WEOWEOWEOOOOO LOTTA PRETENTIOUS TALK ABOUT PROCESS WEEOOOWEEOOO
I really hope this makes sense because I… I don’t have a sense of scale when it comes to talking about stuff like this so I’m all BLAH BLAH BLAH FOREVER BLAH
do you ever get ideas when you’re nowhere near a pad or pencil or computer? do get ideas that just won’t leave you ALONE?
I have the artistic equivalent of “the stomach being smaller than the eyes”. For me, a good way to never get anything done is to write it down instead of drawing it right away. I don’t get ideas so much as I get impulses. I don’t think “wouldn’t it be cool if”, instead I think “do this”. I can be very ambitious in concept, but hyper-awareness of my limitations means what i execute is always small in scale. If don’t draw it right away, all in one session, I don’t draw it at all. This is why I’ve never done an original comic that requires a lot of forethought and research, although I’ve planned out many, many of them.
Man, I want to just ask “THE WHOLE THING” but I guess I’ll narrow it down to “how do you get started?” Like just sit down with an open file and scribble? Use a big brush? Or something sharp and opaque?
WARNING: this is going to sound pretentious as fuck but it kind of goes hand in hand with the previous question. I consider my process more improvisational than structured, adaptive rather than set-in-stone, abstracted not realistic. My mind is dumb in that I really can’t visualize things without a lot of concentration. I instead have a rough idea of, let’s call it a “Platonic Form
” of a object in my head, it’s usually defined in abstracts, in words and ideas and not pictures. Say I want to draw a desk. I don’t see a fully formed desk in my head, but i have an idea of the parameters of a typical desk and a rough mental blueprint that tells me “put desk in this location”. I use quicky, gesture lines (also called “hella scribbles”) to give actuality to those mental “forms”. The canvas usually looks like a drawing of unruly string in the sketch phase when I’m figuring out how to translate the abstracts in my head to objects on a page. Since I can’t see it in my mind before it’s on canvas so there’s usually a lot of manipulation after the initial sketch to get it looking like an actual thing. Once I get a picture that looks “right”, I start the refining process which may or may not involve actual line art. If you ever see me post a drawing that instead of having, say, a hand drawn out you see the word “Hand” written in, that’ me being too lazy to actualize the form of a hand so I just say FUCK IT a hand looks like the word “hand”.
[BONUS ADVICE on ways to make yourself look insane on tumblr: Draw a picture of you having an argument with yourself over drawing a desk]
I was wondering what kind of equipment you use. Do you work on paper then scan it in, or do you use a tablet?
For personal work, I use a Bamboo tablet, and photoshop CS2 pretty much exclusively. Which kind of is tether for me since if I want to draw something beyond just a napkin scribble or a doodle on lined paper, i have to be by my computer at home. For fine art paintings, I use oil paints, gouache, lithography and other printmaking techniques, and regular old graphite and charcoal. Oh, and glitter. You don’t get to see those though.
How do you get fabric to look like it has weight and texture?
I don’t really have any different approach to fabric then I have to every other part of a picture when it comes to volumetric rendering. For texture, though, most of the time it’s just a matter of trying to create a illusion or an idea of a texture instead of painstakingly rendering it. Unless you’re going for hyperrealism, a thatch of sporadic, quick strokes as good a way to convey the idea of fur as zooming in real tight and doing each hair individually. That amount of detail is superfluous to getting your point across. You don’t have to confrontationally force the viewer to recognize every flaw and crevice individually or cause an overload of visual sensation. Generalizing a texture or distilling it to its basic form is good enough, and saves time and energy on behalf of both the artist and the viewer.
This isn’t worded right, but how do you approach your stylistic output? I don’t want to imply you have a style, as your are one of the most diverse artists I watch, but you must have a way of taking what you perceive and synthesizing it into something of your own? Also do you have a process by which you lay the pieces very early for the expressiveness of your characters, or does it layer on as the piece comes together? & Any special tips for how you approach digital painting in particular?
