29 May 2009

A Robot in Space

This video was my last assignment in my Painter class. I had no idea where it was going until I took it there. This was all drawn in Painter with my Wacom Tablet. It is only about a minute but it took ab0ut 4 weeks to do.

So, there it is.

This has been a short post for today. I'll see you next time.

16 May 2009

Digital Art Step by Step....kinda

School's out for SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope you know what this means blogger buddies!!!!!

It means I finally have time to do stuff, like sleep in, drink lemonade, go to the beach, work more hours, and ....hmmm.... how about UPDATE MY BLOG!!!!!

I've got a great update for you today, folks. Something really spectacular! It's a piece I've been working on in my spare time for about a almost a year now. It didn't take a year to do, but it took a year to get the time to work on it. Are you ready to see it? Huh? Huh? OK, here it is!

This is my Geisha Piece, (for lack of a better name) and even though it was a personal project, I got school credit for it, because I turned it in as an assignment.

This image I uploaded doesn't even do it justice, there are so many little details in this piece. Its size was 8.5in by 11in. which doesn't seem like a lot, but I put the resolution at 300 dpi so I could make it bigger if I wanted.

I learned a lot working on this piece, a lot about texturing and and lot about details, and a think I definitely got better at color.

Want to know my secrets????
Ok, I will show you the steps it took me to make this piece.

For all of you digital artists out there, or any artist, I think some of these steps could be useful to you, or at least interesting. So let's be begin at the beginning!!!

Step 1: Sketching your idea

I was just aimlessly sketching in Photoshop, and I came up with the shape of her head. The posture seemed really elegant to me so I went with it. I continued with sketching the Kimonos and the hair. I did the rough placement and ideas for the hair pieces in a different color so that I would be able to keep it from getting lost in the black lines I had already laid down.

(This is my first piece that began with a digital sketch)

Quick Tip: Sketching is very important to drawing, it is the foundation of your composition. Keep your sketches quick and loose and don't worry about fixing any imperfections. This stage is just to lay out your idea.

Step 2: Color Break

I was messing with how I was going to color this geisha. I decided with a warm Autumn palette. I thought the idea was neat, because a Spring palette is usually used on geisha, with cherry blossoms and all that good stuff, but Autumn has much more interesting colors.

Quick Tip: A color break doesn't have to always be the 2nd step, you can do it any time before doing the actual coloring. I put it at #2 because this is still just an idea forming process. It's basically laying out color ideas. This is very useful for making sure there is good contrast and that the saturation and tones and all those color terms are looking groovy together. It's better to do a few color breaks, because even if your first one looks good, if you tweak the colors, they can look even better. I have examples of some other color breaks on one of my earlier posts.

Step3: Rough Line Art

This is where I started laying out the line details. Since the hair ornaments are going to be on separate layers, I'm not going to worry about those right now. This is in blue so that I can see it over my black sketch.

Quick Tip: This stage is very important to my work, but not everybody needs to do this if their initial sketch is good enough to go straight to the finished line work. My work is very sketchy, so sometimes I have to do this step a couple of times to get it tighter so that I can make sure that when I go to do my finished line work, there isn't any need to worry about making any mistakes with the form, (this is especially true if you are using an actual pen that isn't so easy to erase).

Step 4: Finished Line Art

This is one of the best line art I've ever done. I think a lot of it was luck, and not thinking about it too much, just going with the flow of my pen. Like I said before I was just aimlessly sketching so I wasn't too invested into this piece at the time. I was just having fun with it. I think that's what helped.

Quick Tip: Line work is one of the hardest things for me to do well. It is something that I'm still practicing, but I think I'm getting better at it.

I know a thing or two about line work though. For one thing, you should keep your line at different lengths. For example, the strands of her hair are very light, as is her face outline, these things are very delicate, kimonos always looked very heavy to me so I made those lines really bold. I also make the outline of the hair very thick because the shape of the hair seems very dramatic to me.

There is a lot more I could talk about line work, that isn't really shown in this piece, so maybe I'll talk about it in another post. I could write many posts about line work. It's kinda a BIG thing.

Step 5: Reference for Hair Ornaments

So I decided I wanted this piece to be authentic to what a real geisha would wear and look like. To do this I did a google image search of what I was looking for. I looked for hair pieces, and hair styles and make-up. Basically I looked up every thing that makes a geisha a geisha. From these pictures, I created my own look of all these pieces.

Quick Tip: Looking for references can be a pain and lots of people don't do it. But it is very important if you want your work taken seriously.

How can you draw a picture of a landscape if you don't study how that land is formed?
How can you draw a body if you don't study the muscles and skeleton?
You can try, but it won't be as good if you don't get a reference.

Reference can come from anything: photos, still life, or anything. Photos you take yourself are the best because then you can work at getting the exact image. One thing I do want to say about reference is that you should not trace your photo references. The reference should be to give you the idea of what you were trying to draw. Once you have that, put your own spin on the drawing and make it your own. Plus tracing exact compositions, and structures could probably get you in trouble on copyright laws (if using photos that aren't yours).

So I used my references of the hair ornaments and did the line work for the kind of pieces I wanted. They are each on their own layer to help separate them to make them easier to work with.

