Sketches from my first sketchbook: Six years of progress #1

I took my first art/design course when I was a sophomore in high school (six years ago). I was interested in making art for video games and I was already learning C# and experimenting with tools like Autodesk maya and engines like UDK to make my own stuff.

That whole dream never really panned out (ended up in hard sciences) but I really went at the art. I was doing fifty hours a week, staying up all night to practice contour and learn to draw new things. It was one of my first real obsessive periods. I periodically get really into things which later eb and flow but most have stuck around (writing and drawing more than anything).

For the class we had to do daily sketches from life or our head based on a prompt. These are some of them. Bare in mind that while I was working hard, I was very much a beginner. It’s awesome to look back and compare this stuff to my current works and compositions. The style is actually pretty similar, still, in a lot of ways. It’s just more refined and cohesive now.

I’ll go in order of the pages and this was taped to the front page.

IMG_8995

I started out with bic pens and markers which s what this was in. Pretty sketchy shading but I was really proud of the contour. It took my a while and few tries at the time to nail down the general shape of a face let alone the gesture of a body.

This was probably the first time I tried to depict tattoos on skin, which is something I do on a regular basis now. I’ve gone so far as to design elaborate tattoos just so I could put them in a drawing later on:

copyr

In this semi-photo-realistic digital portrait I spent the most time on the tattoos and hair. I’ve found that abstract designs (time here) work much better for accenting skin in the context of a drawing.

This style evolved further into turning the skin into it’s own canvas within a canvas:

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Here the skin is less skin and more of a symbolic mosaic kind of story. I don’t like to explain intent explicitly and won’t, but there is a specific reason things are where they are here.

To me it’s really cool to be able to trace stylistic elements I employ in my hyper-realism and composite art back to one of the first decent anime sketches I did a few months after I started drawing.

Cynic 34

Writing and creating artwork is pretty much the best thing ever. It comes to me whenever I need, and goes when I don’t. I love that. The hard part for me is sharing the products. It’s nerve-wracking putting a piece of yourself on display to be ridiculed or loved or even ignored. No, it feels much better to keep such things private, to hide them away from the toxic fangs of judgment and just enjoy them. That’s what I do most of the time, why most of my work never leaves this blog. It feels safer here than places like deviant art or even design by human.

Is it weird that I only find enjoyment in the act of creating? Even when it’s positive feedback or constructive…I don’t know. I don’t want these things to feel high stakes, I want them to be a medium for expression and emotion and a release. Maybe some of it comes from school, where I’m judged constantly during exams, quizzes, and projects. Maybe the arts an escape from that, and by sharing or submitting I end up falling into that same examination. I don’t like that feeling. I just wanna make pretty stuff and feel something.

I think that’s why I take so many hiatuses from blogging or posting anything at all. My art is just better when I don’t think about what other people will think about it. You know?

Anyway, happy hump day.

-Blu

Monthly Drawing Mosaic 2: April

Really starting to fall in love with Photoshop as a medium. Whatever is in your head…just make it happen.

 

Note: While not all of these are watermarked, they are copy righted (copr Blu-art 2018). If you’d like to use any of them, just ask first and I’ll likely say yes and provide a full resolution version. 

Cheers,

Blu

Painting for my Cousin’s birthday – Taurus

He’s a weight-lifter who just won state in power-lifting. He’s also a Taurus so I decided to continue the zodiac project which I’d been putting off.

Taurus.png

So my goal was to give the piece a heavy handed impact and a strong center focus, with the eyes being the most rendered bits. Been experimenting with more impressionistic and suggestive styles for skin facial structure. I think the varied texture and coloring of the skin and the blob of black with little bits of brown that suggest curly hair turned out well. The backgrounds a little meh, but I wanted the focus to go straight to the blue/purple eyes. The horn and shattered stone cow represent Taurus and the traits associated.

To me, it looks a lot like a traditional portrait for Scorpio I did four or five months ago: cropped-determination41.jpg

copr Blu-Art 2018

The theory and direction here was very similar, except it’s in watercolor and pen.

It’s crazy to think I’ve only just started my transition to digital art a few months ago, and I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made. I feel myself getting to the point where I can translate my traditional art style to my digital work in a much more fluid manner. When I first tried out digital drawing I was discouraged because everything felt disconnected. It felt like I wasn’t really building off of old skills, just learning something new. Now it feels like I’m slowly combining the two into something uniquely me.

