Cancer – Painting

Phew. Been working on this one for a few months. A put out a smaller version a while back, then realized it had more potential. So I added, a lot. And made it huge. I’m proud of it. There’s a lot of little details that are easy to miss, especially when it’s shrunk down like this. (If you can find the negative space crab, I’ll be impressed.

I still need to clean up a few things (especially the lips and the transition to the waterfall). But I think it’s on track to be one of my most complex pieces.

 

94×73 inch digital painting

Cancer

copr Blu-art and Arktic-ink 2018, all rights reserved.

Wallpaper cut:

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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:

8

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.

How I draw eyes (at x25 zoom!)

Eyes are usually my favorite or one of my favorite parts of doing a drawing. I’ve spent a good deal of time lately wondering how to work them into my more realistic drawings. Realistic eyes are actually rather simple compared to not realistic eyes. I started out doing realistic eyes, which are darker and not all that interesting but decided if something was going to be unrealistic, the eyes were good candidates. So I had fun with it and tried a new technique:

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I basically just treated it like there was a floodlight shining in and the cornea was lit up. It ended up looking graphic and decent enough to keep.

 

Moving forward I decided to go for well-lit but also more realistic. So I made the texture in it’s own PSD at a higher resolution. The only issue is that it ended up looking more realistic than the other bits (way too realistic, it’s actually a little creepy zoomed in like this). In the context of this drawing, where the eyes are a focus, that’s fine, but it’s not something I can apply to everything so I decided to blend the realism a little more:

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Being able to start with the eye in the beginning really helped this one. It’s much less imposed on the eye ball. I did play it a little safe and the eye isn’t actually very detailed this time, but I think it fits this drawing nicely:

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This one I think turned out the best. I used a higher res file to make the eye then superimposed it. Here, it feels less out of place. The shading and makeup are a little blurry, but they aren’t blow out. So the lighting at least sort of matches the overlit and hyper rendered eye:

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For technique here, you kinda have to play it by the ey…ear. Uh…basically just make concentric circles of a similar shades of whatever color you want it to be. I always make the middle brightest and get darker as I go out. These are pixel drawings, so if you have vector software, it’d be easier to pull off. That said I’m so used to shading pixels that it doesn’t really bother me. The light source on these eyes don’t match the light source of the drawing, and I think the drawings are actually better for it. I’ve kinda been learning over the past few weeks that realism isn’t always better.

Texture Drawing with Steps

For a texture based drawing like this, you kind of have to know what you’re going for, then accept that the result probably won’t look the way you think it will. I wanted to do a portrait of a character I’d already drawn, which is actually harder than drawing a new character, because you can’t just wing the features.

Step 1 (about five hours): Yes, texture drawings without blending are terrifying. I molded the textures I wanted to use into the correct shape then did some rudimentary blending and erasing out places for the drawn and more detailed parts of her face. There are some brush strokes here, but they are suggestive and serve mostly as a framework or placeholder for what is to come.

step 2

Step 2 (about six hours): Drew the majority of the important bits in. Most notably the first few layers of the nose, lips,  teeth, hair and sweatshirt.

Sopbhie withoutshading

 

Step 3 (around eight hours): I should have taken more pictures in between for this step, but it was a lot of drawing and redrawing to get the eyes to blend into the texture and create that cracked illusion. I did a lot of work on the skin and actually retextured a few areas to get it to work better. I did most of the skins texture in a fence brush (splatter blending style).

Most of the time spent was noticing little issues in light room and going back in to fix them a good seven-nine times.

Sopbhie 6-3

It ended up looking entirely different then what I’d pictured, but I like it a lot. Came in at only forty layers which is good, because it means I’ve gotten more efficient at reducing extraneous layers that make it needlessly complex to manage and edit.

Moving forward I want to look into re-balancing the darker marks on the right cheek, as they are too dark right now and are flattening the implied positioning of the cheek.

Cheers,

Lilith 🙂

Revamping the Wall-Spider (Artwork)

Having recently completed the general and rough manuscript for Butterfly Gate and passing it off to a trusted editor, I suddenly have time to work on my other stories and art projects. Re-reading and editing the same 460 page story three times within a week is hard work, but also really engaging and fun for me.

