Photoshop Painting #23: Mouse Druid

  • Name: Damian
  • Occupation: Druid, leader of the forest animals.
  • Notable Features: Grey fur, brown eyes.
  • Character's Race: He's a mouse.
  • Character's Equipment: He has a twig he uses as a walking stick/quarterstaff.

As I've shown before, I have a soft spot for mice. Maybe it was just too much Brian Jacques as a child. 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #18: Punk

Prompt:

  • This character is Asian. She's got a light-weight frame, standing at what I'd imagine is close to 5'0.
  • Her hair looks something like this, jet black with a silver highlight. No piercings or gauges. Her eyes are a standard brown. She's got a bruise on one of her cheeks and a band-aid on her nose. On her face is a light scowl.
  • She's wearing a black blazer with the sleeves torn off so it's like a vest, but you can see the ripped cloth down to the upper bicep. Underneath is a t-shirt with a picture of a shark on it. She's got a studded belt on her tight fitting jeans dark blue jeans, and some aged looking High-top Converse-esque sneakers. On one of her wrists is a studded leather bracelet.

I'll be honest. I chose this one to draw because of the sneakers.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a female fantasy character in a zero-drop shoe. So often female characters are put in tall heels for no reason, and it makes me mad because it's lazy and a disservice to the character. Some would wear heels, some wouldn't. It depends on the character. Don't do it just because 'that's what women wear, right?' or even worse, 'But flat shoes are haaaard.' Suck it up buttercup.

Not much to talk about here artistically, this one is well within my comfort-zone. But the shadow came out particularly well (blurred edges seem to matter) and the shark shirt was pure fun. 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #17: Theva Nemmonis

Prompt:

  • I just created a new character to play D&D with some friends for the first time in 25 years and am quite excited. I will be playing a female dragonborn paladin. She is 6'5" and about 265lbs with white/silver scales. She was a soldier for about 8 years before her clan got wiped out and now she is looking for payback...I looked for images on the web but most are of male dragonborn and higher level with fancy armor and weapons. And while I will eventually want something like that I figured I should have something that is appropriate for her current state at level 1.
  • She wears chain mail armor that while well worn, is kept in meticulous condition. She has a greataxe that she uses as her primary weapon and a warhammer for fighting from horseback (she also owns a horse)....She also carries with her a dagger that her first kill had on him as well as a war banner from her clan that is old, worn, and torn. Of course she also has the usual equipment (backpack, bedroll, saddle, saddle bags, etc).

This drawing was pure fun. Part of that was of course that I enjoy the hell out of drawing Dragonborn, and part of it was the challenge of figuring out how to put a Dragonborn on a horse.

A big difficulty with drawing mounted figures is getting the legs to plausibly wrap around the ribs of the horse without looking too long, too short, or extremely stiff. Make that figure Dragonborn, and suddenly you can add digitigrade legs and big toe claws to your list of difficulties!

Reference material pro-tip: Need to draw a mounted figure brandishing a weapon? Polo.

This also earns its place among my favorites because of the brilliant conversation I had with the Prompter about the final image. She liked it, but was the tiniest bit disappointed....

Prompter: 'That's pretty awesome! I think you captured pretty much exactly how she would react to an attack, charge in with weapon drawn. I love the look on her face too, even the look on the horses face matches. The only thing that conflicts with my mental image is that since she has a 20 STR and is 6'5" I just envisioned that her weapons would be a bit oversized and look more menacing looking, though the warhammer you drew is exactly what your typical one would look like. But that is just a minor thing. I love it and thank you!!! 

Me: 'I imagine she's a bit disappointed about the size of her hammer too! :D But this one works, which is all level 1's get most of the time. After she adventures a bit, she'll get a shinier hammer. :) She'd also like a bigger horse while she's at it. This one is tall enough, but tires too quickly. (Theva's not a featherweight.) She'll get a proper warhorse eventually.'

Prompter: 'Perfect response. :) Thanks again! And yeah, I was gonna badger the DM for a warhorse instead of a regular one, but then I saw how much they cost and figured it would be a lost cause. Only problem I have now is waiting until we play again...'

