Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sheer Madness for a Good Cause, with Scalzi and Wheaton!

Behold, the madness we have wrought:

Yes, that's TV's Wil Wheaton in the Infamous Clown Sweater, flying a giant unicorn-pegasus-kitten and about to attack an Orc version of SF writer John Scalzi with a spear.

This image is to inspire writers to create a story based on it, which will eventually be put into a book whose profits will benefit Lupus Alliance of America! John explains it all on his blog. I have a good friend with Lupus so I'm double-happy about the whole thing.

Here's the process, if you're interested...

John called me up and described the idea. Of course, I freaked; how could I *not* try to make it happen? So I whipped up a few pencil sketches (digital, in Painter 11):
John liked the first one, so I did a more finished sketch:
With this approved, onwards to painting! Here's the first rough color pass. I reversed the image per request from John:
Next stage, I was pretty sure I wanted volcanoes in the background, but decided to try some lightning to see if that worked:
Next, worked on the unikitten's face and a bit more on the orc:
Next, more details on kitten, orc and the INFAMOUS clown sweater:
Continuing, let's get those volcanoes in there, shall we?
Now, it's time to really try to nail the faces. I had photo reference for Wil from the Web, and John sent me some truly epic photos of himself making awesome orc faces:
Eh, still needs some work, keep going...
There we go, that's a lot more like it. Tweaking details and messing with brightness, color and saturation; the blue-gray kitten wasn't doing it for John, so he asked me to try another color. I settled on a warmer brownish look:
Almost finished, just dealing with the last bits and the background:
And there you have it. This was seriously fun, though the timing, coinciding with the somewhat early birth of our son, made getting it finished a major undertaking. Thanks John and Wil!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

iPad with SketchBook Pro

Here's a little landscape sketch I'm doing in SketchBook Pro on my iPad. Looks like it's Mars! Painting in SBP seems to work pretty well, even using a fingertip instead of a stylus. It's a little weird sometimes trying to figure out exactly where the brush tip is under the finger, but it's easy to zoom in if you need more precision.

I don't think SBP will be a replacement for Photoshop and Painter for final production work, but for doing rough sketch-paint layouts? It's great! I can paint on the couch, or in bed at night without needing a table for the laptop and holding a tablet in my lap, or worse schlepping my Cintiq to the living room and dealing with all that. I normally use a plain old clipboard with copy paper on it for sketching anywhere, and now with the iPad I can do digital painting the same way.

I also got a program called ArtStudio, only $1 (wow!), that seems to have a nicer "pen" drawing algorithm than SBP. Here's some quick little spaceship sketches from it:

You can see it's not as precise as if I was drawing with a pen, but it's quite serviceable for line sketching. ArtStudio's pen tool smoothes the lines automatically in a nice way, and you can see the line weight has a nice cursive variability. It's not pressure sensitive, but each stroke starts thin, goes thick and then ends thin again in a realistic sort of way.

I've got a Pogo Sketch stylus on order, will be interesting to see if that makes a difference. I'm pretty sure someone will be putting out a Bluetooth-connected pressure-sensitive stylus sooner than later, and that will turn the iPad into a real pro-capable art production device.