Saturday, April 26, 2014

Drawing Brushes for Photoshop

So they say it doesn’t matter what brush you use in Photoshop you can achieve almost anything with any brush if you know how. I have heard this from just about every artist that works in digital art I’ve listened to. I agree it is not about the brush. It won’t make you better. However, I also agree with the idea that you need the right tool for the right job. When I first started working in Photoshop and trying to sketch in it because I love to sketch, I had a difficult time honestly because I was using brushes that came with Photoshop and getting hard dark lines. This messed with me as I like to draw lightly and gradually build up my values or go over a line and make it a bit darker when I like it. Having nothing but dark lines they all blended together and I had a hard time reading them and knowing where I wanted to go in my drawing.  So I looked around for brushes online and kinda found something I liked. It wasn’t the best but it worked for me well enough so I used it but still sketched mostly on paper then scanned it in to get a good drawing.

Then my computer got stolen and everything I had with it including all my software, digital portfolio and of-course my brushes in Photoshop. So I went about putting it all back, as much as I could anyway. I couldn’t find the drawing brushes I had been using or maybe they just didn’t feel right anymore or give me what I wanted. So I just drew with whatever but didn’t really use it for anything serious.

I then took an ink brush from an ImagineFX tutorial and changed its settings and got a drawing brush I liked. Then I changed them a bit more and liked it even more for sketching and shading. Here is a one minute life-drawing sketch I did with the light drawing brush.

 I use them set to about 5 pixels to draw with. If you leave it at that or around there and shade with the light drawing brush it will give you some texture as well making it seem more like an actual pencil drawing. The regular drawing brush I use mostly for dark lines that I want to bring out if they need it or with bolder paniting. I have these set so you can do a full range with the settings at 100% opacity and right now I am at 50% flow. The drawing below was done with just these 2 brushes no change in the settings 100% the whole time just control of the pen pressure.

I found that holding the pen straight up and down is good for the dark and hard lines where holding it as far to the edge as you can to shade like a pencil gives a very light stroke from barely perceptible to as dark as you want without having to lift or layer over an area to build up the gradation. You can go over an area though, with this same technique and lightly fill in the potential gaps left on your first pass depending on how fast or wide you made your strokes originally much like doing a smooth atelier drawing.  In-fact these are the brushes I used to draw and paint the “Valkyrie” piece I previously published here as I like to handle my painting like drawing in colour and be able to blend softly. I also used them in this piece section to draw in the flowers here and to put in the light colour in the background mountains behind them.

Now the really interesting part of this is I decided to use my light drawing brush for my eraser setting as well. And just like using it to draw I can lightly fade out an area or with more pressure erase an area all together in the same stroke. This is much more natural to me and I am loving it. I don’t have to set the eraser to a low setting and hope I don’t overlap making one bit of an area stronger than another because of that and then trying to blend it back in. I can just erase like I normally would on paper with a real eraser.

So, here are the brushes for you to enjoy because it sucks trying to find something good to draw with and get a natural media feel.

Alright, apparently I am having an issue uploading them here so if you want right now you can email me and I will email them out to you or you can wait and I will try to get them up ASAP.

Here is the link now to the brushes -

Monday, April 21, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sculptis and 3D in Illustration

For this week I am going to continue on a little about references showing something closer to James Gurney use of building a small model mock up of what it is you want to paint then lighting it and going from there.

The other night I spent about 30 minutes in Sculptis, a free toned down version of ZBrush found here This extremely easy to use 3D modeling tool (as this was my 1st time using it) let me create a quick reference for the Rabbit’s father’s head from my sketch of the Rabbit meeting his father in my fairytale series.  I was able to render it out, paint it and set the lighting - a bit. Now it is only a rough mock up as I didn’t paint it in Sculptis saving that for Photoshop later or overly render the sculpture. The lighting wasn’t like the more developed programs where I had different lights that I could control and set to where I want them but I could choose from a preset selection and get a variety of lighting anyway finding the one I wanted in the end.  It maybe more complex in it’s lighting but to this point I haven’t figured it out but then I have only used it once at this point. I can export it to Photoshop and with the more recent versions (I am on CS5) I can rotate it there and set it up how I want to use as a foundation with the lighting still in tact or just take a screen shot of it in Scultptis and use it as reference to paint in the shadows and lighting.

Now I am not trained in 3D sculpting or using the programs. I have MudBox and Maya on my computer for over a year now since I was able to pick them up for free as a student but never really touched them especially since the Maya interface is more complex then I have time to figure out. An introduction to Maya and some 3D animation are on my list of DVDs from Gnomon now for winning 2nd last month in the Sketch Theatre Forum contest. I might as well put them to use and expand my versatility in the arts hopefully expanding my employability as well.

If I can build up in 3D what I want to Illustrate I can make it that more believable when I do Illustrate it though. At 30 minutes for a solid head reference of a horned fantasy character it can be a time saver. It would take me longer to set it up and photograph it. And if I sculpt the character once I can pose it and use it again for other Illustrations and be assured they will look the same in each Illustration. Plus one of the things I wanted to do was make figurines of the characters as part of the merchandising for the storybook.

I would also recommend the free Google SketchUp for building 3D models of your buildings and some other things. It was originally started as a program for architects and is therefor best suited to more man made objects with hard corners and surfaces but you can find several free models of things in their library. You can also set the time of day for lighting so if your Illustration is to take place at sunset you can set it for that and get those long dark shadows you need. It is easy to use and I think I will start using it myself. I know several Illustrators use it in Concept Design as well as Illustration but had forgotten about it until Dan Dos Santos mentioned using it in his class the other day for this exact purpose.

And finally if you have any doubts about the ligitamacy of using photo reference for your Illustrations here is a fun post from Muddy Colors about it.

And if that doesn’t convince you look up Norman Rockwell’s process. He used photographs that were set up, modeled and used specifically for his Illustrations. And I don’t know anyone who would argue with Rockwell on painting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

So, I managed to take 2nd place this month in the Sketch Theatre Forum's monthly contest. The subject being a knight in armor. Not bad for me. It is another 10 Gnomon DVDs which aid in my own art education and lets me pick the ones I had left over from last month that I didn't get to choose. At about $60 a DVD it's not too bad for a few hours worth of work. Now, if I could be selling the sketches for that much I'd be really happy!