Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Pens and Brushes

Last month Aissa's cousin Ivey came home from the US (or rather visited, since the US is home for them now) and kindly brought home some art supplies I ordered from Jetpens.  I've had a hankering for Japanese brushpens ever since I bought a double sided Motec Pen during our honeymoon in Japan.  Unfortunately these pens are notoriously hard to find outside their homeland (I've tried looking in China, Korea and Taiwan with very little luck) and Jetpens has created an entire business around delivering these pens to the rest of the world.  Unfortunately the Motec Pen was out of stock, so I went and ordered three different kinds of pens and try to figure out which one I liked the best.  I'm currently using the Kuretake Pen seen above, and liking it so far.

Since I'm trying to expand from just line sketches to sketches with a bit of gradation, I also purchased the Sakurai Koi Coloring Brush Set in Grayscale.  I'm still scared of color, but this set offers 3 gradations of warm and cool grays, so it's a good stepping stone to learning to sketch in values.  This set is unequivocally the best buy so far, and I absolutely love using them.  Their best feature is that if they're applied lightly, they don't bleed through the paper of my monologue sketchbooks, which is very important to me since I always use both sides of the paper.  Once I'm comfortable with grayscale I think I'll eventually move up to buying their colored set.  Below are some of the sketches I've made with this combination of tools.

First Sketches, people in Starbucks

Woman in Greenbelt 1

Dimsum Chefs in Shi Lin

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shrine to Hachiman WIP

This is where I was at about a week ago.  I thought that this piece was almost done.  I was wrong.  Upon closer scrutiny, there were many things that were wrong with it.  It was kind of soul crushing to realize that I needed to do so much work to fix it, but it was my own fault for not sorting things out in the thumbnail stage (though to be fair I thought I had).  I'll go into more detail about this when I'm finally done with it, but for now marvel at this half finished work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Urban Sketching : Cebu

Aissa and I went to Cebu with the in-laws last July to celebrate her birthday.  It was the rainy season (and still is) so it afforded me a lot of time to sit down somewhere and just sketch.  The sketches above were done while hearing mass inside the Basilico de Sto. Nino. The Basilico is a historical church that was originally erected in 1565, burned down, and replaced with a stone structure completed in 1739, which is what you see today.

A short walk from the Basilico is Fort San Pedro, one of the oldest Forts in the Philippines.  It has a curious history, being at one time a fortress for both the Spanish and the Philippine revolutionaries, a garden club, and a zoo.  Thankfully the fort has been mostly restored and is under the care of the city government.  It's reminiscent of the Intramuros area of Manila, though curiously rather devoid of life.  We were there during a Saturday so you'd think there'd be more people strolling around the fort, but but it was rally rather sleepy.  Cebu could do a better job of integrating and promoting its historic tourist destinations, in my opinion.  The sleepiness of the fort is personified in this sketch of two minstrels who play traditional songs for tourists.  I gave them a little donation for serving as (unwitting) models.

Cebu is famous for its lechon, and the hotel we stayed at suggested Zubuchon, which was a 10 minute walk away.  The place was packed, which was a pretty good indication of its popularity among the locals.  When we finally sat down we noticed quotes from Anthony Bourdain extolling the virtues of Cebu lechon, although we weren't sure if he meant Zubuchon in particular or Cebu lechon in general.  To pass the time while waiting for order I sketched the Zubuchon kitchen.  It's a little sloppy since I wasn't really going for exact details, but the kid sitting at the other table seemed pretty impressed with it.

As with any Philippine city retail establishments abound, and we spent quite a bit of time in Malls staying out of the rain.  The sketch of the guy cleaning up their window display was done in Robinson's Mall while the sketch of the old man (with a fancifully drawn astronaut helmet) was done in Coffee Bean at the Ayala Malls.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tutorials and Updates

Last Sunday I made a stealth update to my blog by finally collating many of the tutorial and WIP post I've done over the past year into a Tutorials page.  I've posted it on some forums, and hopefully people will find it useful.  I've also updated my personal work and illustrations page to feature some of my more recent work.  I guess I should do that more often, as I'm not sure how many people actually jump off from this blog to actually visiting my portfolio sites.  The image above has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  I just realized I hadn't put up any urban sketching in a while and this was as good an excuse as any to put one up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Color Studies

My last L5R remake is going to be another environment.  I haven't finalized what it'll be yet, but I do know that I really want to really punch up the colors so that it's more vibrant and exciting than the Oyo Seido piece.  Color has always been my weakness, so I decided to do some long overdue color exercises. It's a pretty simple exercise that most any artist can do, and it only takes a couple of hours.

First I looked for a bunch of mountain landscapes on Google images, picking a variety of scenes and colors. Next I prepared a set oh nine thumbnail sized canvases.  Then one by one I attempt to recreate the color scheme of each photograph, making sure to never use the eyedropper tool (unless the color has already been laid down).  It's a trick I learned from someone else's blog (I forget which), but the idea was to train your eyes to really see color and decide which colors to lay down instead of just picking a swatch and/or picking a color from a photograph.  I don't know how successful the exercise was, but it was a lot of fun, and I'll probably do a couple more of these before hunkering down and working on the next piece.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Oyo Seido Final

I had a hard time letting go of this piece because something about it just seemed wrong to me.  When I put it up on the regular message boards for feedback there wasn't much comment, and the critiques I did get stressed stuff that I a) didn't really feel were the problem or b) entailed changing so much of the piece that I might as well start afresh.  Some critiques I got said there needed to be more detail in the foliage, and that the straight on perspective is kind of boring.  While more detail might help somewhat, I think that just adding more detail wouldn't solve the main problem, which is that the artwork is just a little...dull.  It's functional and practical but not really interesting . A change in the perspective might fix that, but again that would mean starting from scratch, so I might as well just devote myself to a new piece if that's the case.  As a last resort to make things a little more interesting I added a forest mouse on the steps of the temple, looking for some scraps in the offering bowl.  While realistically you probably wouldn't even notice the mouse if this was actually made into a card, I feel like adding that one elements makes the piece as a while just a little bit more interesting.

I did also experiment a little bit with making this a night time scene and inserting some fireflies for instant effect.  It did look much more interesting this way, but if I were to do it properly I'd have to go back to the beginning of coloring the piece, and I'm pretty much sick of this piece already!  Time to move on to the last artwork, which will be another environment piece.