Ortho / Perspective switch

As of this writing, the one thing in Blender that throws me off is the Ortho / Perspective switch. I sculpt in both modes, and usually have the Perspective at 120mm Focal Length. If I’m up closed on the mesh in Ortho mode and rotate the viewport, the mesh will vanish out of sight. To bring it back to view, I would have to scroll the mouse wheel up. This is solved by turning off the perspective auto switch in the preferences. The problem is that you would have to manually switch to perspective mode, and when you do, the mesh will vanish out of sight again, and then you would have to try to bring it back to view. That’s a lot of hassle. I can’t seem to find a way around this so that I can work with perspective autoswitch on.

Have Some Good Ref Near By

As of this writing, I work with a 15 inch screen at 2048 x 1280. What this means is that there’s not enough space to fill the screen with references, and because of that, I have a habit of doing things from memories. I’m a bit lazy to open up references when all I’m doing is experimental sculpting on the fly. For me, one way to counter this is to have an actual figure sitting on my desk. There. No more excuses for not getting the neck right. You simply can’t trust your memories as evidenced in the fact that people still forget where they put their keys (pun intended).

Also, take advantage of that empty wall of yours. Whatever you’re struggling with or needed to be reminded of, print them and stick it.

Experimenting with Environments

I spent two days just experimenting with these environment concepts. These were quick thumbnail sketches using just one brush throughout the entire experiment. Two things I’m not good at are: Environment and Mech. With these experiments, I’m trying out something new that is outside of my comfort zone.

Casual Perspective

One of the excuses that I had for not getting into environmental concept at first was that I didn’t know perspective that well. But when you think about it, most people that do character concepts don’t know perspective that well either (just enough to get by). When you start to have realism in mind and placing them in an environment or finishing that masterpiece of yours, that’s when it really matters. Same thing goes for muscle names in your studies. The major muscles and bones are enough, and you can always learn more later down the road, but it’s not necessary to start off learning every muscle and bone (you’re an artist, not a medical student).

How often do you see artists on the street have their rulers out when sketching/drawing from life? I don’t remember seeing one. Which means most of them are doing it casually. Not everything has to be perfectly lined up. It’s okay if your perspective is off when you’re quickly fleshing out your ideas. Afterall, these initial sketches aren’t meant to be final. They’re there to get [the point across]. This is the mindset or attitude that you perfectionists (speaking to myself as well) need to adopt. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have carried out this experiment and learned something in the process.

Having said all that, here’s another thing to keep in mind: If you’re a [digital] artist, you don’t have to master perspective (you can if you want, if you got the time), anatomy or even lightning. Blender (or any 3d app) will help you with that. If you think that’s cheating, then you might as well go back to traditional medium :). The fact that you use the “undo” button and layers to assist you already say something.

SET 1

All the examples in this post were done freehand. And I quickly ran out of ideas because I’m inexperience in this area. Roughly 1-4 minutes each. Take note of the brush strokes…

SET 2

When you have nothing to look at, and you haven’t done environment that much, you will quickly run out of ideas. Scribbling is one of the ways that ideas can be quickly generated. To make it even more random, I did it with both eyes closed. Then I opened my eyes, duplicated that chaotic mess. And painted it over. Take note of the brush strokes. Notice how the last part of this second set is very different from all the previous ones. The first part of this second set is bold and straight to the point, with high contrast (dark/light). The brush’s opacity was at 50%. The second part of this second set has a lot more light values (brush’s opacity range from 10% to 50%). I was more relaxed and confident in the last part of this experiment, and it shows in the brush strokes.

Features I wish Krita has…

I keep a personal list as I explore and work with Krita. I’m sure more will come up in the future, but for now this is what I have on my list:

1) Fit to Height: Currently, we have “Reset Zoom to 100%”, “Fit to Width” but “Fit to Height” is missing. Sometimes knowing where I am on the Canvas height-wise is more important than width-wise.

2) Hotkey to toggle on/off the below or above’s layer’s visibility, and still remain on the current layer while working on it: Useful for inking and working with reference images.

3) Hotkey to toggle on/off “Snap to Assistants”: This will definitely speed things up a bit when using perspective guides.

4) Visual Feedback: In fullscreen mode, it’s hard to tell what opacity level my brush is when I increase/decrease the brush’s opacity via a hotkey. When resizing the brush, we have an idea, but opacity, no clue.

5) Hotkey to change a brush’s size like how it’s done in Blender when sculpting: For artists who use both Krita and Blender’s Sculpting, sometimes it can be very confusing. In Blender, it’s “F” and then you move a mouse (not dragging) to change the size, click to confirm. In Krita, you hold down “Shift” and you drag the pen and then release the “Shift” to confirm. I try my best to make both Krita and Blender work in harmony, which means sometimes I have to change things in Blender to match Krita and vice-versa. Then there are times that it’s not possible.