So this week (Spring Break!) has been all about planning new art for my other work-in-progress Saving Hadley and tackling a new arc. I also had time on the side to start writing my third project, Wall-Spider in a more serious capacity. As soon as I finished the rough short story (now chapter one of Wall-Spider) I knew I wanted to take it farther, but I already had a few engulfing projects. It was great to really delve into developing a new book, and infinitely less stressful than the first two times.

It’s a little mind-blowing and encouraging how visible the improvement has been. I started by  re-working the short story. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t up to my current standards or style, so I improved the flow and counter-play between the first and third person narration. Then, having a good six months of ideas and notes about where I wanted to take it, barfed out a cool sixty pages, which was a new record for me.

But there’s other clerical work I do when I approach a novel. Part of that was taking the art I’ve already done for Wall-Spider and reworking it.

Before:

Hunger Demon
Hunger Demon

After:

Hunger Demon

The main challenge was retroactively fixing the perspective issues with the first sketch. Then I drew as realistic of a padded cell backing as I could in Photoshop. The rest was simple lighting.

Obviously there are still some lighting and perspective issues, but I felt good about it for a simple three-hour session. One of the main takeaways from this for me is to really spend more time planning perspective. Messing up the two-point as badly as I did on a drawing that was otherwise very solid and emotionally personal/important to who I am was a little silly. I could have avoided the issue by spending two minutes with a compass to measure the two-point, but I free-handed the lines and rolled with it.

Art, writing, and a Mugshot of my Doggo.

Hi! Just a casual update on what projects I’ve been tackling over the past two months. I got a little side tracked from my zodiac project over the holidays (for the right reasons). I added a few more metallic flourishes to Sagittarius: IMG_7526After that I spent a good bit of time being anxious about whether or not to paint a background and what colors to use on the figure itself. So naturally I just drew something else!

My friends b-day was in early December, so I drew the cleric-beast from Bloodbourne: IMG_7428Pics a little blurry, sorry about that! I used a reference image. Actually I basically just copied the games concept art! A cute little piece of plagiarism? It sounds nicer if you just say fan art, you decide <3. Here’s the original: 

After that I started writing more and just relaxing for the holidays. I have a heavy load this semester, so I want to do my best to enjoy vacation before jumping into the meat grinder. I’ve mostly just been doodling unplanned drawings and working on my book.

Here is a lovely portrait of my doggo, Rufus. And before you ask, yes, he is available for casting in any of your movies. He’s a stone-cold professional, and will be a diva.

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Cheater

Cheater

Amazing face,
That’s all I see,
Let me taste,
Our serenity.

How could I lie,
That ill-thought night,
I made you cry,
A soul-torn plight.

I do admit though,

Low-born fire,
Inside this knot,
You called me a liar,
Said; go fester and rot.

On purities pyre,
A monolith grows higher,

Strewn through pain I wrought upon us both,
That night in the fire.

But you still know this,
If I ever spoke truth,

Alone;

I’d be a night-crowns kill,
A shell of a man,
So love you I will,
As much as I can.

A few reasons why “13 Reasons Why” doesn’t actually promote suicide.

Preface: This is an atypical post, as Bluebeard is an art project, not a platform for media commentary. I write stories, I’m the opposite of a diplomat, abrasive, even. Yet, I’m inclined to defend this series’ integrity. This show is an exception, in many regards. It handles topics most people won’t touch in a deft and admirable fashion. I’ll spare you a half-assed plot summary and get to the point. If you haven’t seen it, and you have access, I highly recommend it.

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It’s not an easy thing, to balance entertainment and tragedy. Catharsis is one of the most misunderstood and least accepted precursors of joy. The concept is this; without negativity, without different emotions, and without pain, joy would be meaningless. A constant and uninterrupted joy is the equivalent to a never ending supply of heroin at your bedside. It would be fake. Light is only recognizable amidst darkness, so to speak. This is why I respect ’13 Reasons Why’ and what it does.

It creates a meaningful dialogue in a country where, frankly, we suck at feelings. It’s 2017 and people still say “Commit Suicide” like it was a crime, a murder. It’s not, and has not been in the United States since the ’80s. We treat it like it’s something dirty, we don’t educate our youth about the dangers of depression and self-harm. We ignore the victims who suffer from it every day, telling them to suck it up, because we’ve cultivated an individualistic sink-or-swim community where many would prefer to see their friends fail than see their friends surpass them. It’s this ignorance an repression that ultimately leads to higher rates of suicide in every demographic.

