New Illustration: Space Sirens
The last remaining astronaut watched helplessly as his comrades left the ship one by one and were carried away deeper into the nebula. He told himself that he would not succumb the way his shipmates had; he knew he would struggle. But the creatures, if they could even be called that, somehow seemed to know him, and when his turn came and the singing of the cosmos reached a crescendo in his ears, his mind emptied of all but the desire to join them in the void. Gazing into the creature’s face, he mused on how tender, how gentle its embrace seemed to be, and even as his oxygen supply dwindled he did not resist.
Oh my goodness… *_*
I finally drew something in Illustrator that didn’t take forever and actually looks pretty alright!
It’s mah friend, Kat! Hi, Kat!
if youre having a bad day just watch this
!!!!!! JESUS DEAR LORD!! Saxophone dual!!!
a public service announcement
Oooh, I’ve run into folks who, for what ever reason, have remained totally loyal to the RBY primary set while being totally knowledgeable about the CMY primary set.
If you’re worth your salt in mixing paints, you can make both RBY and CMY palettes do your bidding well enough. All of my traditional paintings are done with only the three primaries, and white. While I personally prefer CMY, I’ve had to work with RBY before, and (though I was mega rusty) I didn’t find it any more difficult to produce the colors I wanted.
If you’re working on very strict graphic design projects and need need NEED very specific colors (while, for what ever god forsaken reason, having to do it all with traditional paints/inks instead of digital mediums), then CMY is the better way to go. But if you’re just painting illustrations and are under no pressure to be mega mega mega nitpicky about the color purity, it’s really not going to make a difference.
So, read the info-graphic, and take it in. Play with a CMY primary set, etc. But if you’ve been working with RBY all this time, are comfortable with it, enjoy working with RBY, and feel like you’ve been getting the colors you want with RBY, don’t panic. You haven’t been fooled, nor have you been lying to yourself or anything like that. You’re doing just fine.
The difference between using RBY and CMY is very particular, and most people (if any) won’t even be able to tell if a painting was done with RBY or CMY. (But they WILL be able to tell if you used a black straight from the tube, ooooh).
Alright, so let’s talk about color theory, shall we?
Magenta and Cyan do not generally exist as PURE pigment paints. Many of these pigments are MIXED or not as light-fast as other pigments, making them susceptible to fading under light. Not only that, but PURE magenta, Cyan, and Yellow DO NOT EXIST in traditional media paints. And why are pure pigments important? Because every time you mix two sets of paints together, your colors get muddier and you lose color vibrancy.
So what does this mean? Okay, so magenta and yellow make red respectively. However, you CANNOT replicate the same purity and vibrancy of Cadmium Red no matter how hard you try, ESPECIALLY with the colors OP recommended.
Not only that, but you are working with REFLECTED LIGHT, not pure light itself like what you would work with on your monitor. Let me demonstrate with the color Cyan…
This is 100% blue and 100% green on your monitor, making this a pure Cyan through the RBG model all additive color works with.
This is your monitor’s best attempt at replicating the Cyan your printers use. Note the difference in both vibrancy and hue. The monitor cyan is much warmer than CMYK’s cooler cyan. I can’t, however, show a picture of what it looks like printed out because again, when you work with traditional media, you work with reflected light. This means some of the pure light pigment gets absorbed into the paper or whatever surface you are dealing with resulting in less light bouncing back into your eye. If you want to test this for yourself, try printing this cyan testing page out and compare it to the actual colors your monitor is displaying.
So… what point am I trying to make, here? Both RBY and CMY are valuable and BOTH have their separate color gamuts. Both have their strength and both have their limitations. You can’t produce a vibrant hot fuchsia pink with the RBY primaries, but you CAN with the CMYK palette. What’s more is that even the RGB additive color space, which is perceived to have one of the widest ranges of colors, is also limited since it cannot replicate the properties of reflected like properly.
So which is better? How do we counteract the problem of color purity being lost every time you mix colors? My honest answer is neither one can do this. Wanna know some BS? You’ve all been taught that professional painters ALWAYS work with ONLY the primary painters, and that having more than three paints on your palette tray (excluding the use of black and white) is a sure sign of an amateur painter.
THIS. IS. SO. WRONG!!
In fact, MANY painters, including THIS ONE, suggest each painter has six colors in all—a warm red (cadmium red is popular) and a cool red (or magenta a red that is close to magenta such as quinacridone red/magenta), a warm yellow and a cool yellow, and a warm blue (phthalo blue) and a cool blue (ultramarine.) I personally like to add a a few browns (burnt sienna is my FAVORITE color to work with of ALL time) and dioxazine purple (because while as a stand-alone color it sucks, the mixing properties of this color are STUNNING!!) I also use payne’s gray instead of mars or ivory black because I like the cooler properties of it (YES!! EVEN BLACK IS WARM OR COOL!! and you should definitely play around with them if you can afford to.)
