Sunday, March 31, 2013

Project One (con't): taking a step backward

Remember what I said about allowing the project to take you by the nose and lead you around?  Well, the more I looked at my "finished" elements, the more I didn't feel it suited the subject matter.  Wally looked too much like a chalk drawing.

So I took a step backward, I redrew Wally - this time in SketchBook Pro using a brush in conjunction with the "steady stroke" tool - and put our new Wally on the island.  Then I imported into Photoshop (remember, we save all our files as Photoshop files) and by using masks, gradients, and a soft brush, I put a more outlined but still softened (somewhat) Wally back on the island:

He still has some soft shading but this Wally stands out more and, I think, more suits the subject matter.  You may disagree...

Anyway, this is the one I'll go forward with.

A couple of things to keep in mind...

1.  My troubles with the last Wally began when I realized -and this isn't the first time this has happened - that I'd created too small a file.  When a file is that small there is more "pixelation" (lines look jagged and rough) in the outline and it becomes harder to apply the Photoshop gradients... truly wonderful gradients.  You don't want to place yourself outside that capability.  Luckily, by simply resizing the image and beefing up the resolution (to 200 pixels/inch) I was once again able to use the Photoshop effects.

Incidentally, I prefer Photoshop gradients to Corel Painter gradients, which I find annoying and unnecessarily complicated.  SketchBook Pro doesn't yet feature gradients but if we collectively keep up the pressure they'll eventually include them.  SBP is a wonderful program and it keeps getting better with every new version.

If you study Wally you'll see he is subtly darker at the top then at his feet.  This is the application of a PS "black to transparent" gradient through a mask created by outlining Wally; I turned the opacity way down on this effect so the effect is very subtle indeed.  I then used a very soft PS brush on another layer to add shadowing.  I used other layers to add shadow to the island and the tree.

By the way, full blown Photoshop is an expensive program.  Fortunately, much of what we digital artists need comes with Photoshop Elements.  It doesn't break the bank and it is extremely useful.  Incidentally, if you buy a Wacom Intuos graphics tablet (highly recommended) they generally include Photoshop Elements as part of the software package.

2.  Although I am practicing my stand-alone drawings, if you're like me you have a rough time avoiding meandering lines and spaces that don't make sense.  Stand alone Wally in the drawing above has -to my mind - some glaring flaws.  But notice how that doesn't seem to matter much in conjunction with other elements of the composition. 

Now, this isn't a good practice to rely on the busy-ness of your composition to mask shortcomings of the individual elements.  The genius cartoonists out there don't have that problem; everything they draw is perfect.  Well, nothing I draw is perfect... not even close.

Since I can't rely on perfection in my elements, I at least try to excel in getting them to play well together.

Next we'll frame our elements in our book cover and see how if it works.  Then we'll add our background elements.  We're halfway there, folks.  Keep on drawin'!!

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