Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stephen Harper

Finished the Stephen Harper caricature today! Thanks to everyone who emailed me and contacted me via twitter with great suggestions for what to put on baby Harper's bottle! I just love the winning entry :)  I wonder whether Canadians can stomach another term of Baby Harper's Republican-Enriched Milk diet ?? We'll find out on May 2nd (that's federal election day in Canada for those who don't know) ...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Is Baby Harper Drinking?

Here's a little cartoon of Stephen Harper, our current PM, not finished yet, but I've posted a few early stages just for fun. I've been thinking about what to put on the bottle. Any suggestions? Get creative and send me your best idea (comment or email, or contact me on twitter)!

It's so much fun making political caricatures :) By the way, for those digital painters out there I tried a new brush for this piece: the "Smeary Flat" brush under the "Oils" menu in Painter along with a "Smudge" blender. Nice blending results although not as distinctive as the Real Bristle brushes... Much nicer tilt control on this brush however.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Velazquez Jesus

This is my 3rd painting with the Cintiq 21 UX and Corel Painter - an image of Jesus from a Velazquez painting. Very loose and sketchy... I started this with the intention of turning it into a more finished painting but then had to go away for the weekend. I came back and thought "you know, it's interesting as is!" It betrays my comic book influences, and I like that. All the scraggly patches of brown-green in the hair was meant as an underpainting... more refined versions of the image would have included drawing tweaks (the hair needs tweaking, especially in the top left where it meets the crown of thorns at an angle that doesn't quite match up with where the hair starts falling from beneath the crown).

Second Cintiq Painting ... Learning Much

I'm loving my Cintiq 21 UX!! Got it 2 weeks ago, made a few sketchy paintings since then just to get a feel for it along with Corel Painter 11... amazing program. So this is my second "oil" sketch done with the Cintiq. It's a detail from Caravaggio's "Calling of St Matthew." I decided to start using Painter and the Cintiq to copy these great Renaissance/Baroque paintings because I love the old masters. I love looking at the way they depict faces especially. I've always enjoyed drawing people's faces because of the way faces tell stories and offer us a glimpse into people's psychology. That's why my favourite illustration contracts are the ones where I get to draw or paint portraits and caricatures of political and literary celebrities (see my website under the "portraits" link for some examples).

The whole sketch took me about 4 hours from start to finish. I found it a real challenge to depict the subtle light variations that Caravaggio's art is known for. I think this is because I'm still such a novice with Painter. Overall, I avoided using the opacity sliders and just tried to lay down thin glazes of oil colour (I did this through adjusting the pressure of my stroke with the Wacom pen) and mix them naturally using the Mixer palette. The whole piece is done on one layer. For now, I prefer keeping things on one layer because it duplicates the feel of a traditional painting on canvas. You could say that at this early stage I'm trying to forget I'm on a tablet and just paint as if I would on a canvas. Oh, and the brush work is not nearly as blendy as Caravaggio's original with all those thin glazes of oil. I was just discovering the Real Bristle Brushes and restricted my use to the Real Flat, Real Oils Short, and especially the Real Flat Opaque brush. I also used a Fan brush for some blending, and the Real Blenders. Overall, I learned a lot with this painting (I learned what the Mixer palette was, for instance, and about a few more brushes); however, in the future I am going to try to create smoother gradations. If that means resorting to opacity sliders, I'll give it a try.

If anybody out there has any great tips on how to Blend in Painter, let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

First Painting with the Cintiq

Ok so here's my first painting with the Cintiq. I love Renaissance art so I chose an Andrea del Sarto painting ("Portrait of a Man") from a colour brochure I had in my library. I'm a total newbie with Corel Painter 11... but I just plunged right in, starting things off with an underdrawing in brown chalk (see above). I then basically experimented with the Artist's Oils and Real Bristle brushes... I don't exactly remember all the ones I used but definitely the Real Flat Opaque and some Blender brushes). I mixed the colours directly in the painting without using the Mixer palette. Don't you just love those realistic-looking blobs of oil paint in the bottom image?? :)


More fun with the Cintiq 21 UX and Painter. This is a quick drawing I made using my favourite brush of all for drawing in Painter: the "Dry Ink" brush in the "Calligraphy" brush category. This brush is my new best friend :) When I found it I started smiling right away (hint: when starting out with Painter just go crazy trying out all the different brushes - it's a blast!). These are EXACTLY the types of scraggly lines that I love to do. So much character in these types of lines... Also, this brush is relatively close in look and feel to the Pentel brush pen, which I use for all my urban sketches, which you can see on my twitter page. The variability of width is there, just like with a real brush pen, although the dry ink brush in Painter is a lot rougher and scragglier. I love this brush. And as you can see, you aren't limited to just using black either. All the colour in this drawing is laid down using various sizes of dry ink brush.

