Friday, December 31, 2010

First Light

I just watched RPG Metanioa- a 3D animated feature made by fellow Filipinos. It's an official entry to the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival. I would love to write a lengthy blog post about how much I loved it but I'm feeling very tired right now so I'll just do it the next time I blog.


In the meantime, here's my latest work- a speed-painting showing what I felt about the year 2010. There's a larger view on my DeviantArt gallery. If you have time, please check it out and let me know what you think. As of this writing there are less than 24 hours left before we all welcome the year 2011. I hope everyone's enjoying the holiday season as much as I am. Cheers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday greetings and my first iPad painting

First of all, I would like to greet everyone. Merry Christmas! Santa gave me an Apple iPad! Sweet! And here's my first painting. I'm still learning the ropes. Painting on this kind of device takes a little getting used to. But I think it's only a matter of time before I figure out how to handle it.

I have a couple of painting apps installed on my iPad. One is Art Studio and the other is Brushes. Art Studio provides a lot of tools including a text editor and some filters. In a nutshell, it is very similar to Adobe Photoshop in terms of functionality. It even allows you to save and export layered PSD files. The only thing I didn't like about it is that it's not as intuitive as I expected it to be. The color picker tool in particular can get really tricky sometimes. I'd appreciate it if anyone could teach me the fastest way to switch between the picker and the brush. I also think that the memory management needs some improvement.

Brushes, on the other hand, seems to have a fewer set of tools compared to Art Studio. But it's a lot faster and it's a damn lot more intuitive! It even saves the entire painting process so you can review how you did your painting. For Mac users, I've heard there's a free app called Brushes Viewer that lets you save the video in Quicktime format so you can upload the process on YouTube. Unfortunately, I'm a Windows person so I'll be on the lookout for a Windows equivalent.

To tell you the truth, I am not a fan of Apple but I dare say that the iPad is worthy of my attention (and the contents of my piggy bank). It's as portable as a mobile device has to be, it has a decent-sized display, it responds quite quickly and you can come up with really neat ways of presenting your portfolio with it. And with apps like the two I mentioned, I can honestly say that you won't regret spending for this gadget.


About the artwork: I painted the self-portrait on the iPad using the Brushes app. I didn't use any stylus and I think I'll be sticking to that method for quite a long while. It took me approximately 1 hour to do it from scratch. I began with a color fill and then some broad strokes to tone the paper after which, I blocked in the general shapes before refining the picture. That's how I would do it with traditional dry media. Robh Ruppel is right. The more you do art, the more you'd realize that it doesn't matter which app you use or which tool. It's really about the fundamentals of art. I'd love to include the video of the process here but I just don't have the means to transfer it to a Windows computer right now. I hope you like this post as much as I enjoy experimenting with the iPad! Cheers! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The unnecessity of overbearing pride

There is a difference between pride and arrogance. There is a thin line between inspiring others and annoying them. Here is my explanation.

I'm not here to impress anyone. I am here to express myself. I am here to utilize what I have been studying for years. I am here to share my work to anyone who would take interest. I am here to work with anyone who might have use for what I could deliver. I don't paint just to make some cool shit. Each time I practice, I do so with insight because that's what I think an artwork's true worth can be measured with. If there's something about my work or my way of thinking that you don't agree with, it's probably fine. But know this.

I don't care how many awards you've won. I don't give a rat's ass about where you've been- or where you are for that matter. If you'll speak to me only to show me how high and mighty you are, I will by no means tolerate it.

Don't get me wrong. You are welcome to give your opinion about my work. And I would always respect critique that is properly given. But just because you are where you are- just because you're important, rich, popular or valid to a degree doesn't mean I wouldn't mind if you rub it in my face.

Fuck your arrogance.

No matter how accomplished you are, I will never look up to you as long as you revel in condescending to others. I have nothing against contests and awards but I am not insecure enough to believe that my validation as an artist is measured by how many medals I have. Why? Because believing otherwise damages self-esteem and I've been doing what I do long enough to know that it's not healthy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Brush-Making Procedures

Alright. To those who have been asking me to share my brushes, here's what I've got for you: a documentation of the process I follow to make my brushes specifically, the ones that mimic traditional strokes.

First things first. I'll have you know that this process is for users of Adobe Photoshop. At the present, I am using Adobe Photoshop CS5. Although if you're using a previous version of the program, it's probably OK. What I'll be showing here is the making of a custom brush that I believe isn't version-dependent. Without further ado, I hereby present to you:

The Making of a Custom "Traditional" Brush

Step 1: Preparing the ingredients

First, you need to decide what you're going to try to simulate. The demo files in this documentation were made as an attempt to simulate the look of oil on canvas with a more dry-brush effect. Once decided, the next thing to do is to come up with a brush tip and a canvas pattern like the ones below:

There are many ways to come up with such images. For the brush tip, you can just make an actual brush stroke and then scan it or you can just make it manually using Photoshop's default tools like what I did here. I painted the brush tip above using a default chalk-like brush. I was shooting for a flat brush hence the shape. For the canvas pattern, you can either scan a piece of canvas or search online for a reference image. Important: you have to make sure your canvas pattern is a tiling pattern or else you will see seams in your output. Making seamlessly tiled patterns is very easy if you know how to use the Offset Filter.