’13 Reasons Why’ is a perfect example of what we need more of; exposure. You can’t fight what you don’t understand, as a chemist, that fact has been drilled into my mind for years. You don’t cure cancer without an intimate knowledge of the mechanics surrounding the mutations that cause it (cyclins, P53, etc.). Yet, research on suicide and depression continues to be given a backseat to things like developing new tanks, war-machines, and war-heads because if it can’t knock the earth from its orbit, it isn’t explosive enough. The best way to combat depression is to talk about it.

As someone who has suffered from depression, as someone who’s lost someone close to their heart to depression, and someone who has thought about suicide at least once a week for the past five years, I can tell you with near-perfect certainty that the one thing that has been effective for me was having someone to talk to. Someone who wouldn’t call me an attention whore. Someone who wasn’t going to judge me for what I might be going through, however trivial it may appear from the outside looking in. Those people aren’t easy to find, because we are socialized to value stoicism and strength over emotion and introspection.  The result of that, by the way, is that the cruel and stupid flourish at the expense of the thoughtful. If you’ve ever been beaten up by over four people on the playground while the aid turned the other cheek, you know what I’m talking about.

The argument against ’13 Reasons Why’ is this: Hannah’s suicide romanticizes self-harm, the tapes glorify suicide, makes it appealing, thereby increasing suicide rates.

Ironic to see this coming from the same news outlets that have a field day when when some kid shoots up a school. Glorifying school shootings by making the shooter famous and showing their face to everyone gives the killer what they wanted. This isn’t that. Hannah’s characterization is slowly revealed through the tapes, the (extremely valid) reasons she was in pain. One thing above all led to her decision, though. That was the fact that no-one was there for her. She tried, very explicitly, to reach out. Nobody gave a fuck. Instead they continued to abuse her, both verbally, and in one grim instance, sexually.

That’s the point. That’s all there is to it. Compassion and the simple act of being there, the act of not presuming to know what somebodies going through.

Not everything people are saying is wrong, her suicide scene was romanticized, in the artistic sense of the word. It was an artistic and cathartic scene that made me cry. But romanticizing something doesn’t glorify it, it’s the act of making it relatable. It’s the context that matters.

’13 Reasons Why’ accomplished something when they made depression, pain, and suicide relatable to a mass audience. The people who jump on it and condemn its intentions are the same callous, sensationalist, and opportunistic folks who’d sell everything they are for success. Success is relative. Means do not always justify ends.

I’m not arguing Hannah’s character is perfect, because she’s not. She has flaws that inhibit other peoples ability to help her, most notably Clay, the socially inept protagonist. But who doesn’t have issues? Who doesn’t have the occasional self-destructive moment? People who say they don’t ever have painful moments need to take their masks off and look in the mirror.

Another salient point is that just because Netflix produced something that contains an instance of self-harm, doesn’t mean Netflix is trying to get people to kill themselves. That same logic only holds when applied to everything, including murder, crime, and things a whole lot worse than depression that are regularly aired without criticism. We do this, this taboo stuff. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s ironic and damaging. The reason people get mad that a suicide is depicted in a story is the same reason that people get mad when there is nudity. All the while mass-murder and unapologetic gore become normalized.

I’m not arguing against depictions of violence or further censorship, rather, that people start giving more credence to actual context than click-bait titles. ’13 Reasons Why’ doesn’t convince people to kill themselves, if anything, it’s a positive step in combating the enigma of depression,

Maybe it could help our society grow in a positive way that encourages youth to be open instead of smothering uncomfortable emotions and pretending they don’t exist. That’s when the damage is done, when you bottle the negativity up. This show simply tries to alleviate that built up societal pressure. One thing it won’t do, however, is convince psychologically healthy individuals to up and kill themselves. There are reasons for suicide, it’s never trivial.

 

Igor

A fleeting whisper of stagnant hope, a momentary lapse of the path you’ve walked. A hand, crying-silver, reaching for something real, a consort. You tried.

Ugly, he said. You knew, you always did, the tar-like cruelty of the rougher kids made sure you couldn’t forget, that you’ll never be more than disgusting to them.

Still you reached, grasped, needed his hand. The word flattened you, as if you’d kissed a train with somewhere more important to be. Ugly, he repeated, and your world came crashing down. The whispering lingers, how could she let herself hope?