Sunday, December 16, 2012

OMG, a cut out silhouette

And it actually looks reasonably enough like the subject!  Well, it's definitely better than the first one I cut out as that one was way too large.  In case you're wondering, yeah I'm learning the portrait end of this deal too.  That should prove to be very valuable down the road, as even though I know how to do portraits in terms of the kind of stuff I usually do learning the quick retail method will have it's own unique set of advantages too.

The new Art Academy for the 3DS review.

So for those who have known me for a while, I used to swear by the original Art Academy for the original DSi and XL.  At the time of it's release, aside from maybe homebrew, there wasn't anything else that was as good as it IMO on anything else yet. I did literally over 2,000 sketches on that thing, (I'm being very conservative about that estimate as it's probably more than that) and for the longest time that app and the DSiXL were probably my best buddies when I was out and about and felt like drawing something without dealing with messing up pencils or paper or whatnot.  So while my use of it hasn't been as big as it once was, my interest was definitely piqued when I saw that a new one was being made for the 3DS.  Needless to say I had to have it, and while it's a substantial upgrade in a ton of important ways, it's does have a couple issues that I wish they addressed.

The plusses:
* You can pre-tone canvases now, as well as pick different types of canvases/papers which has an effect on how the digital paint and other mediums react to it.
* The color choices have been expanded quite a bit, and the palette for mixing colors has greatly been expanded.
* Paintings can actually be dried now, and you can work on top of them with either more paint or actually use another medium with it.  Speaking of which...
* The mediums you can choose from has been expanded to now support soft pastel and color pencil, along with the paint and traditional pencil that was there before.  Both the new additions work very well, especially the pastel which actually allows you to use a blending stump. Both also have a healthy amount of colors that you can choose from as well.
* For those starting out, the tutorials they have on here are more comprehensive than ever and IMO are really good even for those with experience.  You can do them at your own pace, and they go over the steps quite well.  There's also a ton more photo references for the stuff you work on now, many of which are in 3D and have had enough photos shot to where you can see said reference from multiple angles and lighting.
* You can save as many work-in-progress or finished works that your SD card can hold.  This is a significant upgrade over the 1 WIP save per app the old one was capable of as you no longer have to make huge decisions about sketches you've got held over.  You can also share art with friends in the app itself as opposed to having to use the system's photo application.  You can also have a virtual gallery of your work too, which is neat to see in 3D.

The minuses:
*It IS a hair bit more sluggish in running now compared to the zippy DSi release, no doubt due to everything that they've added to it.  This probably explains my only other issue with it too...

*The image output is still limited to 640 x 480.  Along with performance reasons while working with it, this is probably so that the system isn't killed when rendering the images in your personal gallery in the game.  I do understand this, but at the same there's no getting around that it still sucks a bit and takes a little vitality out of what is otherwise a superb package.  As a result, if you're just using something like this for sketching I'd have to say give Colors 3D a shot.  While it's not as in-depth, it still works well enough for that sort of thing, and it's output file is higher resolution too.

Past that, I'd have to say if you were a fan of the original and want a new and improved one go ahead and get it.  Aside from some little things, there's more than enough here to justify the purchase.  That goes double if you're not looking to get some expensive tablet to do something like this with.

I give it 9 out of 10.

Halloween contest prize winner

This year's End of Season Halloween party digital caricature winner was Thomas Akridge from woodshop.  Yeah, it's far more of a portrait than a digital caricature but I do have my reasons for that.  It's the first time I've sat down and did any sort of portrait/caricature painting in a little bit of time so I decided that I was going to gradually get myself back into doing it.  With all the live work and such I've been busy with as of late I knew that it would be all too easy to end up doing a caricature that's too by-the-numbers if I approached it the wrong way.  That, and there's a pretty high chance that I'll be drawing a few portraits here and there during my stay in Christmas Town so the last thing I need is to be thinking too caricaturey all the time as that won't do anything but get me in trouble.  

That said, there were a couple fairly significant hurdles to overcome with this piece.

