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.