Monday, January 29, 2007

The Western Black Bear

I did this last night for the Avalanche Art Blog... the topic was "Villains," so I went with the obvious choice: the Western Black Bear. It would be hard to find a more feared villain in the folklore of my mind. Although I'd rather write something stupid about the bear, the old west, or how I'd benefit from looking at visual reference of a gun before I try to draw one, instead I'm going to explain the process I use to arrive at a final image like this one. I've never been much of a painter, so here's how I've managed to get around that with the help of Photoshop.

Step 1 - First I try to decide on a rough character design to base my drawing on. Sometimes I skip this step for time reasons, and that becomes pretty obvious... at least to me. I start out with a bunch of heads and faces, then as soon as I find one I kind of like, I add a body to it.

Step 2 - Now that I do a lot of storyboards, I've abandoned the skill of drawing on model. So the "design" of the character becomes a loose version of what the final drawing might kind of look like. But I at least have something to base my final drawing on, so I continue with a rough sketch of the character in the pose I want him in. Step 3 - After using very basic shapes to get the gesture I want, I add all my details in what I consider a rough sketch, but probably not as "rough" as a lot of people draw. I sharpen my pencil a lot too. I hate drawing with a dull pencil. That's the main reason my rough sketches stay somewhat clean. Step 4 - With the drawing mostly nailed down, I trace it using an ink pen, sometimes making minor changes to shapes and smaller details like fingers that weren't quite right. I've done a fair amount of animation clean-up, and that's pretty much what this step is. It mostly takes patience and a steady hand. I also generally use a thicker line for the outermost lines and taper them into the form where necessary. Step 5 - I scan the drawing into the computer, then in Photoshop I desaturate the image and adjust the brightness and contrast to make the clean-up line solid and clear. Then in the layers window, I duplicate the image twice and throw away the background. With the selection tool's tolerance set at 32 (which I believe is the default setting), I select everything behind the bear and delete it from the lower layer. Then I un-check the "contiguous" box from the selection tool's settings and click anywhere on the image that's white, which selects all the white area in one click. I delete that area from the top layer. Man, this sounds more confusing than it is. Then I lock the two layers. Now, finally, I can drop colors into the lower layer without losing any of my line drawing, which sits above it on the top layer. This paragraph makes less sense than most of the of crap I write on my blog. Step 6 - Next I color the outline (the top layer) using colors that are darker and a bit more saturated than the color of the object I'm outlining. Sometimes I skip this step and leave the outline black. Coloring the outline makes it seem rounded instead of flat, so when I have time, I prefer coloring the outline.Step 7 - Using the selection lasso, I select various areas of the character and "feather" the selections. I feather more for round shapes and less for hard shadows. Then I adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness to add shadows, highlights, and reflective lighting. Step 8 - By the time I get to the background, I've usually worn myself out on the drawing, so I drop a quick shadow under the character, mess with the opacity of the shadow layer, and call it done. But sometimes I want more of a mood than the white background offers. Enter the gradient tool. I choose some colors I think I'll like then use them to make a sky and a ground. Then I mess with the hue and saturation until I'm satisfied with my cheap, stupid background. Step 9 - Then to finish it up, I add some clouds or something. In this drawing I airbrushed in some haze in the background to fade out the ground line, and I added some foreground dust. Then I flattened the whole image and did a little more adjusting of the hue, saturation, and contrast of the image as a whole... trying to unify the colors a little more. And that's my final drawing. Here it is again so you don't have to scroll all the way back up to the top.Hopefully some of that made sense. I apologize to my family and friends who came here for weirdness and got a lesson in not painting. Back to the senseless ramblings next time. I hate trying to make sense for this long.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Princess Leia

This week's Toon Club topic was Star Wars... an overwhelming topic... so many great characters. I drew a handfull of Yoda sketches, but they all looked terrible compared to Genndy Tartokovsky's Clone Wars designs. So I went with the obvious next choice... Princess Leia and the metal bikini. The legs are a little messed up... oh well.