Before we move on to the next step, I'd recommend saving these images as JPEG files. Why save? So you don't lose your reference images. Why JPEG? JPEG files have no layers which make them simpler. Simpler images are, in my opinion, easier to make presets with. You might want to check the sizes of your images too as you don't want to be making a brush that's too tiny or too big.

If you feel like using the samples I provided here, go right ahead.

Step 2: Integrating the images into a tool

So now you have a brush tip and a canvas pattern. The next step would be to make a tool out of these materials. At the end of this step you should have the following:

  • A new brush preset
  • A new pattern preset

Step 2A: Making the Brush Preset

To make the brush preset, open the brush tip shape JPEG file if you don't have it opened already. Then go to EDIT > Define Brush Preset. A little window will then pop up and you'll have the option to give the brush a preset a name. 

After doing this, you'll see that you now have a new brush in your brush picker menu.

Technically, you now have a new brush at this point. But unfortunately, this new brush you created is very crude. If you try to use it as it is right now for some serious painting, you'll see what I mean. Now let's see about that canvas pattern.

Step 2B: Creating the Canvas Pattern Preset

The procedure to make the canvas pattern preset is very similar to that of the brush preset. First, have your canvas JPEG ready and this time, go to EDIT > Define Pattern. Name it and then check if it appears as a new pattern in the texture sub-panel of the brush customization window.

At this point you already have a brush preset and a pattern preset. Now it's time to put them all together.

Step 3: Customization

This is the fun part! Adobe Photoshop allows for many possibilities with the brush customization window which you can access simply by pressing F5. To see how it works and what it does, do the following tweaks that I made.



I don't want to leave you wondering so here's a bit of an explanation of what I did and why. As you can see, I tweaked the new brush preset using the following sub-panels:

  • Shape Dynamics - I set the angle jitter to direction so the brush tip rotates according to the direction of my brush stroke. No more manually rotating the tip which in my opinion makes the painting experience a little bit more convenient. To keep it from looking too synthetic, I put a value of 3% in angle jitter and check Flip X jitter.
  • Texture - I used the canvas texture I produced as an overlay. This is necessary to achieve the painted-on-canvas look.
  • Dual Brush - Dual Brush allows the mixing of two different brush shapes. This makes your brushes even more randomized. Randomized = not-so-computer-perfect-look which adds a natural touch to your brushes. For this custom brush, I ticked Dual Brush and used a default Photoshop brush preset called Sea Sponge 2 as the secondary tip. The most noticeable effect of this on the brush being made here is that it makes the brush stroke a little more irregular.
  • Transfer - In previous versions of Adobe Photoshop, I believe this sub-panel used to be called "Other Dynamics". I made tweaks here because I am heavily dependent of Pen Pressure. It helps me simulate the look of the sweeping strokes that I make when I paint in real life.

Step 4: Saving Your New Brush as an ABR file

You've gone this far so that means you now have a new fancy brush. But what if your computer crashes? Or what if you've accidentally reseted your brush presets? What if you've done this on someone else's computer? What if you want to share your new brush with your friends? Is it necessary to go through all these again? Do you have to do this every time on a new computer? Fortunately, no. There is a way to save your brush so that no matter how many times you reset your brush presets or how many new workstations you transfer to, you'd still be able to access your new brush.

To do this, you need to save your brush in ABR format.

Do this by going to EDIT > Preset Manager. A window showing your loaded brush presets will appear. Then you'll have to select your new brush and every other brush you want to save it in a set with. After this, just click Save Set, name it, save it and you're all set! The output is an Adobe Photoshop brush file which you can then load if you accidentally reset your presets or send to your friends if they want to use your brushes.

If you followed every step demonstrated here, the new brush you produce will allow you to make something like this:

So there you have it! That's how I give my digital paintings a traditional touch! You might want to check out Jan Ditlev Christensen's brushes. He's one of the artists whose tools and techniques I study.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to leave your comments! :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Summoner Approaches

This is actually the second version of a painting I did some time last year. I cannot post the old version here for several reasons. All I can say is that the previous version looked bad enough to embarrass me. Before I decided to redo this piece all I could think of was how to get rid of it. But then one day, I stumbled upon an article. I believe it was from ImagineFX but my memory is not cooperating right now so I'm not really sure. The article says that even masters like Frank Frazetta revisited their works. True or not, that was all I needed to be told of in order to muster enough courage to work on this painting once more. I'm pretty happy with the result. I'm glad I gave it another shot.

more info on this painting

The Torchheads

This is an artwork I did earlier this year. You can check out the full view version in my DeviantArt Gallery.

Here's the original description of the image:

The Torchheads
Originally posted on 05/09/2010

I haven't painted anything surreal for a long time so I decided to make such a piece today. I heard my sister is working on weird stuff for one of her clients. One of the things assigned to her is to illustrate a family with flames on their heads instead of hair. I thought that was kind of interesting so I decided to incorporate that idea in this latest piece that I've experimented with.

This is my take on the subject matter. I chose a certain image as my reference. 

I don't really know why I chose a vintage family portrait rather than any other kind. It just popped into my mind. It was quite spontaneous and strange. I decided to incorporate that in this piece which was meant to be a little less usual.

As I am writing this, I actually feel like my head is on fire. The weather here is so hot, I can barely stand it.