After it was done I threw on a thick canvas-like texture using the "Add Grain" brush in Painter's "Photo" brush category. This just lays the grain straight over whatever you've done. Neat effect.

Trying Out Different Brushes

An improvisation done in Painter on the Cintiq, testing out as many different brushes as possible ... took about 5 minutes. With the Cintiq and Painter, I'm loving my life right now! So many years of traditional drawing and I've finally found a way to make a seamless leap into drawing and painting on a screen that feels intuitive. Great feeling.

Cintiq First Impressions...

I bought my Cintiq 21 UX exactly 2 weeks ago and have been trying to sit down with it each evening and see what I come up with. As I mentioned in the last post, it's taken me a while just to get up and running in terms of the software and hardware. But after the first week, I started actually using the thing to make some art... well, really pretty rough sketches and what you might call "oil" sketches. From now on, I'll be updating this blog regularly with my latest efforts - so be sure to come back often! :)

First off, initial impressions: drawing with the Cintiq just feels so natural! What can I say? Some artists use traditional tablets like Wacom's Intuos 4 to create some incredible art, but I myself have always found the disconnect between tablet down on your desk and your eyes up on the screen frustrating. My friends used to tell me: "Tom, with your sketchy style you should buy a tablet!" But I never did for that reason alone. But now with the Cintiq I finally can have the best of both worlds - the flexibility and beauty of digital and the hand-eye coordination of traditional media!

I bought Corel Painter 11 to complement my existing CS4 rig because I knew that I'd fall in love with the natural media brushes, paper textures etc of Painter. Photoshop rocks but Painter gives you that added texture (in both surface and brushstrokes) that in my opinion lets artists reflect their "hand" more... the "artist's hand," which shows the brushstrokes as if they were the real thing. And that's the kind of art I love the most. Let me tell you - Painter's a blast! I'll be posting new artworks that I've done in Painter, which hopefully will reflect my ever-growing handle on the program (it's a big program with a fair learning curve, but if you stick to it and don't try to learn everything at once you'll be fine). I think it'll be interesting to see what happens! For now, I'm just having a blast!

Wacom Cintiq 21 UX !!!

Ok this is huge. Literally. Two weeks ago I finally took the plunge and upgraded my creative arsenal with the Cintiq 21 UX by Wacom - and all I can say is WOW! For those who don't know, the Cintiq is a tablet monitor that allows you to paint and draw directly on its surface with amazing precision. There's a 12 inch version and a 21 inch. I tried the 12 inch in a local store here in Ottawa and I loved the graceful and accurate feel of the pen and that all-important one-to-one sensation of putting pen directly on the screen, but the 12 inch Cintiq just felt too cramped. It's true that for urban sketching I tend to work small but even then my sketchbooks aren't THAT small... they're about the size of a nice paperback book. But for digital painting and professional illustration work, I definitely like to have the room to move around... So while the 12 was a great portable tablet and response was very nice, in the end I knew that I needed its big brother.

Don't be fooled. The Cintiq is expensive, but if you can scrounge up the dough you quickly realize that it is a sound investment... not only for your illustration business but even for pleasure... to become a better artist. If that is your goal, then let me echo what so many other illustrators and artists say all around the net: you quickly realize that the cost justifies itself by the way your art grows before your very eyes! Seriously, the sky's the limit with this thing, and digital art is an exciting emerging field. I think if you're an artist who tends toward traditional media but wants the added flexibility and reproducibility of digital, the Cintiq is definitely a good investment. Another thing: tally up how much you spend in art supplies each year. You may be surprised how much you'd have to pay to, say, bang out 50 small-sized oil on canvas paintings each year versus using the Cintiq and doing away with the mess, clean-up, costs, etc of traditional media. I made a quick calculation myself and figured I would pay around $700 a year in art supplies for 50 paintings (1 small oil a week).