Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daily Speed Sketches - Try It!

Hey Folks!

I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about daily speed sketching, a great habit that has seriously been helping me improve my art speed and skill over the past month. For those of you who aren’t aware, I work with an independent game studio making 2d art and animations for games. For many years I've been trying hard to constantly improve my digital drawing and painting abilities. I’ve had several roadblocks standing in my way however, largest of which is a very loud internal critic, my “perfectionist” side that is never satisfied and can cause very slow progress and loss of motivation.
A few 5-minute color sketches from yesterday.
In the last years I’ve made a little headway in quieting the perfectionist in me, but I have not found anything that has been nearly as helpful and inspirational as doing daily speed sketches over the past month. I take a few minutes every single day, no matter how tired I am, no matter how much I have already drawn for work that day, etc. etc. to do some speed sketches. Here are a few reasons why making this daily commitment is so great and why I would encourage any artist, beginner or advanced, to try it too:

1. Timing my sketches helps me get in the habit of using the proper progression from big blocks -> smaller blocks -> details. I can't get stuck on one area because I know the clock is ticking and if I don’t move on I won’t get the whole thing down on the [digital] page in time.

2. Timing sketches forces me to turn off my inner critic, and just draw without thinking about stupid stuff like "how does this look?" "is this terrible?" "should I be doing this totally differently?" I only get to think about that stuff once the drawings are done. After all my speed sketching is done for the day I do some healthy self-critique, only aimed at doing better the next day and not beating myself up over what I just did.

3. Drawing or painting a broad range of different subjects from many different angles every day helps me keep my eyes fresh and inspires the other artwork I am doing.

4. Speed sketching helps me get really good mark making, motion and fluidity into my work. It's great to do before more serious work to warm up and get going, or after serious work to loosen up and relax.

5. Doing a few minutes of speed sketching every day is a realistic and easy way to make sure I am constantly working on improving my artistic abilities. Doing longer pieces for practice is also great and necessary, but with speed sketches I can quickly do many iterations of a subject and see tangible progress even within a few minutes...which leads me to...

6. It's rewarding! It lets me see real progress in a short period of time, which is incredibly motivational.
A 5-minute seascape
All that said, here are a few online speed sketching tools that I use: , (caution, there are some nude models in there). I’ll also sometimes sketch from life if I have a good subject nearby. And there is always google image search if I have a specific thing I feel like drawing.
A compilation of various 30-second line sketches from various days.
Here's where I post my daily speed sketches: (linked to this blog as the “Sketches” page in the navigation above). Please check them out – I’d love to hear suggestions for what techniques I should focus on, what subjects I should sketch, and whether or not you are seeing the improvement that I am!

Hopefully this will inspire some artists out there as it has inspired me! Happy speed sketching! ^_^

Monday, February 11, 2013

Process Journal: Ruins Interior

I recently finished several mini-scenes for Havencall. Here I'll go through the steps I took to create this one:
I used a a wacom tablet and photoshop. Interesting tidbit: I painted this scene 100% with the same photoshop brush: a "chalk" brush that is in the default brushes set, with opacity jitter set to pen pressure in the "transfer" options.

1. Set up
I've put down some messy lines just to figure out what kind of scene I am going for. The perspective is all off, but I'm not worrying about that at this stage (perhaps I should be?). I'm just getting down the general idea.

2. Blocking In
Now I've taken a big, soft-ish brush and slapped down a couple colors on a new layer, one for the basic shape, and another to define where the light is coming from in the scene (mainly from above here).

3. Background
I slapped down a quick background in a layer below the walls.

4. Defining
At this point I'm defining the shapes of things without the original lines. Here's where a lot of the perspective issues are getting fixed (hopefully).

5. Adding
Adding more stuff to the scene! Keeping the direction of the light source in mind and staying loose and relaxed.

6. Variation
Adding texture, cracks, and more colors to increase the realism.

7. Details-Pass 1
More texture, more colors, more cracks...

8. Details-Pass 2
Here I've continued adding details, such as patches of moss here and there. I've also defined the puddles better, added a piece of foreground rubble, and added a big light shaft streaming in through the broken roof. I also have Aura in there to double check that the scaling and colors work together. It's pretty much done at this point!

9. Final Adjustments
All I've done here is fiddle with the levels, exposure, etc. a bit to make it a little more dramatic. And it's done! Here are some close-ups of the finished scene:

And that's it!