HAT + SQUID
It was Lula’s first day of school and she was scared to meet new people in an unfamiliar place. Many of the other kids were scared too, but Lula had something the other kids did not: a squid hat.
Early that morning Lula decided to wear Mr. Noodles, her invisible squid friend, as a hat, using his tentacles as a curtain to spy through. Lula’s squiddy friend gave her encouragement throughout the day. When she felt comfortable, she brushed the tentacles away from her face and introduced Mr. Noodles to her classmates one by one.
By the end of the day, all of the children in Lula’s class had invisible squid hats and very confused parents. Both Lula and Mr. Noodles couldn’t wait for the second day of school.
Notes: I wanted to try “inking” in Photoshop today. At the recommendation of a friend, I purchased and downloaded brushes from Kyle Webster’s gumroad page. The brushes have been such fun to play with. It’s been a real challenge for me to to get precise control of inking lines with the Wacom pen — very few lines were right on the first try — but I’m very happy with the potential and can’t wait to try some more. I started with a scanned sketch for this image.
WALRUS + MUFFIN
Once in a while, a walrus is born with a natural aversion to shellfish and one such walrus was Sophie. At every meal, Sophie would cringe at the stack of molluscs before her, holding her nose and making faces as she swallowed. Her mom would say, “It’s just a silly preteen phase”, and Sophie would roll her eyes and dump her remaining molluscs back into the ocean when no one was looking.
One day, when she was feeling particularly blue at the prospect of eating great piles of slimy clams for the rest of her life, Sophie found something extraordinary. A solar powered Easy Bake Oven had washed up on the shore. That night, as her mom passed around the usual serving of molluscs, Sophie presented her freshly baked kelp muffins.
Soon, Sophie was in business baking for her entire herd and operating her own bake stand for tourists and marine biologists.
Notes: As warned in my last post, this is unfinished/unresolved, and while it’s extremely frustrating for me to put this out here in that state, it’s the right thing to do. I’m having a bit of an internal tug of war with the purpose and guidelines of this longterm project. Initially, the goal was simply to learn the tips and tricks of Photoshop. As I’ve been working, however, it’s become pretty clear that all these years of not drawing are holding me back as well. So ultimately, I’m learning Photoshop, but I’m also getting some much needed practice with drawing and composition and the general elements of art. Put all of this together and it seems impossible (right now) to reach my goal of 5 (resolved) illustrations a week. I also don’t want to be in such a rush that I don’t make time to learn new things. So there will be character sketches and works in progress ahead mixed with more finished work.
Regarding this specific image, I’ve been painting again and using a few texture brushes. I started with a much larger composition but cropped it down in a desperate effort to finish it. It’s a pretty boring composition, driving home the message that I need much more practice. I also did the sketch in Photoshop and used the “multiply” setting in layers so I could draw on top and see my lines. I later merged it with a background layer and forgot about it until it was too late. See this video to understand why that’s a mistake I won’t make again. So, all in all, I learned some good things with this piece, most of that through mistakes, which they say is the best kind of learning.
BOY + GUITAR
James was so small he could wear a raspberry for a hat (not that he did, mind you, but he could).
“You’re too small to play the guitar” is not an unreasonable thing to say to a boy who is three inches tall. James, however, was not so easily discouraged. One day he brought home a witty toad and the two stayed up nights for weeks on end, perfecting their method.
It was quite a spectacle. The toad hopped gracefully about on the fretboard while James utilized his whole tiny body plucking and strumming the strings.
Everyone who heard their music and witnessed their clever technique encouraged the duo to go on the road, though no one has yet offered to carry their guitar.
Notes: This was a long time coming for several reasons, but at the core of it is the bad habit I’m developing of getting too precious too fast with my work. Ultimately, I’m supposed to be cranking out five of these things a week, but here I am again falling into the trap of trying to perfect everything before letting people see it. Finally had to just get this one out there, and from now on, accept that some submissions may be half done. I simply won’t reach my goal if I continue to work like this. I must work faster. Period. No new tools for this one, just straight painting again. Going to have to replace my Wacom pen nib soon – didn’t realize they wore down like a real pencil tip.
VAMPIRE + AVOCADO
Victor’s Vampire Initiation went horribly wrong.
