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i don't know about anyone else but i screw around a lot and come up with some cool stuff once in a while. here's a place to post anything you come up with or want to know about

here are some basic stuff i use a lot:

glue heavy paper or canvas to board with wood glue

nobody ever uses wood glue for anything but it's the best. if you like working on paper but don't like it buckling when you put lots of liquid on it, glue it to a board. like canvas boards but don't like the stock pieces of shit they sell at the art store? wood glue it

it's cheaper than acrylic mediums or gesso and has a perfect drying time (around 15 minutes or less). and it's pretty much self-leveling so you dont' have to worry about mad bumps and waves like with gesso

**wood glue bows the shit out of boards when you glue canvas to them. seems okay with paper

gesso surface with flat edge

i use the edge of a cheap CD case to scrape gesso onto canvases. if you dont' use too much and work it right you should get a nice even surface without the ridges brushing gesso creates

mixing gesso

good gesso is fucking expensive. you can use Utrecht or Blick brand but they suck in various ways.

my advice? buy a tall jug of Liquitex gesso, buy a tub of Utrecht gesso, and mix 2/3 Utrecht with 1/3 Liquitex. the Liquitex consistency dominates the mix and comes out pretty damn sweet

mixing clear gesso

Liquitex sells clear gesso, but it's pretty cloudy and super toothy. try mixing equal parts clear gesso and matte medium and add a LITTLE bit of water

this stuff dries insanely clear while keeping everything you love about gesso

now come on people, go nuts

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i was looking for stuff by Sean Cheetham (awesome artist) earlier and found...

Common Weaknesses in Figure Paintings:

1. Artists are so anxious to paint that they begin before their drawing is completely accurate.

2. The darkest darks are not dark enough, so the painter ends up having to darken all the values toward the end of the process.

3. The transitions between values—especially between the darks and the midtones—are too abrupt.

4. The painting palette becomes disorganized and the artist ends up guessing at the appropriate mixtures for each stage of the painting process.

5. Artists lose momentum by not painting on a regular basis, and it becomes harder to remember what they learned the last time they painted.

a couple of those PROTIPS are kinda obscure, like 2 and 4, but the fifth one is super important

and check out Cheetham, he's amazing

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better PROTIPS from some dude i've never heard of:

working from photographs

Have a plan of attack.

If the photo isn’t exactly what you want, make sure you know how you’re going to resolve the problems. Do the values need to be adjusted? Should some colors be warmer or cooler, brighter or less intense? Without a clear plan for what you want to accomplish and how, you’ll just be spinning your wheels.

Focus on the values.

Dark-value shapes should link up to create a rhythmic movement through the painting, and the same goes for the lights and midtones. This is what gives a painting impact and presence. With the painting and photo turned upside down, you can really see these patterns, so put them in and enhance the connections wherever needed.

Forget about the subject.

By focusing on making interesting shapes in the right values, you’ll come away with a painting that is your own interpretation, not just a copy of a photo. And it doesn’t really matter if these shapes are unidentifiable or vague when the painting is finished. Fechin and Zorn were masters of using unclear, nonobjective, unexplainable shapes to create balance and interest in a painting.

Use a variety of paint applications.

If you paint everything with the same amount of detail, you’ll put people to sleep. Be poetic by pushing them to figure some things out. If you don’t give it all away, you’ll make them look at your painting longer. It’s also OK if the drawing gets a little bit off—this will contribute to an expressionistic, spontaneous feeling: the spirit of painting.

i didn't read the whole thing, but what i caught was solid http://www.myamericanartist.com/2007/03/cw_mundy_a_new_.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

seems like people use INKS for stuff pretty often so here's my rundown of brand quality:

higgins waterproof: SUCKS. not very black, not waterproof AT ALL

sennelier india ink: it's alright. the black is good, but it dries fast and crusties up brushes/quills while you're working. watering it down makes odd colored washes

blick black cat: meh. the black isn't very black; it seems watered down

winsor newton calligraphy ink: i've used worse. black isn't very black

rapidograph ultradraw: people use this stuff on their transparencies when they make screenprints, so i assume the black is VERY black

FW acrylic inks: the holy grail, as far as i'm concerned. ink looks beautiful, flows well, vibrant colors, and the black is BLACK. it also works well for scratchboarding

haven't tried Speedball brand yet, but it's supposed to be good Speedball is good

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

stuff from Sam Weber since i'm obsessed with him:

Please tell us about your creative process in as much detail as possible?

