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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More Cover Art!

A collaboration project with an old art buddy of mine. Been working on it over the past month or so and I think it’s coming along nicely. It’s primarily a digital painting but there are composite elements in the largest flower and the famous building I’ve forgotten the name of (both were free photos from unsplash.com that we reworked into the composition). The subject was also based on a photo which I masked over and painted/re-textured. That’s essentially the equivalent of tracing something, but it is still painted and I think she turned out well.

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copr Blu-art and Kochre. 

I moved away here from my normal hyper-textured/realistic style primarily because there isn’t enough skin to make it work. Most of the composition was just black…so we worked in little Easter eggs from the story.

I’m especially proud of the eye re-texturing I did specifically for this piece.

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Here’s a closeup of the most recent addition. There’s some smoothing out to do still, but I’m rather fond of how it turned out.

Capture

 

Here is a close-up of the hands alongside a few of the more complex transitions:

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I know it seems needlessly bloody, but the character depicted loses a finger during the act this heads, which is what it references. Furthermore, I did a questionable job on repainting the contour of the hand and messed up the skin color a little. The blood helps cover up the mediocrity.

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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.

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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 🙂

How Short Stories become Books.

I was reading around the blogs, as one does on WordPress, and came across an interesting post. The author noted that they found fiction to be nearly impossible for them to write, despite loving to write. So they tended towards non-fiction, but still really wanted to learn to write fiction.

I’m by no means a veteran author. No, I only started my first book eight months ago, but I spend around four-twelve hours a day writing (depending on how much I can get away with while attending University full time). The part that comes easily to me is fiction and this person was asking for advice, so I wrote:

“It seems you’re approaching it deliberately. That only really works when you have a full outline…Patterson style (this works, but it also takes some of the fun away).

For me, a book starts with an idea, a singular scene or defining moment that makes everything else fall into place. Once the characters and setting have a bit of weight, they tend to write themselves. The hardest part of a snowman is the base, but once it’s big enough, you just push it gently and it grows.

All my books started as a short story. The hard part is finding the players and arranging them in a way that makes sense and is believable. After that, they make themselves interesting by being who they are. Just light the fire and blow a little oxygen (because we need more metaphors in this comment, don’t we?)

I hope that helps a little. I know it’s vague and wordy, but fiction is a much more fluid process than nonfiction, it’s less about the details and the authenticity at first and more about the big picture. You have time to fill in the details as you go and when you’re editing. Kind of like sculpting versus photography, if that makes sense. You’re go for the rough shape of it first, each chapter needs to have an overarching point or purpose, but that can mean a lot of things. 

Anyway, love the post. Honest, funny, and interesting. Keep it up!”

I hadn’t really thought about how it worked before then, and it was kind of weird to read that back. I’m just sitting there thinking, ‘so that’s what I’ve been doing?’ 

But that’s all it takes. If you can write an engaging and open ended short story (this isn’t necessarily easy but everyone has it in them), by all means, let it snowball into a novel. It can seem imposing when you think about it like that, but make each chapter another short story, just build off of what you have. The longer it gets the more natural it feels. And it is engaging. Beautifully engaging. It’s the reason I’ve come to love doing this…it’s like a drug for me (since I don’t drink I need one of those :P).

That feeling when you get lost in a story? You get that by default, except it’s so much more because it’s your story. You are the characters. You feel what they feel and it’s a unique sort of empathy. It’s never about word count or aiming for a certain length, or worrying if your stylistic innovations are even publishable. These things matter, but it’s just gonna make it seem imposing again. Just let it become what it is, mold it like you’d mold a part, sculpt a drawing. Let the other bits come naturally and adjust accordingly. It’s a lot easier to do that kind of thing when you already have a working manuscript. It’s your art.

In that regard, I feel my experience with traditional art has really helped me approach story writing in a way that makes sense to me. In art you plan, but that archetype needs to be fluid, otherwise you’ll fail or worse, miss opportunities to make it better (there’s nothing quite like improving upon that image you had in your head). Writings the same way. Start with that rough sketch, shade a little, find the shadows and plan for the highlights because light only matters next to darkness. Books are that way too…you want contrast, you want a roller-coaster to make someone feel. To make yourself feel. I write what I want to read and write what I find to be engaging and natural and that’s all there really is to it. Genre is a post production label, too. Try not to think about it when you’re getting started. That gave me some grief early on.

The only other major tip I have is, don’t force it. If you’re not feeling it, and it isn’t fun or engaging at that moment, that’s probably a sign it isn’t necessarily where you should take it. Trust your own emotions and only write when you want to. I write a lot, but it’s still only when I want to. I don’t usually plan or think about the story that much when I’m actually writing. I do that when I fall asleep and throughout the day, I just sketch little notes or ideas on my notepad app. Immersing yourself in the story and living it a little before deciding on a path can really yield some awesome plot twists and depth you could never achieve in one sitting.

There are likely hundreds of different processes that are different then or even better than what I do, but it’s worked for me, and I never once had to really think about it. Once you get going, you’ll find your own little tricks that make everything easier.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful and maybe reconsiders giving fiction a go. I promise it’s worth it.

-Blu ❤

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.