Beginners and Anatomy

If you have been watching this blog up till now, you might be thinking that I know a lot about anatomy. Truth is, I don’t. I have a lot of good anatomy books, but I rarely look at them. The reason why I have them is so that I can look into it later on when I need it. My advice to you if you’re just starting out is this: Don’t be too obsessed with anatomy books. That’s something you’ll pick up as you go. Most of the time when I’m sketching I just go with what “looks or feels right.”

If you’re fixated on anatomy and having everything correct when you’re starting out, then you won’t be able to experiment and have fun playing around. Experiment and play around with what you currently know. For example, right now I have a bit of knowledge about the Deltoid. The shape of the Deltoid helps me to rough out the shoulder. That’s it. I don’t know much else. Later on when I know more about the leg (for example), then I will start incorporating the knowledge into my sketches. In the meantime, I don’t worry about it, and I work with what I [currently know].

One more thing I want to share: The sketches you see below are broken into three days (Top, Mid, Bottom). In this example, I was exploring shapes. When you’re starting out or explore something new for the first time, you do not have full confidence because you’re in unknown/new territory. Your sketches might look funny but keep pressing on. In day two, I got a hang of it. Day three, I knew what I was doing and aiming for.

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Eraser Mode

I use the Eraser mode a lot in my experiments. Instead of drawing with pure white, I draw with “Erase” mode activated, and it can give some interesting result/look. And if you’re like me, someone who uses the Erase mode a lot, you will soon find out that it can be a hassle to toggle it on and off (unnecessarily). This is because you don’t know whether you’re currently in Erase mode or not. Yes, you can look at the toolbar to find out, but the problem with that is that artists tend to look at the Canvas more than anything else when drawing. Furthermore, if you’re in fullscreen mode, there’s no way to tell.

My suggestion for the developers: When in Eraser mode, change cursor to red or make it to have different Outline Shape / Cursor.

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Tracing

First layer (15% opacity): random scribbling or oval shapes. Second layer (100% opacity): sketching.

Have you ever sketched the shape of the head lightly, and then went over it more boldly? You were tracing, whether you realized it or not. Tracing in and of itself is neither bad nor good. Here’s an example of how tracing can be put to good use. This kind of tracing is highly recommended, but the kind where you trace to capture everything perfectly, with the intent/desire to improve your skill, then it’s not recommended.

In the examples above, the first two started off with scribbling. I didn’t have an idea for a pose and just wanted to see what randomness would give me. The last two examples, I knew the poses I wanted to draw, and used these ovals as rough guide. There are many ways to approach this. From random scribbling, to gestures, oval shapes, etc… The anatomy and foreshortening might be incorrect, but not bad for a 1-5 mins rough sketch done freehand.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Quick Sketches

Done entirely with the “Basic-5 Size” brush that comes with Krita. Default setting.

Sometimes you just have to go right ahead and do it anyway even though you feel inadequate. Freehand drawing.

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Krita’s Line Tool

Testing out perspective theories

Krita gives you quick access to the Line Tool and it’s great for testing out perspective theories. However, I came across one limitation in Krita with the way the program handles straight line. Other softwares keep the line straight when you draw it while holding down the Shift key. I found out today that you can change Krita’s profile to function like Photoshop! Once you change the profile, the “Shift” will allow you to draw straight lines. But upon closer look, it’s actually a Line Tool. That’s where the limitation is.

On the left image, if you want to draw a perfectly straight line that covers both top and bottom, starting at the center, you can’t with a line tool. You would have to lift up your pen and repeat, and the problem is that it might not align with the first line perfectly. You can do it manually, image on the right, but without locking the initial angle/direction of the stroke, it will look off.

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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.

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Vanishing Point

Randomly I decided to pull out the Vanishing Point assistant tool and scribbled a lot of random lines (with snap on). Then I removed all the assistant tool and I’m left with scribbling lines (image: left). Then I did the rest freehand, having the perspective guide as a layer below. This is the first time I have done anything like it, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. With the perspective guide below, I didn’t have to think about perspective, but instead focused more on blocking out my ideas, loosely and casually. This is a very quick way to thumbnail environments that will look a bit more realistic!

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Snap to Assistants

The Vanishing Point in Krita is very helpful. I first saw its use in Autodesk SketchBook and was very impressed by it. I’m so glad that Krita has it! ArtRage has the perspective grid, but it’s not as flexible as the Vanishing Point. However, without a shortcut to turn on/off (in real-time) “snap to assistants” it can be a bit troublesome to use. Right now, I only use perspective theory casually. I have no intention of having it 100% accurate all the time, and therefore do not need to have “snap to assistants” on all the time. I find it extremely inconvenient to have to turn on the snap manually (and then off again) when I only need just a few lines in correct perspective.

Krita needs a shortcut for this. If there is, I can’t seem to find it.

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Transform Tool

They looked a bit narrow. With the help of the Transform tool, I was able to widen them without having to reblock them manually.

I consider myself a purist, but I’m slowly breaking that mindset to take advantage of the tools that are available within the program that I use. When things don’t look right, I clear the canvas and start all over, and I believe there are times for that. But it’s not always wise, considering that we’re doing things digitally.

I don’t understand why Krita has two separate tools (Move, Transform) when they can be one. V for Move and Shift+V for Transform is my setup.

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Notan Experiment

I took the default “Ink-7 Brush Rough” and modified to have a medium-thin straight square (vertical) brush’s tip. These were extremely quick sketches without giving much thought to the process. Just one value (black) and an eraser mode. This is a great way to focus on the overall composition/shapes. The mind has an interesting way of recognizing shape/pattern from chaos, so sometimes, it’s best to leave it unfinished and let the mind fill in the blank.

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Practice, smartly…

Know your aim and what you’re practicing. There is no need to draw in all the details if you’re struggling with proportion, angles and correct measurement. By not focusing on the details, you’ll be able to go through many images in a short span of time, and that will speed up your training/progress. This is how I train: Open a search engine and look for a subject to practice. Training my eyes to capture the proportions, measurements and angles. I avoid drawing in the details and making a complete artwork out of it. Instead, I stay focused on the overall shapes.

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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.
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Insert as Reference Image

Working in Fullscreen with all images in one place.

Bravo to the developer who coded this. Earlier I was practicing some landscapes and had a few images opened on my desktop, all lined up horizontally at the top of my screen. However, there’s a few problems with this: 1) It clogs up my space: can’t see what’s beneath these images such as Krita’s toolbar and so on. 2) When moving/zooming the Canvas, these reference images stay there the same. 3) I’m on Mac, and these images won’t show up when working in Fullscreen mode. In Fullscreen, Krita takes over. And that’s when I said to myself, “This can’t be good. I need these references! What do I do?”

That’s when I decided to drag and drop them into Krita and imported as “Reference Image.” And that solves all the problems. Insert as regular layer doesn’t work. In order to have these images outside of the Canvas, you must “Insert as Reference Image.” You can rotate, scale, flip, or even lower the opacity of the reference image. Another reason to love Krita!

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