Friday, May 16, 2014


Lately I've understood that if you're going to draw and paint digitally, it's wise to have at least some familiarity with physical medium.

My last couple of submissions were colored pencil "paintings" scanned into an art sofware and fixed up.  That's fine... although colored pencil is a hard medium to make it behave the way you like.  I'm finding out a couple of things: it's hard to mix colors with colored pencil, and probably you want to use a paper with very little tooth.  Otherwise the paper shows through and just wrecks the drawing.  Either that, or press real hard to "fill in" your colored pencil areas.  Or whatever... I'm no expert with colored pencil.

I have some opaque paints on order; they should be here any day day now.  I want to experiment with gouache and get some familiarity with it as that was the preferred medium for animation backgrounders.  

In the meantime I thought it would be interesting to experiment digitally to see if I could duplicate the gouache brush strokes of a Walter Peregoy background from Scooby Doo season one.  I selected one element from his "Skull Island" background, shown here:
This is NOT my rendition.  This is the original Scooby Doo background.
Here, then, is my digital interpretation of Peregoy's use of gouache in painting the actual skull formation.  I limited this exercise to only the skull and didn't attempt the other elements... although I reserve the option to come back to it sometime:
This is my rendition of only the skull element.
Pretty dang close, wouldn't you agree?

The dimensions are exact because I traced Peregoy's element and applied my digital paint to the pencil rendering.  The point of the exercise was to simulate the brush strokes and produce something that looked like it was painted in gouache.

The first thing I notice is Peregoy's use of dry brush.  This produces a nice, grainy texture... particularly in his night sky.  The digital brush, by comparison, is a bit of a one-trick pony.  I had other options in SketchBook Pro... there's a chalk texture that comes close... but the actual physical dry brush medium is hard to emulate.  Maybe in Corel Painter, perhaps.  But I'm limiting the exercise to SketchBook Pro because I think it's more than adequate to capture the actual skull formation.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with actual paint.

I have a collection of Peregoy Scooby Doo backgrounds that I've downloaded from various sources.  Peregoy was a master of spooky houses, terrifying castles, creepy night scenes, and other frightening imagery.  His interior scenes depicting stone walls were particularly effective. 

As blocky as the animation was to those first Scooby Doo episodes, as clunky as the dialog was and the flat jokes, I have a special fondness for them that's probably based on the effective use of background paintings.  They were top-notch!

Today's digital backgrounds are vastly more finished-looking and much more detailed, particularly in the hands of some of the geniuses they hire in animation studios these days.  But I think everyone has an appreciation of the "old fashioned" way of doing it, of assigning some top notch artist a background and then watching the magic he or she would create with thick Bristol paper and paint.

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