Monday, January 07, 2008

Lots of Airplanes

Yep, still doing airplanes.

This one's a bigger version of one of the little ones from the older sketches. It's a little off at the front, but practice practice practice...

Also still continuing my quest for the supersonic propeller plane:

These props are much more like what you'd actually need for a supersonic propeller. My research says that it's pretty much impossible to go supersonic with a piston-engine plane, so all these need to be turboprops, powered by jet engines spinning the propellers.

These are drawn much bigger than my usual sketches, I got a pad of 14x17 newsprint so I could sketch big. It seems to make a difference, I can use my whole arm to draw so it feels good and I can do precise lines more smoothly. Can't scan 'em tho, so these are photos with my digital camera. They've got some lens distortion... ah well.

I also played around with Sketchup this weekend. I started drawing an environment sketch, and kinda liked one of the buildings, so I decided to try modeling it. It's kind of a futuristic elevated train station:

Heres a view from one end into the platform:

Sketchup is fun and quick and pretty easy to use, mostly. There are some things that are a bit odd about how it works, sometimes it's not snapping to the points you want it to, but you can't tell until you've created a bunch of geometry and you realize it's just SLIGHTLY off - like you delete something that shouldn't be attached to anything, and something unexpected also disappears because it is actually attached. Seems like it pays to hide any geometry you're not actually working on.

Still, it's powerful and fast and you can make pretty complex stuff with it. And you can't beat the price - FREE!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Master Copy

Over the holidays I had some art time, yay! I did a bunch of sketching. Also, I did a fun thing, a "master copy" of a Syd Mead piece, the one that's featured on his Gnomon DVDs.
Specifically, I followed along with the Step 3: Color Preliminary DVD.

Here's a shot of Mr. Mead's final for comparison:

You can see I didn't nail it exactly, the color of the stone is off and the vehicle proportions are wrong. I wasn't really trying to perfectly duplicate this, I just wanted to try painting with gouache, which is what Mr. Mead has used for his whole career. It's a very different thing, painting with a brush on art board, compared to digital, and completely new to me; I've never used gouache before ever. Rather than try to learn the paint while also struggling to design a nice image, I decided to copy this one.

It's a standard practice among art students to do master copies, and I sure learned a lot from it. It was fun! Gouache is reputed to be really difficult to work with, but I didn't find it too hard once I got going. The key thing is the consistency or thickness of the paint. If it's too dry and gooey, it doesn't spread well and gets lumpy. If it's too wet and thin, it can lift up any color beneath it and cause bleeding. There's a definite sweet spot where the paint is just right, and that's sort of hard to hit unless you mix up a big batch of whatever color you're using, rather than mixing small amounts on your palette.

Here's some details:

Compare to a similar detail from Mr. Mead's piece:

A couple more of my details:

So that was really enjoyable, I have to do some more pieces with gouache. Next time I'll try something I design myself.