist : Yoshitomo Nara – Girl with Cigarette

Thank you for reading.

Illustration – Wings of Blood.

Illusions, Uncategorized

This week i decided to try a new/different software for my illustration. Namely Krita.
Keep in mind, i have not been approached by anyone to write a review.

This is not sponsored content.


Krita is a professional free and open source painting program. It is made by artists that want to see affordable art tools for everyone.

  • concept art
  • texture and matte painters
  • illustrations and comics

https://krita.org/en/


 

Sketch progression : 

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The software :

Krita worked nicely for the most part, i did push it with a rather ridiculous canvas size as i was thinking i would try to crash it.

Because of this there were a few moments with a 3 second lag every now and then. But nothing that managed to stall or break the software. Krita worked well for me throughout the week and was surprisingly stable.

If you are new too or are looking to just try out digital art without spending money on software, i would recommend this application.

It does not eat insane amounts of your computers resources, it is stable and has the tools you need to draw professionally.

 

gundropsketch7.png

Ridiculous canvas size…

 

 

Illustration :

I started sketching and ended up completing the line the work as well as add some blood spatter to illustrate a set of wings.

I did however spend a serious amount of time on the line art (as usual), especially on the gun. I did not create a new layer for the “fine” line art this time and instead refined the sketch itself to its finished state.

The reason for this was that i was focusing on the “dynamics” of the illustration to create some more depth in this one compared to my previous work. In short, using perspective to create a more three dimensional foundation.

I am planning on adding some more colour (other than the red of the “wings”) on a later date and spend some more time on the image so i can add it to my portfolio.

I am thinking about adding some skin tone and light colour and shadowing to the rest of the illustration. This while still trying to keep the high contrast of the crimson and white in the illustration.

 

WingsofBlood2.png

 

 

Until next time i hope you enjoyed this post.
Thank you for reading.

Illustration – “AI” – Geisha.

Illusions, Uncategorized

Tools :

The software i used for this illustration was Adobe Illustrator on the Ipad pro (also known as Adobe Draw). I later imported it to Adobe Illustrator on my PC to touch up and finish the image.

From sketches to illustration – progression.

Before i begin sketching i usually go through a thought process. Depending on the work i want to create, the time i spend thinking about the image and visualizing it varies.
After i have an idea on how i want the sketch to turn out i do some research.

Spending a few minutes on Pinterest i get some inspirations and visual impressions before i execute the first/starting sketch. Be careful with spending too much time on this however as you do not want the inspirations you receive from elsewhere to dictate how your piece turns out.

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The first step was starting a rough sketch, trying to capture the essence of what i am visualizing and trying to create with the image.

This is however not necessarily the right approach always. It was the way i started this illustration, but sometimes you just get a sketch you want to complete with no visualizing or intention as well.

The beginning of an illustration or sketch is always open to varying your approach. You could always start a new sketch if it does not pan out as intended.

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After the main sketch was done i spent some time experimenting with it on different layers, thinking about colours and lighting etch, this is evident with all the layers i used.

After i had spent some time thinking about the image i reduced the opacity on the sketch and started refining the line art on a new layer.

This is definitely one way several digital artists go about refining and create line work.
However this is not always how i go about it myself. Refining line art on a new layer is maybe an easy way of doing it but sometimes refining the sketch itself is a better way to approach an image, albeit a more difficult and time consuming approach.

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On this one however i refined the line work on its own layer. Spending some time adding details around the face and hair to create more interest and ensuring the face is the focal point of the illustration.

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I do this spending some ekstra time getting the line work to be coherent. meaning creating lines mostly in one long swift stroke with minimal amounts of breaks in between the lengths of the lines. This is to ensure the line work doesn’t look scratchy and broken up in between the endpoints.

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After i have finished the line work of the main sketch, i continue working on it adding more details. Focusing on shadows and where the light source is i draw in where the shadows  are to create some more depth in the line work. I also add more detail around the face and hair, trying to create interest.

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Finishing the line work is always satisfying to me, probably because this is where i tend to spend the most of the time i work an an image. This is when i begin spending time on experimenting some more with new layers and colours to figure out what i want to do next.

When i have made up my mind i start organizing my layers again to remove the unnecessary ones and clean up the work space. Keep in mind however that you should not delete the rough sketch layer. It is nice to have as a comparison later down the road of the illustration.

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Now the time to add colour has come, i played around with several combinations of colours to find the ones i wanted to use in this illustration.

I like de-saturated colours as they dont “glare” and strain the eye as much as highly saturated tones do. I want the image to lead the eye well without having too bright colours that steal the interest away from the focal points.

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After getting a base colour palette to work with mu drawing i started fiddling with the flowers on the fan the geisha is holding.

This is where i got stuck. This happens sometimes, you get stuck on illustration work and you dont really know what to do about it. I put the illustration away for a few days while thinking again about how to deal with this issue.

I the end i asked another artist friend of mine on how she would approach it (i specifically asked about the background colour). Blue was suggested as the colour for the background as she thought this would give the illustration some more depth.

In this i agreed, i played around with some blue hues that i thought would work well.

Pro Tip : When stuck, ask someone for directions.

A-I 1 - Drawing 2

To finish the illustration`s background i wanted a graphical element to round the whole image off.  In the background is the kanji for “Ai” drawn on a makeshift wall.

Of course when using graphical element from a written language that is foreign to you, one needs to do some research.

In Japanese, both “ai (愛)” and “koi (恋)” can be roughly translated as “love” in English. However, the two characters have a slightly different nuance.

I did some research and found this web page from ThoughtCo explaining what i needed to know for this illustration with, at the very least,  a small degree of confidence.

 

Feel free to leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.
Thank you for reading, i hope you enjoyed it.