I do a lot of small sketches in pencil when I start a project, be it for a client, or personal. These aren’t anything that I would ever show anyone; just small scribbles to get me started thinking about ideas and composition. I have a fairly large pad of bond paper that I like to work on. It’s thin enough that I can see through it, which is perfect for me, as I’ll often lay a piece of paper over top of a really rough drawing, and use it as a starting point for a more refined sketch. I use a light box also, to trace over more refined sketches, or get details that I may have liked from a previous drawing.

At this point I’ll gather what reference I might need, which usually isn’t too much as I really like the process of drawing out of my head, and begin working on a more finished drawing. If it’s for a client, I’ll usually have sent them an earlier incarnation before hand, as I always like to work on the refined drawing with the confidence of knowing that the people I’m working with are behind the basic idea and structure of what it is that I’m doing. Personal work is a little more freeing, in that things can veer away in different and often interesting ways.

Once I’ve got a drawing I’m happy with, I’ll transfer it onto a piece of better paper using my light box. I don’t have one specific type of paper that I always use, as I really enjoy playing around with new materials, but papers that I use often include Stonehenge(a basic printmaking paper), Fabriano 140lbs Hotpress watercolour paper, Arches Watercolour papers, and various types of bristol. I like rag paper, with some heft to it, as I often apply wet media, and like to scrape and pick away at the surface of my drawings, which isn’t possible on flimsier surfaces. This is by no means a treatise against inexpensive materials, as much as it is personal preference. The final drawings are usually done in ink, water colour, or acrylic, or a combination of the three. For the water colour and ink, I’ve got some decent sable brushes, that although more expensive than others, last for a long time(Windsor Newton Series 7’s and DaVinci Maestro’s are my favorite). I use your standard Windsor & Newton water colours, and have a brand of Sumi ink that I really like. I’m not sure what it’s called, as the label is in Japanese, but it comes in a really charming green plastic bottle, which is admittedly seventy five percent of its appeal. I also have some Japanese calligraphy brushes, that I use sometimes. They have a great rough stroke that is really nice.

Once the image is at a point that I’m pleased with, I’ll scan it, inevitably in many small pieces, and put it together in photoshop. I’ve always drawn fairly large, never much smaller than 11×17, and often a lot bigger, so I’ve grown quite accustomed to stitching things back together in the machine. The piece is then finished in photoshop, using a wacom tablet(the medium sized Intuos). I’ll scan in addition textures and drawn elements as I see fit. As far as sketch books go, New York Central Art Supply makes a really wonderful Stonehenge sketch book, which is great for playing around with media. I’ve also got a generic black cover book, which I use for less involved drawing, or for brainstorming.

Your use of colour is great, often using a limited colour pallet to create a more powerful image. Were you formally trained in colour theory? How do you go about choosing the colours of an illustration?

I’ve had some formal colour training, although nothing unusual. I’ve always been drawn to more muted palettes, and I can’t really say it’s anything beyond personal interest. Working on the computer has shaped my approach to colour also. With so many options available, I’ve found it really helpful to limit myself to a certain range of colours. I was doing a lot of oil painting before I began colouring my work digitally, and the jump from hand materials to digital media was a little intimidating at first. By being selective, and restraining myself a little, I think I was able to control the pictures a little more. I’ve been trying recently to pay extra attention to the temperature of colour, and use that to make the space more interesting in my images.

What is the most effective thing you have done to gain your work more exposure?

Beyond having a website, and sending out postcards and promotional material to people I’m interested in working with, entering juried competitions has been really important in reaching people. I’ve been fortunate to have gotten work in annuals like The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and American Illustration, which have done a lot for my career. Peer review is important to a lot of professions, illustration being no exception. It’s an often daunting process, but I think is useful as a way to promote yourself, think about your work in new ways, and perhaps most importantly keep you humble.

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  • 2 weeks later...

huge post from an old timey illustrator's blog:

Carrying a Sketchbook, part four: Listen to Your Ol' Pappy K!


Okay, this is the post where I sound like an old crumudgeon.

The last thing I want to say about sketchbooks is that there are many other things that technology has developed that have made it harder and harder to carry a sketchbook. Sketchbook killers, I calls 'em! The proliferation of handheld video games, cel phone games, ipods and the like has taken away a lot of the time when we could be sketching. I can't tell you how many times have I been waiting in line to see a movie and using that time to fill my sketchbook with drawings of the people around me, and noticed that most of the people around me are using their PSP, GBA , DS (which are all handheld video game systems, for the unitiated), or just tuning out and listening to their ipod, closed off to the world around them.

