Oct. 13th, 2011

fanart process: Methos with a mutant baby

I'm not sure whether anyone is interested, seeing how the art itself got very little reaction (only two comments and one kudo so far *sulk*), but since I took the pictures of the in-between stages, I might as well post them.

many images of the work in progress )

Jan. 5th, 2011

fanart process: my yuletart piece, "Fealty"

Considering the many, many hours my recently revealed yuletart picture took, I thought I ought to get more than one post out of it... ;)

picture heavy art process post )

Dec. 13th, 2010

payoff for your time effort

My latest tedious digital experience made me curious about the "time efficiency" of digital vs. traditional media for people overall. Obviously there are some things that are really easy/fast digitally compared to doing it by hand, e.g. messing with the color balance, or after you are almost finished with the details it becomes apparent that you failed to notice that a head is disproportionately large. Select and scale with some minor re-merging effort is all fixing the latter takes digitally, whereas you have to start over by hand. But when looking at the whole process I often find that doing something digitally takes me longer than on paper (and I'm slow there already), even if I take into account the beloved undo and that corrections go much faster. Of course that could be just a matter of practice, but then it's not as if I paint traditionally all that often either, and digital stuff seems to have a really steep and frustrating learning curve.

Of course you can always mix both to take advantage, e.g. do a sketch in pencil, scan it, resize and rearrange stuff digitally, then base the drawing on that, or do an initial rough color sketch digitally, mess around with color sliders until you like the mood, then do the painting traditionally, then scan it and do a touch up digitally etc. But still, a poll about when you don't mix the two.

Apr. 8th, 2010


I was attempting to do a grayscale value thumbnail for my Trekreversebang artwork as preliminary to painting it, and couldn't figure out how the shadows would look, not even in so far as to roughly fake it. So now I have resorted to trying to make a rough pseudo-maquette simulating at least the broad masses. Of course I don't model or sculpt, so I do not have any of the materials or skills needed for actual maquette making. Instead I am making a contraption from some old cardboard, toiletpaper rolls and play-do. >.<

Unrelated to this, I still do not have the newest Dresden Files book, because I ordered the UK edition (which was sold about four euro cheaper than the US edition by the German Amazon), and that apparently came out a few days after the US one. But I did just get a notification that it's in the mail, so it will arrive soonish. I hope.

Jun. 30th, 2009

random grouchiness

I'm beginning to feel oddly understanding about the stupid "sex kitten" poses female characters are so often stuck with on covers and such. It's not that I'm getting fond of the sexism, but it is frelling hard to come up with engaging poses when you just want to draw some character, portrait-like I mean rather than some scene with an inherent action. And while the message isn't great, at least the stripper body language says something rather than having the character stand around dumbly, looking very boring.

How do people who are good at portraits figure out how to arrange the character? I totally fail at this. My attempts always look stiff or stupid or both.

May. 16th, 2009


I hate, hate, hate when supposedly water resistant ink turns out to be not water-resistant at all when you use it. I know, I know you should test every contingency, but I unwisely (very, very unwisely) assumed that when I put that black ink on paper with paint (the goal was to then scratch in the black ink) it would then be possible to paint some water-soluble color on top of the scratched off areas.

However it turns out that this black ink will get liquid again when painted on if it is painted over other paint. So the black seeped back into the areas that I spent hours carefully scratching and crosshatching a picture into with a razor blade. It was a Robin portrait that looked rather cool with the white on black, and I just wanted to give it some red and yellow color highlight effects. Now it is a blotch. Well, not completely a blotch, I may be able to rescue something, but it certainly won't look like I wanted it to... waaah!

Of course I should know by now that it always comes back to bite you if you are too lazy to actually test how different colors react onto each other, and just assume that they behave in a certain way, but still.