1. I changed the angle of the head tilt some from the photo. This obviously was going to provide it's own set of challenges that you normally wouldn't have to worry about if you were just straight referencing the photo and using plumb lines and such, but doing it this way meant I had to use my brain to piece the puzzle together a bit more which is why I went this route instead. I probably wouldn't do this normally for a potential paying client for the sake of keeping things as sane as possible, but for my purposes it tends to keep the rust out and the mind working like it should for this kind of stuff.

2. This digital wasn't done in Painter on a wacom, it was done on the Nintendo 3DS with the upgraded Art Academy: Lessons For Everyone, made specifically for it.  I decided to do it this way for two reasons, to force myself to work without the assistance of sliders and undos, and to see just how much I could get out of the new version as opposed to the older ones on the DS. To be quite honest with you, I'm actually very impressed with it.  It's paints look a lot better than it did on the original Art Academys for the DS, and there's quite a few more options you have at your disposal too. However, the obviously smaller screen and lack of pressure sensitivity did make this a bit more difficult to work on.  As a result the painting itself is a bit looser than what I'd normally do for this sort of thing, and there's certain things that I know could've been straightened out a lot easier if I was doing this in painter as well.

Overall though I do like the end result of it.  It was a challenge and it still looks good in the end so on that note I'm satisfied with it.  Admittedly though, I had to make a conscious decision to actually stop working on this before I screwed something up on it.  Remember, NO undos.

Some personal sketches out of the book.

 This one was a fairly quick one on the 3DS's new Art Academy Lesson's for Everyone app.  It's a definite improvement, though not without with issues that I'll explain in a bit.

 So this this one, though this one was done entirely with the program's paints.  It's obviously WAY easier to do stuff like this when the subject sits still for you, but I'm doing this as a challenge anyway.
A third painting/sketch.  This one I started off with the pencils on and then used the paints to pull out tones and highlights.  Obviously not the greatest looking thing I've ever done, but I did this just to see how some of my decisions affected the look of a sketch.
 Sketch of a model.  Trying to work the figure out a bit more, though I can't say for sure that pen is the best choice to do this with.  Yeah, I do start them off in pencil (you can see the marks), but sometimes pens can feel so forced with these kinds of studies.
 Random guy.  Ended up taking him mostly from memory since he left so sudden.  It's fun for what it is though.
 Random lady.
 I can't remember entirely what I was going for here.  I THINK the outfit was real, but the way I interpreted it made it out to be a bit different than what I originally saw.  Kinda stiff looking, though I could blame that on the gesture.
 She had a really interesting face, but I left it at this since when I started inking the body it all started going to hell and back. (lol)  Ah well, you live and learn.
Flaws aside, this subject was one of my better stabs at the figure with perspective taken into account. The pose was created, since obviously she wasn't standing there the whole time for something like that.

Some more live work that I didn't get around to posting earlier.