Certainly these wonderful modern machines have taken the tedium out of sitting around and waiting, and they help pass the time while traveling. But if you can get out of the habit of using these things and really connect to the world around you, that will be much more helpful to your improvement as an artist. Those times when you are just sitting there with nothing else going on, immersed in the people and happenings around you are when you really get to see special things: people just going about their ordinary business. That's when people are at their most fascinating. You'll never get to observe all that much of the world when you're busy rushing from place to place so that times when you're sitting and "doing nothing" are actually prime observation opportunities. Take advantage of them by sketching and seeing what really happens when people are just going about their regular lives and interacting with others.

Even the most boring of moments is interesting to a good artist: how do different people sit differently while they wait at the doctor's office? How do different people flip through magazines differently while waiting for the dentist? Who just flips nervously through without looking at it and who gets so engrossed in an article that they don't realize it's their turn? What type of person picks what magazine to read while waiting? Just how old are the magazines in the doctor's office, anyway, and what kind of magazines do they subscribe to? What does that say about the doctor, or the nurses who ordered them - what do they think their patients are interested in reading about? My physician's office is full of magazines. Mostly things like "Car & Driver" or magazines about golfing. I've never seen anybody read any of these. Everybody reads the same thing: People, Time and Newsweek. Occasionally some daring lady will be reading a Cosmopolitan. So I suspect the car and golf magazines say a lot more about the doctor who subscribes to them than the patients who visit him.

All that kind of information-gathering is valuable to any artist who is trying to learn about the world and put that into their work. And I never would have noticed any of that if I didn't watch and observe in the doctor's office. And my sketchbooks are full of drawings of a wide range of different types of people I've seen waiting to see him: from the patient old people who seem to exist in a constant state of visiting doctors and seem not to have any sense of time, to the harried businessman who is on his cel phone the whole time and checking his watch every five minutes while constantly bugging the receptionist to see when his turn with the doctor will be.

And I even have sketchbooks pages full of drawings I have done in the examination room while waiting for the doctor to come in (not being interested in Golf magazine, I had nothing else to do). There are pages in my book with sketches of jars of tongue depressors and those round stools on wheels that all doctor's office have as well as drawings of the view outside the window of the exam room.

And I never mind all the waiting around too much because it's really the only time I get to sketch. Things are too busy for me to ever actually set aside time to sketch in a normal day. It's a great habit to set aside time for a sketching trip to the zoo, but the great part about sketching while waiting around in an everyday place is that, unlike the zoo, you have no idea what you will see. And even waiting in line for a movie there is plenty to draw - everyone has a different way of standing or sitting. Try to capture those nuances - every character you draw will stand or sit differently, depending on their personality and emotional state, so learn to see the difference in real people. Sketch the difference between an impatient person standing in line and one who is standing at ease, waiting patiently. To be able to capture the difference in those two things is an amazing feat for an artist and will really help you start to see degrees of subtlety which is a big step in developing as an artist.

So don't make the mistake of ever thinking that there is nothing around you worth sketching. There is always something around to capture and see anew. Don't wait to sketch until you are facing that perfect-looking lion at the zoo. Sketch the stuff you see every day and see it in a fresh way. That's the kind of stuff that great art is made of!

Although I have to soften my stance a bit on video ipods. I have one and I love it. Mind you, I never watch it in public when I could be sketching, but sometimes at work when I have a couple of minutes I love to watch three or four minutes of a movie. That's a great way to study the way a film is put together, because when you watch a whole movie in one sitting you end up being engrossed in the story and events and it becomes near impossible to focus on the nuts-and-bolts filmmaking. But when you watch a movie for a few moments at a time you can really focus on how the staging and cutting works, how the shots are composed and how the actor's performances are put together.

But other than that, I say ween yourself off of those new-fangled time wasters, you whippersnappers!

For the rest of your life, you can always look back at your sketches and see what you learned when you were sketching. You can remember the places you've been and the people you've seen - and even remember the way you felt about them - through your old sketchbooks. I promise, getting to level ten of Haloman 3 or Grand Theft Motorcar 11 will never be as fulfilling as finishing a sketchbook! And if I see you in public playing your new-fangled video game computer machine when you should be sketchin', I'll slap it outta yer hands with my cane and get away with it too, because I'm a crusty old man and I can pretend I was just befuddled at the time.

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  • 6 months later...

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