6) Brush’s Tips selection: This is a bit more advanced stuff. Right now we can select colors, but what if we can select different brush tip on the fly? Instead of having 5 brushes with the same setting and everything, why not have just one and then change the brush tip as needed? Great for quick thumbnailing, working with texture brushes etc…

7) Expand Canvas in any of the four directions (Left, Right, Bottom, Top) via the arrow keys without. A quick way to get more space for drawing/painting during a study session without moving the Canvas away.

PureRef

Krita is a bit buggy on Mac. Sometimes I can’t pan my Canvas or draw anything on it without tabbing out to my desktop and back into Krita. In severe case, I would have to restart Krita. I have learned to put up with this minor problem because Krita is the best free drawing/painting program at the moment. The problem I just described will occur more often when I’m using “Subwindows” mode. The more documents to manage at once, the more likely these glitches will occur. Which is why I prefer (not the only reason) to stay in “Tabs” mode.

In my previous post, I talked about importing images as Reference Image. They are very helpful if you’re composing an image. But for practicing, that setup is not the best. I needed to have my reference images on the left at all time, while I scroll/expand my image to the right. There are two ways you can accomplish this:

  1. Import all your images as Reference Image, anywhere outside your Canvas. And then make a new window view (Windows -> New View) of your current document. Organize/position this new view, and then in this new view, zoom in to your reference images. Now you can switch to your main document and start drawing. Pan as much as you want and the images will stay there. OR you can create a completely new document and use this document to hold all your reference images. The same logic applies to this new document.
  2. In order for that to work, you need to be in “Subwindows” mode. And if you’re on Mac, forget it. I came across PureRef.com while researching my problem and that’s the best solution for a Mac user at the moment. Actually, even if you’re not on Mac and even if you’re not using Krita, PureRef is a very handy program to have. So check it out! It’s a pay what you can app. If you want to try out for free, just put in “0” for the price.

Krita’s Dark Theme

macOS Dark65 Theme: Works best with Canvas Border Color: 66,66,66 (which becomes 65,65,65). Don’t know why Krita minus 1, but that’s just the way it is.

KDE doesn’t look that great on Mac. And since I use Krita a lot these days, I have taken the time to put together a dark theme to make it looks a bit nicer. Feel free to modify it to your liking. Right click on the file and save it to your computer. Put it inside this folder: ~/Library/Application Support/krita/color-schemes

macOS-Dark65.colors

If you want a darker selection, look for 106,107,134 and replace it with: 70,70,77. This is so the window bar doesn’t stand out when Krita is in “Subwindows” mode. There doesn’t seem to be anyway to change just the color for the window’s title bar. You either change all, which affects the selection. When choosing a selection color for the theme, I avoid the color that is available for the Layer’s color.

Date/Time Stamp

Last night I found out that each time you saved your document while working in Krita, the original date/time stamp for the file you’re working on will be override. Other softwares keep the original stamp. This is good if you’re the kind of person that likes to keep track of your progress and like to go back in time to discuss certain things. I cropped a few files to clear the empty space and the original stamp got replaced with the new stamp. My only way around this at the moment is to rename the bottom layer of a new document and input the date/time into its layer title.

Where to find references

Photo references are very helpful when you’re just starting out. However, there are a few things to keep in mind so that you don’t get into trouble. https://www.arttutor.com/blog/201611/where-find-legally-free-reference-photos-your-art-part-1-2

Personally, what I do is look for CC0 images of Sculptures to practice observational drawing method. And for painting, I would search for old paintings done by old masters of the past. Last night before bed I fired up Krita and did four iterations (four different attempts at the same photo) of a Sculpture done by Michelangelo. I haven’t learned proper methods yet, so this is just something I did on the fly.

Krita on macOS

I’m currently using Krita 4.1.7 on Mojave. Not sure if this problem is universal, but the dialog window is crippled, and floating windows can’t be resized. Which means at higher monitor resolution, you will have a hard time with color picker (for example).

NOTE: A simple fix for the dialog window being crippled (only showing half) on macOS as of this writing is to make sure you open it. And let it remain open at all times. Even when you’re not using the pop palette. Relaunch Krita (exit/open) and the app will automatically adjust the dialog. Don’t close that dialog via the Pop Palette. You’ll have to repeat this step if you do.

Toggle Layer’s Visibility

As of this writing, I do not know whether Krita has this ability or not (my guess is that it doesn’t). But I notice that I find myself turning on/off the layer beneath manually with a mouse click. This is so I can see how my inking looks like without the marker layer below. I hope there’s a way to put it into a shortcut so that I can toggle the below/above layer (or group) on and off. If not in this version, then future versions. 🙂