 This was a demo that I picked out from the crowd to draw to try and attract a little business.  It took a couple of these that day, but it did get started.
 Staying simple, but straight to the point.  This couple ended up really liking the sketch and got it framed up.
 This one was really quick, but once again straight to the point.  The ladies in the picture did get touched up a little, which I don't necessarily love doing.  However it does keep folks happy so sometimes you just gotta roll with it, you know.
 This one could've backfired in so many ways considering the request that she had.  We worked out a bit of a compromise and ultimately she loved it in the end.  I loved coloring the hair, and drawing out the scenario, it was a lot of fun.
 Another couple.  Decent likeness given the speed of it.
 So, my friend wanted me to draw her little Bella.  The angle of the photo proved to be quite the challenge, but I'm definitely not the type to back down from it as long as I instinctively know how something is supposed to go.  She's quite the affectionate ol' gal from what I remember, so I made sure to reflect that in her eyes and in the thought bubble.
 One of the finer moments in the simpler style.  Dude was about as right as he was going to get this way, the lady is fine though I do wonder if my decision with her nose was sound.  Granted, that could be my technical side wanting to do more with it too.  Admittedly, I don't particularly want to limited myself to drawing straight noses on everyone all day too, so the effort with it's warts is better than playing it too safe.  You can't grow that way.
 A couple friends I know.  I'm ok with the one of the left, but I think it should be pretty obvious that I had a much better visual lock on the one on the right.  Then again, the personality differences in the picture sorta works to it's advantage too.
 Co-worker running from her boyfriend with a chainsaw in hand.  These sketches are always funny as hell, and it's a shame that I hardly got to do any of them this Halloween season.
 This trio was just drawn out of the blue.  I saw them, it wasn't busy, so I decided to make things happen.  They ended up loving it and got a pretty good sale from it too.  I like how it's simple, but it's still sorta in-depth looking.  Especially the girl on the top.
The ONE and only sketch I got a picture of from Nekocon this year, and even then I was too busy to take it since my line was absolutely crazy and nonstop for about 3 hours and some after. (thank you to my ever so awesome photographer and assistant that day, wouldn't have worked out the same without you).  This was probably one of the three best likenesses of the day.  Next year, I will be sure to take more photos when I do this, as likeness aside, some of them were still really cool in their own right.  
I remember drawing this one up as a warmup for a gig that I was heading to a little later that day.  Kept it simple, but still a pretty good one by my standards nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More new stuff, and some changes being made.

 Pirate couple.  Both turned out well, but the dude was really nailed in this one.
 Random smoker at Festa.  Drawing this made me realize just how much better I've gotten over the years.  The sketches I did for the previous Smokers collection were all under sketched prior.  This one was straight to marker, and looks 10x better than all of them.  I want to do a few more of these before the season is up.
 He wanted to be holding his beer.  I threw his hand off a bit, and I should've had the foresight to bring his arm over a bit so it would make some sense.
 Simple style sketch.  Only took about three minutes tops.  There's a reason this is included amongst the group.
 Zombie practice.  Trying out some tricks to see what would come of it in case I actually did get someone who wanted to be a zombie.  And yeah, this was inspired by Sean Gardners approach.  Got to meet the guy in person a little over a year ago.  Absolutely fantastic artist.
 The results of that practice.  I've done these sketches before, but this is by far the best one I've ever done IMO.  I think I have a pretty good grasp on the coloring technique now, especially when looking at the woman.
Co-worker.  No undersketching at all, which meant if anything went wrong with it anywhere I either had to start it over, or just eat it.  There's a few things I might have done differently with the sketch if I drew her in tier 3 form a second time, but I do like how it came out in terms of likeness and risk taking overall.  A "doh" for making the shirt long sleeve when the official shirts are short, though given the weather that day I doubt she would've had an issue with it.
 Another fast, simple sketch.  Really sloppy looking, especially for my own personal standards, but they couldn't get enough of it.
 Quick kid.  Mom liked the first one so much that I ended up drawing his brother below.

And last, but not least, a drawing of one of the clowns in the scare squad this year.  And like with the zombie drawing from earlier, Petey the worm makes another appearance.  I honestly think he looks scarier than the actual clowns.

So, this year at the park has proven to be very challenging in a lot of ways.  It seems like people have been more fickle than ever about this stuff, and as a result of that I decided that I was going to knock down the amount of "good" sketches that I do in favor of the quick stuff.  Why?  Let me explain.

An issue that has cropped up time and time again for me over the years was people questioning the validity of the sketches that I do.  Now, I'm definitely not saying that every sketch I've ever done in the park was pure gold as that would be a boldface lie.  However, even when the sketches were dead on to the subjects I've overheard more people than enough this year making comments like "Does that look like him?"  "Do you think that looks like that guy"  "I don't know if I see that or not..." What I've come to realize is that for the average Joe and Jane, all they really want is a simple face sketch.  Doesn't really have to look like them, as long as it's cute, flattering, and says VERY little about them.  So for a little bit, I've done sketches for people this way...

