Monday, November 26, 2007

Evil Holiday Card 2007 (Updated)

Once again I have an evil Holiday card. I don't set out to be twisted. Sick ideas pop into my head and those are the ideas I like! Last year, I had the idea of two mice shopping for a gingerbread house. Cute! The final card featured a hungry cat lurking in the shadows. I guess I don't do cute.

This year's "card" is actually a postcard. A giant (sumo), 6 x 11 postcard. You've seen the front; here's the back:

I wanted to include sketches on the back because, well, people like my sketches! Heck, I like my sketches! Sketches often have an energy that the finished painting lacks. Also, It's a peek into my process (for those poor people that don't visit my blog!). And the critters will be grinning happily at the name on the mailing address! That should make the recipient feel special.

I had the final acrylic painting professionally scanned (the original doesn't fit on my scanner). I was disappointed with the results. The bulb and shrimp were blown out (too red). The blue scanned too bright. The angler fish (that fades into the darkness in the original painting) glowed like a neon sign. Frustrating. I managed to salvage the scan in Photoshop.

For those familiar with PS I did most of the color correction on the individual CMYK channels. Ex: I reduced the red by editing the magenta and yellow channels. I used a brush (low opacity/color dodge) to lighten the channel without destroying the detail.

And good news! My friends at Harbour Light will be using this as their Holiday card – and they will pick up the cost of printing! If that wasn't cool enough – the card will be printed with a spot gloss varnish on the foreground critters (and bubbles)! The final piece should really POP! Here's a closeup. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Painting Practice

Before tackling this year's Holiday card I've warmed up with a few color studies. The lighting in this image a challenge. It's dark down at the bottom of the ocean with very little local color showing through (local color being the actual color of an object–grass is green, stop sign red). The colors are muted except where the bulb is casting its red light. I work out complicated scenes like this in Photoshop (see previous post). Recreating the digital sketch in acrylic can be a challenge.

Acrylic comes in different consistencies, from thick like butter to thin like ink. I use a product called flow-enhancer to thin the paint further. I can then use acrylic like watercolor (creating washes and glazes). The benefit being that acrylic, once dried, won't lift and leave a hole if an area is overworked later in the painting process. I tend to overwork things.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Wiz: First attempt at digital painting

This was my first project with a Wacom drawing tablet. Digital painting feels like cheating, it's too much fun! The power of Control Z is hard to resist (that's "undo" for you PC users).

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I haven't done much artwork in the last 4 months due to the chaos (and joy) that is getting married. I've done even less painting. Before launching into a big project I decided I needed to stretch my painting muscles. I pulled this character out of my sketchbook (originally drawn from life at my brother's graduation). This was done quickly (1.5 hours) and that spontaneity shows. It's not perfect but the paint and lines have an engaging energy that can be lost in more calculated illustrations. This was done in acrylic.