Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a little hello!

I've been busy, busy, busy. But, I'm working on things that I can't show - yet! Lots of illustrators will know how this goes. So, I sent my little friend to say hello. He's doing his part to keep my blog going. Thank you little bear!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I love Pinterest.

I'm not exactly sure why I first decided to try Pinterest. In fact, once I was on, I couldn't remember what the point was at all. I'm not interested in shopping, recipes, DIY (Do It Yourself) tips. Well, OK, a little maybe, but not enough to want to spend time browsing that stuff randomly. BUT, once I got going, I discovered that it can be what you make if it. I've been pleasantly surprised at the unique ways some of my friends are using it, creating their own personalized collections of all sorts of reference, blogs, books - even current events, creating a streamlined, organized set of readily accessable links. Who knew? Certainly not me! In short, I learned: it is whatever you make of it. Biggest surprise of all, it's USEFUL!

For me, it's a combination tool box and toy box. First, it can be easily built into a fantastic collection of visual reference. I've kept a clip file for decades, and though I'll probably still keep it, at least for now, Pinterest is so much easier to use for this purpose. Fantastic! And, if other illustrators might find some of what I've collected (so far) of use, I can share! Come visit at:

Another way to look at it, it's like bookmarking, but way, way better for us visual folks! And, I'm finding that it's great for idea generation and most of all inspiration! It feeds my soul. I especiallly love my toy box of imagery late at night - taking some time at the end of the day, soaking up gorgeous, interesting images, even if it's just for a few minutes. I can either see visual gems collected by others or go on a cyber search of my own, seeking out the beautiful, the unique, the fascinating, the sweet, the funny - many, sometimes surprisingly, igniting a creative spark.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tattoo Snowboy

Every mother's dream. How can you not love a kid who gets a tattoo like this? This piece started as part of an illustration challenge that I did with some illustrator pals. We tried to do a holiday sketch every day during the month of December last year. Here's the sketch I did back then:


     I had to switch to a vertical format. At first, I didn't like the idea, but in the end, I wound up liking it better. So, I guess it's always good to keep an open mind. Tattoos, nose rings, vertical formats? I can't speak for anyone else, but sometimes I surprise myself with what I wind up liking!                

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sketchbook page 2 - with Digital Baby steps.

Page 2 of my late night doodles, though I know my doodles become very finished drawings. What can I say? I am what I am. I had seen something on Facebook, I think, that looked like old master drawings on a tinted page, so I decided it would be fun to try and create that for these sketches. Here's the original drawing:


I found some free parchment texture online. I'm so sorry I didn't make note of where I got it. I should at least credit the source, but I haven't been able to find it again. At any rate, there's plenty out there if you do a search. Just be sure that there is no royalty and beware of the dpi. This one was 72 dpi - OK for what I wanted, but beware. If I were doing something that could potentially be sold, I'd create my own texture.  Coffee stains might be nice and the edges could be burned. I remember doing that in high school! Here's the one I found online. Believe it or not, this is what I started with:


When you drag the texture onto the Photoshop icon on your dock, it opens a new Photoshop document with the texture as the background.  Double clicking on this background layer turns it into layer 0. You can name it, if you like. You'll see a window like this:


Obviously, I wanted adjustments! So, with layer 0 selected, I then went to Image - Adjustments. First I adjusted with Levels. But then, with Image - Brightness/ Contrast and Hue/Saturation. Here are my Hue/Saturation adjustments below. Then, I opened the sketch in Photoshop and dragged it onto the document with the texture (2nd below):



You can see the adjusted color and saturation of the parchment on the sides. It doesn't look like it worked though does it? Well, surprise, surprise - a bit more Photoshop magic and we'll get there! The sketch is now layer 2. So, all you need to do is select layer 2 and make it a multiply layer:


This (above) is the layers palette. You can see layer 2 (the sketch) behind the list of pull down options. It's selected, so it's blue. In the pull down options under normal, click multiply and that's when the sketch blends with the parchment, paper layer. A simple crop and that part was done.  No screen shot of it. Surprizing, since I'm crazy for screen shots. But, I don't think you needed that one - so you were spared! Basically, it's the image up top, without the darkened edges. That's next.

To darken the edges, go to the Layer Style window. Double click or control click on the layer and this window opens:



Finally! The final step! To make the edges dark, look on the left side of the Layer Style window above. Choose Inner Shadow and you will see a window like this:

You can adjust the size and color of the shadow, the angle, and lots more. There are also many other options to play with in the styles listed on the left. Have fun, because pretty much everything can be undone - Command - z! Or, Edit - step backward. Or, just go back in the history palette.

I should also remind everyone, from time to time, that I am still working in CS3. And also say again that all work on this site is © Marion Eldridge. Thank you! Here's another look at the finish.





Sunday, June 24, 2012

IF: Refresh ....and Splash! And a blurry Digital Baby Step

What could be more 'refreshing' than a shower of rain? Well, we may not all agree on that. However....