Painting companies wouldn’t make all these fancy colors if artists, professionals included, had no use for them. A FANTASTIC resource for learning a brief about these painting colors is Gamblin Art. What you WANT to do i buy pure pigments of colors you use OFTEN yet CAN’T produce with your primaries.
Also, just as an example, here’s a professional artist by the name of Scott Wills who uses a range of acrylic colors to get the beautiful, vibrant range of colors he creates in his pieces. :
Now, I have NO idea just how many colors he actually uses, but if this picture of him working is any indication….
I’d say it’s a lot, though since I don’t personally know this guy, I can’t say for sure.
Seriously, guys. Colors are WAY more complex than you think ESPECIALLY when it comes to mixing paints, or any other medium, for that matter.
There’s one last note that I’d like to leave off on, and that is, depending on what paints you use (acrylic, oils, watercolor, gouache, tempera, blood-of-thine-enemy, what-have-you), you may even be dealing with transparency versus opaque, matte versus glossy, and even tint strength. By the way, here’s a photograph of the phthalo blue so many have been favoring for cyan:
Doesn’t look very much like Cyan now, does it?
After a discussion last week with several of my cartoonist peers (and at the behest of Steve Bissette): I want to talk about image theft and uncredited content on social media. I’m only going to speak from personal experience (and only about the one image posted above) but I hope that this example will show the disservice this causes to any artist whose artwork is edited and reposted without credit.
[Disclaimer: I post all my work online for free. I want people to read, enjoy, and share my work. I have no problem with people reposting my work if it’s credited and unaltered. (That way new readers can find their way to my site to read more.) My problem is when people edit out the URL and copyright information to repost the images as their own for fun or profit.]
Below, I’ve listed the sites where my comic was posted and how many times it was viewed on / shared from each of those sites. (The following list was composed from the first ten pages of Google.) Let’s take a look at the life of this comic over the last 11 months.
On January 23 (2013) I posted the comic on my journal comic website, Intentionally Left Blank, and on my corresponding art Tumblr (where it currently has 5,442 notes). The same day, it was posted (intact, with the original URL and copyright) to Reddit. (There, credited, it has received 50,535 views.)
The Reddit post alone was exciting but on January 24, someone posted an edited version of the image (with the URL and copyright removed) to 9GAG. That uncredited posting has been voted on 29,629 times and shared on Facebook 22,517 times. That uncredited image caught on and spread like wildfire:
January 25: LOLchamp (39 comments. Views unknown.)
January 26: WeHeartIt. (With the 9GAG ad at the bottom. Views unknown.)
January 26: Random Overload (2 Facebook likes. Views unknown).
January 26: CatMoji (41 reactions. Views unknown.)
January 26: The Meta Picture (1,800+ Facebook likes. 6,000+ Pintrest shares)
February 5: damnLOL. (929 Facebook shares. Views unknown.)
February 7: LOLhappens. (1,400+ Facebook shares.)
February ?: LOLmaze (121 shares)
February ?: LOLzbook (37 likes and 37 shares).
On March 25, I was lucky and this comic was featured in a Buzzfeed post “36 Illustrated Truths About Cats.” The comic was featured alongside work by a 35 other artists who I admire and aspire to be. (Exciting!)
Buzzfeed was able to trace the uncredited image back to me and listed a source link to my main website but still posted the uncredited version of the image. The post currently has 6,000+ Facebook shares, 14,000+ Facebook likes, and 727 Tweets. Ever the optimist, I’ll count those numbers in the “credited views” column.
The problem with Buzzfeed posting the uncredited image and only listing the source underneath was: people began to save their favourite comics from the article and repost them in their personal blogs without credit. (13, 3, and 60 Facebook likes, respectfully.) I’m mentioning this not to target Buzzfeed or the individuals reposting, but to show the importance of leaving the credits in the original image.
March 30: FunnyStuff247. (47,588 views.)
March 31: LOLcoaster. (1 Facebook like. Views unknown.)
April 5: ROFLzone. (1,200+ Facebook shares. Views unknown.)
April 26: LOLwall. (70 Facebook likes. Views unknown.)
July 23: The uncredited image was chopped into four smaller pieces and posted on the Tumblr of TheAmericanKid, where he sourced it to FunnyStuff247. (124,786 notes and featured in #Animals on Tumblr.)
Aug 21: Eng-Jokes.com. (87,818 views and 41,400+ Facebook shares.)
There were 14 other sites which listed uncredited versions of the image within the first 10 pages of Google, but they were personal blogs so I’m not going to include them here.
One additional website I haven’t mentioned was Cheezburger, who originally posted the uncredited version of comic on January 23; but later modified it to the credited image after I contacted them. They didn’t contact me when they made the change but the image currently has 2,912 votes and 4,700 Facebook shares. Let’s be optimistic and count those as credited views and shares.
That brings us up to the current views and shares of the comic. Now let’s do some math.