Because of the way our perceptions visually filter the world, I think it’s hard for someone who is not drawing straight from life or from direct reference to not have a “style”. As I said before, when I draw something, I’m not drawing the actual thing as I see it. I’m drawing the thing how I perceive it. Therefore, any notions I have already established about the thing are going to effect how i draw it, no matter what style or mood I try to emulate. There’s always going to be a set of distinguishing characteristics or habits that show through each piece, no matter how abstracted or stylized. These come from an artist’s personality and experiences, from his or her habitudes.
I mentioned earlier that I have difficultly imagining things visually, so my work is extra that much further removed from directly representing the world. I guess that’s part of the reason why I’m drawn to cartoonish representations. Although they can be naturalistic they’ve always got a level of distillation, of adaptation to them. You don’t have to be slavishly devoted to representing reality. You just have to put down a version of how you perceive reality.
Because of this, I don’t do a lot of images of actual people. That’s just not what I’m good at by nature. Instead I do a lot of images that try to represent a character’s personality, or to illustrate a mood or moment in time. I’m still doing representative work, but it’s not directly representative, it’s mixed with a healthy level of abstraction. When I draw Isabela, I don’t try to make her look like her in game model, instead I think “oh, I think she’d have thicker eyebrows than that,” or “her nose looks like this to me and I don’t care if the game says different”. I try to capture her, not her looks. I can get away with this when doing depictions of properties that don’t have a heightened level of realism, because they’re just representations too. You get too real, and it becomes so easy to take a trip down the Valley of the Uncanny—to make something that has the form but not the soul. I try to avoid that.
As for digital painting, because of the unique malleability of pixels I approach it pretty much how you approach sculpture. Pixels never really “set”, so I take advantage of that to push them around as much as possible, like messing with a batch of polychromatic clay that never hardens until you “bake” it—i.e., save it to a jpg or what. I use some adapted natural media techniques aside from that, like under painting and glazing, which I’ll explain next.
Apart from ‘everything’.. narrowing it down: how do you get visual depth with the colours and all; is it a ‘just know which colours/values to use’ or like a ‘fuss with the colours until it looks good’ or something else entirely? So, colour use and shading I guess?
Colors and values go hand in hand for me. After all, value is a characteristic of color, along with hue and chroma/intensity/saturation. It depends on how I’m feeling that day, but usually I start with a monochromatic “underpainting”, which gets down a rough idea of the values and hues, and the final values and saturation come with the ”glazing” stage. It’s probably easier for me to demonstrate with dis gif I posted a few weeks back
This one actually combines the monochromatic underpainting stage with blocking in colors so it’s not a perfect demonstration, but WHATEVER. As you see it starts off very rough with only scribbles to convey the idea of how it’s going to eventually look and it’s refined gradually; general to specific. The skintone in the beginning is very different from how it looks at the end, which is true of just about every bit of the painting but it’s most dramatically illustrated there, because the light areas of the painting are the ones that have the most visual weight and impact. Over the rough underpainting, I start building up transluscent layers of color on separate layers. In other words I “glaze” the canvas with color, as one would glaze a oil painting or, hell, a donut then I’ll flatten the over- and under-paintings to one layer. I refine the pixels a little with the smudge tool, then I repeat. Over many cycles of paint, layer, merge, fuck around, repeat, I gradually manipulate the image into what I call “good enough”. Using this progressive technique, there’s no real stopping point because there’s always some damn thing you can refine, so “good enough” is always where I call it quits.
One of the advantages of digital painting, besides the “never sets” thing, is that color mixing is not always subtractive like it is when you’re using pigments to glaze. Using different layer settings, red layered over blue doesn’t always have to make purple. Sometimes it will get magenta instead, sometimes it will get yellow. Technically, the colors in photoshop are really just numbers which represent colors, and you can manipulate the numbers using a variety of operations you couldn’t do with pigment. A user can get unparalleled flexibility with his or her colors, but that requires flexibility on the user’s own part to adapt to the idea that the rules of working with traditional pigments aren’t going to directly correspond to working with colors and pixels in photoshop.
Please tell me you didn’t drew these amazing things out of boredom. That it was actually a thought process of existence and reason. ಠ_ರೃ