In my never ending quest to get Photoshop to do what I want it to, I've been trying a number of things  to provide blending or, blurring. I'm always attempting to soften edges in my illustrations. So, one thing I do is to use the blur tool and run it along edges. Simple. And, it works - a bit. I know I could take this a lot farther by simply doing edges at a very low opacity. Someday I'm going to do a piece where I take this to an extreme, maybe a ghost for Halloween. Or, maybe just to create a really fuzzy, atmospheric piece - just for it's own sake. It's coming. Someday. In the meantime, I've learned recently about applying the Gaussian Blur to individual layers and I used it quite a bit in the piece above.  I love it! Here's a small section from another piece. This is not a single layer and not from the piece above (sorry) but I think it will show you what I mean.

Start with a layer. (Or in this case a section.) Go to Filter then, Blur and then to Gaussian Blur. This can be applied to a single layer in Photoshop so long as that layer is selected. You will then get a window that looks like this:

Next, you apply the blur. The thing I really love about doing a Gaussian Blur in this way is that you are given a little slider, so you can chose the amount of blurring that looks right for you. Notice above the slider (or Radius) is at 0.1 pixels. This is the starting point, so there is no blurring yet. But take a look at this!

Here (above) is what the blur looks like at 4.0 pixels. It's so nice to be able to blend and soften with a couple of clicks! There are still many times when I prefer to blend by hand, at low levels of opacity. For example, the sky in the piece at the top of this post was done that way. But, I used the Gaussian Blur on individual layers at very low levels and I like it a lot! The key, for me, is low levels. But, it's definitely something to play with - different levels for different situations, I'm sure!

I hope this little piece of Photoshop information is helpful to my fellow Digital Baby Steppers!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sketches, Doodles and .... Idea Generation!

This page of sketch/doodles was inspired by fellow illustrator, Russ Cox. Russ has committed to doing a sort of stream of consciousness type of doodling/sketching on a regular basis and has seen some changes in his work as a result. You can see some of his wonderful sketchbook pages and read about how it's been working for him  here. Be sure to click on the images for a larger view. Russ credits Gerald Kelley and Hazel Mitchell for "kickstarting" him to do more of this type of work. You can see Gerald Kelley's very beautiful work here. Be sure to scroll down and see his warm ups. Super! And, have a look at Hazel Mitchell's blog here and her fantastic sketchbook slide show here. What a great way to share her lovely work! Very inspiring. I love when artists pay it forward!

Something interesting I found while doing this: By drawing them all on one page, the process turned into it's own form of idea generation. I didn't do them separately and then scan and combine them. So, I was pretty conscious of how they were working together - or not. This may have made me think about it more than I should have. But, the plus side was that it sometimes forced me to come up with things to fill a space - things I may not have come up with otherwise. One example is the little guy on top towards the center. The shape of his face and hat fit the space. So, that's how he came about. Not a bad way to get a little nudge for a new idea. I don't think I'll be doing it this way every time,  but it was a fun little exercise with an unexpected benefit.

My other stream of consciousness type of drawing is what I've called "After Hours Drawing." You can see them by clicking that phrase under labels to the left. It's absolutely the most intuitive type of drawing that I do and I love it! Here's one from the past:


It all started with his nose. The rest, honestly, felt like it drew itself. Someday this piece WILL be done in color! It will! It will! In the meantime........

My "After Hours" character made his color debut for the Illustration Friday prompt: Acrobat. This was quite awhile ago. But, from time to time, I've tried to come up with a storyline for him. And, just yesterday, I think I finally came up with one that might work! So, you never know what a doodle, a sketch or an "After Hours Drawing" might lead to! There's still a long way to go, but it's a start that I wouldn't have had without the spark of a sketch, a doodle or an "After Hours Drawing." 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kelly Light's Workshop: Character Design 101

Illustrator and workshop presenter extraordinaire, Kelly Light, shared this exercise at the 2012 New England SCBWI conference. Sorry to say, I wasn't there. But, I found out about this fun little challenge that Kelly introduced in her workshop and had to give it a try. You can get the scoop about how this works straight from Kelly by clicking here. Fun stuff! Go for it!

For more character fun, by some super illustrators, check out Jennifer Marsh Morris's blog here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Captain Cracker and Digital Babysteps

I once had a painting teacher who said, if you're going to be out of style you might as well be way out of style. So, I'm applying his idea to the season. Might as well be way out of season. This piece is a finish from a sketch that I did last December. I'm either really early for Christmas or really late, but here it is. The caption for this one would be "Captain Cracker commands you to have a Happy Holiday!" And maybe "Go nuts!" It came about when I took a close look at one of our nutcrackers and discovered that he was looking pretty serious! (A polite way of saying PO'd.) If this ever becomes a card, maybe it would appeal to those Christmas shoppers who are feeling a bit like he does. Well......... Maybe.

