Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trying it for real.

Well it is about time I see if I can put some of this experimenting to use on an actual assignment. So I did a head study for a novel cover I am working on.

One thought that occurred to me was that you should never be too married to anything in your art. The initial drawing of this is just like taking notes for me. I wasn't happy with the rough sketch, but I knew I would fix it as I went, not treat it like it was sacred. Anything can change and we shouldn't be scared to change it no matter how far along we are. As you will see in
the steps, I hated something about this piece and redid it even though I was pretty far along.

I say this because in illustration work, I use to feel like, once the sketch was approved, I was locked in, I'd just paint it and not alter the foundation, even if it was flawed.

"Well the AD liked it, so it must be OK!"

Shut that voice up. He's wrong. Trust your gut. If it bugs you fix it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So many brushes, so little time.

So many brushes, so little time. 
In the last piece (Snoop Dogg) we were talking 
about using gritty Spatter shaped brushes in 
one click to create the illusion of water color. 
Today I though I'd play with brushes that 
are(in some cases) like a 'calligraphy stroke' mark. 
I thought I'd 'one click' them and see what I could get. 
This is less about faking watercolor and more about 
making a fun image with some of those same techniques.

The other thing I have been playing with 
are smoke brushes. (I often say my art is all 
smoke and mirrors. The illusion of something is 
way more fun than painting the reality of it for me.) 
Anyway, smoke brushes are a great way to 
one-click yourself into some great hair, 
also you can use some of their gradient curves 
to do nice transitional shading in a click. 
Then erase what you don't need.

At one point I got really carried away on this piece 
and I almost gave up on it. I used so many of 
these little clicks on her face that it was overworked. 
(The danger of so many brushes is that you want 
to use them all.) But I was able to revert back 
to a midstate (thanks to a history brush marker) 
and sally forth.

Art is fun. You don't have to have everything 
planned out before you paint a piece. Often, 
good art is a series of happy accidents that you saw 
and then were able to capitalize on.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Painting with one click. (Sort of)

I saw a killer portrait of Snoop done by the amazing 
Jeremy Lipking, and got inspired. (Though Jeremy had a much 
better likeness than me.) The point here was to get jiggy 
with some textures, not test my lacking portrait skills.

I guess the technique to sort of highlight is that much of the painting you see was done with one click of textured brushes. 
I mean textures like someone spattered ink on a piece of paper 
and scanned the spatters as a brush.

I believe some creative person named Env1ro made these brushes. (THANKS!)

Now you could stroke with this sort of brush, and get some cool streakiness. (And I did that a bit.) But you can also do single clicks of a large version of these brushes, like big enough to cover an entire cheek with one click.

Then you can erase (or history brush) back into these 
single-click-shapes to get rid of the texture in areas. And dodge or burn it so there is travel.

This is as close as I can get to controlled chaos.

I did a bunch more stuff like my lasso too shapes, drawing, painting. In the end there is no one way to skin the cat, and using a variety of techniques rather than one, is a good way to make the image feel alive.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Got some real work done today on the  cover for 
Scary School book 3, so I though I'd reward myself 
with another study. Colors might have got a little 
crazy on it, but all in good fun.

The hair was inspired by another study I had done of 
Lottie Paris, but my daughter suggested the 
hair color this time! 

 I first started blocking in some flat tones and color 
and thought I'd take more screenshots than this, 
but got caught up in the piece and forgot!


Sunday, April 22, 2012


Historically, I think in spring, I feel more of a need to try new things. More than in other seasons. Something about the long winter (or maybe the 80 some odd pieces of art I did between Dec and Feb) make me want to break out now that I can breath again.

This one took the digital watercolor technique(s) pretty far. Even got some fake spatter and what almost looks like passages where the brush handle was dragged through the paint. (Which was done with a P-shop brush that looks just like it appears. With one click on the cheek area (and a few in the background.)
I am not sure who made the brush, but thanks!


But while it is all fun, I need to stop experimenting on these studies and put the technique to use on the assignment I am neglecting!

Mr. Ogre's Sweater

Mr. Ogre's Sweater

Still playing with digital watercolor. This time I used a combination of techniques. One of which was a suggestion from the awesome Lars Grant West, which was to make my shadow shape with the lasso tool like usual, but then when it is on a new layer, darken it AND use the ‘inner shadow’ layer style, set to zero distance to get that edge pooling effect.

But I also used the technique described in ‘21 experiment’ of just darkening the edge of puddle shapes by contracting the selection of the shape 1-5 pixels, feathering in about 3 pixels, selecting inverse and using brightness/contrast to darken just the edge of the puddle/shadow. The nice thing about this is the dark edge is actual and not a filter, so you can erase parts of it, which is harder with ‘inner shadow’.

Plus I used some p-shop brushes this time as well.

Here you can see my ball point drawing on top 
of the scanned toned watercolor paper in photoshop.

Close up of Mr. Ogre's handsome face. 
Here you can see layers of shapes a little clearer.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Welcome! 21 Experiment

Welcome to the Evolving Easel! 

As the name would imply I wear many hats creatively, from children's books to serious sci-fi fantasy and many genres in between. It is my hope that this blog will serve as a hat rack for the stuff that comes out of my head. 

Here is the first item to share:
Trying a digital watercolor experiment on top of a scanned piece of watercolor paper... In other words I am procrastinating working on what I should be working on!

I started out with a ball point pen drawing from my sketch book. I scanned it in to the computer, and multiplied onto a scanned sheet of real watercolor paper which I had a wash on.

21 Experiment 

In Photoshop, I used the Lasso tool, rather than brushes, to select the shapes I wanted darker and darkened them, but I also played with the feather on the selections so that they would fade on certain edges. Then to get how the edge of a shape gets darker in some water color puddles, I'd 'contract' the selection a few pixels, then feather it, select inverse, and darken it in brightness/contrast so just the edge got darker.

I am constantly pushing myself to try new things - the curse
of artistic ADD. I really hope this blog will be the conference table for the creative voices in my head.