Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Art By Committee - Gurney Journey

If you haven't visited James Gurney's blog, you should. He has lots of amazing and inspiring stuff on there. For someone with out much formal painting training it's a wonderful resource. I keep a link to it in my inspiration folder also know on bad days as the why-do-I-bother folder.

This is a piece that I did for "Art by Committee" but thought I'd post it here too. It's definitely inspired by my son. Visit Gurney Journey for the specifics of the challenge.

Animation Vacation

Over the summer my kids and I are going to try and make an animated movie (a very short animated movie). I'm not quite sure how we're going to do it yet. But I have some ideas and have been doing some reading. I did stumble across this great little shareware program the other day. It's really fun and is giving us a nice little intro to animation. We've all been playing with it. It's easy enough for a first grader but keeps us older kids busy too.

Pivot Stick Figure Animator

Tomorrow I'll try and post one of our masterpieces.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Illustration Friday - Wrinkles

Argh! After a long stretch at sea the Captain be needing a wee bit of moisturizer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Coloring Line Drawings in Photoshop

I'm back and all pumped up after this past weekend's SCBWI conference in Nashua, New Hampshah. I was very lucky in that they invited me to speak at the conference. I gave a talk about using the computer to create illustrations. During the session there was a question asked about how to colorize line drawings in Photoshop. There was a bit of confusion on this topic so I've decided to cover it again here.

There are several ways to colorize line art in PS. Here's the way I like to use...

First scan in your line drawing. If you have done so in Photoshop your line drawing will be on the background layer of a new Photoshop file. And you'll have something like this...

And your layers window will look like this...

For this technique you need that line drawing on a layer above the background layer so go to the layers window and duplicate the background layer. Now you will have a layer called "background" and one exactly like it above it called "background copy". Rename the top layer "line drawing" Click on "background" select the whole image (CTRL-A) and fill it with a solid color such as light blue. Of course since the black and white line drawing is still on top it looks like nothing has changed at this point. But your layers window will look like this...

Now click on "line drawing" layer and change the layer's blending mode from "normal" to "multiply". That will make the line drawing layer see through just as if you printed it out on a clear sheet of acetate sheet. Now you should see the blue background showing through.

And your layer window will look like this...

Now click on "Background" to make the Background layer active. Using the brush tool and a hard round brush start coloring the image just like a coloring book.

And your layers window will look something like this...

As you can imagine your can get fancy and use this same technique to add shadows, textures, etc. on that underlying background layer without harming the original line drawing. Hope this clears up the confusion.

Creating Perspective Lines in Illustrator

Here is one more tip from my SCBWI talk this past weekend. I have found this to be a handy technique hopefully someone else will too.

I have always had a problem when laying out perspective lines. I draw my horizon line on the paper, no problem. But when I go to establish my vanishing points they always seem to be somewhere off the edge of the paper. Does this happen to anyone else or is it just me?? Sometimes I can just tape on some extra paper but sometimes they are clear off the edge of the drawing board.

I've found Adobe Illustrator a handy solution. Adobe Illustrator gives the user a work area called the "Pasteboard". In the center of that is the "Artboard" The Artboard represents your paper (i.e. the stuff that's gonna print) The Artboard is a whopping 120" x 120". Much bigger than my drawing table. This give me lots of room to establish my vanishing points.

As you can see from the following screen shot. I zoomed way out. The white area is my pasteboard and the little rectangle in the middle represents a 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper.

Typically what I do is scan in my rough pencil drawing and save it as a .jpg file. Then in Illustrator I go to File-> Place and select my sketch and check off the Template option.

Here's my sketch which definitely needs some help...

Once the sketch is placed in Illustrator there I use the pen tool to create the horizon line. If you hold down the shift key it will force the line to be perfectly horizontal just like your horizon line should be. I usually make it red so I don't confuse it with other lines later. Also it's handy to put the horizon line on it's own locked layer so you don't erase it by mistake.

Once the horizon is established I pick another line color (usually blue) for my guidelines. Make sure you have smart guides on (CTRL-U) and using the pen tool create a line that starts on the horizon line and goes down to your object. To make vertical lines use the pen tool but hold down the shift key again (the shift key will make your lines absolutely horizontal or absolutely vertical) So then you end up with something like this...

The next step is to create the cube. I create another layer and lock the guideline layer so I'm not moving them by mistake. Then making sure you still have smart guides (CTRL-U) on, use the pen tool connect the guidelines to create a box...

This technique also works for cylinders. Just block it in like the above and then create an oval using the circle tool. But rotating and resizing the oval with the free-transform tool you can make it fit withing your guidelines. That is usually good enough for what I'm doing but it's not 100% correct. If you really need a more precise circles in perspective check out this tutorial from KH Illustration.

After creating guidelines for each of the objects and connecting the dots here's the final result (I've hidden the guideline and horizon layers).

Now what I typically do is print this out. Then using pencils and tracing paper I trace over it to add more details.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Illustration Friday - Save

When Grandma sends you a wad of cash for your birthday, the absolutely most boringest thing you could do with it is save it.

What about buying a whole shopping car full of vegetables?

Okay, maybe buying a whole shopping cart full of vegetables would be more boring. But saving it is second most boring thing.

What about buying a year's supply of underwear?

Ewww! I am NOT buying underwear with my birthday money - Gross! And I'm not gonna save it either - Umph!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Illustration Friday - Homage

I guess I'm paying homage to Madeline L'Engle. I've been reading the Wrinkle in Time books again for the first time since grade school. Tonight I read the chapter in the Wind in the Door that introduces the cherubim, Proginoskes. Proginoskes is a weird being that looks like a mass of eyes and wings and spurts of fire. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to illustrate.