I’ve removed the comments and reactions (because they could already be accounted for in views). I’ve left in votes, however, because some sites list votes instead of views.
Taking into consideration that Tumblr notes are made up of both likes and reblogs, let’s be conservative and say the Tumblr notes are twice as high as they should be. (That every single person that has viewed the image on Tumblr has liked the image and reblogged it.) Dividing the Tumblr notes in half, that leaves us with:
Posts using the credited image:
2,721 Tumblr notes
0 Pintrest shares
14,000 Facebook likes
10,700 Facebook shares
Posts using the uncredited image:
62,393 Tumblr notes
6,000 Pintrest shares
2,085 Facebook likes
347,984 Facebook shares
Adding those up and treating them all like views (assuming that every shared post was viewed once):
The original (unaltered, credited/sourced) version of the comic has been viewed 81,595 times.
The edited, uncredited/unsourced version of the comic has been viewed 588,310 times. (That’s over half a million views. Seven times more than the original, credited version.)
What does that mean for me as a creator? On the positive side, I created something that people found relatable and enjoyable. I succeeded at that thing I try to do. But, given the lack of credit, it also means that 88% of 669,905 people that read this comic had no chance of finding their way back to my website.
This was a successful comic. I want to be able to call this exposure a success. But those numbers are heartbreaking.
Morally, just the idea of taking someone’s work and removing the URL and copyright info to repost it is reprehensible. You are cutting the creator out of the creation. But worse yet, sites like 9GAG are profiting off the uncredited images that they’re posting.
9GAG is currently ranked #299 in the world according to Alexa rankings. As of April of this year, their estimated net worth was around $9.8 million, generating nearly $13,415 every day in ad revenue.
As a creator of content that they use on their site: I see none of that. And I have no chance of seeing any kind of revenue since readers can’t find their way back to my site from an uncredited image.
I don’t want to sound bitter. The money isn’t the point. But this is a thing that’s happening. This isn’t just happening to me. It’s actively happening to the greater art community as a whole. (Especially the comics community. Recent artists effected by altered artwork/theft off the top of my head: Liz Prince, Luke Healy, Nation of Amanda, Melanie Gillman, etc.) Our work is being stolen and profited off of. Right this second.
I do my best to see the positive in these events but the very least I can do as a creator is stand up in this small moment and say “This is mine. I made this.”
Something need to be done by the community as a whole: by the readers as well as the creators. We need to start crediting our content/sources and reporting those who don’t. Sites like 9GAG need to be held accountable for their theft of work. If you see something that’s stolen: say something to the original poster, report the post, or contact the creator of the artwork.
If you have an image you’d like to post but don’t know the source: reverse Google image search it. Figure out where it came from before you post. If you like it enough to share it, it means there’s probably more where that came from.
My attempt at emulating a piece by Amanda Lafrenais : Aka (Sshh!)LittleFroggies
holy crap that’s really cool! I’ve never seen one of my designs in 3D before! I liiiikkkke it! Eeeee!
Awe!!! Have you guys seen this?? My friend did a sculpt of LittleFroggies!! And it’s BEAUTIFUL LOOK AT THAT ((I need to commission these two each someday.))
Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don’t - I have a lot to learn), I’m not sure I could communicate them effectively. I’ve gathered some thoughts and ideas here, though, in case they’re helpful.
First, some general things:
- Relax and let some of that anxiety go. This isn’t a hard science. There’s no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn’ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.
- Be patient. A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You’ll throw a lot of stuff away, and you’ll inevitably get frustrated, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.
- Learn to draw. It might seem perfunctory to say, but I’m not sure everyone’s on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn’t a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It’s much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you’re really learning to draw, you’re learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination.
Spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.
- I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It’d be worth looking her up.
- Gather Inspiration like a crazed magpie. What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer.
It’ll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it’ll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse as you’re conjuring characters.
- Imitation is a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it’s an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.
- Use references. Don’t leave it all up to guessing. Whether you’re trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it’s helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn’t constitute cheating. There’s no shame in reference material. There’s at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.
Concepts and Approach:
- Break it down. Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn’t mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don’t even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.
The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for this simple mobile game character, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.
- Start with the general and work toward the specific. Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it’s like jotting down visual notes. When you’re working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there’s no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.
Here’s are some sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.
- Here’s an instructional video by Feng Zhu about doing much the same thing (only way better).
- Shapes are language. They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.
Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.
If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)
- You might also find it helpful to watch Bobby Chiu’s process videos in which he feels out his character designs as he paints.
- Cohesion and Style. As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this
Here’s some of the simple shape repetition I’ve used for Lackadaisy characters.
- Expressions - let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.
For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.
- Pose rendering is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.
Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.
- Additional resources - here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).
- Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce contrition Arthur Dimmesdale would be proud of. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.
When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.
Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And an inspiration to get cracking down on my own art, as well…
Here is some more sketchbook nonsense.