May. 4th, 2009

not exactly a community promo

Once upon a time -- as reckoned in internet years, in reality in September 2007 -- I started a community called [info]slothsdraw on IJ as a place for regular drawing practice, especially for people who have trouble sticking with their resolutions to draw more often. The reason I started it on IJ was that this was in the wake of LJ's Strikethrough debacle, and LJ's policies over what counted as unacceptable artwork (then even murkier and unclear than now) made me uncomfortable with the idea of creating a drawing community on LJ. Anyway, it never really took off -- I guess in part due to the target group being people who lack motivation *G* -- and has been inactive for a long time now.

I still thought that some of the exercise prompts and resources posted there might be interesting for others, however IJ has a policy to delete inactive accounts and though I reactivated the community there last time this happened, that's less than ideal to archive stuff. So I reposted these to a comm on DW, also called [info]slothsdraw, for a more permanent home. (Obviously for all past responses not made by me you need to head over the IJ comm.)

I actually have no concrete plans for [info]slothsdraw on DW, but the last days people joined (I assume they did an interest search or the like and the comm came up), so maybe activity there could revive. In any case for now there are seven sets of drawing prompts to pick from, so people can post responses to those if they like. And if there is some actual activity there also could be new prompts or discussion of a more open format as just a place to post practice drawings.

Anyway [info]slothsdraw is present on DW now. Maybe it will be less dead than the IJ counterpart. Or not. But at least it won't get into trouble for its sloth-like inactivity. Membership is just moderated so that posters who prefer to show their practice drawings locked can have that option, without immediate and open joining undermining this, but anyone can join. More details are listed in its profile.

May. 26th, 2008

fanart rambling...

When I was drawing my latest piece, i.e. the SGA/Avatar fusion with Teyla as Waterbender, I was reminded again why I'm rather reluctant to try drawing fanart for tv/movie fandoms, my recent forays into SGA notwithstanding: I have a hard time with character-likeness if the character has to look like a real person.

Because my style of drawing is more comic/illustration-like than truly realist, e.g. that I like to have lineart, it needs a certain amount of simplification in facial features. Which then presents the problem of how to get there from the starting point of a realistic and fully rendered face. (Not that I can do realistic portraits, but in theory I mean.)

The first thing that usually comes to mind for trying to get a handle on how a character looks is to start with a photo of the character's actor or a screenshot of the character, and then somehow simplify from there. The reasoning is that after all basing your art on a decent photo works well enough for realistic character portraits in fanart, which are often recognizably based on promo pics and such. Yet this approach is somewhat hazardous as anyone who has seen a bad tv comic, one where the artist visibly just traced screenshots, can attest to. It's the phenomenon that in its extreme is lineart that you could even actually map over a screenshot and the lines "fit," yet if you look at the lineart alone it doesn't really look like the character at all.

The problem is of course in the nature of lineart. If you have ever tried to trace a photo, you've run into the problem that there aren't really any "lines", so usually you tend pick mostly the "high contrast borders" with a bit of abstract knowledge of how the form of the thing is thrown in. And this works okay if you have say the contrast of a leg against a bright background, but much less for things like facial features. And it is not merely distortions due to a specific photo, i.e. that depending on the light and angle your best guess for lines may not emphasize the really prominent features, but put stress on the wrong parts. It's that any reduction of photos to lines with a face makes it a caricature, even if you don't add intentional "distortions," simply because having just one line where there used to be color gradients introduces emphasis, and likeness decreases if you put that emphasis "wrong", i.e. not on the recognizable, outstanding features.

In theory this is not much of a problem, after all the goal all along is to draw the character, not to trace photos, and you just have to adjust your degree of caricature to compensate for the reduction of rendering, that is to figure out which facial features of said person deviate from the average proportion, the mean of facial features in a way, and exaggerate. I've read that even computers can do this with algorithms based on photos and make caricatures of people.

The problem I'm having is that so many actors are pretty people. See, I'm not that good with faces. It's one thing to spot how someone differs from "average" if they have huge ears (think all the Prince Charles caricatures), or a big nose, or a very distinct skull shape, but humans tend to find regular, even features more attractive, so tv characters are hard to figure out. It's not that there are no differences, obviously I recognize these people when I see them (well for the most part anyway, like I said, I'm not that good at memorizing faces), but I have no idea which features are the ones standing out most to me on a conscious level with faces like that.