My latest digital baby step was a big one, for me! I learned that if you hover your mouse over each of the tools in the toolbar, you'll see a letter for that tool. Simple keyboard commands for tools! Wow! What a difference! I draw on a Wacom Tablet, so while I'm drawing with my right hand, I can just press the letter of the tool that I want with my left hand! No need to press 'command' or 'option' or anything else! Just the letter. So when I want to use the eyedropper, I press 'i.' The brush tool is 'b.' And so on. This is a huge time saver. I've only shown a small portion of the toolbar above. I imagine that you will each have your favorites. Some of mine are the brush (b) the eraser (e) the eyedropper (i) the zoom (z) and the blur tool (r). I should also say, I'm still in CS3 - so far it's doing everything I want. I know you can also customize the letters for the tools. That doesn't seem necessary to me now. But, who knows... good to keep an open mind and keep learning! Go nuts!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Greetings from Snow City

During the month of December, I participated in a sketch challenge, doing a sketch per day of anything related to December, holidays or the holiday season. Here's a finish of one of those sketches. At first, I titled this post "Saying Goodbye to Winter," but here in New England, we hardly had a winter. Certainly, hardly any snow. But, it is April. He is waving. He could be saying goodbye. However, I have a bunch of snowfolk sketches that I plan to do in color. You may be seeing them from time to time all year long. So, maybe I should call this guy the Invincible Snowman?  Wait.... I have it! I'm changing the title to "Greetings from Snow City!" Yes! That's where snowmen go after they melt. They never REALLY go away! I'm sure of it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Know-er or the No-er and the No-Bull dog. An After Hours Drawing

This is a fictional character in a fictional world. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely coincidental. This is an After Hours Drawing where the pencil leads me wherever it wants to go and here's where we wound up. If you'd like to see more After Hours Drawings, just click on that phrase to the left under "LABELS."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

IF - Suspense - Digital Baby Steps - Keyboard Commands

This week's prompt for Illustration Friday is "Suspense." It happens that I had this drawing that I did one night, as part of my After Hours Drawing series. That's really just stuff that I doodle when I don't have the energy to work on other things such as actual jobs, work for specific things such as cards, apps (yes, I'm working on one.) or book dummies. In other words, things that impose certain limitations.  

So, one night, after hours, I just started drawing and this is what happened. (That's a characteristic of After Hours Drawing - whatever happens happens.) To put it up today for IF, I did my usual scribbly rendering and then scanned it into Photoshop and combined it with a background color. I have some screen shots below.

This is NOT a finished piece! Eventually it will be full color. Perhaps a limited palette, but not this limited. Just keep in mind, this is only the beginning. I couldn't resist adding the light from the partially open door, hoping that it creates some suspense.  In addition to more color, I may use different textures in different layers. That's something I want to experiment with.

This shows the background color that I wanted for this piece and the scanned sketch side by side. This is all that fit on my screen, but it was enough to do the job. The background is created by going to file - new and making a blank document either the same size as the sketch or larger. (If it's larger, it can be cropped, but it must be large enough to hold the sketch, so  can't be too small.) Pick a color and drop it in with the paint bucket tool.

Then, drag the sketch onto your background and make it a multiply layer. It will blend the sketch with the background color. I LOVE this! It doesn't happen automatically, so don't panic! Just see below:

The multiply layer is created by selecting multiply in the drop down menu in the upper left of the layers palette. You can see, I selected multiply for my sketch - the sketch layer is highlighted) This blended my drawing with the blue background. And that's that!

On a little different digital note, last time, I wrote about some favorite keyboard shortcuts. My friend Barry Gott told me about something called ikey which seems like the mother of all keyboard commands. I'm still learning how it works, but Barry is a genius and super techie. When Barry speaks, I listen! So, here's ikey. Have a look! I'll be adding more friend's favorite keyboard commands in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IF- Forward - Digital Baby Steps

Well, she certainly is leaning forward. I also call this one, " Gone With The Wind." No, just kidding. I like the way this one looks with the type in place. Sorry, can't share that now.  But, I can share the image. Part of an ongoing project.

As my Digital Baby Steps contribution for this one, I'll share a few keyboard commands that are my favorites. Believe me, I am still learning!  So, these are Baby Steps for sure, but very useful. 

Command S - Save
Command Z - Undo
Command Zero - Fit on screen

And, a new one that I just learned from Tracy Bishop:

Command - option Z - multiple undos by going through the history palette.

I just tried this one! Excellent! Thank you Tracy!
Be sure to check out Tracy's portfolio here. Awesome work!

I plan to share more favorite keyboard commands in future posts, as I learn them from friends, so stay tuned if you are learning, as I am! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

IF-Grounded and a Belated Happy New Year!

I hope it's not too late to wish all my friends a Happy New Year! This piece is a finish of one of the sketches I did during the month of December. The challenge was to do a sketch a day. What made it really fun was that I did it with two fantastic illustrators, Laura Jacobsen, and Linda Silvestri. We called it HoHoDooda and you can see what I did by clicking on that word under labels to the left. You can do the same on Laura and Linda's blog to see all their Decembers drawings. It was great fun to see what amazing, beautiful work they came up with day after day. Much wonderful work was done! Now, the fun will be to see if some of those sketches make it to finishes. That wasn't part of the commitment, but you never know.
If you'd like to see my sketch for this piece, you can find it here. You'll also discover something that I changed my mind about.
For Illustration Friday, this Mr. Snowpeep may be a little bit high from his bottle of Champagne, but I think he's well grounded. He's not going anwywhere. Or, is he? Well, that could be a whole other story, couldn't it?