The young lad crashed a fancy dress party in search of his first taste of human blood. Instead, he mistakenly sank his teeth into a vegetable centerpiece arranged to resemble the hostess.
As the party guests screamed, ran, and fainted respectively, Victor sat on the table sucking the life blood of an avocado. From that moment on, only plants could satisfy his tastes. While the others went off hunting necks, Victor found himself haunting nectarine groves.
Eventually, Victor bought himself some Birkenstocks and moved to a commune in Northern California where he still lives today, happily sucking cabbages in the moonlight.
Notes: I was very tempted to continue with vectors but I knew it was just an excuse to avoid painting, so I forced myself to continue with just the brushes. Probably had about 15 layers going on at all times with this piece. I also indulged by taking much longer than I should have to finish and post it. I’m finding painting in Photoshop to be very challenging because of the temptation to zoom ever close to my work to micromanage it. I will say though that I’m very happy with the evident improvement shown between this piece and my first entry, which was also all brushes. I worked from a scanned sketch this time. Onward…
ROBOT + BOAT
The robot loved the boat.
He meticulously scrubbed her deck and scraped the barnacles off her hull.
She showed her favor by seeking out calm waters and chasing starry nights around the globe to enjoy with her love.
They were blissfully adrift for many years, even as their bones began to rust.
No one could remember how they met, and no one was surprised when they went down together at last to make their home among the fishes.
Notes: Ahhhh, pen tool, you are still kicking my ass, but this time I shall conquer you! I felt the need to try my hand at the pen tool, my old arch nemesis from my freshman graphics class 10 years ago. For this piece, I used the pen tool and painted only with gradients and shape layers. I am still a bit mixed up regarding the difference between layers and paths, but eventually worked out the kinks enough to put an image together. Between all the tutorials I had to watch to figure this tool out, this image probably took me at least 12 hours. I can’t wait for familiarity with the tools to boost my overall speed. Again, I chose a very limited palette, making it almost impossible to get bogged down with details. I like the look and clean lines that I can get with the pen tool and am eager to continue practicing…
Icelandic Sheep + Hot Springs
It was a cold Icelandic winter day when Ethel happened upon the hot spring. She stood at its banks shivering in her wool coat as the warming steam wafted over her. She timidly dipped her foot into the water, just to see what might happen.
It was delightful.
Ethel squealed with glee and bellyflopped into the spring where she swam and relaxed for hours on end.
As the stars began to twinkle in the sky, Ethel knew it was time to go home and reluctantly pulled herself away from the wonderful spring. She emerged warm and happy, and three sizes smaller.
Notes: Experimenting with gradients, layers, limited palette, and the lasso selection tool. Still using only the round brush. I’m trying to keep things simple with the composition so I can focus on techniques. Using limited colors was really helpful in keeping the focus on learning the tools. After three projects now, the hotkeys are sinking in; I’m rarely looking at the keyboard now, unless I’m incorporating a new tool.
BEE + TORNADO
When the twister came, Ned was secretly napping underneath a dried leaf as usual. He couldn’t stand all that buzzing about from flower to flower; it was much better to sit and nap or play video games.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blasted Ned from his hiding place.
Just as he collected his wits, he saw his hive sucked into the vortex.
As Ned’s family and hivemates were carried off, Ned noticed something else was missing: “Aw, man! My favorite leaf is gone!! This sucks!”
Ned stupidly took his next nap in a patch of Bee Poison Ivy and deserved what he got.
Notes: I’m taking the suggestion of one of the youtube artists I’ve watched and doing several “paintings” with only the round brush at 100% opacity. He makes a good argument for using only these simple tools to help beginners understand value. I’m finding this challenging, but I think It’s clear I’m already feeling more comfortable with the Wacom tablet. Again, did all sketching right in Photoshop. Still fiddling a bit with finding the hotkeys, but I feel like that will fall into place within the next couple of exercises. I have to stop trying to make a totally finished work; give up my obsessive need to be in control of everything. I could have kept going with this for many more hours, but that’s not the point of these exercises and I need to keep that in mind. I get so wrapped up in details, I need to think more about the whole. Also experimented with layers in this painting as well as the lasso selection tool. Very cool. I think tomorrow’s post will look more simple. It better anyway, or I’ll never get any sleep…