Then I put the face in. Not to much to say about that. The face layout was composed with the sketches, but I put the finished lines last because I wanted to focus on the details of the hair pieces.

More about Reference:

So I did another hair ornament that had a lot of detail. So I found a very specific reference for this.

I drew about 1 or 2 flowers and repeated them because they had the same structure, and there were so many of them. I re-sized them where needed and redrew some other flowers.

Here is a close-up of the line work of this ornament. (Click it, it will be bigger)

Here it is in place.

Step 6: Base Colors

So I put down the base colors. Since I have a rough idea, it doesn't take me that long to decide on the exact color. Each section is its own layer.

Quick Tip: I color the base colors like it's a coloring book, I just make sure that I'm on a new layer for each section. I color outside the lines, and then when the area is finished, I go back and erase all the extra color. Once that is done, I put the layer on what is called a "transparency lock" which means that I can later put down shading and lighting without having to worry about going outside the area that has no color.

Please note, that I have many layers at this point now so they are all named. Not naming your layers will cause you a headache.

Step 7: Lighting and Shading /Finished Coloring

So here comes the fun part. This only shows the skin, the hair and the sakura ornament. Notice the other details that I added while doing the shading: I put a skin tone by the hair line, and the back of the neck, and around the chest. This is how geisha make-up is, they deliberately leave areas like this without make-up. Do you know how I know this? Research and reference!!! Also I made the hair purple, because I only use black with my lineart. Black is not in my coloring palette, ever! Black is too flat, dark and heavy, it is not as rich as deep colors like dark Red, dark Blue and especially dark Purple, which work really well for things that would usually be black.

Quick Tip: For rich shading and lighting, don't just use a darker or lighter color of the base color. For shading, make the color darker, but then add a little bit of the color next to it on the color wheel. For lighting, make it lighter and also add a little bit from the other color next to it. I'm sure this doesn't make since so I'll give you an example:

The base color of the hair is purple, so I added a dark blue to the purple for the shading.
I added just a little bit of red to the highlights. For the really bright highlight I move it more to yellow, since yellow is a nice addition to highlights of every color.

Another example. If you have Green, make the shading more blue and the lighting more yellow.

I could go on, because it's not as simple as that, since the way you color things determines how the texture of that object appears. But that is for another post.

Here is some more coloring and shading, notice that each piece of coloring helps enhance the way you perceive texture.

Here is a close up of the flower ornament. Notice that the base color was yellow, but I added a bunch of different colors to make it more rich. Thanks to my reference, I've learned how to do some subtle color variations in my fabrics.

Some more close-ups. Notice the textures. What material do you think each piece looks like?
Does the hair look like hair? Does the sakura ornament look like glass or metal?
What about the fan or the marbles? Does the cloth in the bun look like cloth?

Also think about why they look that way, look at how the color helps make the connection.

Here is the soft skin. Isn't it pretty? The whites of the eyes are not exactly white, they are off-white. Could you imagine if our eyes were pure white. Creepy. This also helps emphasize that her make-up is very white.

Step 8: Texture

So I talked a lot about using color to create texture, but color can only go so far. That is where actual textures comes in. For this piece, I used mostly fabric textures, because I can't recreate them with brushes.

Using textures is a little more complicated to explain actually, and I'm not sure if I should explain it all here, since this is already becoming quite a long post. Instead I'll just give you a quick tip.

Quick Tip: A lot of textures I use come from photos. It is a good idea to take pictures yourself and create a texture library. Textures can also be made by making custom brushes in Photoshop. The more textures you create yourself, the more your work will be completely yours.

If enough people are interested, I might do a post on working with textures, so let me know.

Look at how pretty the kimonos came out. How nice.

Step 9: Finishing Touches / Critiques

Here it is. FINISHED. I tweaked the colors a little more, and made stronger highlights where needed. There were still a few things I couldn't quite put my finger on, so I had some people critique it for me. Here were the kind of suggestions I got.

"The skin is too purple" -Real life Creative Director

"Make the lines on the flower ornament thicker." -Classmate

"Make the fan look more like it fits into the hair." -Same classmate

"Add an amazing background." -Chapo

So I did all that. The last one though, I'll probably be working on this summer.

Yeah, I'm not done with this piece quite yet. ha Ha!

Quick Tip: Critiques are important, but don't ask for them from someone who won't be honest with you. Your work isn't perfect, it'll never be perfect, there will usually be something to improve, it just depends how far you want to take it.
Critiques are one of the best things to help you improve, because more often than not, people do stuff wrong because they are unaware that they are doing it wrong. So find someone who will point out the stuff you do right, but also the stuff that you do wrong.

Finally Step 10: PRINTING

Thanks to Chapo, who works at Pima's Service Bureau, I was able to print my art really big!

Quick Tip: Production and printing is the most technical of all steps, I'm not even going to go into because it is very boring. But if you are serious about being a digital artist, you would do good to learn your production! If you ever get into the business of digital art, you will more than likely work with production at some point. If anything, knowing how to set up a piece for print will make whoever does your printing very happy.

People that don't know how to set up their prints are the lamest of lame.

So I hope you all learned a thing or two about what it takes to do a digital illustration, or at least have a new appreciation for everything that goes into doing my little doodles.

I did a lot of work this semester, so I will have a lot more updates, please stop by again soon and check it out.