Saturday, August 16, 2014

Touche Turtle and Dumm Dumm

Much has happened over the past month... all of it "un-art related" ... but I'm back having just completed another piece.

This is based on the Mel Crawford illustration for the Touche Turtle Golden Book:
The large white area to the lower right, of course, is to allow for typeface.  I changed a few things.  The sharp foreground defining Touche and Dumm Dumm's area always looked like a quick cover up of a mistake.  I used a french curve to draw a more sedate forground eye path.

Also, that sickly yellow shading of the cement walkway always looked like the local bums urinate at that bush by the bus and it flows downhill.  Sick, yes.  So no yellow highlighting. 

I think the spaces remaining form a good composition leaving plenty of room for the text of the story.

All elements were painted on paper, then scanned and "composited" to a digital layout.  The pidgeons were the very last thing I painted and I have to say, I really enjoyed painting them.  Quick little paintings but they hold up.

Final shading and touch up was done in SketchBook Pro.  That took about 5 minutes.  Really, Crawford's painted object themselves form a pretty complete composition and there is very little need for finishing.  In fact, it would be easy to overdo it and destroy the quaint quality of the picture.

Now here's an interesting thing about combining physical and digital art in general... and about Photoshop in particular.  Please take a look at that "cloudy" sky.  In fact, the blue sky peeking through the clouds is what was painted; I painted the positive space and let the negative space imply clouds... or maybe it's the other way around, maybe the positive space is clouds.  I dunno.  I can't keep stuff like that straight.

But here's the point.  Rather than commit to a particular shade of blue and then find I have to paint it all over again, I painted that pointillist sky BLACK!  ... not blue, black!  Photoshop then allows you to go back and colorize that black area, and that's how I arrived on that particular shade of blue.  Slick, huh?

Here's another collision between the physical and digital realms.  In some areas such as the leaves of the tree to the left and the foliage adjacent to the building on the right, I superimposed leaves over the sky.  You feel you can see individual leaves.  Now how do you do that when those leaves have been painted... sponged, actually... on a piece of paper?  How do we make the paper "invisible" so we can see the sky through it?

We can do that by setting the blend mode of that leaf layer to multiply.  The multiply blend mode essentially melds to darker colors and absorbs them while the lighter areas are rendered invisible.  This way, the painted area is visible but the white paper on which it is painted disappears. 

But be aware that the multiply mode can create problems, particularly if you set a leafy area over a very colorful background.  For instance, if I set my leaves over a red building the white paper would disappear but the leaves themselves would adopt a red hue.  The "multiplied" layer will absorb the darker colors underneath it.

So in those areas where you want to superimpose leafy or fluffy or wispy textures over a background it can get tricky.  Proceed with caution.  Choose your background colors wisely.

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