Archive for May 2006
I am doing a portrait of my friend Bob, and I thought it might be fun to post my process here.
1) Choose Original Photo: He sent this one to me when we first started talking and, despite the fact that his face is partially covered by his hand, and drawing clothing folds is hideously difficult for me, I decided this picture really captured his personality. I think he told me he wasn’t really doing anything here, and the bit with the walkie talkie was totally posed, which makes me laugh.
2) Initial Sketch: I printed out the photo at a decent size so that I wouldn’t have to draw it from the jpeg off my screen. Then, I sat down and did a super-rough, super fast sketch so that I could get an idea of some angles and scale.
When I draw, I usually have this fear that I’m not going to be able to control my hands and my final drawing will end up horribly out of proportion. So I usually start by drawing a really messy, rough version first. This warms up my hand so that it’s used to drawing, and it also allows me to draw freely without fear of messing up the real drawing that I’ll start on another sheet later. I usually learn a lot from these little sketches, and when I start my underlying sketch for the real drawing, I usually feel tons more confident and don’t make the same mistakes as the first time’ round.
3) Pencil Drawing Foundation: After the super-rough sketch, I start a new drawing, this time with a little bit more of an idea on how to draw the curves and measure the scale. This stage is definitely the most important, because if I mess up here, it will ruin the whole drawing. So I take my sweet time, and usually spend several hours developing around messy lines so that I have correct proportions.
4) Clean up the Pencil Outline: I try to be very methodical in this stage, constantly checking my proportions against the photograph. I find that a really good way to check proportion is to hold my drawing up to the mirror, especially when doing portraits. Part of the problem with drawing people is that we have such an ingrained idea of how humans are supposed to look, that when we draw them, it’s easy to confuse our idea of what a person looks like with the the actual lines and shapes of the particular subject.
Holding my drawing up to a mirror abstracts it enough so that I immediately see any flawed angles or mis-measurements. Sometimes I’ll draw a particular line 7 or 8 times, checking it each time in the mirror until I’m satisfied with it.
I drew the rest of the lines inside the figure and then used my fountain pen to ink in the lines. I’m not quite as skilled with an ink pen as I’d like to be, but I also think that if I drew my drawings on a bigger scale, I’d have much more control over the small details, which are the ones that sort of get fudged in drawings like these. I think I’m eventually going to have to start drawing portraits on 16×20 paper, instead of the 9×12 I currrently use.
You can also see the background sketched in a little, which I later removed.
See on his right eye where the ink looks blurred? I made the mistake of trying to erase the pencil lines underneath too quickly after I had used the pen to ink the eye. Augh, I’m so impatient. At least I can clean it up in Photoshop.
6) Scan and Rasterize: This image looks a little screwy here because it’s been bitmapped in Photoshop. My drawings always loose a certain organic quality when I scan them, and I think the real ink drawing looks a bit nicer, but bitmapping it is necessary so that I can convert it to vector later.
That being said, I kind of like how the drawing looks when it’s not perfect and it’s a little messy. I don’t like things to be perfectly clean, I find them to be boring and they’re never as interesting to me.
I always work very hard in the beginning to get a solid foundation for the measurements and shapes in my drawings, and then, once I’m happy with those, I try to have some fun when as I begin to ink them in.
I took a couple of weeks off between inking the sweatshirt wrinkles and the short wrinkles, because doing them terrifies me—I start thinking, ‘I’ve already put a bunch of time into this drawing, I can’t screw this up!’ So I sort of dragged my feet on that part. But I finally got it done, scanned it as a bitmap into Photoshop, cleaned it up a bit, and here we are.
I didn’t draw any of the background, because I want to draw it all in Illustrator, so I have a clean, very simple illustration that won’t compete with Bob, whose clothes are already rather busy and intricate. I was worried if I drew a background by hand, it would be equally as busy and then Bob would no longer be the central focus of the portrait.
7) Adding Color: This part is my favorite, because I think the color is such a distinguishing factor in art. Also because, now that the drawing has been digitized and converted to vector, I can now use the “undo” button, something I don’t have the luxury of doing in the inking process. I converted my sketch to a vector illustration, and the started filling in the color in Adobe Illustrator. It’s easy to switch colors, so I play a lot with these until I find an interesting combination.
Here’s where the graphic designer in me takes over…I normally don’t like natural colors when I’m drawing portraits, and I often like to work with a very minimal color palette. I have started with three colors here, but am thinking about adding a green. I’m not sure if it will weaken the drawing or not, so I’m going to have to experiment a bit before I proceed.