Photoshop Painting Catchup #14: The Duck Wizard

Prompt: 

  • Name: Oliver Drake
  • Race: Duck. I'm thinking Mallard, but if you think a different breed would work better go for it.
  • Height: 10", Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Outfit: Wizard hat, goggles and spell component pouch.

I'd try to explain this one, but there really is no explanation beyond the prompt. Because isn't that enough?

But in talking with the poster, some interesting details came out. It seems that the duck-wizard has a familiar. And it's a cat. Who has to carry Oliver's component bags.

And does the cat hate that his master lives in a swamp? Why yes, yes he does.

Some design notes: The center of gravity on waterfowl gives them a very particular stance and sway that is just a pleasure to draw. They stand a little like some physical comedians do–like you'd better keep an eye on them or you might miss the punchline. Of course this wobbly body feel is in sharp contrast with their heads, which are held with catlike poise and dignity at all times. And nothing is funnier than a ridiculous character that takes themselves too seriously.

 I did totally forget about the goggles on Oliver in the second painting, but it's easier to read his facial expression (such as it is, with a beak) without them. 

I threw in some details on the cat that I thought were interesting, and relevant to character-building: He's a polydactyl, and his tail is a little... short.

Artistically, the most interesting thing here for me is the shadows in the second painting. Shadows have always been difficult for me, so I tried out something new this time: I simply duplicated the character color layers and distorted them. This isn't a perfect solution, but it's far better than drawing the shadows by guesswork!

Just for fun (and because I don't think I show enough of my process sometimes) here are some other sketches of Oliver- no digital manipulation other than bumping the contrast a bit. This is pretty much what my pencil drawings look like.


Kimono

kimono2
kimono2

Often, ideas will come to me when I learn a new tool–suddenly I see new possibilities. In this case it was learning how the layer overlay function works in Photoshop. Something about the quality of the colors suggested silk, and from there it took no time at all to need to draw a cherry blossom kimono.

This is version two. Version one met an unfortunate demise entitled 'too much reference, not enough originality.'

General comments:

I am slowly learning the value of contrast and darkness. (I'm a little slow... I read 'In Praise of Shadows' seven years ago, but apparently I wasn't paying attention. It's out of print but if you can find a copy, snap it up: an excellent explanation of a difficult aesthetic.)  'Kill your darlings', the old William Faulkner advice, applies just as well to visual arts as to writing. In order to set up a background that makes sense, I had to draw all of it in some detail. But then I went back and added deep shadows. This is an overall improvement, but there are now parts I drew that I liked a lot that are invisible: The sliding door lit from behind by a single candle is the best part of the background...but I put a lot of work into making the individual squares on the door be lighter in the middle than the edges, and evenly spaced, and textured, and you just can't see any of that with the shadows.

Also, texture. I did ceramic tile, adobe, and woodgrain textures in this piece. Because I decided to use a bit of focal distance blurring on the background and close foreground elements it's not as noticeable as it might be (kill those darlings; it's for the best) but I think it still matters.

Surprise favorite: The slushy streets. The whiteness was actually an accident as I was messing about trying to find a useful textured brush, but I liked it so I kept it. Now with the falling snow it seems like it was intentional all along. An excellent accident all 'round.

Figure comments:

That umbrella... I'm done with umbrellas for a while. It's okay now, but sometimes simple mechanical things like folding staves are much harder to get to look right than something like an automatic rifle.

There are still three nagging problems that I just couldn't figure out how to fix. First, there is something subtly wrong with the angle/width of the near side of the Maiko's face. Something to do with the angle of the hinge of her jaw and near eye I think, but I just couldn't quite get a handle on it. Secondly, her obi seems to be floating off of her rather than going underneath her arm. I tried all kinds of variations of shading, but just couldn't make it behave. I'm having a similar 'floating' problem with her right hand: Some of her wrist should be shown disappearing into her sleeve, but every time I tried to draw that part it looked worse, so eventually I let well enough alone.

But I don't care about the less satisfactory bits, because the kimono works. That the initial seed idea for this whole painting turned out to be the best part? I'm totally okay with that.

kimono2-excerpt
kimono2-excerpt