I think it would be really cool if one of those caricature algorithms was made into a webtoy somewhere, and I could just give it a photo and it would warp the features to point out how it differs from the average face. Then, even though my style doesn't need outright caricature, I could use those hints for more subtle exaggeration suited for my purposes.

I guess I just wish some technology could help make up for my lack of talent/practice in character portrayal/caricature. *sigh*

Mar. 10th, 2008

I'm curious how you organize your reference stuff

Though I don't draw professionally or even all that often, I still have a habit of collecting interesting visual things for reference or inspiration. Even with libraries and these days internet image searches it is not easy to find the exact kind of interesting picture you need when you need it, or sometimes you don't even know what exactly it would be you need to realize some vague idea. Or at least it is like that for me, so if I come across something that is visually stunning, unusual, interesting, seems like a good inspiration, or a possible reference for something I might draw some day I keep it.

Like, if I'm at a used book store, I habitually look if there's a bin of old cheap National Geographic or other travel magazines and leaf through them to see whether any have cool photographs, if I see an interesting picture on the internet I will safe it, and so on.

Obviously after a time this results in an organizational problem if you ever want to find anything again. So I'm wondering how others deal with this.

It's not so bad with the books, I just have a shelf with books I got for their pictures, like for example collections of photographs from the 1920s, 30s and so on, books of animals, places, people, cars, design... It's harder for the magazines because things like National Geographic aren't topic specific, so I never know whether I decided to keep some issue for pictures of some place or some animal, or even whether it was in the title article. Which makes finding things again a bit harder.

Digital stuff is the least problematic in some respects, because I have created a bunch of folders labeled by topic for photos (reference for buildings & cityscapes, landscapes, actions, clothing, animals, plants, objects, symbols, textures,... with some having subfolders) and some other folders for art by other people, and yet another set of folders for fandom character reference, so it's not hard to find which folders to browse. The main problem is that I don't always know where I got some image from, because it's so much easier to just save a picture than to save it and add something to its meta-info field. That isn't a big problem if I just use it as inspiration or reference some parts of it, but if say a landscape photo was to serve as main reference for a drawn background I might want to acknowledge that, yet often by the time I use something I have no idea where it came from anymore.

Photos I've taken myself before having a digital camera are more of a mess, because those are mostly in big boxes, and most are kind of boring holiday photos with some cool landscapes and animals scattered inbetween. But the worst are the boxes of, well I guess "junk" fits, i.e. stuff I've kept for because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Much of that is also paper, like exhibition catalogs, flyers that looked interesting, clippings from newspapers or magazines, posters, but there's also stuff like feathers with a nice pattern, stones, tins, even some bit of metal that rusted in an interesting way, and so on. I mean, I try to keep the non-paper junk down to one box or so, because I really don't need to go down the road of people who end up smothered by their packrat piles collapsing on them, but well, I'm not a very tidy person to begin with, so it's an uphill battle. I guess what I really need would be del.icio.us tagging for RL objects and/or a physical search engine, but I fear that level of virtual home and computer merging is still a way off into the future.

So, how do you deal with organizing your reference and inspirational collection so that is actually useful for you rather than a pile of messy clutter? Do you have some kind of system? Or just really good spatial memory?

Feb. 21st, 2008

fanart process post: Snape/Shacklebolt illustration, step-by-step

I'm not sure whether there's even any interest, because the painting itself got less comments than usual for my fanart posts, so I guess there will be ever fewer interested in the unfinished inbetween stages. But I already made the photographs after all, so I decided to go ahead with the art process post.

very image heavy )

Feb. 16th, 2008

random whining

Gah, I hate clothing folds so much. Maybe even more than foreshortened limbs, though it's a close call. Also, why did I bother to waste ages trying to arrange these limbs and body parts correctly when it's all buried beneath all this cloth anyway? I have resorted to draping rags over a wooden puppet to see how folds may fall, and it is not even helping.