Beyond the fact that this drawing was for someone close, it is important to me because it made me realize where I want to take my art and style as a whole. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time, too.

 

Cheers,

Blu

Is Digital Art Cheating? – an actual blog post since I guess I have a blog that I don’t blog on and should fix that

I was at a party where many art majors were present last night.

I tend to sit in a corner and hangout with the person who invited me at these sorts of gatherings since I don’t drink. There was a lively debate running at a table I was near, and it caught my attention. There was a man arguing that digital art took literally no skill and that while it may take some time to learn the tools, was essentially the technician version of being a radiologist (technician is a good job, so he was already off base with the analogy).

So me and my friend both took issue with this and told him so. He kinda laughed because I guess I don’t look all that cool. Now I mean my main qualm was his assertion that someone couldn’t be both a digital artist and someone who could use a pencil. Now I use pens, which have a reputation for being significantly less wieldy than pencils (look ma, no eraser). So I told him that I do digital art and think I can also illustrate semi-competently.

Do I consider myself a professional or expert? No, absolutely not, and I hope I never think I’m an expert because that’s when you have hit your cap. I don’t ever wanna stop learning or improving because that progress is what drives me to make art in the first place. But do I think I can draw most things I’d want to? Yeah, I could attempt it and do an alright job probably. But it’s all practice.

So he told me to prove it, and I’m like “okay”.

I showed him this, which is multimedia, granted, but the digital and traditional portions are distinct. It was a traditional drawing that I later redid the background in illustrator.

Hunger Demon7

His response: “Pfft, that’s low art.”

My friend flipped on him there, asked him to share his high art. I was already uncomfortable with his insult, because I worked hard on this and never intended to sell it because it was art for something personal, which I think is what art should be for. It was the fourth drawing I did when I started drawing again early last year during a very difficult time in my life. This piece meant something to me, and art should mean something to you when you make it. This piece depicts bulimia nervosa and OCD which are both worth depicting, because they are brutal disorders.

If you really think you can honestly look at any drawing or piece of art and determine in five seconds whether or not it is low (has no meaning or minimal low-brow value/appeal) or high (has meaning and value), then you don’t know how art works.

So, he showed us a picture from a gallery of a large painting with an abstract horse thing as the subject. And it was good, in my opinion. I’m a sucker for abstract and impressionism. I told him I liked it and he seemed kinda self satisfied and my friend looked at me like what’s wrong with you. But I wasn’t gonna lie and say I didn’t like it to be bitter, I mean then I’d be like him; toxic.

Anyway. I left with her pretty quick after that, didn’t want to be around the negativity I’d associated with the room and party. I felt kind of bad until I thought about it more and realized that his attitude will ultimately prevent him from learning and getting better and that’s what’s sad…That he needs to shit on other peoples hard work and throw around “low art” when he doesn’t even understand the context of something.

 

I thought about the question more and here’s my answer:

I don’t think either is better, I think they are different and similar, but one is not better or a “lower” form of art. Traditional is hard because you don’t have a perfect eraser or perfect paper that never breaks. It’s easier to add than take away. This limitation is ninety-nine% mitigated in digital art, but now you have to either drop two-thousand on a flagship cintiq or struggle to draw lines with a mouse or low quality tablet. TABLET DRAWING IS SO HARD THAT I DRAW WITH A MOUSE.

Yes, I draw with a mouse and attempt to draw lines with a mouse. This is part of what makes digital art challenging, the images are not auto generated, you still have to make these things. And when you’re using composites it’s a whole different beast to blend disparate images together, it’s heavier and hard shading to do that than to draw a face in my experience.

But I love both because they look different and are unique. I can’t draw something that looks traditional in Photoshop and I can’t draw hyper-realism on traditional mediums. (I can composite backgrounds in after scanning via multimedia techniques though).

I feel like art is up against enough when we artists aren’t trying to eat up each others confidence, you know?

