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...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cuteness And Getting Around A Subzero Photo Shoot...

In past years, when the temperature dipped this low and I had photos of models to shoot, it involved MANY layers of clothing, ice treads on my tripod and hoping that the shutter wouldn’t freeze on my poor camera.

Luckily, technology has improved and I have gotten smarter. I figured out how to do the photo shoot today with just the french door into the living room open to give me the sunlight I needed and the models set up on a chair right next to the door. It was still cold. I could see the waves of heat shimmering as the warm air of the house met the frigid air outside... but with a digital camera, I could tell right away if the shots were good. I think I like progress.

Digital cameras are also good for capturing cuteness. Smudgy was eating his veggies last night and we managed to get a good close-up of our fuzzy grey bundle. He’ll never be as much of a people person as Wuffles was, but at least he doesn’t bite the way Nipper and Jellybean did. They would latch onto you with their teeth and kind of dangle!

Today was also a great day for drawing. Every now and then my hands are able to just create something that I am proud of with very little changes. I’m working on a little cartoon dragon for some stuff on my CafePress site that I want to get up for February 1st, and it turned out SO CUTE! Both girls squealed in the supersonic range, so I think that it a good sign. Hopefully I can ink it tomorrow night and then get it into the computer on Wednesday.
This little dragon reminds me of a cross between Puss-In-Boots doing the big eyes in Shrek 2 and all the cuteness of Japanese Chibi Manga!