Feb. 8th, 2008

fanart process post: Iskierka's hatching, step-by-step

Because some people find the production process interesting, I decided to do a sort of "making of" post. If you'd just like to see the finished fanart, go here.

very image heavy )

Feb. 7th, 2008

I miss the digital undo button. :(

Sigh. I know why I like coloring digitally. I think I shouldn't have gone with turning the background dark. I thought the red Iskierka would look more dramatic against a dark background, kind of like on the book cover, but I don't think it really works. However-- no undo for coloring with acrylics. Woe! :(

Feb. 1st, 2008

a drawing question...

Does anyone have tips or links to a tutorial or something that shows how to make things look not just wet but kind of slimy?

See, I'm attempting to draw some Temeraire fanart, namely the freshly hatched Iskierka. And I mostly have the dragon as a pencil drawing now, half out of its eggshell, though a bunch of spikes are still missing and I figure it ought to look a bit slimy still from hatching. Which somehow is harder to realize than I imagined.

This whole thing is turning out to be so much more trouble than its worth: first it took like a dozen or so thumbnail tries to get the posture not to suck completely, not to mention two attempts to make a small one work larger that failed, and I had to resort to a silly, foldable dragon wing model I made from bits of wire and paper, because I just couldn't visualize what you'd still see of the stupid wings (and they don't even show that much, though I guess that's part of the problem). Argh. </whining>

Jan. 16th, 2008

art, colored dragon

Subject: some random dragon
Media: pencil, fine liner pen with waterproof indian ink, acrylic paint, a bit of color pencil
Rating/warnings: G, none
Notes/comments: lengthy notes on my process, because this is the first time I used acrylics to color a drawing and felt rambly, feel free to skip if you just want to look at the picture. )

Preview: preview of a dragon drawing

the finished drawing and a detail of the head in a larger size are behind the cut )

Sep. 3rd, 2007

I hate coming up with community names.

I'm terribly uncreative. :( I'm not even decided whether I should go for a simply practical and descriptive name, say "drawingpractice" (luckily still barely within the 15 character limit) or something more whimsical like say "slothsdraw" (I feel a deep kinship towards sloths in my drawing habits...*g*)

Feel free to offer names even if you are not interested in joining.

poll @ my LJ

Sep. 2nd, 2007

still thinking about how to practice drawing...

...which of course conveniently procrastinates any actual drawing practice. *g*

Anyway, after my last post I thought a bit more about getting back into the habit of drawing regularly, and I don't think just looking for a random list of prompts somewhere is going to work for me. When talking about this in the comments of my previous post I realized that I'm kind of looking for the online equivalent of an informal drawing group.

cut for length, to spare the uninterested f-list )

So I thought I could do a poll to gauge the interest in such a community (btw, if I were to create such a comm it would be most likely on IJ because of 6A/LJ's recent polices wrt artwork, that make me uncomfortable with the idea of creating a drawing community on LJ).

Since I can't create polls here, and prefer the results in one place as well, the poll is in the LJ version of this entry. (if you don't have an LJ account to vote but are interested just comment somewhere, sorry!)

drawing comms?

So, I always have this vague resolution that I should get back to daily drawing. I used to draw something almost every day once, not necessarily anything elaborate, sometimes just a doodle, but still -- then at some point that I don't even recall anymore I apparently turned into an inert sloth about that too (rather than just being a sloth with non-fun stuff).

Anyway, because of my chronic sloth-like condition my resolutions to draw more regularly never seem to work out so well, so I've been wondering whether there were any fandom communities for art to encourage daily drawing, like maybe with prompts or something? I think I've seen such comms for writing exercises? I just thought some more incentive or supportive framework or something like that might be useful to get back into the habit of doodling, or worth a try at least. Does anyone on my f-list know of such communities?

December 2016




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