It’s a pretty Memorial Day, so I’m going to get off the computer for a bit and head outside. More later…
Currently listening to The Sounds of the Sounds of Science by Yo La Tengo
8) Rethinking my color palette. Although I usually like to keep the palatte at a minimum, I’m thinking I may use similar colors to the original photo, cause I like the photo colors, they’re nice.
The super flat colors and shapes make Bob look like a mystery fisherman dectective here. Yes, I like it.
See tiny fish, as well.
Looking at this with fresh eyes this morning, I am super happy I decided to go with wider color range. Normally I always think the design is stronger with less color, but this is not the case in this particular instance. The flatness of color and shape remind me of A)a comic book character B)a 70s nature pamphlet, both of which please me. I’m really looking forward to tackling it again this evening after work.
At this point, I don’t really have a strick vision anymore, I’m just going to let this evolve at will.
Well, I’ve managed to put a little more time into this this morning. I’m much happier with the flesh tones, and I’ve added some of the background. More later….
OK. It’s later now. I’ve decided to get rid of the water waves in favor of a tree line, which I think is better. I’ve started putting in the forest, which is really labor intensive, so I’m going to take a break on that for a while.
Also, you can see I finished the shading in the face and hand. Also, I’m not 100% sure yet what to do with the shorts. That may change again in the next round. I’m hoping to get at least one more hour of work into it tonight. Two or three, if I’m feeling motivated.
Yay, progress! I really feel like this drawing is starting to come together. I have the forest in now, yay! And I’ve started working on the left side of the boat. I am happy with how it’s turning out, which is good, cause I wasn’t so sure about it for a while…more tomorrow! The end is near.
I think….I’m finished! I might come back later to tweak some more stuff…but I think it’s pretty much done. Yay!
But what do you all think about the fish? Good? or Bad?
Currently listening to The Action is Go by Fu Manchu
here is the final spiritual ad for tmc youth. i have mixed feelings about the color. originally it was a nice icy aqua color, but tmc youth, after okaying the ad to print, ran back to me with a last minute change to orange because they felt the blue was too somber.
i like the idea of a brighter color…but in retrospect, i would have made the orange a bit more primary and a bit less pumpkin. also, i think i would have made the text a very rich black or a dark ochre color if i were to do it again, instead of the 80% gray it is now. i hope it comes out nice when printed…
i just got back from the da vinci code. i actually thought it was a fun movie. i guess i went in with no expectations, and i haven’t read the book, so it was a good premise for me.
now i’m exhausted, and it’s time for bed. i have a spinning class at nine in the morning.
I saw this ad in the current June issue of the Sentinel. It turned out pretty good! I was happy with the orange. It wasn’t too pumpkiny. Yay, it was nice to see it in print…
Currently listening to “Hold On” by Magnet…really beautiful song, recommended to me by Roboppy.
Early this afternoon I was reading The Oh So Quiet Show, a blog about music that I’ve been digging lately. Upon opening the page, I was surprised, and quite honored, to see that the first post was about me & my crazy obsession with Grandaddy! The post is called <a href=”http://music.diskobox.net/2006/05/24/the-psychology-behind-loving-a-musician/trackback/”, and you can read it here.
Seeing as I haven’t met the author of this blog, this post came as a total surprise. You can imagine my delight in seeing it. Naturally, I was curious to see how she had found my blog posts about Grandaddy. I figure it happened this way: after I posted a comment to a blog entry on The Oh So Quiet Show about the Jason Lytle performance we had both seen in NYC last week, the author, Robyn, had then (presumably) gone to my blog (that was linked to my comment on her blog) and so very kindly read both of my long long Grandaddy posts (Grandaddy Eulogy, Zero Degrees of Separation). Afterwards, wrote this ultra-sweet unbelievably nice post about my love for the band.
I am flattered beyond belief, and really touched that someone would be able to empathize–and not only empathize, but would be kind enough dedicate a whole post about my little love–about this feeling of loving something so much. Thank you thank you thank you to Robyn, who now I wish I could have met at the show, so I could have given her a hug.
And here is why you need to visit The Oh So Quiet Show right now….
1) How amazingly awesome is Robyn’s blog header? That rabbit is so adorable, plus props on the typography. The pink & green are magic together.
2) Is this blog’s title possibly a reference to a Bjork song? +++
3) Robyn has good taste in music and her opinions are worth regarding
4) She’s super nice!
Thank you thank you again Robyn! You’ve totally made my day!
Currently listening to…well Grandaddy
So I read an interesting article on BoingBoing today about this machine that’s been developed to create a sound that drives people crazy. It’s specially targeted to drive teenagers away; it emits this buzzing noise at a high frequency that apparently only teenagers (or people under 25, says the website) can hear. Anyway, after a few minutes of hearing it, young people will start to go insane and have to leave. I guess its being sold mainly to retailers in the UK to keep kids out of their stores.