I'd like to thank Princess Leia, Womder Woman, and Sandy (from Grease) for introducing me to my heterosexuality. And I also want to thank Jabba the Hutt and George Lucas for providing the princess with her prison attire.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Super Gorilla

In Christopher Reeve’s Superman II, Clark reveals to Lois that he is actually Superman by removing his glasses. She never saw through his intricate disguise before that moment? Way to go, Lois... you're being bumped up to detective. As long as the Daily Planet staff was dumb as dirt, Clark Kent might as well have been a gorilla. Why is Clark never around when Super Gorilla shows up? I wonder if they're the same... wait - Clark's a gorilla who wears glasses.

One other thing that's different about Super Gorilla is that he can't fly. He's just really strong, unless you compare him to other gorillas, in which case he's just average, kind of like how I'd be considered incredibly intelligent if I lived and worked among gorillas... or how I'd at least be considered one of the smartest... well, certainly not the dumbest... almost certainly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Ugly Duckling

Why did the other ducks target one as the "ugly duckling?" Aren't ALL ducks ugly? Never in my life have I seen even one attractive duck. Fortunately I don't really look at them that way. If I ever see a duck that strikes me as "really hot," then I've got problems.

If you're familiar with the story, you already know that (spoiler warning) the "duckling" is actually a swan. I didn't draw him that way here... mine is more of a (spoiler warning) mallard. So apparently ducks aren't only ugly, they're also a little bit dumb and species-recognition-challeged. And that's the ugliest ugly there is.

The ugliest duck is an actual duck... unless he's a duckling, because baby everythings are at least a little bit cute, even if admitting that takes me one step closer to a problem area I noted previously.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ventura Highway

Yesterday I wanted to draw something, but I didn't know what. While I was considering my options, my iPod played "Ventura Highway" by America (the band, not the country). I like that song, but the last verse is quite puzzling:

"Cause the free wind is blowing through your hair,
And the days surround your daylight there.
Seasons crying no despair,
Alligator lizards in the air... in the air."

Alligator lizards? Is that just a normal alligator in the same way that I'm a human person? And if these are just typical alligators, what are they doing in the air... in the air? If Ventura's vast alligator population has evolved to the point that they've mastered flight, I'm not "gonna go"... I know.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Man's Best Friend?

Man's best friend... is that what dogs are? Then explain what happens to my so-called "best friend" when he stops in front of the TV on a big 4th-and-inches play. Let's be honest... man's best friend is food, then TV, then football, then football on TV, followed by cars, naps, video games, airplanes, model trains, and so on. Based on my findings, dogs are wedged way down the list somewhere between "chopping down trees" and "buying a new belt."

I'm just kidding - I like dogs. In many ways a dog is just a football with a tongue. They share the same blank stare, I've tripped over both in the dark, and loads of frustration can be instantly relieved by punting one over the neighbor's fence. Relax, everyone... if the dog didn't want to be kicked, he wouldn't have looked so much like a kicking tee. Relax again... I didn't kick any dogs, and I don't endorse it in any way outside of its obvious "blogging shock value" purposes. After all - dogs are my 185th best friend.

More NFL Playoffs this weekend... go Chargers! Every time I say "go" about anyone, they immediately lose. Call your bookie.

Monday, January 08, 2007

So Many Journals

I haven't done much blogging lately, which I feel bad about. I've spent most of my free-time in the last week trying to rebuild my iTunes library. Rating more than 10,000 songs from one to five stars takes about thirty hours more than I expected it to... I only expected it to take about 140. Glad that's done.

Another thing I do that takes up a lot of my life is journal writing, which I've done each of the last 4,844 days... filling up over 25 different journals no one will ever even want to read, much less try to. I started writing on October 4, 1993, and I haven't missed a day since. I love it, but it takes a lot of time. Life passes me by as I write about it.

Time to get back into blogging... more to come later this week.