The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

color profiles

it was all so simple on my last computer system. somehow, apparently magically, i could scan something, alter its colors, and it would print just like that on my epson printer. i could then reasonably count on that print resembling the actual in-print final product that featured my illustration. but no more.

my lappy 486 has a beautiful widescreen, with bright brights and crisp darks. too bright and too dark, apparently, for an illustrator who needs color-matching. so, one of my great joys recently has been in tweaking the monitor color settings, the photoshop color management settings, and my printer's settings to all play well together. i suppose i could figure this out like the pro i am if i decided to learn all of this. no, really, click that link, scroll down and try to figure out what the hell is being talked about. i dare you. and part of the reason i'm daring you is because if you can figure it out you can come over and tweak all my settings for me. i started reading it, then closed my browser and took a nap instead.

i don't think it's beyond understanding, i just don't have time at the moment. and of course, that's when you actually need to know this sort of thing. after a significant amount of fiddling, i've managed to approximate my old work environment, at least to where i'm confident my rose-palette illustration won't reproduce chartreuse in print.

my lappy's screen, however, is not quite so bright as it used to be. on the other hand, i noticed it was super-saturating some dvd scenes, so i suppose that should've clued me in that something was not quite right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

like learning a new language

well, that is, if you already know a related one. speaking spanish, for instance, one can pick up words and phrases in french, italian, portuguese--particularly when reading. they share a common root. similarly, using corel's painter program for the first time is like starting to learn italian if you speak spanish. i'm speaking particularly of essentials 2, the stripped down version that came with the wacom tablet i purchased recently.

being able to draw and paint, i decided to fire up painter for the very first time today, for use on an illustration. i've never played with it or anything and i'm using it on an actual assignment. that's kinda dangerous, i suppose. but the piece is relatively simple and i suppose this falls into the realm of "jamming" as described below. being a long-time photoshop user as well is very helpful. now it's like speaking spanish and italian and embarking on learning french.

i was able to fire it up, import my drawing, and get to work rather quickly. essentials is really very stripped down, and yet i'm managing to make a go of it. i don't know if this piece in the end will be faster than having just done it traditionally. i do know that i need to start learning painter sooner than later, and that i have no time to just play around. so i've instead engaged in a trial by fire.

so far i'm enjoying it. i've already learned some things such that if i restarted the piece from scratch i could get back to where i currently am in half the time, and with somewhat better results even. playing with surface texture in the way of more viscous paint is fascinating, watching the program build virtual texture. certainly there is no time spent cleaning brushes or playing with mixing colors and struggling to open dried paint tube lids. no headaches from solvents, or leaving the window open on a cold day such as today to avoid them.

i'm already constantly running into limitations that i imagine are relieved in the full version. for instance, none of the oil brushes build texture the way one of the acrylic brushes and the the loaded palette knife tool do. and i can't figure out how to "knock down" texture built up using either of those. i mean that makes sense, since you can't easily knock down texture on dried acrylic without taking sandpaper to it. but any texture built with an oil brush would be soft until the next day or so, allowing you to play with it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My Life is Spent Here


Artists' studios are always interesting for me to see. Recently, I've been swapping photos of workspaces with some other illustrators. It's fascinating and in a way comforting, to know the amount of mess and clutter I have in my space is echoed in most everyone else's. A few artists are more precious about their environment and have organized their things more than I.

My studio in this pic is worse than its been in awhile, but I've written enough about why in recent posts. Normally my floor at least would be pretty clean.

I don't know what to think when I consider that a very large portion of my life has been spent in just that spot, before my drawing table. This certainly isn't the most pleasant of places to be, and I usually keep sunlight out since the color changes constantly and affects how I view my color schemes. If I had a nice north light window I'd probably let it in more...except that I'm in a condo, and I don't like the feeling of being watched. The space is dreary, really. However, I think that by and large I don't notice it. The life of the artist is the life of the mind. Here I sit for hours on end, silently. My time is spent in this corner of this room, but I'm not really there. I'm actually up in the attic of my head, chasing images out of cluttered corners and trying to project them in front of me, onto my paper.

Someday I'll try for a nice, roomy, well-lit studio with an inspiring view and interesting things on the walls. Certainly a lot of the old masters had studios that were used for entertaining wealthy patrons, and so were well-appointed. While I may never entertain wealthy patrons in my studio on any regular basis, the way these painters had their studios set up was inspiring enough to try for!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

of cons and filled boxes

gencon is over, and with it the end of my travel year. industry trade-shows like these are fun and yet tiring. people sometimes ask if i know such-and-such illustrator, and quite often the answer is yes, at least within my genre. conventions and events are the places where illustrators get out of their caves and mix-and-mingle. this is especially fun for those of us who live quite far from other illustrators. it's a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. over the years, it's interesting how you get to know various other artists just spending a few days a year with them at these surreal events. in some cases true deep friendships are forged, but in most you simply get to know a few good buddies who you see every so often.

this year it was a distinct pleasure to get to know steven belledin, who i'd met briefly during the summer, and to learn that thomas denmark is actually an hour's drive or so from my home. it's a shame that i only just found that out as i'm gearing up to move out!!

i laugh more at conventions than i probably do for months on either side of them. if you've ever spent time with folks like jeremy jarvis, you might understand why. lots of memories taken forward from these. it's a little strange to think that for those of us in this genre who intend to be here for awhile, we may be slowly getting to know each other the rest of our lives. certainly this has been the case with older illustrators, like the old TSR greats who decades on are still good friends. it's something to look forward to, i suppose. certainly you lose touch with some people, and others move on and into other fields, but it's good times while it lasts.

until the next show, the little boxes in my new norman rockwell mini-calendar are filling up fast. it's about time to dive in again.