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.