Thursday, February 01, 2007
Speaking of Cuteness...
Any artist will tell you how rare it is to have your hands to exactly what you want when you pick up that pencil or brush. So often, you keep working and reworking the initial sketch until you get it to something you can be happy with, even though it doesn’t live up to the vision which burst into your head.
This little dragon was an exception. I’d been thinking of the big eyes from Puss In Boots in the movie Shrek and some of the expressions on the animals in the manga Fruits Basket that the girls and I have fallen in love with in both Manga form and on DVD. Suddenly, this little dragon was staring back at me in blue pencil on my sketchbook page.
Inking him was easy, but deciding how to colour him wasn’t. I’ve only just installed my tiny Wacom tablet on the eMac (because it never really worked right on the older mac) and started to play around in Photoshop Elements and Painter. Compared to what I can do with real pencils, this feels like trying to draw with a cast on. I know that it will get easier and more instinctive, but when I see some of the digital art out there that the generations behind me are able to paint right into their computers... I feel a bit old and clunky.
I streamlined the inked dragon once I had scanned it into the computer and tidied it up as a vector drawing, colouring it with flat colour in Freehand. I liked the results, but part of me really wanted to do some shading... so then today, I got out my coloured pencils and played at the dining room table for while colouring the dragon in by hand. I then brought that back down to scan in so that I could add the text in Photoshop Elements.
CafePress recommends that you print your files out on the printer to check for crispness before sending them over. That created the only real dilemma of the day. The version that was coloured in by hand and then scanned in, just didn’t have the same punch as the Vector version. It looked much softer and I couldn’t get the black outlines to jump without making all of the other colours too dark or spending 3 hours that I didn’t really have playing with the magic wand tool to isolate all the black lines and darken them. Some Photoshop expert out there could probably teach me a way to overlay the line drawing as a transparent layer... but I didn’t know how to get around the softer look in this version.
In the end, I decided that the one with more punch would look better on the products, especially the ones being done onto clothing as transfers. This little dragon is now up on all kinds of products on my Trading Emporium (shameless plug) not just for Valentine’s Day, but to adopt and bring home as yours any time you feel like adding something cute and mythical to your surroundings.
In the meantime, the little coloured version will nestle into my portfolio and probably have a nap. I somehow don’t think that I’ve seen the last of this little dragon...