This sketch was done in less than 2 and a half minutes in an effort to see just how low you could go.  I was honestly expecting this to be flat out turned down and rejected.  It's sloppy.  The coloring is half-hearted.  There's little to no likeness whatsoever.  So what actually happens?  Mom LOVES IT.  Thinks it's her little boy to the extreme, and gets the sister drawn right after.  Needless to say I was in shock.

All of a sudden I was making good money on a regular out there when I could get a crowd started, but damn did it take a toll.  Those sketches were making me absolutely sick to my stomach.  There had to be some sort of a compromise, as there was no way this would ever be acceptable to me in the long term.  So what I've done is decided to split the kind of work I do into three tiers.

 Tier 1:  The sketches that the average Joe and Jane will get.  Everything is simplified to where it's easy for anyone to process.  Features are more symbolized in this method, and the only method of sketching I'll do here is front face as it's the quickest way about it, and also the most straightforward for the average person to understand.  These shouldn't take anymore time than about 3 minutes tops, color included.
 Tier 2:  The sketches that people I know, but don't work with us or people that actually understand art a bit more.  Structure is emphasized more, and the coloring is slightly more elaborate.  Some shortcuts are still taken for the sake of time, but a little bit more time is taken with these.  Will do ones like these in either a front or 3/4 view depending on the face and what I feel is appropriate for the specific subject.  These sketches tend to take 3 to 5 minutes in B/W and 5 to 8 minutes a person in color.  Granted, past the 3 minute mark most people at a theme park are ready to go why this isn't done for just anyone anymore.
Tier 3:  Employees ONLY.  I know you and you work for us, specifically for my department.  Depending on the subject matter, I might spend every bit of one to two hours on it. I really try to push my boundaries with these, as IMO there's no point in doing anything like these if you're not trying to get better.  I only stop work on these when I feel it's either done, or I need to put it on the back burner so I can make some Tier 1 sketch money real quick.

That said, I HAVE been working on the tier 1 sketches to make them more digestible to my senses.  Especially as of the last couple weekends since I've been messing around with a more graphic style.  Still seems to appeal to the senses of the masses without offending so I guess at this point lets see how far it can be pushed before I have to pull back.

That said, that's all the news that fit to print.  Any comments or advice that you want to leave me, feel free to do so as this is a topic that I'd definitely like to get into a deeper discussion about.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Finally, some new stuff...

Another one of the Hooters ladies I see whenever I go there.  It looks good, but I know I missed on something with her though.
 Karaoke singer.  It was karaoke night at the mall so in typical fashion I figured I'd make the most of it.  I don't know her personally, but I do know she works at the theme park as I see her around here and there.
 Little does he know, he more than likely got friend zoned.  I'm thinking that I want to do something with this one down the road eventually as I like the feeling of it.  To think it just started off with two random heads, wasn't even planning on going there.
Two older guys watching the singers go at it on stage.  I feel like I took more chances with the one on the bottom, but I do like both of them for their own reasons.

Well, if you've noticed anything different about these random out and about sketches, it's that they weren't done with Art Academy.  Reason being, is that I'm beginning to like just going at it in a sketchbook with a pen better.  Yeah, you can't erase, but crosshatching is so relaxing at times.  It puts my mind at peace a bit, which is great considering that I'll have a ton on my mind sometimes.

They do take longer because of this, which means I don't do as many as I usually can do with Art Academy. Small price to pay though.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New live stuff

 One of my students at work.  He did almost 600 in sales in a single day, which is the official high for the first years as of right now.  I figured since he did that I'd do that sketch that he wanted me to do.  Can you tell I had fun with it?
 Another co-worker from work.  His face is a field day.
 And another co-worker from work.
 One of the few b&w sketches I've done this year to go in a good frame package.  Doesn't happen enough IMO.
 A body builder teenager with some HUGE arms.  Don't know what came over me when I started on the body, but I'm glad it did.  Likeness was spot on too, and the parents knew it.
And finally, a sketch of a little girl.  Quickie, and pretty standard fare.