Hair Experiment

Another experimental piece. One brush (not counting the screen tone one), one color (black) and an eraser. First time doing hair, and it took a lot of time trying to figure out… so it was guesswork and it turned out alright.

Sculptures Copy

Not too good with hatching. Was experimenting with it.

These are studies conducted today. Using only one brush throughout the entire process. Only black and an eraser, no opacity changes. That’s about it! Based on references found on gumroad. In both of these experiments, I started out by scribbling. And slowly divided and conquered through the process of refinement (erase, draw, erase draw: repeat until desired result is reached. This process feels like digital sculpting, with ink!).

This was just another fun piece playing around with the screen tone.

10,000 Kick

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” — Bruce Lee

If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to practice these basic shapes/forms. They’re the key to drawing from imagination. With that said and out of the way, let me share a few thoughts on this.

I have read many books, and they all say the same thing: Learn to simplify. Practice these forms. The disadvantage with being a self-taught is that you’re on your own, left to figure out the rest. Limbs can be seen as cylinders. But how do you begin practicing? From imagination? That’s what I thought. Yes, you can start from scratch and just do it from imagination, but a much better way to get there is with photos. I have never done it before until last night.

Notice how rigid these cylinders look on the half left. The half right has more curvy lines.

So far, I have practiced the cylinder 20 times (20 different pose photos). I’m aiming for 300, then I move to the torso. If you’re doing it from imagination, anything goes. If you’re doing it from photos, you have a specific goal, and mistakes can be identified and skill can be improved. So it’s better that you start with photos.

From imagination (constructive).

First, learn to walk before you try to run. Don’t try to be cool by curving your cylinders (using curve lines). You can do that afterward once you’re comfortable with straight lines (walk). When you’re starting out, your cylinders will look robotic and rigid because everything is straight, no curve. This exercise/practice will help build cylinder’s vocabulary and muscle memories. Keep practicing from photos and soon they’ll find their way to superimposed it into your memories, and become part of you.

  1. Pick a photo
  2. See the limbs as cylinders
  3. Draw the cylinders: Connect the ellipses together with straight lines
  4. You don’t have to draw the legs together as one body part. You can separate them. This exercise isn’t about having the proportion right or have the limbs attached together. It’s about simplifying the limbs. But for the legs, I recommend that you draw them together. If it’s too challenging, then do them separately until you’re comfortable and then try them together.
  5. Once you’re comfortable capturing the pose of the limbs, start being more expressive to give life to your cylinders. Instead of using pure straight lines to connect the ellipses together, use curvy lines.

Do that with a lot of photos. That’s it for now. I might write part 2 to this when I have time, explaining the mindset behind curvy lines.

Slow down and have fun

Wilderness Wandering

Remember to slow down and enjoy, and make art just for you. It’s not always about having everything down perfectly. This piece was done with the ink brushes that come with Krita. Inspired by an abstract impressionism piece that I saw from a book I was reading.

Another piece done entirely with the Ink brush set. Just having fun.

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.