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 #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.


Photoshop Painting Catchup #12: Skyfire

Prompt:

  • Skyfire resembled a normal blink dog, but as we're almost epic level, he's partially fused with a dead deity's (homebrew deity called Set-Osir, a good-aligned death god associated with the moon, and appeared to his people as a ghostly white jackal.) power. His fur is now glowing white with a full silky tail, with bright blue eyes. He wears a long silk-like scarf that is flame-colored. Skyfire is very kind and gentle and caring, and like all blink dogs, he's lawful good.

I'm going to share something unsurprising with you: I love animals.

I particularly love dogs. I've spent a lot of time with them, and I've come to the conclusion that they are a species full of zen masters.

Sure, there are some anxious ones, and some needy ones. But if their needs are met, and they aren't damaged by circumstance, they have an amazing ability to both live in the moment and draw happiness from simply existing.

With Skyfire, I knew that I somehow needed to convey that lesson-by-example, that joy, that dogs are trying to teach us all the time. Because it is the kind of lesson a god of death would try to teach.

And on a practical level, I was intrigued by the challenge of drawing a character that is a light source. (The requestor mentioned in discussion that the character's 'glow' had occasionally been a problem during gameplay–makes it hard to hide!) I had to think ahead of how that would work, but I think I nailed it: Ferns behind and under him are lit, and the ones in front of him are no more than silhouettes.

What I did not nail was the scarf. I wanted it to feel a little heavy instead of gauzy, but it came across stiff instead. I clearly have to work on draping, and research how that works with different weight fabrics.

Steampunk Character Creation Walkthrough

corset1.jpg

I had never used a character generator before, and it seemed to me that it was past time. This painting brought to you by:

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/character-generator

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/character-generator

When I ran it, I rolled:

A selfish mechanic hmm? Also, how am I supposed to have a mechanic with a rifle, I need those hands to be holding tools to indicate she's a mechanic! Although I like that this doesn't specify gender anywhere.  I could have drawn a men's corset.

But I didn't. I like the trope of the female mechanic too much. Two tries at sketching resulted in this. It's not bad, but there are several 'I'll have to look this up later' items: I know skirts can be hiked up with little rings on straps, but I'm not quite sure how that works. And I know that little victorian shoulder-shawls exist, but I can't really remember how they fasten. Ditto those high boots with the little buttons. And I know I'm going to need some reference for that shoulder/arm position, and for the cat. 

Behold, reference. Two interesting things: the good trigger safety on the arm reference, and the stark difference in modesty in women's steampunk attire. Both of these things are good little details to use to add specificity and depth to a character.

First, I drew the parts I absolutely needed the references for, and then rotated and tweaked what I'd inked until I thought it fit reasonably on the vague idea I'd sketched.

These heavily reference lines were then desaturated to the same level as my original sketch, so I could see them all together at the same intensity, creating a franken-sketch. Over the top of that  I re-sketched everything with an eye towards adding detail and making design decisions. For example, the shawl has been nixed in favor of a collared shirt, mainly because I had the idea to give her a mechanical arm, and work out how to show it well under a shawl. 

Once the 'ink' is done, it is desaturated to become the new sketched layer, and the old sketched layers are removed. Ahh. Now I can see what I'm doing.

Then, we do it again. This is the actual ink layer, or the beginnings of it anyway.

Flip, and finish inking. If I had one general 'pro tip' for drawing, the horizontal flip would be it. It's an extremely simple and easy way to instantly see your mistakes in proportion, balance, and flow. This one actually had very little in need of adjustment, although I (as always) had to reduce the legs to some kind of reasonable proportion. I'm not sure where this conviction that legs are 2/3rds of a person's height came from, but I know I'm not the only one with this kind of consistent WTF when it comes to proportion.

Now to the fun part: color. On a layer under the lines, use a basic palette (three or four colors arranged from darkest to lightest is a good limit. For a good mix of color, I like to pull my values from reference ) and lay out the most basic of color areas; highlights and shadows. This is your underpainting.

Put another layer on top. Using the eyedropper tool and a 50% paintbrush, soften the edges between your basic colors, and do some detail of highlights and shadows.

More layer, more detail. See the difference in the blunderbuss and mechanical arm from the last progress image to this one?

Once you're happy with your color distribution, erase everything outside the lines. You can still modify past this point if you like, but I've found that tends to be needlessly fussy rather than helpful.

And if you've read through this far, thanks for sticking with me. I know, it was a long one. Which is why I'm stopping here, and not going into how I did the background! :D (Hint: It was basically the same process, but much less interesting, because it was mostly pipes.)

Villains

My first NaNoWriMo isn't going well exactly, but my story is absolutely progressing.

One of the most encouraging developments has been the fleshing-out of my villains. When I started I had some idea of what they wanted, but very little of the why, and even less of what they looked like. As my eventual plan is probably to draw this story up into a graphic novel, the visual vagueness of these two very important characters was a serious problem. 

Interestingly, I found that as I gave these characters a history and a setting their appearance developed quite naturally. (This is a bit of an inversion for me- historically I'd come up with a cool looking character, and then have to make up reasons that they looked that way. Which maybe had something to do with why, historically, my plots were underdeveloped.)

Her name (at least until I decide to change it) is Ethelinda. He is Ofure. This is a picture of them in younger, happier days. At this point they are the heroes of their own story, not the villains in someone else's.

 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #7

The seed for this post was actually a direct request- someone saw my work, and was hoping that if they asked nicely, I might do something for them.

So, of course, I did. (I'm a sucker for good manners on the internet.) This character's name is Settaja, and he has a fairly serious case of orc-related PTSD.

As you can see, something important has happened between the last painting and this. I did two things differently.

First, I allowed myself to have lines this time, but I did them in a very specific way. Using the darkest and lightest colors from the immediate area, I outlined the bright and shadowed sides of forms I wanted to pop out. For the arms, this means a pale pink is on the most brightly lit side, and a dark brown is on the shaded side. I like this technique a lot, and I suspect you will see it again.

Second, I've actually figured out what 'contrast' means in practice. I think somehow trying to make him obviously mentally unbalanced made it easier to have a major range from light to dark.

Other aspects of this painting I want to make note of:

Composition. Again, because of the unbalanced and dangerous nature of the character, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to take a low viewing angle. This also allowed me to have an easy background, and I am pretty much ecstatic that my experimental tree technique turned out so well.

Scars: There are scars all over his forearms from self-harm. Scars are hard– these are too subtle, but they don't look fake or drawn-on, which is a victory.

Border: Technically, this picture didn't need a border. But somehow it looks a lot better with one. I'm going to have to ruminate a while on why that is. 

Photoshop Painting Catchup #6

Inattentive-Drow.jpg

The title for the request which sparked this piece was 'An Inattentive Drow Factotum', which caught my eye. Mostly because I had no idea what that was supposed to mean.

Turns out, a factotum is basically a geek. As for inattentive, the poster intended his character to be naive, wildly intellectually curious, and completely unfamiliar with the above-ground world. 

Regarding painting technique, for once my blank-box background is fairly character-appropriate. I assume that for this guy, the rest of the world greys-out when something grabs his attention.

The pose is acceptable, but only just that. I'm still pleased though because I chose a pose that made sense rather than one that was easy. And doing 'okay' on a difficult pose is still something to be happy about.

The colors in general are a bit too fuzzy and non-specific. It does have enough of a range from light to dark, but the transition is too smooth. It could really use more hard edges, more like the hair and face. Although I rather do like the effect on the sleeve, it doesn't quite come across as maille, which was the intent.