Of course the first thing you’re thinking is, “Let me hear this sound!” I was the same way. I found a link to the sound at the bottom of this post. (It’s at the bottom of the article.) Now, I’ve always had good hearing; I remember taking hearing tests as a child and hearing certain notes that other kids couldn’t hear. Of course I spent my childhood listening to headphones, so I’m sure that’s effected it somehow, but I’ve always felt I had a good ability to pick up on distant sounds. That’s why this confused me.
I can hear something, but I think I’m just hearing the normal atmospheric sounds, along with a louder “clink clink” half way through followed by laughter. Of course, I _am_ listening to it on my computer speakers, which are pretty crappy, and of course, any small noise would have to compete with the other high-pitched noises that all the various machines in my office emit…but I’m going to be seriously disappointed if I realize that not only are my sight and teeth weak, but my hearing not as awesome as I thought it was! I mean, I _am_ 26, but several people over the age of 26 said they could hear it…
Here’s a link to the Boing Boing article, which suggests that students in the UK have turned the noise only they can hear into a ringtone, so the teachers can’t hear their phones going off (brilliant)
And another link, to the article that contains the MP3. Read this, listen to the sound, then take the poll below.
|Can you hear the mosquito noise?|
|Yes, I can hear it, and I’m 25 or under.|
|Yes, I can hear it, and I’m older than 25.|
|No, I can’t hear it, and I’m 25 or younger.|
|No, I can’t hear it, and I’m older than 25.|
|Free polls from Pollhost.com|
Currently listening to: Mechanical Mosquito??
On my way to work in downtown Boston this morning, I saw a guy wearing an Eskimo Joe’s shirt. He was probably about 20 and was traveling with other people. I kind of wanted to go up to him ask him if he was from Stillwater but I was already late to work, plus I ended up being kinda shy due to all the other people he was traveling with.
I’ve only been to Eskimo Joe’s once, and it’s not all that spectacular, but seeing the shirt made me really miss Stillwater. I had a lot of good times in that town. Stillwater was my second home in 2002-2003. Those were fantastic years. Lots of partying, crazy nights and generally being happy.
I’m hoping to stop by Stilly for a night out on my was across America this summer, and relive some of the revelry.
I guess seeing an Oklahoma-related bit of culture is apt, seeing as today, May 25, marks the two year anniversary of me living in Boston after moving here from Tulsa, OK. (not counting the 6 months I lived here in 2001). Although I admit, it has gone by fast, if you would have told me I’ve spent 20 years here, it would have still seemed the same to me. So much has happened since I’ve came here, and I feel like my life’s changed in so many ways. I guess that was my goal in moving out here, to shake things up a bit. So, mission accomplished! What’s next?
Currently listening to Hail to the Thief by Radiohead
From the university of Chicago website:
Tiktaalik roseae is an intermediate between fish that lived in water and animals that evolved to walk on land. Its fin is like that of fish, but it was capable of propping the body of the animal up, much like a limb.
I know our good friend Tiktaalik has been all over the media for the past few months, but I just wanted to take some time to honor him here.
What a neat lil guy.
Reading about Tiktaalik and his friends makes me wonder if I should give up art and restart my career as an anthropologist or biologist.
I once read a book about the life of Charles Darwin his enthusiasm and curiosity for evolution made a deep impression on me.
Is it time to tackle the Origin of Species? Maybe not just yet.
Currently listening to Homogenic by Bjork
Here’s a little portrait I did about 5 years ago of painter Mark Rothko. I am satisfied with how his particular portrait turned out…something about it makes me happy. Back when I was in college, I was drawing people and faces all the time, and I was getting pretty accustomed to generally drawing something everyday.
I really need to get myself back into that habit; it’s work but it’s so fulfilling. I don’t have any wild plans for this weekend, except for Saturday, so I really want to devote myself to working on some arty projects I have going. I get Monday off too, so I don’t have any excuses to put it off.
I finally finished the ad for TMC Youth, and hope to post a version of it here soon. With that out of the way, I can focus on my portrait of Bon, my idea for the cover of Boston’s weekly Dig, and maybe even get to work on my painting on my easel, which I’ve barely touched in three months since I’ve been so busy!
I’m looking forward to spending time doing art.
If you want to see any more of my little drawings, you can visit my old website here. Click on the fine art link to see some stuff I was drawing in college…
Currently listening to nothing…but I saw Neil Gaiman’s MirrorMask last night and the music from that is still floating through my head…