 

 

Cheers,

Blu

Challenge: Abstract portrait using stacks of paper as a canvas

This turned out pretty clean all things considered. I used a stock photo of stacked papers as a base then drew the face (mostly splatter style, the nose was hard and took the most time), then accented the areas with other composites (the street is from Iowa City where I study). Tried a meatier style for the eye which is meant to be the focus with all the composites shooting out of it.

Here’s the stock photographers page who provided the canvas for free: Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

17×30 inch at 200dpi

Soapyabstract4.png

copr Blu-art 2018, Arctic-Ink 2018

It’s pretty similar to the challenge I did here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2018/03/30/challenge-drawing-a-dragon-eye-using-a-leaf-as-a-canvas/

Except it’s mostly drawn where the dragon eye was frankensteined together with about twenty images and I really only shaded in the rocks and eye with the sketch in the pupil. That one was easier because it was all blending and less brushwork.

Here’s the original image (sourced above)

brandi-redd-122054-unsplash (1)

 

Cheers!

-Blu

Space Man – Artwork + Steps

I took steps this time!

I FINALLY REMEMBERED. I always forget, because there’s around eight pieces I don’t finish for everyone I do so the early steps often are done in a single file because it feels low risk still. The farther along I get the more backups I make so yeah.

This was about four hours in, a lot of plain splatter blocks from the under painting are still visible.

Astro-Soldier1stt.png

 

Another thirty minutes or so, finished up the right arm and attached the NASA insignia. (This is modeled off of a NASA photograph). Also did a lot of work on the reflection base. Moved the blacks out a little to start placing the mid-tones of the background. I do this so I know where to fit the composites in while maintaining a compositional balance. It also gave me space to draw in the blurred bits of the ship and suit being torn off which I think ended up pretty cool.

Astro-Soldier1st

 

About three hours of filling in the blanks, decided on the darker background for both sides. The right side is meant to have a ship, but I realized I probably couldn’t draw it right or composite anything in with that much light. Also it wasn’t all that compositionally balanced. Astro-Soldier

 

About five hours, added composite 1 (links to free image are at bottom) Astro-Soldier3

 

Like thirty minutes, just did some reflection work and added more blood splatter detail. Darkened scaffolding. Got rid of the mouthpiece because it wasn’t cooperating with the glass composite (links at bottom). Astro-Soldier6

 

Couldn’t decide between red and purple so I duplicated the layer and used both lol. Astro-Soldier10

 

Another few hours of little details. I think the blood might be too bright with the anti gravity. Spent a lot of time on it but it’s meh. Astro-Soldiercopr

copr Blu-Art 2018, copr Arctic-Ink 2018

 

A space-man who met an unfortunate end doing what he loved. Rest in peace Space-man.

Overall this was really fun. Working with the texture brushes to get the space suit done was really challenging and engaging. I left the hands out because I wanted some of the under painting to survive and because I can’t draw gloves (I’ve been working on clothes really hard but like hands did, gloves seem to allude me). I did try a few times but I was like, this looks cooler without the gloves anyway. I also wanted the most in focus part to be the helmet, so everything else was left pretty stylistic while I hyper rendered the helmet with composite work.

 

Free stock:

Photo by Wenniel Lun on Unsplash    (coloration of helmet glass)
Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash    (Blurred out background and stars)
Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash    (Used for emissive light bokeh)

 

PS: This design is available through Design by Humans here: https://www.designbyhumans.com/shop/t-shirt/men/space-man/900404/

 

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My Portfolio: https://arctic-ink.myportfolio.com/

My Deviant Art: https://arctic-ink.deviantart.com/

My Design by Humans shop: https://www.designbyhumans.com/shop/ArcticInk/

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Love Kills – Artwork

This was deceptively complicated to figure out and structure. I struggled quite a lot with making the face not derpy and even tried out using fur textures. Ended up running the opposite way and killing most of the detail on the wolf person to draw focus to the emissive window I put together (as it was much cleaner and ultimately more interesting).

 

Love hurts4

Flowers where your Face should be – Artwork

Back to using leaves as canvases. I’ve decided I rather like leaves! They are plain enough to put things on but unique looking enough to effect whatever you put on them.

Flowers where your face should be13

 

I’ve got a lot of random art coming the next few days. Been holed up for a good week or two now just focusing on getting better. A major goal has been to get better at clothes, which I think I have. No clothes here but the next five or so have clothes.